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Matthew 24 --Jesus Gives a Special Sign to the Disciples' Generation

Subjects below:
      God Cares
      What Prompted the Disciples to ask These Questions
      The Historical Fulfillment of Matthew 24
      What are the clues Jesus gives us?
      Not One Generation has Fulfilled All These Prophecies
      Only One Generation Can Fulfill This Prophecy!
      What Generation is Jesus Primarily Speaking To?
      In the next Study

God Cares
      Our Heavenly Father has a very special love for us! His overflowing mercy is extended toward us in great measure for which we don’t even begin to show proper gratitude. But He still loves us with a perfect love! His highest aim during the last six thousand years has been to show His Love by saving the repentant sinner from self-destruction. His boundless love has been shown in the many methods of instruction given to man.
      By sending His Son in our frail human form, He and His Son portrayed the highest reaches of love the universe has ever witnessed! Before the eyes of man, He lived out that love through His Son, to save a dying world.
      The disciples were beginning to understand this, and followed Jesus everywhere, hanging on every word and act, desiring to understand the meaning of “Jesus Christ and His Righteousness.” But their minds were tired and weary, and at best, they fell short of receiving the merciful purposes of His mission. Yet Jesus stayed by their side, and with a Godly patience ever sought to enrich their souls with His Father’s Love! O precious Savior, show us thy Love!
      And now we find ourselves joining the weary disciples at the feet of Jesus on the Mount of Olives asking the most important questions our minds fall upon. We too, like the disciples, have the very same three questions continually pressing on our minds. Jesus, we ask, “Tell us, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign of thy coming? And of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3 Questions that expose our nakedness, fear, and anxiety of soul; revealing our deepest longings to be prepared and on the right side at the ending of the great controversy!
      Jesus’ loving eyes look upon our group settled about Him, and as we feel His gaze upon our individual souls, we see a peaceful smile spread across His face as His eyes tell of the boundless Love of His Father! We sit motionless as we hear His concerned answer. In reverent awe our minds strain on every word for the fullest meaning, for we well know that when Jesus speaks, —it is so!

!!! Watchfulness !!! Jesus is knocking at the hearts door.
      Jesus’ theme is “Watchfulness!” (Also in Mark 13 and Luke 21.)
      He starts out by saying; “Take heed...Matt 24:4.
      Jesus ends His message with the parable of the faithful and wise servant, saying; “Watch therefore” “be ye ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matt 24:42-51.
      “And what I say unto you I say unto all, watch!Mark 13:37.
      “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:36. The disciples were given signs to watch for because Jesus desires that none be lost. Jesus gives us these signs to watch for, that we to may be ready.

What Prompted the Disciples to ask These Questions
      What really intrigued the disciples was Christ’s reference to the hypocrisies of the priests linked with the destruction of the temple in the previous chapter, Matthew 23. Jesus loves Jerusalem with a very special love. David wrote; “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” Psalms 48:1-3.
      As it is the case today with our own lack of prophetic understanding; the disciples clung to their preconceived ideas, making it hard to understand some of Jesus warnings. One of those times was when Jesus came into view of Jerusalem and the temple riding a colt. He stopped, and weeping, said, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” And later He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.Luke 19:42-44; Matt 23:37,38.
      The disciples showed their preconceived ideas by stating, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Mark 13:1,2.
      The scribes, Pharisees and disciples (not that the disciples are in the same lot), well knew that when a prophet told of such hypocrisy, the ruin of the temple service was most always to follow! They had known of this happening in the history of their nation a number of times. The temple service was all-in-all(FS 1) to the disciples and when Christ foretold these things, it sparked an interest to know of the events to precede the end of the world and the setting up of His Kingdom. In their minds, the end of the temple service was the end of the world. Thus, all events would lead to the setting up of God’s kingdom and a temple service that would never grow old or end. As for the priests, these prophecies made them mad, —mad enough to kill Him! They could only see that Jesus’ words were a threat to themselves because to destroy the temple was to destroy their way of life. Had they only realized that it was the temple and its services He came to fulfill! Forgive us our Savior; remove the scales from our eyes, we pray.
      When we begin to understand the love Jesus has for Jerusalem and the Temple, we can begin to understand the reason He chooses it to represent His patience in love and warnings. It also shows that love and patience have boundaries and when sinful man completely refuses all God’s warnings, —God’s love lets go— and the end comes. Even today the world places an importance on the City of cities, Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple. When will we understand that the importance of the dwelling place of our God is an in-dwelling of His character in our soul temple? When will we realize that this is the real issue facing this last generation?

The Historical Fulfillment of Matthew 24
      The following is a brief outline of the historical fulfillment through the centuries. It may be well to keep in mind that Jesus based His answer on the book of Daniel. If they wanted more detail, they were to study the book of Daniel. (vrs. 15).

Verse 3       The disciples ask the questions:When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The disciples asked only two of the six questioning words; —when and what? (Who, what, where, when, why, & how). But Jesus gives answers to questions the disciples did not even asked!
Verses 4-13       False christs, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets. These signs have been in the world, more or less, since Adam and Eve sinned. Nothing described here is new. All these signs are a result of sin and nothing in these verses is specifically described as standing out above any of the other signs. Jesus makes it clear that many things would happen before the end would come and there is an inference that it would take a long time. “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (vrs. 6) “All these are the beginning of sorrows,” (vrs. 8) for many more things are yet to happen. “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (vrs. 13)
Verse 14       Gospel to all the world. A very prominent sign of the end will be that the gospel will go to all the world. The disciples took the gospel to the then-known world. Paul proclaimed, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” Rom 10:18 (Col 1:5-6, 23). But this did not fulfill the gospel commission. It appears that there was to be a great deal of time involved (verses 21-22), before it could be said “and then shall the end come.”
Verses 15-20       Abomination of desolation.  —Destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D. In verse 15, as in no other verse, Jesus answers the disciples’ specific question of what and when shall be the sign they were to watch for! The disciples’ generation was to watch for the idolatrous standards of the Roman armies! The promised sign had been given to the waiting Christians of Jerusalem that they should flee for their lives. And it is clear they understood this! In Luke 21:20-21 we read, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” (Further Study 2)
Verses 21-22       Great tribulation. Persecution of the Christian church first started with the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:1-3; 7:59,60; 8:1-4; etc.) Then for some three centuries came persecution from the Gentiles, primarily from pagan Rome (Acts 16:19-24; 19:29; 1Cor 15:32). But real devastation came during the time of papal supremacy, 538–1798 = 1260 years. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Further Study 3)
Verses 23-28       Again, false christs showing great signs and wonders —if possible to deceive the very elect. “Behold, I have told you before.”
Verse 29
Study 4
      Signs in the heavens. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven . . .
 • After the tribulation (1260 years which ended in 1798; see above)
 • Signs in the sun and moon —May 19, 1780
 • And the stars —Nov. 13, 1833
 • Earthquake —Nov. 1, 1755
      It is important for us to realize what has happened in this verse (29). Here is the transition between the fulfilled prophecies and those events that are not yet fulfilled. This is where a line is drawn, so to speak, and the events Jesus foretold from verse 3 through this point is past prophetic history fulfilled! Past and future prophecy —And then we say that the rest of this verse (29) through verse 31 is yet future!
Verses 29-31       Christ’s Second Coming. “...and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
      You have probably studied this prophecy in Matthew 24 many times, starting with the disciples’ time, applying the events through the succeeding centuries and generations, and ending with the events of the Second Coming of Jesus. The following chart of Matthew 24 is how I believe Jesus’ prophecy, now almost completely fulfilled in type, applies to history and the one event, which is not fulfilled, Christ’s Second Coming.
Chart 1 Matthew 24 Historical Fulfillment Chart (Further Study of the historical fulfillment.)
      Jesus gave an answer to the disciples’ generation to guide and aid them as well as every generation since! We do not advocate doubt in the fulfillment of these prophecies, for they were fulfilled by the controlling power of God for the faith of our forefathers as well as ourselves! But we cannot stop here! There is more! Much more!! I cannot believe that Jesus wanted the understanding of His warning prophecy and the specific sign to stop with the disciples’ generation! There is no question that Jesus was answering the disciples’ questions so that they would know when and how to escape the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. On the other hand, it is also clear that Jesus is not just talking to the disciples’ generation because of the way he answers certain portions of the prophecy.

What are the clues Jesus gives us?
      Two times, once before and then after His sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells who are to be particularly vigilant.
      Before— the signs in Matthew 24, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.” Matt 23:36.
      After— the signs in Matthew 24, Jesus again says, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matt 24:33,34.
      What did Jesus mean when He said “all these things”? What did He mean when He said “this generation”? Did He mean what He said? Did He mean that a single “generation” would “see all” the events foretold? Including the disciples’ generation, every generation has only seen a partial fulfillment of Matthew 24! Will the last generation also only have a partial fulfillment? —No! I don’t think so.

Not One Generation has Fulfilled All These Prophecies!
      In the last almost 2000 years, there has not been one generation that has seen all these signs come to a complete fulfillment. How many generations have passed off the prophetic scene and yet Jesus has not come? In Psalms, David says that our average lifespan is “three score and ten” years. Psalms 90:10,12. That means there have been more than 28 generations since Jesus gave this prophecy and each generation has only seen a small portion of this prophecy fulfilled! Did “all” the signs happen to the generation of the disciples or any generation since? —NO! The disciples’ generation did not see the great tribulation (1260 years) or the signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and of course, Christ coming in the heavens! But they did have a partial fulfillment, and in the partial fulfillment are types, which we need to study very closely!

Only One Generation Can Fulfill This Prophecy!
      Jesus shows that there is only one generation that specifically fulfills His prophecy. The answer lies in knowing what Jesus meant when He said “this generation.” The words Jesus spoke are easy to understand, “all” the signs were to happen to one generation —“this generation”. To which generation could they all apply? I believe that Jesus is primarily addressing the last generation! That is because it will be a living generation who will “see” the last sign which is Christ coming in the clouds of glory. I believe we are the last generation and that Jesus’ message in Matthew 24 is the foundation on which our prophetic house is built!   Further Study 5
      Note how Jesus answers the “when” of the disciples’ questions through out the discourse?   (See Further Study 6)

What Generation is Jesus Primarily Speaking To?
      From the study of Matthew 24, we can conclude that there are only two generations that Jesus specifically addresses, and of the two, only one generation that Jesus is primarily speaking to; the last generation! —For all the signs tell us so!
      But a greater sign may well be in the fact that we understand this prophecy at this specific time in prophetic history. In other words, the timing of God’s prophecies always accompanies the message of that prophecy. The true “testimony of Jesus” is the “spirit of prophecy,” and that is when the prophetic types are fulfilled in prophetic antitype to the last generation!
      Could it be that our prophetic sight has been limited? Christ is the Faithful and True Witness, and He wants us to understand our sign, that we too, like the disciples’ generation, will be warned and protected by His power. Jesus is speaking directly to the last generation! Of the certainty of His prophecy, He says; “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” Verse 35.
      If “all” the signs are to be “seen” by a generation, it must be the generation that “sees” the last sign, Jesus’ Second Coming. Not only must the last generation “see” the last sign, but it must also “see” the first sign, and all the signs in between! How can this be? There is only one answer and I believe that this is the very reason Jesus gave this prophecy. Type and antitype of prophecy! Jesus, in type, explained the prophetic events of the last days of earth’s history by applying them to many generations. Every generation, starting with the disciples, was to play a vital role in fulfilling specific events of His prophecy. All were to have a part in learning and teaching these signs down through the generations. But none, —not one generation was to have all the events fulfilled until the last generation came on the prophetic scene.
      I believe that in God’s sight, the last generation is very special. God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) have been charged by Lucifer (Satan) that they do not have the right to save sinful man. Man willed himself to sin, says Satan, and all are doomed to eternal death. All the rebellion and evil traits of six thousand years of sinful generations are condensed in the genes of the last generation, both Christian and sinner. The evil of man will reach such great proportions that Jesus said, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt 24:22. Praise God, there is a Love for sinful man which does not stop until all who want to be free, —can be free!
      In the last days of earth’s history, when sin is at its highest orb, Jesus will bring forth a people that will reveal the character of His Father, —God living within! This people will be strong and will not be moved or deceived by false prophets and false christs. They cannot be moved because a great prophetic light shines from their past! That Light has guided every generation for six thousand years showing the fulfillment of the prophecies of centuries! This prophetic Light is the “testimony of Jesus!” Rev 1:1-3; 12:17. It is the “spirit of prophecy!” Rev 19:10. It is the last generation that will have the spirit of prophecy and give the testimony of Jesus. It is they that keep the commandments of God.
      Down through time, in types and symbols Jesus guided His church with prophecy so that when the last generation came on the prophetic scene, they would have no doubt as to what is truth and what is error. The last generation will not only teach the value of prophetic history, but will show in unfailing fulfillment how prophetic history is to be reenacted in the prophetic antitype, event for event, in the near future! They will teach from the types and symbols of prophetic history how to avoid being caught on the wrong side. I bow in awe at the wondrous love God has for the salvation of man and the brilliant plan He has designed for the last generation of Christians that stop at nothing in obtaining Christ’s Righteousness!

In the Next Study
      Many times we have studied Matthew 24 as having its fulfillment down through the centuries. But now let us study with the understanding that all the events are to be fulfilled to this last generation, ourselves. It is when we believe that we are the last generation and act accordingly, that we will soon be heading home! Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matt 24:34.
      In the next study we will go to the book of Daniel as Jesus has instructed us, and learn that our sign is the same one He warned the disciples about, —“the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (verse 15). Both books, Daniel and Revelation explain this abomination to be nothing less than false worship, —Sunday worship verses the Lord God’s seventh-day Sabbath. These prophecies belong to us and will soon be fulfilled in our time, before our very eyes! Will we be ready to endure until the end? I say yes! By God’s Grace, we will be ready when we are willing to follow Him wherever He leads! So, —let us be on our way into one of the most exciting studies in the Word of God!

Next Study. . .

Matthew 24 - Last Generation

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