Thursday, January 24, 2013

Matthew 24 - Are You Ready?

LINK: Matthew 24

The Olivet Discourse

I call it the "Difficult Discourse"! I have skipped this post for the last two days and  have come back to it after a good rest. Now, it is a quiet, early morning. I cannot do this discourse justice in a single post. It is significant for end times and most theologians have an opinion about when and where all of this will happen as it ties to Daniel and the book of Revelation. I am going to take a practical view on it and encourage you to just read it and ask yourself:

Am I ready?

Jesus tells about . . . 

201. The future: Matthew 24:1-25, Mark 13:1-23, Luke 21:5-24

Jesus was finished with His wranglings with religious leaders and departed the temple for the last time. On His way out of Jerusalem and back to Bethany, Jesus went by the Mount of Olives (see map). While looking back over the city and the temple, He told His disciples that this magnificent structure would be destroyed. 

This is Herod's temple and not Solomon's temple that we read about in the Old Testament. That temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. It was rebuilt by Ezra after the return from the exile in 516 B.C. only to be desecrated by the Seleucids in 168-169 B.C.  Then, it was reconsecrated by the Maccabees in 164 B.C. and finally expanded by King Herod the Great over a 46 year period starting in 19 B.C. 

Roberts Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
painting by David Roberts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus told them they would know the time of the temple's destruction when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). True to His prophecy, Herod's temple was destroyed by the Roman army led by Titus in A.D. 70  

After this prediction, the disciples (Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Mark 13:3) wanted to know about the signs of the end of the age and the things preceding the coming of the Son of Man. In summary, He told them there would be false Christs, religious deception, wars, persecution, famines, death, martyrs, anarchy, chaos, and preaching of the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world.  When He was preached to "all the peoples," the end would come (Revelation 7:9-10). His followers were to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19. See also Hebrews 10:38, 39; Revelation 2:10). 

The end would include an "abomination of desolation." This was first spoken by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) and speaks of the disruption of temple worship. Some believed this was during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (preterist view), the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Ephipanes in 168 B.C. (Obviously, Jesus would have been looking back on this event contained in 1 Maccabees 1:57 - this is the history surrounding the celebration of Hanukkah), and others believe this is looking to the end times in the future, when a peace treaty lasting seven years will be signed between Israel and "the man of lawlessness" or "Antichrist" (futurist view, 2 Thessalonians).  

For the different views, I refer you to the "Views of the Tribulation" article. Again, I think the point Jesus is making is to be standing strong in Him, take heed, keep on the alert (NIV says, "be on guard", Mark 13:23,33)!

202. His return: Matthew 24:26-45, Mark 13:24-31, Luke 21:25-33

There will be many false christs and prophets but Jesus' glorious return will be unmistakable, accompanied by supernatural events in nature and trumpets, gathering His chosen ones (See also Isaiah 13:10; 34:4; Psalm 97:1-2, Daniel 7:13; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-16). 

Just as one knows that when the leaves appear on the fig tree, summer is near, we will know the signs of His coming. They will be unmistakable. "This generation" can mean the people living at that time, in the future, or both. The point is to recognize/know when He (the kingdom of God) is near (Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:29; Luke 21:31). 

203. Remaining watchful: Matthew 24:36-51, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 21:34-38

We do not know when this will all take place, but we are not to be like the people in the days of Noah that just went on their merry way, too absorbed in the interests of life to heed God's warnings through Noah. We will not know that day or the hour of His coming. He just wants us to be on the alert/keep watch (Matthew 24:42) and be ready by being a faithful and wise servant, doing the work He has given us to do (Matthew 24:44-50). 


As I have prayed through the writing of this section, I hear the Lord's gentle voice asking me (and you by extension): "Are you ready?" 

It is so easy to get sucked up into the theological debates over the Olivet Discourse and miss Jesus' clear warnings to:

1) Endure persecution to the end (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19) 
2) Take heed, keep on the alert about what He has said (Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:23, 33)
3) Recognize/know when He (the kingdom of God) is near (Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:29; Luke 21:31)
4) Be on the alert/keep watch with prayer (Matthew 24:42-43; Mark 13:35, 37; Luke 21:36)
5) Be ready by being a faithful and wise servant (Matthew 24:44-45). This includes giving to the "least of these" (Matthew 25:45).

Do not miss this practical application for your own life in the midst of trying to determine the when and who of this section of Scripture!


Go through the list above and ask yourself if you are ready.

The Olivet Discourse is a very important part of Scripture. Drink it in deeply and meditate on it. You might even want to read it up on a "mount" in your town and look over your city imagining an army surrounding it and the biggest building being destroyed. Then pray for your city!


We need to be ready for something that will not be easy. Pray through the wonderful promises in in Psalm 91:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, 
My God, in whom I trust!” 
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper 
And from the deadly pestilence. 
He will cover you with His pinions, 
And under His wings you may seek refuge; 
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. 

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, 
Or of the arrow that flies by day; 
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, 
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. 
A thousand may fall at your side 
And ten thousand at your right hand, 
But it shall not approach you. 
You will only look on with your eyes 
And see the recompense of the wicked. 
For you have made the Lord, my refuge, 
Even the Most High, your dwelling place. 
No evil will befall you, 
Nor will any plague come near your tent. 

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, 
To guard you in all your ways. 
They will bear you up in their hands, 
That you do not strike your foot against a stone. 
You will tread upon the lion and cobra, 
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; 
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. 
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; 
I will be with him in trouble; 
I will rescue him and honor him. 
With a long life I will satisfy him 
And let him see My salvation.

(Psalm 91:1-16) 
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