Sign of the Times
Many are now teaching that Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are two separate events. Their claim is that Matthew takes place while Jesus and His disciples are sitting on the Mount of Olives, but Luke takes place as Jesus and His disciples are departing from the Temple complex. The argument goes that Matthew is an “End Time” prophecy while Luke is focused on the times in which they were living. However, if you read the chapters leading up to each of these events, you will discover that they are simply two different perspectives on the same events. This is easily understood when we consider that Matthew was an eyewitness to the events in his gospel while Luke, like a good journalist, researched and interviewed to accurately gather the facts and present them to Theophilus (Greek meaning, “loved of God).
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” Luke 1:1-4 (KJV).
A growing segment of Biblical historians is tending to believe that this Theophilus was the high priest from 37 to 44. Wikipedia has an interesting introduction to this idea and Got Questions suggests that “Theophilus was the Jewish high priest named Theophilus ben Ananus. Theophilus ben Ananus was the high priest in Jerusalem in A.D. 37-41. He was the son of Annas and the brother-in-law of Caiaphus . . . This theory seems to be gaining popularity among some groups. Still another theory is that the Luke’s Theophilus was a later high priest named Mattathias ben Theophilus – who served in Jerusalem in A.D. 65-66.” Whatever the case, Luke kept him informed of his findings on the life of Jesus Christ.
Matthew Chapter 24 – Verse by Verse:
Departure from the Temple—Mark 13:1, 2; Luke 21:5, 6
Matthew 24:1 KJV, And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to [him] for to shew him the buildings of the temple.”
As Matthew 24 opens, Jesus had just been in the Temple teaching the people and facing down the religious elite who were attempting to entangle Him in His own words (21:12 – 23:39). After decisively dealing with them, He departs the Temple with His disciples who are relishing it’s beauty and grandeur, “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts . . .” (Luke 21:5 KJV).
The disciples had good cause to be in awe of the Temple’s majestic splendor. It was indeed a grand structure. Herod began his reclamation project of Nehemiah’s Temple in 19 BC. The reconstruction required 10,000 laborers in addition to the 1,000 priests who were trained in the construction arts – only priests could work in the holy areas of the Temple. Herod had it restored to the same dimensions as King Solomon’s Temple. Herod’s renovated Temple, along with the surrounding structures and porches, stood as one of the finest buildings in all the ancient world. This wasn’t a new Temple but a grand renovation of Nehemiah’s deteriorating structure which had fallen into ruin.
Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
Matthew 24:2 KJV, “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Jesus begins to reply without explanation. As we read in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, God had told the people of Israel from their very beginning as a nation what the penalties would be for insolence and infidelity. As He speaks to His disciples, Jesus is aware of the Old Testament prophecies and the increasing depths of “Jacob’s trouble,”* (Jeremiah 30). Beginning in Matthew 12, Jesus is already aware that Israel will disavow Him and that His Father will not tolerate their callousness toward Messiah their King. Time and time again they were warned of God:
*See Post – Jacob’s Trouble
“Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israelshall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, [which] is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.”1 Kings 9:7-9 (KJV)
“Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. (Take time to read the entire chapter)” Isaiah 64:10-11 (KJV).
“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”Luke 19:44 (KJV).
“I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. 3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD. 4 I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests” Zephaniah 1:2-4 (KJV).
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary (Temple). . .”Daniel 9:26 (KJV).
Josephus claimed that: Titus [Cesar] wanted the temple spared, but on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Ab, (70 a.d.), the temple was torched. It is believed that in the ensuing battle a fire erupted in Jerusalem and around the temple. The Temple interior was laden with gold, walls and ceiling. Even the Temple floor was a beaten sheet of pure gold. In the raging inferno, all its gold melted and ran between the Temple stones. The Roman soldiers were ordered to roll over every stone and retrieve the booty for the empire. They literally tore the Temple to pieces, stone by stone, in their effort to recover every last ingot of gold. Exactly as Jesus prophesied, they left not one stone atop another. As the adage goes, “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Oxford History of the Biblical World, 1998 edition.
It was recently reported that during the restoration of the “Roman Coliseum,” a plaque has been discovered which states that the original construction project by Titus was financed with the gold from the Temple at Jerusalem. Wikipedia -Colosseum states, “Construction was funded by the opulent spoils taken from the Jewish Temple after the First Jewish–Roman War in 70 CE led to the Siege of Jerusalem. According to a reconstructed inscription found on the site, “the emperor Vespasian ordered this new amphitheater to be erected from his general’s share of the booty.
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