Matthew 24 – The Olivet Prophecy

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Here we complete the study of the prophecies of Daniel.

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Daniel chapter 8
  3. Daniel chapter 7
  4. The little horns and Antiochus
  5. Daniel chapter 2
  6. Daniel chapter 9
  7. Matthew 24 – The Olivet Prophecy (this post)
Russian Jewelled Icon of Christ Pantocrator

Russian Jewelled Icon of Christ Pantocrator

In Matt 24, Jesus outlines the events occurring at the end of the age. Does this mean the end of the world, sometime in the future? Probably not. Jesus specified that these events would happen in the lifetime of those he was speaking to – Matt 24:34. Furthermore, Jesus did indeed come at the end of an age, according to Heb 9:26 and 1 Cor 10:11 – and then God’s relationship with Israel ended with Israel being called a harlot, and the Old Covenant came to an end. The New Covenant with the Church, the body of Christ, began a new age. So it’s quite reasonable to interpret Jesus’ statements in Matt 24 in that context. There is no need to try to make all biblical prophecy refer primarily to us today. We live in an age of “relevance” – we all want to be relevant, and so we have a tendency to try to fit biblical prophecy into our lifetimes. So did those 500 years ago, 1000 years ago, and so will those in 500 years time.

I’ll list the key events Jesus spoke of, and their fulfillment in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple, and the end of the practice of the Old Covenant with its sacrificial system.

Matt 24 starts off with the disciples approaching Jesus to discuss the temple, and Jesus predicts that the temple will be completely destroyed. This happened in 70 AD, and soon even the foundations were ploughed over.

Then we see the the gospel has gone to the whole world – which is the known world (as in Luke 2:1), and that this took place is is confirmed by Acts 2:5, Acts 11:18, Romans 1:8, Col 1:5-6, and Col 1:23.

In Matt 24, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Even if you consider Matt 24 to refer to the end of the world, Jesus makes clear parallels between what happened in Antiochus’ day, and Daniel, and the future event.

Jesus refers in verse 15 to Daniel, and the abomination of desolation.

Sow with piglet

Antiochus sacrificed pigs in the temple

Jesus then goes on to list several warnings that come straight out of the account of Antiochus’ persecutions in the books of the Maccabees:

  1. When you see the abomination of desolation (1 Macc 1:57)
  2. Flee to the mountains (1 Macc 2:28)
  3. Leave your possessions (1 Macc 2:28)
  4. Woe to pregnant women and women with babies (1 Macc 2:9, 1 Macc 2:14)
  5. Pray that it may not be in winter (the abomination of desolation was set up on Kislev 8, in winter)
  6. Pray that it may not be on the sabbath (1 Macc 1:57, 1 Macc 2:29-41)
  7. There will be a great tribulation (read all of 1 Maccabees to see how this was the worst attack ever on the Jewish people, with an attempt to obliterate their worship completely)

Jesus told them to follow the example of the Jews under Antiochus, and to pray to avoid the same timing.

Four different planetary nebulae: NGC 6543, NGC 7662, NGC 7009, NGC 6826

Four different planetary nebulae: NGC 6543, NGC 7662, NGC 7009, NGC 6826

There would then be a great tribulation – Jesus used hyperbole, common in the Bible, and common in Jesus own speech. If we reject biblical hyperbole, then we have passages like 2 Kings 18:5 and 2 Kings 23:25 contradicting each other. Nevertheless, the world would never again see the destruction of the Jewish temple along with the Old Covenant and sacraficial system it supported.

Then eagles gathered at the bodies of those destroyed in the 70 AD war. The birds known as eagles do not do this. The eagles that gathered were the Roman soldiers, the eagle being the prominent symbol of the Roman Empire.

The sun, moon and stars would fail – these are signs that rule the day and the night, according to Genesis 1. The nation of Israel was brought to its knees, earthly powers no longer had power over the kingdom of Heaven, brought by Christ. The same failing of the sun, moon, and stars can also be found figuratively elsewhere in the Bible.

If we believe Jesus, there is no need to project all of this onto our own day to make it relevant to us. We can make it relevant to us by accepting what He did for us.

Further reading

A Full Preterist Exegesis of Matthew 24-25 … by Michael J. Sullivan
Matthew 24 Fulfilled
Matthew 24 Commentary: THAT Generation Shall Not Pass
The Prophetic Scope of Matthew 24 … by Arthur W. Pink
Matthew 24 – Future or Fulfilled? … by Ralph Woodrow
The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation … by Philip Mauro
Antiochus IV Epiphanes – Is he the little horn? … by Dale Ratzlaff
Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70)Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70) … Wikipedia

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