Olivet DiscourseBy Pastor Boffey on Sunday, May 27, 2007.
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE A. The Olivet Discourse treats of two separate events. 1. The time of one event (the destruction of the temple and great tribulation in Judea) could be known and thus escape was possible. 2. The time of the other event (the coming of Christ and the end of the world) would be unknown and inescapable, thus demanding continual vigilance. 3. These two events are separated by a period referred to in LUK 21:24 as "...the times of the Gentiles..." 4. This is one place where Dr. Scofield neglected to find a gap. a. He found one where there is none between GEN 1:1 and GEN 1:2. b. He found one where there is none between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy (DAN 9:24-27). c. He found one where there is none between the resurrection of the just and the unjust (JOH 5:28-29 c/w ACT 24:15). d. But he found none where there obviously is one here. B. The divisions of the Discourse are as follows: Section: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 MAT 24: 1-3 4-8 9-14 15-28 29-31 32-35 36-51 MAR 13: 1-4 5-8 9-13 14-23 24-27 28-1 32-37 LUK 21: 5-7 8-11 12-19 20-24 25-28 29-33 34-36 See also: LUK 12:39-48; 17:22-37. C. MAT 24:1-3. The questions. 1. MAR 13:3 identifies which disciples posed the questions. 2. The questions were: a. When shall these things be? MAT 24:3; MAR 13:4; LUK 21:7. b. What shall be the sign when all these things shall come to pass / be fulfilled? MAR 13:4; LUK 21:7. c. What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? MAT 24:3. 3. There was then a general belief amongst the Jews that their temple and the world would be co-extensive. This discourse refuted that. 4. Even Christ's disciples were in relative ignorance about key doctrinal points concerning Messiah and His kingdom. a. They were confused about the nature of the kingdom. LUK 17:20-21 c/w LUK 19:11; MAT 21:43 c/w ACT 1:6. b. That God should have a plan and a season for Gentiles was radical to them. ACT 10:34-35; 11:1-3, 18. c. Christ's teaching here was critical to their later Spirit-revived thoughts (JOH 14:26) concerning the shape of things to come in a New Testament age. D. MAT 24:4-8. A warning against deception and a description of the age. 1. The true Christ is identified by His person AND His works according to the Scriptures. ACT 17:2-3; MAT 16:13-16; JOH 5:36; 10:37-38. 2. vs.6-7 c/w LUK 21:9-11. a. By and by: "Of a succession of (persons or things): One by one, one after another, in order." b. Pestilence: "Any fatal epidemic disease, affecting man or beast, and destroying many victims." c. Note that wars, troubles, and commotions are not the things which would indicate the imminent end of the world. The condition of society will be just the opposite when the Savior returns. 1TH 5:3 c/w LUK 17:26-30. E. MAT 24:9-14. Persecutions are here predicted for the disciples during this age. Here also are events which must precede His coming and the end of the world. 1. v.9 c/w Lu.21:12-19. Persecutions such as these were fulfilled in the days of the apostles. ACT 4:3-12; 5:18; 6:9-12; 12:1-3; 16:19-34; 22:19, 25. 2. v.13 c/w COL 1:21-23; REV 2:10. Deliverance is promised to the faithful. 3. v.14 c/w MAR 16:20; ROM 1:8; 10:18; 16:26; COL 1:6. The world-wide publication of the gospel had to occur before His return. G. MAT 24:15-28. A description is here given of events related to the destruction of Jerusalem and the overthrow and dispersion of the Jews. 1. The abomination of desolation (v.15) is identified in LUK 21:20 as the armies encompassing Jerusalem. a. Daniel prophesied of this. DAN 9:26-27; 12:11. b. This abomination of desolation was the sign when THESE things would be fulfilled. LUK 19:41-44; MAT 23:34-38. 2. vs.16-20. The flight from the doomed city and country. a. When the disciples saw the abomination of desolation, they were to flee not only Jerusalem, but Judaea also. b. Fleeing with an infant or in winter or on the sabbath day would pose difficulties. c. The Lord provided His people who believed His testimony an obvious opportunity to obey His admonition to flee: "And now it was that a horrid fear seized upon the seditious, insomuch that many of them ran out of the city, as though it were to be taken immediately; but the people upon this took courage, and where the wicked part of the city gave ground, thither did they come, in order to set open the gates, and to admit Cestius as their benefactor, who, had he but continued the siege a little longer, had certainly taken the city; but it was, I suppose, owing to the aversion God had already at the city and the sanctuary, that he was hindered from putting an end to the war that very day. It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world." (Complete Works of Josephus, p.496) 3. v.21. This was to be an incomparable tribulation, the likes of which had never been seen nor would ever be surpassed. c/w DAN 12:1. a. "It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men's iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world." (Ibid, p.565) b. It was not the magnitude, but the intensity, ferocity and fullness which so distinguished this calamity. 4. v.22. God had His elect in Jerusalem for whom He had compassion. As in the days of Elijah, there was a remnant according to the election of grace. c/w ROM 11:3-5. 5. vs.23-24. False Christs and false prophets would be the order of the day in those dismal times. Strange signs and wonders would be witnessed also. Note the testimony of Josephus (pp. 582-583): a. "A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes." b. "There was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year." c. "Before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright daytime; which light lasted for half an hour." d. "At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple." g. Also, the very heavy eastern gate shut with difficulty by twenty men "opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night." h. A few days after that feast "before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running among the clouds, and surrounding of cities." 6. v.25 c/w MAR 13:23. The disciples were foretold all things concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. They could therefore KNOW by certain signs that the desolation thereof was nigh. LUK 21:20. 7. vs.26-28. Christ's coming will be public, not secret. His coming would not be at the destruction of Jerusalem. H. MAT 24:29-31. The aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem. 1. v.29. "after THOSE DAYS...." Note here a shift in time. a. A contrast is being set up between "THOSE DAYS" of which he had foretold all things (vs.19, 22) and "THAT DAY...(v.36)", the day of His coming of which nobody, including Jesus, knew. b. Remember that the Lord is dealing with two events: the destruction of Jerusalem and His second coming. 2. The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars indicate a state of judgment, a collapse of power. a. ECC 12:1-2. Here is a picture of old age, the decline of power. b. PSA 37:6; HAB 3:4; ACT 26:18. Bright days and light are indicative of blessing and power. c. Dark days are indicative of judgment. ISA 59:9-10; JER 13:16-18. d. The destruction of Egypt is described as a darkening of the lights of heaven (EZE 32:2, 7-10). Likewise with Babylon. ISA 13:1, 9-10. e. This upheaval would be no passing thing. A state of judgment would continue AFTER the tribulation of those days. f. Devils are worshipped under the sun, moon and stars. DEU 4:19; 2KI 23:5; DEU 32:17 c/w 1CO 10:20-21. (1) The devils are involved in the political realm. EPH 6:11-12; DAN 10:13, 20. (2) With the destruction of the apostate Jewish order, there was a judgment upon the spiritual forces that had animated it in its apostasy. MAT 12:43-45; EXO 12:12. (3) Behind the scenes of the war in Judaea, another war was taking place. REV 12:1-10; LUK 21:31. (4) Thus, the powers of the heavens were shaken. In connection with the powers of the heavens being shaken, this age has been characterized by political chaos. LUK 21:25-26. I. MAT 24:30-31 c/w 1TH 4:15-17; 2TH 1:7. 1. Then (v.30): "At the moment immediately following the action, etc. just spoken of; upon that, thereupon, directly after that; also in a wider application, indicating the action or occurrence next in order of time: next, after that, afterwards, subsequently (often in contrast to 'first')." 2. The next event of significance in the subsequent history known as "the times of the Gentiles" (LUK 21:24) would be one great sign: Jesus Christ Himself appearing in the atmosphere of this planet. 1TH 4:16. a. No premonition or warning sign would announce that event as with the overthrow of Jerusalem. Thus, there is none mentioned. b. The destruction of Jerusalem would be fraught with anxious dread that foretold its imminent calamity but not so with the coming of the Son of Man. MAT 24:38-39. 3. At that time He shall gather all His elect in one great common body. v.31 c/w MAR 13:27; EPH 1:10. 4. The day of Christ's revelation at a season subsequent to the "tribulation" is described: "...as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth" (LUK 21:35). a. "...and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn and they shall see the Son of man..." (v.30). b. The sudden appearance of Christ will be calculated and missed by none. It will be general and universal in scope. c. Mind that this hardly fits with any "millennial" belief system that affirms a certain defined period of time measured from a future "rapture" or start of the "tribulation." J. MAT 24:32-35. The parable of the fig tree. 1. The fig tree in this passage does not represent national Israel as some have surmised. (e.g. Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, pp. 53-54) a. In LUK 21:29, Christ referred to ALL trees for His illustration. b. If the fig tree consistently represents Israel, then according to LUK 13:6-9 and MAT 21:19, Israel will NEVER be restored to fruitfulness. c. The parable of the fig tree is merely a lesson drawn from nature about signs of coming events. 2. v.33. Note "all THESE things." Jesus gave detailed warnings and a culminating sign that would be seen which answers the question: "What shall be the sign when all THESE things shall be fulfilled" (MAR 13:4)? LUK 21:20. 3. v.33 ("it is near") c/w "...the kingdom of God is nigh at hand" (LUK 21:31). a. At hand: "Within easy reach; near; close by (sometimes preceded by 'close, hard, near, nigh, ready')." b. The destruction of Jerusalem signified and announced that the new Messianic order over all things, heavenly and earthly, had fully arrived. REV 12:10. (1) Satan and his angels were cast into the earth. (2) God's tolerance with national Israel ceased. Their system and service was turned over to devils. MAT 12:42-45 c/w REV 2:9; 3:9. (3) The "times of the Gentiles" under the Messianic rule began in earnest. aa. The reproach of the N.T. church's tainted Jewish legacy was rolled back from them forty years after the spiritual kingdom of God's formal beginning (LUK 16:16). bb. This had a correspondent in the Gilgal experience of national Israel forty years after the natural kingdom of God's formal beginning. JOS 5:9 c/w ACT 7:36. 4. v.34. Note the emphasis in this parable of the fig tree on seeing and knowing. All things pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem that Christ had foretold (MAR 13:23) and that the disciples would see, would come to pass in "THIS GENERATION." See also MAT 23:34-36; LUK 21:22. a. Mark the significance of "THIS GENERATION." This speaks of short-term events being fulfilled in the immediate future, not in some distant future era. b. Dr. Scofield, commenting on Christ's woe and lament of Jerusalem in MAT 23:34-39, correctly says about "this generation" (v.36): "It is the way also of history; judgment falls upon one generation for the sins of the centuries. This prediction was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70." (Scofield Reference Bible, p.1032) c. But then he flip-flops on Jesus' subsequent associated statement in MAT 24:34, "....This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." (1) Dr. Scofield here tries to make "generation" mean "race, kind, family, stock, breed." (2) Based upon this new definition he then concludes, "The promise is, therefore, that the generation---nation, or family of Israel--- will be preserved unto these things...." (Ibid, p.1034) (3) A survey of the usage of "generation" in the previous chapters of Matthew shows that "generation" is meant to refer to the generation living at one time. K. MAT 24:36-51. The second coming of Christ. 1. v.36. The word "but" is a contrasting conjunction. The subject matter introduced here contrasts with "these things" of vs.33-34. a. Relate "that day" with the passing away of heaven and earth in v.35. That would occur in "that day", the end of the world, the day of His Second Coming. 2PE 3:10. b. "That day" contrasts with "those days" in vs.19, 22, 29. c. That time, UNLIKE the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, is not marked or known. 2. Contrary to the things which they could see and know from the parable of the fig tree (vs.32-33), just the opposite is emphasized when dealing with the day of His coming: a. v.36: "...knoweth no man..." b. v.39: "...knew not..." c. v.42: "...know not..." d. v.43: "...if the goodman of the house had known..." e. v.44: "...such an hour as ye think not..." f. v.50: "...when he looketh not for him..." 3. Contrast "...know not..." (v.42) with "...ye know..." and "...know..." in vs.32- 33 and LUK 21:20. 4. Contrast the parable of vs.42-51 (it is called a parable in LUK 12:41) with the parable of vs.32-33. 5. "Here is a great contrast: one event whereof the Lord was speaking was then close at hand; it was to happen within THAT generation, and it would be immediately preceded by a SIGN, which His disciples could not fail to recognize. But the other event (His own coming) would be at a time UNKNOWN EVEN TO HIMSELF, and more-over there should be NO SIGN to apprise His people of its approach, for which reason He impressed it upon them that they were to WATCH 'at every season' (Lu.21:36 Gr.). Concerning the first event He said, 'Behold, I have foretold you all things;' but of the second He said, 'But of THAT day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father' (v.32)." (Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and The Great Tribulation, p.262) 6. LUK 21:34-36. The disciples are encouraged to not look for signs of His coming, but only for Him to come at any moment and so live their lives in appropriate anticipation of that. c/w 1JO 2:28 ; HEB 9:28.