Friday, September 28, 2012


Matthew 24:35-41; Mark 13:31-32; Luke 21:33

All three of the Gospels record the warning to watch at the end of the parable of the fig tree. They clearly start by making a declaration of certainty. Christ says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” This is a statement of divine assurance. These events will happen before the 1000 year Kingdom of our Lord is established.

Still many want to find past fulfillments in history, and to spiritualize events to which there is no historical fulfillment. To spiritualize this discourse into a past fulfillment destroys the tone and certainty of these words. Spiritualizing the text places the fulfillment on unstable ground. It makes the mind of the interpreter the authority, not the facts in the text. For example, those who see the fulfillment of the discourse including the second coming of Christ have a problem. They try to solve this as being a visitation of judgment at the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. This destroys the literal sense of the prophecy for no other reason than to uphold their view that the discourse had to be fulfilled in 70 AD. They have to spiritualize this second coming because there was no visible, bodily return of Christ. This prophecy calls for such a fulfillment before heaven and earth pass away, which is the customary, ordinary meaning of the passage.


Matthew 24:32-25 deals with what the disciples can know with certainty. The text reads, “when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). The purpose of the Tribulation is not simply a time of judgment, but a signal to the nearness of the second coming of Christ. When one sees these events being fulfilled one can know the nearness of His return to earth. Although certainty of His return can be known, the exact time cannot be known. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only” (Matthew 24:36). To speculate about the exact time of the Lord’s return is unfruitful and undesirable. No one knows, nor can anyone know the time.


The reader not to speculate as to the time, but to watch and be ready. Both Luke (31:34-36) and Mark (13:33) record the exhortation to take heed and watch. Cranfield observes that “ignorance of the date of the End is not an excuse for being unprepared, but a reason for unceasing vigilance.”[1]

Watchfulness is not simply needed because of the certainty of these events, nor their seriousness, but because of their suddenness. The word “suddenly” in Luke 21:34 is the word aiphnidious in the Greek and is used only twice in the New Testament. It is used here and 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Both texts deal with the same events, the tribulation of those days. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 the word has a place of emphasis. It carries the idea of very, very sudden destruction. The idea is that this will come so suddenly, that it will catch many completely unprepared. Believers of that day must be diligent to watch so they will not be caught unaware. All believers in all dispensations are to be waiting, watching, and working for the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord Jesus, besides warning the readers to be watchful, illustrates the need for such watchfulness. Two examples are given:

Days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39)

Many look upon this illustration as simply a comparison concerning the corruption in Noah’s day and the last days. The comparison is that history will repeat itself. They state that “if ever there was a time in the world’s history which resembles the days of Noah, this is it”[2] (meaning our own day). While this observation may be valid and true, it seems to me the main point is their unpreparedness for the judgment of the flood. While Noah was a preacher of righteousness and warned of the judgment, his message was unheeded. This unpreparedness came because of unbelief and disobedience.

As judgment came suddenly upon the generation of Noah, likewise it will come suddenly during the Tribulation. Even with all the signs being fulfilled in that day, men will not recognize what is happening, and will be unprepared. They will continue to eat, drink and be merry as if nothing is going to happen. They will continue in the unpreparedness of unbelief, just as in the days of Noah. The Tribulation saints are not to be caught unprepared. They are to watch, pray, wait, work, and be prepared as Noah was in his day.

One taken, the other left (Matthew 24:40-41).

Next Jesus gives the illustration of the two in the field and the mill. In each case one is taken while the other one was left behind. The theme of suddenness is continued in this illustration. The event happens without warning.

Because of the suddenness of this event, many have confused this as an illustration of the rapture of the Church. Alexander Reese argues the rapture on the basis of suddenness and the word “taken.” He says the Greek word paralambano is opposed to any idea of judgment for the word is used “exclusively in the sense of taken away with, or receive, or take home in a friendly sense.”[3] However, that is not the case. In John 19:16 the same word is used of the soldiers who “took charge of” Christ. Christ was not taken in a friendly manner, he was taken to judgment. These who are taken in this illustration are taken in judgment, not raptured.
The two illustrations are related in that those taken were judged and received the just reward of their unbelief. Just like in Noah’s day unbelievers received the judgment, only Noah and his family were left. Noah was left to inherit a new earth. Likewise, the ones left in this illustration are left to inherit the Kingdom. I believe that this applies directly to the end of the Tribulation, not the church age. The theme of these illustrations is the suddenness of the events and the importance of being prepared for the coming of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on earth.

[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, “St. Mark 13,” 296.
[2]  Carl Armerding, THE OLIVET DISCOURSE, 47-48.
[3]  Alexander Reese, THE APPROACHING ADVENT OF CHRIST, 215.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



Matthew 24:34  (cf. Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32).

All three of the Gospels report that the first statement after the parable of the tree is: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” This saying has caused great confusion and is one of the most difficult statements ever to be spoken by our Lord. Bible students have tried to overcome the difficulty with a number of suggestions.

The suggestions have centered on the word “generation.” What does the word mean? The Greek word is genea. According to Abbott-Smith it has several meanings:

1.      Race, stock, or family.

2.      Generation; (a) of contemporary member of a family: (b) of all the people of a given period: (c) the period covered by the lifetime of a generation, used loosely in place of successive ages.[1]

From the meaning of the word, it these are the suggestions proposed:

  1. There are those who see this as the justification for applying the discourse to the events of the destruction of the city and temple in 70 AD. They hold that “this generation” can mean only those who lived in the first century. This appears to be the logical and obvious meaning. However, there is one big problem—“all these things” did not happen in the first century. To take such a strict literal interpretation means portions of the prophecy have to be spiritualized, such as the second coming of Christ. The second coming of Christ is part of the discourse and included in the phrase “all these things,” yet it did not happen. The generation that is hearing these words did not see “all these things.”
  2. Another explanation is that the term refers to the word meaning “race.” Many hold to this view. In this sense, it would mean that the Jewish race would not vanish before these events take place. History would certainly uphold this interpretation. Attempts have been made to do away with the Jewish race, but all have and will fail. The Jews will not be exterminated. Hitler in World War II could not do it. God will keep them by His providence and protection. Israel will survive as a people until the end of the age. J. Dwight Pentecost tells us that “this seems the best explanation”[2] for the meaning of the word genea.
  3. Another explanation is that the term refers to the generation that is alive at the time of fulfillment of the events. John Walvoord expounds this view: “The term generation is understood to mean just what it normally means, namely, 30 to 100 years, or a generation, a life span. But the generation referred to in the expression ‘this generation’ is not the generation to whom Christ is speaking, but the generation to whom the signs will become evident. In effect He is saying that the generation which sees the specific signs, that is, the great tribulation, will also see the fulfillment of the second coming of Christ. On the basis of other Scriptures, teaching that this period is only three and one-half years, this prophecy becomes a very plausible explanation.”[3]
    While this view may be plausible, there is a note of warning we must make. Many who hold this view insist that this parable represents Israel, and that the “this generation” refers to our own generation, which has seen the rebirth of that nation. John Phillips hold this and declares: “There can be little doubt that our generation is the generation that has witnessed the budding of the fig tree, the rebirth of the state of Israel, and the beginning of ‘all these things’ which come from the body of the prophecy.”
    This view makes the view applicable to the church of this dispensation. As we have noted before, the parable does not necessarily apply to the nation, rather the fig tree is tribulation. The rebirth of Israel as a nation was necessary for these things to happen, but do not indicate that these things are happening. It is dangerous to hold that we are the generation during which fulfillment will happen. This present generation may or may not be the generation that enters the Tribulation. We are not the disciples that will enter the tribulation, for the church will be raptured before that takes place (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
  4. Another suggestion is the explanation by C.F. Baker. He holds that it was the generation that Christ was addressing is meant. However, the fulfillment was conditional. He writes: “…that this statement contains an untranslatable particle ‘an’ which indicates that a certain thing could happen under certain conditions. In other words, all of these things could have come to pass in that generation if certain conditions had been fulfilled. What are those conditions? Plainly, the condition was that Israel repents and be converted, which Israel did not do. Since the condition was not fulfilled, the events did not come to pass. But, of course, they will yet come to pass at the end of the age.”[5]
    This view upholds the customary meaning of generation is plausible and worthy of consideration. The natural meaning of the text means the generation in which Christ is speaking to. If this present dispensation of the mystery (Eph. 3:1-10) did not suspend and postpone the events foretold, then that generation would have seen the complete fulfillment of this prophecy. However, the Mystery was revealed and brought in the dispensation of grace, thus postponing the fulfillment of this discourse. It will now be the generation of the Tribulation that will not pass away before complete fulfillment takes place. This view allows the phrase “this generation” to be taken in its natural and customary use when Christ spoke these words, and also explains why the fulfillment was delayed unto a future generation.

[2]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, 281.
[3]  John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End,” 24.
[4]  John Phillips, EXPLORING THE FUTURE, 167.

Saturday, September 15, 2012



Matthew 24:32-41

Mark 13:28-32

Luke 21:29-33


The parable of the fig tree begins a new section of the Olivet Discourse. Up to this point Christ had centered on the events of the end of the age. Now Christ begins a series of parables that illustrate the ethical or practical points that result from knowing the truth of these events.

The word parable means a “placing alongside of,” for the purpose of comparison or illustration. Parables are not abstractions, but concrete illustrations taken from life or nature to portray, explain, or demonstrate a particular truth. Christ uses them here “in order to give practical exhortation to those witnessing these events.”[1] Preparedness is the common theme in the parables that follow. Believers in every dispensation must be prepared to defend the truth (1 Peter 3:15), ready for good works (Titus 3:1), and ready to meet the Lord (Matthew 25:10). Especially those living in the end times.


The first parable is commonly known as that of the fig tree, although it could better be called the parable of the trees, since Luke adds the reference “all the trees” (Luke 21:29). Simply stated, the truth of this parable is that as the tree brings forth leaves, the sign of summer is near, so when these events spoken of in the discourse come about, it will show the nearness of His coming. This leads to the exhortation for believers to “watch,” to be alert.

As simple as the parable seems, it has caused a number of problems to Bible students. The basic problem centers on imminence of the events and reconciliation with history. A number of attempts have been made to reconcile these words with history.

One such attempt is know as the “Kansequente Eschatologie” view. This view asserts that Jesus was mistaken. That the end did not come. Jesus was simply wrong. This view is not acceptable.

Jesus was not mistaken. These events were near when Christ spoke them. According to Old Testament prophecy they were next in line to be fulfilled in the program of God. After the cutting off of Messiah (His crucifixion), the 70th week of Daniel 9 was to occur. In fact, Peter on the day of Pentecost states “this is that,” indicating he saw it as the beginning of these events. He tells Israel to repent. He indicates that if they repent, Jesus would return to set up the Kingdom (Acts 3:19-20). Their understanding was correct as to what was happening. However, Israel never repented. These events were interrupted and delayed.

What they did not know or see was the calling of Paul and what he calls the dispensation of the Mystery (Ephesians 3:9). God delayed or interrupted the flows of Old Testament prophecy to bring in a new dispensation: the dispensation of grace. This new dispensation was revealed to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1-10). This present dispensation is introduced between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel, thus postponing the events until after the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25-27). Christ did not reveal these facts on the discourse because they were hid in God until revealed to and through the Apostle Paul. Christ did not reveal the new dispensation for two main reasons: First, because the kingdom, while at hand, was not offered until the day of Pentecost (Acts 3:9). Second, the new dispensation could not be revealed without invalidating the offer of repentance to the nation Israel.

Christ was not mistaken. The prophetic process was not stopped until after they refused to accept the offer of the kingdom and repent as a nation. They there were temporarily set aside until after the new dispensation. Israel and the world still will face the truth of this discourse. The 70th week of Daniel has been interrupted, postponed, but not canceled. It will take place during the tribulation period.

A second view, held by many dispensationalists, is that the fig tree is a type of Israel. By holding this view, they see this parable as fulfilled in this present dispensation of Grace, and apply it to Israel becoming a nation. Gaebelein observed in this application, “that now we behold Israel like a budding fig tree, signs of new national life and in this a sign of the times, is certainly not wrong. It tells us of the nearness of the end.”[2]

While I believe Israel becoming a nation sets the stage for the end times, it does not necessarily tell us of its nearness. However, the passage is not talking about the present renewal of Israel as a nation. This can be seen by three observations:

First, the fig tree is not an automatic reference to Israel. While the fig three represents Israel on some occasions, it does not necessarily do so here. Walvoord states: “In the absence of any specific Scripture making the fig tree as a type of Israel, it is better to interpret the fig tree as a natural illustration which is quite common in Christ’s teaching.”[3]

Second, nowhere in this chapter does it speak of the restoration of Israel as a nation. The text assumes Israel is in the land when these events occur.

Third, the text itself explains what the fig tree represents: “all these things” (Matthew 24:33). The phrase refers back to the preceding signs and events that will take place in the tribulation. The tree is an illustration of the tribulation, when these signs will come to fulfillment, thus indicating the nearness of the Lord’s return. What Christ is saying is simply when you see these things begin to occur you can know His prophetic return to earth is near.

[1]  J. Dewight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, 213.
[2]  Arno C. Gaebelein, MATTHEW, 513.
[3]  John F. Walvoord, “Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the Time of the End,” 23.

Thursday, September 13, 2012



[Sermon idea]
The Man Nicodemus
--Man of Desire: He Came to Jesus (John 3:2)
--A Stand UP Man: He spoke for Jesus (John 7:5)
--Man of Devotion: He honored Jesus (John 19:39-40)

Monday, September 10, 2012



Matthew 24:49-31
Mark 12:26-27
Luke 21:24-28


Upon completion of the great tribulation the Son of Man will return to earth in all His Glory. This is the climax of prophecy, as well as history. This passage is rooted in the Old Testament. The expression “in those days,” used in Mark’s gospel, “is an Old Testament stereotype associated with eschatological events.”[1] It must be interpreted in that context of end-time events.

Certain events are associated with the second coming of Christ. Christ now draws them to our attention. Although there are a number of events, they all happen “immediately” upon His return to earth to set up His kingdom here on earth.


Celestial disturbances have always had a prophetic significance in Scripture. The Old Testament is full of predictions of these types of disturbances, especially in connection with the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15-16). The celestial disturbances cause the sun, moon and stars to fail to give light to the earth. The New Testament continues these predictions concerning the end-time events (Acts 2:20; Revelation 6:12-13; 8:12). These disturbances take place at the second coming of Christ, “immediately after the tribulation of those days.”

Luke reveals the impact these commotions will have on earth. They will cause great dismay or distress (Luke 21:25). The Greek word is sunoche, meaning anguish. Marshall say the word was used in connection with Greek astrological signs, indicating “dismay caused by unfavorable omens.”[2] Anguish is acute mental or physical suffering. In case of these heavenly commotions it will be both mental and physical. In the book of Revelation, such commotion is described in the context of great physical suffering (Revelation 8:10-12; 16:9). In Matthew 24 the anguish is from the sudden realization by those who are lost that they had rejected and fought against truth and the true Messiah. This anguish is accompanied by perplexity. The word in the Greek, aporia, means to be without resources; to be at a loss; to be at wits end. They will be in great anguish and at a loss for a solution, for there will be no solution for them because they have rejected the only resource and solution for their salvation: acceptance by faith of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18).

These events will be so distressing that there will be “men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the earth” (Luke 21:26). They will be scared to death. The Greek word for “fainting from fear” is apopsucho, literally meaning “to stop breathing” thus to faint.[3] It is vital that we remember that these are signs “of God’s power and overruling providence…are a terror only to the faithless.”[4] The believing remnant will have no reason to fear, but to rejoice in the coming of Christ. To them it will be a day of glory. The redeemed will be excited because these signs will signal their final and physical redemption.


Matthew 24:30 says “then the sign of the Son of Man will appear.” Neither Mark nor Luke refers to this sign. The exact identification of the sign is not clearly given, but is simply stated in the text. There have been many suggestions given about the identification of this sign. Some suggest it is the sign of the cross in the heavens; others suggest it is the Shekinah glory; while others take it to be the appearing of Christ Himself. The best interpretation is that it is the appearing of Christ Himself. There are two main reasons for this: First, this verse alludes to Daniel 7:13, the context of which is the coming of Christ. Second, there is no distinction between the sign and the coming. These things happen together. Plus, the grammar suggests there is no distinction between the sign and His appearance. Lenski says: “Why seek for a distinction? In v.3, ‘the sign of thy Parousia and the complete finish of the eon’ as the two genitives indicate, refer to the comprehensive signs that foretell that Parousia and the end. In ‘the sign of the son of man’ the genitive is subjective; the sign by which he shows his presence; not objective; the sign which points to him as being about to come. The stress is on the verbs, all of them are placed forward for this reason…. And the first and the last are correlative: ‘there shall appear,’ and, of course, at once all the tribes of the earth ‘shall see these.’ No sign, say a glowing, dazzling light shall hang over the earth for a shorter or a longer period after which the Son shall arrive. All will be one grand act: the Son’s manifestation in glory will be what the tribes see.”[5]


The coming of Christ will be visible, powerful, and with great splendor. Acts 1:11 tell us that when Christ returns it will be in the same manner as He left this earth. He left from the Mount of Olives in the clouds and He returns there in the clouds. Although only the disciples saw Him leave, all men will see His return. In the age of telecommunication we have a better understanding of how this can happen. Events can be seen instantly from around the world today. The word “coming” suggests a physical and visible event. The Greek word is parousia. The word is used of the coming of Christ not only in Matthew 24, but 1 Corinthians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 1:16; and 1 John 2:28. Braumann says the word denotes presence on one hand, and on the other hand, arrival. He says “the noun is used for the arrival of a ruler, a king, emperor, or even troops.”[6]

The word however is not unique nor a technical term for the second coming. C.F. baker points out that it can be used of the rapture: “…it is not a technical term in Scripture for a singular coming of Christ. Since Christ will come for the Body and be present with the Body, and since He will come to earth and be present on earth, the word parousia can be used with equal fitness for either event.”[7] It is a mistake to take the term exclusively for the second coming of Christ. Likewise it is a mistake to combine the truth of the rapture with the second coming of Christ. The second coming has special reference to the nation Israel. The rapture applies to the Church, the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18). The rapture happens before the tribulation.

What happens at the end of the tribulation almost exclusively deals with Israel and the setting up of the Kingdom on earth. The second coming is the physical, visible coming of Christ to rule and reign for 1000 years on earth. Christ is described as coming to earth “in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). Clouds are a common motif for divine presence. The word “power” is evident from the events described as Christ returns (Mark 13:24-27; Revelation 20:11).

There are some that claim that the parousia somehow took place in 70 A.D. Tasker claims: “The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple was indeed a divine visitation, which one familiar with the language of Jewish prophecy could describe as the coming of the Son of man on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”[8]

This seems to me to be a disregard for the normal, customary usage of language. In response Marshall denotes: “…the cosmic signs cannot be interpreted as purely political events, there is no evidence that Daniel 7:13 was applied to different stages of the vindication of the Son of man, and nothing in the context leads us to believe that an unusual sense is to be found here, in fact the clear temporal sequence (Mark 13:24, 26) suggests that an event after the fall of Jerusalem is in mind.”[9]

At the second coming of Christ, the tribulation will end, and the Messianic Kingdom will be ushered in on the earth. It will begin with the gathering together of God’s people from the four corner of the earth (Matthew 24:31). The elect referred to here is the faithful remnant of Israel as promised by the covenants and the prophets (Leviticus 26:44-45; Isaiah 11:11-16; Jeremiah 16:14-15). The Scripture suggests that Israel has a future scattering because of the anger of Satan and the desolation of the temple (cf. Matthew 24:15-16). Many of Israel will not have returned to the land because of theses events. But at this time all will be regathered as fulfillment of Old Testament promises (Deuteronomy 30:3-4; Ezekiel 20:37-38; 37:1-14).

[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, “St. Mark 13,” SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY 7: 301.
[2]  I. Howard Marshall, COMMENTARY ON LUKE, 775.
[3]  Ibid, 775.
[4]  W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann, MATTHEW, 258.
[5]  R.C.H. Lenski, MATTHEW, 948.
[8]  R.V.G. Tasker, TNTC:MATTHEW, 226-227.
[9]  Marshall, 776-777.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012




Matthew 24:15-28

Mark 13:14-20



The relationship of Matthew 24:15 and 24:21 should be noted carefully. There is a “when/then” relationship. These words note cause/effect. When the abomination of desolation happens, then the saints in Jerusalem are to “flee unto the mountains.” This flight will be immediate. This is evident by the language used. A person on the housetop is not even to “come down to take anything out of his house (Matthew 24:27). Nor is the farmer in the field to “return back to take anything out of his house” (Matthew 24:18). This language denotes instant flight. When this event occurs, believers are to leave at once with no hesitation. Nolland notes that these are “images of desperate urgency.”[1] The flight is to be so quick they will not even be able to pack; they are to flee with just the clothes on their backs. This flight will present a hardship for mothers of infants and those expecting a child (Matthew 24:19). They are to pray that it does not occur in winter, nor on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:20). That would complicate a quick immediate getaway.

This flight is seen in Revelation 12:6. The believing remnant of Israel is the woman who flees to the wilderness. The women is in the wilderness for 1,260 days (3 ½ years). During this time, the last half of the Tribulation, the remnant of Israel will be preserved in a “place prepared by God.” It speaks of survival and safety for the believing remnant.

Some point to Christians feeing the city before the destruction of Jerusalem as fulfilling these passages. However, I find that view wanting. First there is no evidence of an immediate flight before 70 AD. Those who did flee had time to do so before the army completely cut off the city. Second, the idea that it was fulfilled in fleeing to Pella/ Perea is not satisfactory. Hendriksen notes that the citizens of Perea were anti-Jewish and hated the Jews, including Christian Jews; it was not large enough to house the refugees; and those fleeing earlier would have fallen into the hostile hand of fanatical Jewish freedom-fighters.[2]

The reason for the urgent flight is seen in the phrase “for then shall be great tribulation” (Matthew 14:21). The word “for” introduces the reason for the flight. Evidently, this is the last possible moment of escape. If they do not escape, they will be caught in this great and terrible trouble. It will come so suddenly that they do not have time to get their things together to get out. The Apostle Paul observes: “…the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a women with child, and they shall not escape” (2 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

 If God in His mercy would not shorten these days, no flesh would survive. Some have suggested this means the days will be made shorter (less than 24 hours) by speeding of the rotation of the earth. While possible, the word shorten does not seem to uphold this idea. The Greek word is koloboo, and is found only here and Mark 13:20 in the New Testament. The word “denotes to cut off, amputate,”[3] implying to be shortened in the sense of termination or cutting off. It does not mean to lessen the three and one half years, for that chronology is clearly spelled out in Scripture. Israel and the city must be given over to the Antichrist for a full 1,260 days. It may well stand for the abrupt termination by the Second Coming of Christ. This time will be terminated for the sake of the elect.

Interesting, while the saints are fleeing Jerusalem, two witnesses will arrive in Jerusalem, who will “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sack-cloth” (Revelation 11:3). They will be invincible until their work is completed, when they will be killed at the end of the great tribulation. Their bodies will lie in the street for all to see for three and one half days (Revelation 11:6-9), when they will be resurrected and taken to heaven (Revelation 11:11-12).


During this time false hopes run high, for many will come claiming to be the Messiah or his prophet (Matthew 24:33). Conditions will be so terrible that people will long for anything or anyone who promises deliverance. They will cling to any ray of hope. These false ones will be deceivers. The hope they offer will be false. They will perform great signs and miracles, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Jesus warns them to “believe it not” in spite of the great claims, signs and wonders.

It is interesting that the text suggest a great difference between Christ and those claiming to be Messiah. The difference is visibility. It seems from the text that these false Messiahs are rarely seen. A.B. Bruce notes that the “expressions—in the desert, in the secret recesses—point to non-visibility.”[4] In contrast, the second coming of Christ, the true Messiah, will be visible and evident to all (Matthew 24:27). “Every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7).

Matthew 24:28 is a proverbial statement describing these false Messiahs and prophets. They will flock to Israel like vultures. Stanley Toussaint notes that during this time Israel “will be in such a spiritual condition that false prophets will be able to feast on it as vultures consume the flesh of a dead and decaying body.”[5]

[1]  John Nolland, NIGTC: GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 972.
[2]  William Hendricksen, GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 858.
[4]  A.B. Bruce, EGT: THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, 294.
[5]  Stanley Toussaint, BEHOLD THE KING, 276.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Allen Ross on Isaiah 1:1

Allan Ross in his work on Isaiah holds that Isaiah 1:1 is the title for the book of Isaiah. He points out:

  • “The title verse mentions all the kings under whom Isaiah prophesied. It is similar to Micah 1:1, Hosea 1:1, and other superscriptions of prophetic collections. They all name the kings in full—apparently for the whole book. The contemporary Micah was addressed to Judah and Samaria; but Isaiah was addressed only to Judah. Hosea, another contemporary, was addressed to the reign of Jeroboam II (Hosea 13:8 would not recognize usurpers).
  • The heading is parallel to the way that others prophetic books.
  • Ezekiel 1 is a contrast to the pattern: Isaiah 2:1 is written for a small section of the prophecy.
  • A major objection is that parts of the book are not written to or about Judah or Jerusalem (e.g. chapter 13 for Babylon and Edom). But these other oracles are recorded as they pertain to Jerusalem and Judah. Otherwise they would not be there.
  • Chapter 1 is a prologue for the whole book, and not the chronological beginning of the oracles. It sets forth the major themes that will be heard throughout the collection.”