The End… of the Temple (Matt 24:1-3)

Over the past five days we’ve looked at Matthew chapter 23, in which Jesus took the Pharisees to task for their hypocrisy – and their failure to recognise the kingdom of God when it turned up in their midst. It ended with a mic drop moment in which Jesus spoke of their “house” being left desolate (23:38) and hinted at the fact that the cornerstone they’d rejected was heading off to build a whole new house (23:39, echoing Psalm 118). So how and when was this going to happen?

That’s what chapter 24 is all about. Starting off when Jesus – the glory of God – leaves the temple and heads to the Mount of Olives. Just like as it did back in 587BC (see Ezek 11:23), when God abandoned it to destruction by the Babylonian army.

Continue reading

The beginning of the birth pangs (Matt 24:4-14)

Yesterday, we saw Jesus predict the destruction of the temple. His disciples asked what they thought was a simple question (24:3 “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”) and Jesus gives anything but a simple answer. He seems to make a distinction between the first part of the question (when will the temple be destroyed?) and the second part (when will he return?). But in true prophetic fashion, those two horizons tend to merge. If you’re just joining us, it would be better to start with yesterday’s post to get the full explanation.

Continue reading

The abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15-28)

We’re continuing in our look at Matthew 24, where Jesus is answering his disciples’ question about (a) when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, and (b) when Christ would come, and the signs of the end of the age. (If you’re just joining us, see the previous two posts for the full story.)

At the bible college I teach at, the staff kitchenette is essentially an altar to fine coffee. (Our Old Testament and Christian Thought lecturer is its high priest, who alone is worthy to plunge.) So you can imagine the horror when one day we discovered that someone had put some sachets of International Roast brand instant (alleged) coffee. It quickly became known as the “abomination of desolation set up where it ought not to be” and necessitated a cleansing ceremony before the kitchenette could again be used for its holy purpose.

Ah, the shenanigans.

Continue reading

The sign of the Son of Man (Matt 24:29-35)

We’re continuing in our look at Matthew 24, where Jesus is answering his disciples’ question about (a) when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, and (b) when Christ would come, and the signs of the end of the age. (If you’re just joining us, see the previous three posts for the full story.)

So far we’ve seen Jesus give an answer that seems to deal with the first part of the disciples’ question: there will be some bad stuff, but they’re just the beginning of the birth pangs, so take a chill pill. (The gospel has to go to all nations before the end happens!) Jerusalem and its temple will be destroyed when you see the “abomination of desolation” set up – some kind of defiling of the temple, like in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes a couple of centuries prior. So when you see that, get out and leave Jerusalem to its destruction! (And don’t be fooled by other messiah figures claiming to be from God; the next thing God does won’t be some hipster preacher in the desert, it’ll be big and unmissable. Kind of like a big army of eagles swirling around…)

Today’s passage is a tricky one, as it’s harder to tell whether it’s still referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, or has moved on to the second question. Read it now, then we’ll discuss.

Continue reading

The coming of the Son of Man (Matt 24:36-51)

We’re continuing in our look at Matthew 24, where Jesus is answering his disciples’ question about (a) when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, and (b) when Christ would come, and the signs of the end of the age. (If you’re just joining us, see the previous four posts for the full story.)

If you were wondering whether we’d ever get to the personal return of Christ, today’s the day. I mean, that we get to it in the text of Matthew 24. Because we won’t know the day. Or the hour. Which, if we’re being honest, is the but I’m not looking forward to about the return of Christ – the whole “being startled” thing. I’m not good with it.

That’s why I don’t like watching horror movies. It’s not the violence or gore that bothers me – I can sit through a good dismemberment as well as the next person – but it’s the jump-scares that freak me out. I can’t handle being startled. Yet that, says Jesus, is how it will be with his return. Whereas the destruction of Jerusalem would have warning signs accompanying it, not so with ninja Jesus:

Continue reading