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Friday, October 22, 2010

10/23/10 Matthew 24:1-8 Destructive Endings

1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" 4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

(Inscription on the Arch of Titus showing menorah from the destruction of Jerusalem's temple)

Thoughts:  There were two cataclysmic events spoken of here- the destruction of the temple and the end of the world.  If Matthew was written after the fall of the temple (70 AD- Luke surely was), then not only did Jesus say them together, but Matthew made sure these sayings stayed together for a reason.  Sometimes Matthew liked to group sayings by theme (like the seven woes against the Pharisees), but here he left this prophecy about these two destructive events next to each other- the fall of the temple (70 AD) and the end of the world.  The destruction of the temple and the nation felt like the end of the world, and was a foreshadowing- a precursor- of the end of the world.  Many Jews considered Jesus a prophet for he clearly predicted many times that the temple would be destroyed.  His accusers said he was worthy of death because he said he would "destroy this temple and raise it up in three days."  Jesus speaks of destructive things- the temple's destruction, wars, famines, earthquakes as signs of the end of the age.  Our Lord is warning us to not take life for granted like it will go on forever as it always has.  Shocking events like the 911 attack or Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti, wake us up to appreciate what we have, but also recognize life is not static, but changing.  The ability of Jesus to predict these things assure us that God is in control and can take even devastation and use it for His good purpose.
Prayer: Help me Lord to not take life for granted and to always trust in you. 
John Calvin abridged: Jesus was paying his last adieu to the temple. It took Herod (according to Josephus) 10,000 men working for eight years to establish the temple. The stones were so big (22 x 18 x 12 feet0 that the disciples were dazzled at its wealth and power.   We too eagerly follow the transitory pomp and luxury of this world. We should not confound the perfection of Christ's reign with the commencement of it.

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