34 “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:34-36
In the opening verses of Matthew 24, the disciples made a passing comment on the exquisite beauty of the temple in front of them. The Lord answered with a prophecy that was not the answer they were expecting. He unmistakably said, that the very stones of the temple would be thrown down.
The disciples had previously (Matthew 21-23) been taught that the kingdom of God would being taken from the Jews and given to another. This had been a primary emphasis of Messiah, a new kingdom was coming. They asked when this would be accomplished, and what signs to look for of His coming to close the age of Moses.
This would happen within a generation and would entail false Messiah’s, wars, famines and earthquakes. The disciples would be delivered to tribulation and death. The gospel of this new kingdom, however, would be preached throughout the whole (Roman) world.
The most important sign to look for was the armies coming through Judea on their way to the city. The destruction was to be unbelievably horrendous; such as had never been seen, and never would again.
They were to be watchful and not taken in by worldly cares so, as to not be caught unaware of the times. They were to flee to be saved from death.
Who after reading Josephus could say that anything could be worse than the destruction of Jerusalem and the taking of the remaining Jews into captivity in 70 AD? All of the atrocities that could ever be perpetrated on human beings had been done in Jerusalem. So many died that there is no accurate accounting, but there are estimates of over one million taken captive.
The end of the age of Moses, was completed. The “church,” made up of believers, both Jew and Greek, had begun.
Messiah had told the ruling Pharisees, that they would no longer see Him until they said blessed the name of the Lord and His coming, that is Him! Following the destruction of the temple and the scattering of the Jews, the implication would be one of a long absence.
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matt. 23:39
Now it has been almost 2,000 years and the Jews have returned to their land. Have we heard any call from the “pharisees” for the Lord to return?
Messiah then returns to his first subject:
The Kingdom of Heaven Matthew Chapter 25
The Lord taught three parables about the character of the New Kingdom of Heaven, what we call the Church Age, or what the Rabbi’s called the Athid labho (age to come). In each case, there is a very long delay in the return of the Master.
This Church Age is compared to ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. Like the ten virgins, there will be some believers who are prepared and some who are not. They are to meet the bridegroom, but He is delayed. When He does show up, all the virgins are asleep, not just the foolish ones. The wise virgins are let in and the foolish are turned away.
The parable of the talents (money) is about a man who went on a long journey entrusting his possessions to his servants. Each servant receives a gift of talents to use and to provide gain for his master. Now, after a long time, the master came and settled these accounts. Those who were found to be lazy were cast into outer darkness. This is a final judgment of God’s people according to their faithfulness in doing His work.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ Matt. 25:30
At the end of this long absence comes the judgment of the nations, in the Hebrew language the goyim. This suggests that His people during the New Kingdom Age are gentiles. This would certainly be in keeping with giving the kingdom to another, the only “another” are the gentiles.
While the goyim are called, it appears that individuals are the ones who are decreed to be sheep or goats. The sheep and goats are judged as to how they have treated the least of these my brethren. The true brothers of Messiah are those who do the Fathers will. [Matt 12:46-50]
Our Messiah, as the shepherd, separates the goats from the sheep because they do not belong together. Sheep (those who keep His commandments) will go to His right hand. Who are the goats? Those who do not keep His commandments, those who do not live by love thy neighbor, those who persecute the believers and ignore the needy.
For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; Matt. 25:29-34
The Full Times of the Gentiles
To suppose that Matthew 24 has not yet happened is to insist on a future temple being built, the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem yet again, along with the captivity of the Jews and yet another regathering back to Israel. [Been there, seen it, hated it!!!] All this has already been accomplished.
In keeping with the historical grammatical interpretation, the nearest event to the prophecy is the likely fulfillment. The Roman Empire’s desolation of Jerusalem and the temple from 67-70AD is historically well established. How many times does this need to happen to fulfill the prophecy?
How can a good interpreter diminish an event that has already happened; a timeframe of a generation that it happened in; and the kingdom taken from the Jews and given to “another” that we know as the Church Age?
Subsequently, we also need to consider that the Full Times of the Gentiles has in fact ended.
they [those in Judea and Jerusalem] will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles [Gold, silver, brass, iron and iron and clay kingdoms of Daniel’s visions], until the times [time, times and half a time x 2]of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24
Daniels’ and Johns’ visions about gentile domination over Israel ended with the ingathering of Jews during the mid-1800’s and the recognition of Israel as a nation in 1948.