Sustained by God’s Word of Joy
Matthew 24:1-28: Today’s reading begins what is considered the fifth and final major teaching section in Matthew’s Gospel. It comprises an eschatological discourse about signs of Jesus’s return that concludes with 25:46. In today’s passage, Jesus describes the destruction of the Temple and says that the present time will be one of trouble and persecution for the disciples.
For the Son of Man will come like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west.
Jesus Speaks of the Destruction of the Temple
(Mark 13.1,2; Luke 21.5,6)
1Jesus left and was going away from the Temple when his disciples came to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Yes,” he said, “you may well look at all these. I tell you this: not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one of them will be thrown down.”
Troubles and Persecutions
(Mark 13.3-13; Luke 21.7-19)
3 As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him in private. “Tell us when all this will be,” they asked, “and what will happen to show that it is the time for your coming and the end of the age.”
4Jesus answered, “Watch out, and do not let anyone fool you. 5Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will fool many people. 6You are going to hear the noise of battles close by and the news of battles far away; but do not be troubled. Such things must happen, but they do not mean that the end has come. 7 Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be famines and earthquakes everywhere. 8All these things are like the first pains of childbirth.
9 “Then you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and be put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. 10Many will give up their faith at that time; they will betray one another and hate one another. 11Then many false prophets will appear and fool many people. 12Such will be the spread of evil that many people's love will grow cold. 13 But whoever holds out to the end will be saved. 14And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world for a witness to all people; and then the end will come.
The Awful Horror
(Mark 13.14-23; Luke 21.20-24)
15 “You will see ‘The Awful Horror’ of which the prophet Daniel spoke. It will be standing in the holy place.” (Note to the reader: understand what this means!) 16“Then those who are in Judea must run away to the hills. 17 Someone who is on the roof of a house must not take the time to go down and get any belongings from the house. 18Someone who is in the field must not go back to get a cloak. 19How terrible it will be in those days for women who are pregnant and for mothers with little babies! 20Pray to God that you will not have to run away during the winter or on a Sabbath! 21 For the trouble at that time will be far more terrible than any there has ever been, from the beginning of the world to this very day. Nor will there ever be anything like it again. 22But God has already reduced the number of days; had he not done so, nobody would survive. For the sake of his chosen people, however, God will reduce the days.
23“Then, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it. 24For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear; they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God's chosen people, if possible. 25Listen! I have told you this ahead of time.
26 “Or, if people should tell you, ‘Look, he is out in the desert!’—don't go there; or if they say, ‘Look, he is hiding here!’—don't believe it. 27For the Son of Man will come like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west.
28 “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.
What warnings did Jesus give his disciples? The “Awful Horror” mentioned by Jesus (verse 15) refers to Daniel’s prophecy about an altar to the Greek god Zeus that was set up in the Temple in 168 B.C. by a Syrian ruler named Antiochus IV Epiphanes (see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Why did Jesus speak about this? Are there instances of sacrilege taking place today?
Lord Jesus, draw me close to you and strengthen my faith day by day. Help me not to be led astray by false teachings and teach me to be obedient to your will. Amen.
Churches undergoing repair and restoration
Matthew 24:29-51: Jesus describes the coming of the Son of Man.