Thursday, February 9, 2012

Matthew 24

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

As Jesus is leaving the temple his disciples point out the buildings of the temple. He replied that they will be destroyed

Signs of the Close of the Age

The disciples ask Jesus when the things he is saying will happen. Jesus replies that many will come and say they are Christ. There will be wars, famines, earthquakes. "All these are but the beginning of the birth pangs". He tells the disciples they will be put to death and hated for following Jesus. Many false prophets will lead many astray. Lawlessness will increase and the love of many will grow cold. But whoever endures to the end will be saves and the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world.

So Jesus is asked when the end of the age will come, he doesn't really answer them. He says a few times that there will be false prophets. He says there will be terrible things like wars and earthquakes. There are always natural disasters so this is not helpful. 

The Abomination of Desolation

When the "abomination of desolation" is spoken by the prophet Daniel, run to the mountains. There will be many tribulations, your days will be cut short. There will be many false prophets doing great signs and wonders to lead you astray. I have told you ahead of time, so if you hear of someone doing these things don't go see him.

I'm not sure what abomination of desolation is, but it sounds like a doomsday sermon, I guess. Sounds like what he is doing. I guess the message is "listen to me, but if other people say similar things don't listen to them". Also, other people will do miracles like I do, but don't believe them. If you follow Jesus because he does miracles, you might be liable to follow someone else who does "great signs and wonders", it makes sense. It seems he is trying to protect from that. 

This actually seems to touch on a theme from the bible that I dislike, don't investigate, don't try to have all the information, listen to me and no one else. I believe we are best served by having as much information as possible and evaluating. Seeing the point of view of someone else is good, this is saying not to listen.

The Coming of the Son of Man

After the craziness of the last section, the sun and moon will darken, the stars will fall from heaven. The Son of Man will be coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out angels from heaven.

He really paints quite a picture. I'll be honest, I don't really know what to make of this.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

I thought this was going to explain his anger at the fig tree in chapter 21, but it is not.

When the fig tree puts on leaves you know summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things you know that he is near. "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

He explicitly says this will all happen in his lifetime. I ask again, how do you deal with passages like this 2000 years later?

No One Knows That Day and Hour

Nobody knows when it will all happen. Some will be taken up, others not. You should act as if he is coming all the time, like a man who knows when a robber is breaking in will stay awake and make sure his stuff is not stolen, you should always be prepared even though you don't know when it will happen. If you think it will not happen for a while and start acting up it will surprise you and you will go to hell.

More prophecy stuff, just from the other end. Again, I don't really know what to make of this, and honestly, I have trouble caring about it.


  1. The destruction of the temple. Its hard to say if this is a good prophecy or not as its really debated as to whether or not the gospels were written before 70AD, when the temple was destroyed. I see a lot of christian apologists arguing that it was, while others seem to also argue that it wasn't. I'm definitely not an authority on the subject.

    Signs of the close age. Verse seven says "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes." If this is what you are referring too, I agree that it really is a very broad prophecy. He says that the end will come when the word of God was prophesied to all the nations of the earth. In Romans 10:18, it says that it was. I might be taking it out of context, so you might want to see it for yourself and make your own decision.

    The Abomination of Desolation. I like your take on this.. Verse 19 is pretty messed up about the nursing and pregnant mothers.

    The coming of the son of man. When he refers to the falling of the stars, I think that they are referring to the bible's view of the world:

    "The universe of the Hebrew Bible was made up of a flat disc-shaped earth floating on water, heaven above, underworld below.[6] Humans inhabited earth during life and the underworld after death, and the underworld was morally neutral;[7] only in Hellenistic times (after c.330 BCE) did Jews begin to adopt the Greek idea that it would be a place of punishment for misdeeds, and that the righteous would enjoy an afterlife in heaven.[8] In this period too the older three-level cosmology was widely replaced by the Greek concept of a spherical earth suspended in space at the centre of a number of concentric heavens[6]"

    Under this view, it would make sense that the stars would fall out of the sky canopy that was over the earth. And, being nitpicky, they should have said that the sun would darken and the moon would no longer be visible instead of making it sound like the moon gives off its own light.
    On another note, even though in John 14:19 he says that the coming of man would not be visible to everybody, it would make sense for everyone to see the son of man coming down from the clouds on a flat earth.

  2. Fig Tree. He says that all those things will come to pass before the generation is gone. I think we both agree. Another failed prophecy. I have yet to hear a good explanation for these cases, but that is not to say someone will come along and convince me otherwise.

    When talking about the great flood, I've heard a lot of people admit that it probably didn't happen. Here, Jesus seems to be saying that he believed that the story is really true.

    No one knows the day or hour. I remember my parents using this to justify the problems with Jesus saying that prophecies will occur within the lifetime of the gospel authors. I have a lot of problems with this. I see the possibilities as follows (but may be and probably missing something important);

    1) Jesus really didn't know when it was going to happen, but said so anyway. Thus Jesus would be a liar. I don't like this scenario, as Jesus couldn't have been a liar.

    2) Jesus knew it was going to happen in the lifetime of the gospel writers, but wasn't really sure on the specifics. This is how I would have read this had I lived in the first century. However, this points to a failed prophecy.

    3) Jesus didn't know what he was talking about. I don't really like this scenario either.

    4) Jesus was referring to the reader. I think that this MIGHT be the case, as taken by those who follow the bible. The problem with this is that every generation that's read the bible believes this and every generation following will believe this. You can find articles all over about surveys on the large percentage of Americans who believe Jesus will come back within their lifetimes. People have had this same beliefs for the last 2000 years. A quick google search netted me this article for example. (It's a long survey about a lot of different things, but the religion part is just a piece). This kind of terrifies me.

    Maybe someone can clear these issues up.

  3. One quick thing I wanted to add to the The Abomination of Desolation. I agree with your take. I'm thinking out loud here, but how would people know when Jesus comes back? If he performs great signs people might think he is an impostor. If he doesn't, they'll probably be unimpressed and lump him with all the other looneys that claim to be the new Jesus Christ. What if they take a chance and follow the wrong person? They will be doomed for hellfire. The bible also commands (I believe) to punish false prophets. I know I'm being kind of a jerk here, but it really just sounds like a gamble. Especially with all the "I'll be back and all this stuff will happen in your lifetime." I could see how someone would want to avoid taking any chances and "denying" the lord. Is this one of those "well, you will know" scenarios? People usually follow these "false prophets" because they feel in their hearts that the person is the son of God." I don't think someone would follow them otherwise. Why would God make them feel that way? (I think this is one of those free will problems).

    Do I even make any sense here or am I kind of missing the point.

  4. I definitely agree. It is difficult to reconcile that false prophets will be coming who have a bag of tricks, and Jesus will be coming with miracles. The bags of tricks are designed to mimic the miracles. If you follow the tricksters, hell for you. If you don't follow Jesus, hell for you.

    That could really stress you out


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