|The Second Coming of Christ 9
Read Matthew 23.27-25.46
Wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, would come to pass before the end of the temple buildings. The
disciples should not be troubled by these things for they must come to pass, but the end of the buildings would be later. Time and time again the Romans
and the Jews fought against one another and spoke of fighting against one another. The Roman empire was in an almost constant state of war before the
destruction of Jerusalem.
In addition to the political unrest in world, there would be numerous "natural" disasters: famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places.
Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Philostratus and Seneca are all unbelieving historians who write of famines (such as told of in Acts 11:28), pestilences
(one which destroyed over 30,000 people in the city of Rome alone), and earthquakes (such as in Crete a.d. 46 or 47; in Rome a.d. 51; in Apamaea a.d.
53; in Laodicea a.d. 60; and in Campania a.d. 62 or 63), all before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d. 70.
Yet, the political unrest and the natural disasters were but the beginning of sorrows (ASV -- travails). The disciples were to be delivered to be afflicted and
to be killed, and they were hated by all peoples for the sake of Christ. Indeed, the prophecy of Jesus on the persecution of the disciples was fulfilled prior
to a.d. 70, as even a casual reading of the Acts of the Apostles will bear out (Acts 4:3; 5:18,40; 7:59; 8:3; 12:1,2; 14:19; 16:19-24; 22:30; 24:1; 25:2,3).
According to Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, Christians became the scum of the earth for the Roman Empire. Christians were persecuted for one reason,
they were Christians. According to tradition, John was the only apostle alive at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; all the others had been killed.
Many stumbled and sinned; many betrayed their brethren (Matthew 10:34-37); hatred was common amongst families; even as Jesus foretold. False
teachers arose from without and within. All of the books of the New Testament in the epistles were written before the downfall of the temple buildings. A
casual reading of these epistles will show the reality of false teachers deceiving many. Jesus promised His disciples the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to
guide them as they were brought before the tribunals. They would not have to think or study what to say, but the Holy Spirit would inspire them. The evil
persecution and wicked condition of society caused many to fall from grace. But those who endured the sorrow, the travail, the persecution, shall be
saved, not physically (although a physical deliverance was to be given), but more importantly spiritually.
The gospel of the kingdom had to be preached unto all the world before the end of the temple buildings and Jerusalem. The good news that the kingdom
of God and of Christ was among men "was preached to every creature which is under heaven" prior to a.d. 70 (Colossians 1:23).
When the disciples saw the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, they were to flee. Daniel spoke of unholy men standing upon the holy
ground surrounding Jerusalem (Daniel 9:23,25,27; 12:11). Luke reads: "But when you see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her
desolation is at hand." "Holy place" here is a different phrase in the Greek than that referring to the "holy place" of the temple. The phrase used to
describe the holy place of the temple is en too hagioo (in the holy); but, the phrase used here is en topoo hagioo (in a place holy). Those in Judea were to
flee into the protection of the mountains. There was no time for delay! The man on the housetop would not have time to gather any of his possessions
from the house, the man in the field would not have time to go back for a coat; they must flee immediately. Trouble would be those who were slowed in
their escape, those who were pregnant and had infants. The disciples needed to pray that the time would not come on a sabbath when the gates of
Jerusalem would be shut and they could not leave, nor that it would be in the wintertime that the weather would hinder their flight.
The time of the abomination of desolation with the destruction of the temple would bring a time of great tribulation, greater than the world had ever seen,
or ever would see. "No other city ever suffered such miseries, nor did any age, from the beginning of the world, ever breed a generation more fruitful in
wickedness than this was." "If the miseries of all mankind from the creation were compared with those which the Jews then suffered, they would appear
inferior." So Josephus describes the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70. Mothers ate their babies; men starved; civil war prevailed in Jerusalem; men ate
bird droppings; etc. One million, one hundred thousand people died in two months. The tribulation was of such a great extent that all involved would
be destroyed except it be shortened; and for the sake of Christians God did shorten it.
Again, following the tribulation, Jesus warns the disciples against false Christs and false prophets. These evil men would work "great signs and
wonders" deceiving the people, even the faithful if possible. This is a continuing warning.
They were not to believe it if they were told Jesus was in the desert; they were not to go forth to private places. As the lightening that comes from one end
of the sky and lightens up the opposite end that all can see, so the physical coming of the Son of God shall be. One can tell where the carcass is by the
flight of the buzzards.
The second coming of Christ (in the physical sense) will be public, open to all (Revelation 1:7).
[to be continued]