So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
The title "Synoptic Apocalypse" refers to the three parallel versions of the Olivet Discourse
found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. These passages contain
Christ's great prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple that were fulfilled in 70 AD.
They are profoundly integrated with the whole prophetic complex of the Bible, especially those of Daniel and Revelation.
The prophecies are united by one prominent common feature: they all bear distinct time markers that
unambiguously point to their fulfillment in the first century A.D..
In this article we will walk through the parallel passages from all three versions to conclude three points beyond
all reasonable doubt:
- Christ spoke of the same events in all three synoptic accounts.
- Christ declared that the predicted events would be fulfilled during the lifetime of His first century audience.
- The first century fulfillments of Christ's prophecies are confirmed by the entire integrated prophetic complex of the
Holy Bible as well as the unambiguous witness of History.
The text from each of the three synoptic Gospels is presented here in parallel with comments below each section.
|Christ predicts the Destruction of the First Century Temple|
|24:1-3 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him
the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you,
There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
||13:1-2 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of
stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings?
there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
||21:5-6 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,
As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be
left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
|This is the first time marker: Christ predicted the destruction of the Second Temple
which is known to have been historically fulfilled in 70 AD. We know he was talking about the Temple that existed in the
first century because he specified it by saying "these things." In all three cases, Jesus emphasizes that
He is refering to the Temple buildings that were standing then in the first century.
This prophecy is linked to Daniel 9:26 which predicted the destruction of the Temple after the crucifixion:
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,
but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;
and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
We know that this prophecy refers to the first century because that is when Christ died. This shows how the prophecies interlock with
each other and are confirmed by history. See Daniel's Seventy Weeks for a detailed analysis of the complete
first century fulfillment of
this prophecy. The angel confirmed its first century fulfillment by linking it directly to the Diaspora
when the Jews were scattered from the holy land after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD:
And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river,
How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the
waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth
for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half;
and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished."
Christ also confirmed the first century fulfillment when He prophesied the Diaspora that would follow the
destruction of the Temple:
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword,
and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Daniel used the Diaspora as a time marker that would indicate when "all these things shall be finished" and this then
links directly to the words of Christ that "these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled"
(Luke 21:22, see below).
This is a good example of the profound integration of the Olivet Discourse with the prophecies of Daniel and how all the prophecies
mutually confirm each other.
|The Disciples ask, When will these things be?|
|24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us,
when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [age]?
||13:3-4 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked
him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
||21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these
things shall come to pass?
|We have here three versions of the questions asked by the disciples. This shows why the parallel
passages are so important. The differences add information and the similarities prevent us from wandering off track.
Mark and Luke agree almost exactly, asking "when shall these things be?" and
"what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?"
The traditional understanding of the audiences to whom the Gospels were each addressed
offers a reasonable explanation for the difference. Matthew was written to the Jews, whereas Mark and Luke were
written to the Gentiles in Rome and Greece, respectively. Thus Matthew adds the detail concerning the "sign of your coming" because
his Jewish audience was very familiar with the Old Testament imagery of the Lord "coming on clouds" in judgment upon sinful nations
(see below). Mark and Luke passed over Christ's prophetic/poetic language that easily could have stumbled
their Gentile audiences (just as it stumbles uninformed prophecy teachers of our present day).
Matthew's record of the disciples' questions has led many interpretors astray. There are two issues here:
- The meaning of "thy coming": Comparing the synoptics, we see that the "coming" of the Lord is in parallel
with the time "when all these things shall be fulfilled." Since there is no doubt that Mark and Luke were both speaking of
the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, it would do great violence to the text to suggest that the "coming" here
referred to a far future "Second Coming" of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that the disciples did not even know that he would be leaving also argues against the "Second Coming" as possibility.
On the contrary, we can be quite certain that the Old Testament imagery of the LORD coming on clouds to judge Egypt
as in Isaiah 19 would have filled the minds of the disciples:
The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall
come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt
shall melt in the midst of it.
- The meaning of "end of the age": The age that ended was the old dispensation of the Jewish Law which was put away
forever with the final sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is written:
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world:
but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
The book of Hebrews unambiguously declares that the "end of the world [age]" happened in the first century.
In Greek, the phrase "end of the world" is
συντελεια του αιωνος
(sunteleia tou aionos). It is identical to the phrase used in Matthew 24:3 when the disciples asked
"and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world [age]." In the Septuagint,
the word sunteleia (end) occurs six times in Daniel 9:24-27 and seven times in Daniel 12:4-13. This is extremely significant
because Christ cited Daniel to answer the question "when would the sunteleia be?" This then confirms yet again
that Daniel, Christ, and the book of Hebrews were all speaking of the first century when Christ was crucified as the time of the "end."
This also the centrality of the Gospel in all prophecy.
|Jesus answered, Take heed that no man deceive you!|
|24:4-5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
||13:5-6 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
||21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying,
I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
The Apostle John used Christ's warning against the soon coming deception of the false prophets and false Christs as proof that
it was the "last hour" in the first century:
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come,
even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 2:18
Thus John and Jesus mutually confirm each other's testimony and both confirm a first century fulfillment.
These "antichrists" are never presented in Scripture as political leaders or wanna-be world dictators. The term "antichrist"
refers to those who teach one or both of the false doctrines that 1) Jesus was not the Messiah (1 John 2:22) or 2)
that Jesus did not come in the flesh:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:
and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
1 John 4:3
Thus we see that the "spirit of antichrist" was already in the world in the first century, and that it was the "last hour" when
John wrote his Epistle. Again, the Bible teaches nothing about an "Antichrist" wanna-be world dictator. It speaks of the "spirit of antichrist" that
fills those who teach specific false doctrines about Christ.
The Apostle Paul adds his voice and verifies the testimony of Jesus and John in his warning of the coming "man of sin"
in 2 Thessalonians:
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word
or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first,
and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God
in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until
He is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His
mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth,
that they might be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-10
Paul wrote this when the literal Temple was still standing in Jerusalem. The mystery of lawlessness was already at work in
the first century at the time Paul was writing. The "man of sin" fits the description of
the false prophet that is thrown into the lake of fire (perdition) in Rev 16:13. He is earlier in Revelation described
as the "second beast" that is given his power from the first beast, who in turn received his power directly from Satan:
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he
had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him,
and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the
sight of the beast ...
Christ warned of false Christs that would (if possible) deceive the very elect.
Paul warned of the man of sin who would deceive with lying signs and wonders.
There are many strong parallels between Paul's warning of the deception preceding the parousia and the warnings given by Christ
in the Olivet Discourse.
The Time is Near
All three synoptics contain the same warning, but the false Christs Luke 21:8 add the phrase "and the time is near."
This is another time marker that links the Olivet Discourse to Revelation where we find the phrase
"the time is near" like bookends in the first and final chapters. Christ used exactly the same word (engus) in his final answer to the
the question of "When?" discussed below. This shows again the integration of propehecies given in Revelation
and the Olivet Discourse.
|Wars and Rumours of Wars ~ The Six Seals|
|24:6-8 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these
things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
||13:7-8 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be;
but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes
in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
||21:9-11 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first
come to pass; but the end is not by and by. 10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom: 11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences;
and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
|Here we see the events of the Second, Third, and Fourth Seals listed in order
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences."
This continues the pattern that began with the warning of false prophets and false christs in the previous passage,
which apparently correspond to the first horseman of the Apocalypse.
That all these things happened in the first century leading up to the destruction in 70 AD is well documented by Josephus.
This is one of the most profound connective correlations between Revelation and the
Olivet Discourse. The Six Seals opened in Revelation 6 link directly to the sequence of events that Christ warned about here.
- First Seal ~ White Horse (False Christs): All of these attributes appear to be those of Christ. The color
white represents His purity and righteousness. He has a crown just as Christ has many crowns when He appears on His White Horse in
Revelation 19:11. His bow reminds us the covenant bow in Genesis 9:13. The parallels are so tight I was stongly inclined to believe
that this must be a symbol of Christ rather than of His imposters. But the correlation with the Olivet Discourse seems to imply the opposite.
This then becomes an object lesson of that which is being taught, nameley, that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and his ministers
appear to be ministers of righteousness, as it is written:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves
into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;
whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
- Second Seal ~ Red Horse (War)
- Third Seal ~ Black Horse (Famine)
- Fourth Seal ~ Pale Horse (Death)
- Fifth Seal ~ Martyrs cry for Vengeance
- Sixth Seal ~ The Judgment upon Apostate Jerusalem
|Persecution for the Sake of the Name of Jesus|
|24:9-14 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated
of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another,
and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
||13:9-13 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils;
and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak,
neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye:
for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son;
and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
||21:12-19 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues,
and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you
shall they cause to be put to death.
17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
|This persecution is precisely what happened to the first century Jewish Christians as they went from town to town in Israel
proclaiming the Gospel to their fellow Jews who frequently rejected their message with great violence.
Matthew's version expliclitly links to the Fourth Seal (Death) with the words "and shall kill you."
Mark's text here strongly parallels the Missionary Discourse when Christ prepared the Twelve to preach in the
literal "cities of Israel" in Matthew 10:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise
as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils,
and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake,
for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how
or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the
children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you,
Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
The many beatings that Paul suffered, such as the five times he recieved the severe scourging of thirtynine stripes "from the Jews" (2 Cor 11:24) bears witness to the first century fulfillment
of these warnings. Likewise, the last highlighted sentence is another time marker that demands a first century fulfillment. Christ was
speaking to His disciples about their missionary activity that would continue up until the time of His judgment on Jerusalem,
soon after which there would be no more "cities of Israel" for the disciples to go through since they all were destroyed in the first
century. Another reason these instructions were obviously meant for the first century disciples is because it would be
extremely unlikely that modern folks would be delivered up "to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings
and rulers" for the sake of the name of Christ. The synagogues were places of national judgment in the first century
when the Jews ruled in their country. It would be absurd to misinterpret this language as speaking of
twenty-first century Christians from all over the world being delievered up to Jewish synagogues to
be whipped or killed for their testimony of Christ. Obviously, all these parallel texts demand a
first century fulfillment.
|The Days of Vengeance|
|24:15-20 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,
stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
||13:14-18 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,
standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
||21:20-23 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out;
and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great
distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
|Luke records a time marker of premier significance:
"these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled."
This is a profound time marker which also reminds the reader that the events of the
first century were the primary target of all prophecy.
This also corrects the common dispensationalist error that suggests there is a 2000+ year gap between two clauses in Isaiah 61:2:
And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book,
He found the place where it was written: 18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To
preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And
recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in
the synagogue were fixed on Him.
As it turns out, Christ closed the book in mid-sentence while reading the verse of Isaiah 61:2
"To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn."
Dispenstationalists interpret this abrupt break to imply that there is a gap of some 2000+ years between the
"acceptible year of the Lord" (day of salvation) and
the Second Coming which would be "the day of vengeance of our God" (judgment day). This view fails in light of Christ's declaration
that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple were "the days of vengeance" which fulfilled "all things which are written."
Thus we see that there was a gap of about 40 years between the time that Christ preached the "acceptible year of the Lord" and
the time of the destruction of Jerusalem which He specifically called the "days of vengeance" when "all things which are written" would be
fulfilled and which directly corresponds to "the day of vengeance of our God" in Isaiah 61:2.
This is confirmed by Daniel 9:24-27 which predicted 490 years till the consummation (not 2,490+ years, as futurist suggest).
And it is confirmed a third time by Daniel 12:6-7 which said that all Daniel's prophecies would fulfilled when the "power of the holy people"
was "scattered" which happened in 70 AD.
|Christ Predicts the Dispora |
||21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations:
and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
|This prophecy is unique to Luke's record. It is extremely significant because it links directly to
Daniel's prophecy that states everything would be fulfilled when the Jews were scattered out of the
Holy Land (see the preceding comments as well as above).
Futurist often interpret the "times of the Gentiles" mentioned here as implying that there will be a future restoration of Biblical
Israel. Their view can not be confirmed because there are no other passages in the Bible that speak specifically
of the "time of the Gentiles" or of a future restoration. But there is a passage that speaks of Jerusalem as being "tread under foot" by
the Gentiles, and this reference is found in Revelation which is an expansion on the Olivet Discourse, a kind of "parallel passage" if you
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying,
Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles:
and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Thus the "time of the Gentiles" appears to have lasted about three and a half years (forty two months). Another posibility is that it
ended was an ongoing period of many cernturies beginning with the Babylonian exile unti it ended with the three and one half years of the
Great Tribulation of 66-70 AD. In any case, it is of central importance to realize that God did not leave us a clear and unambigous witness
as to the meaning of this passage, so it can not be used in the foundation of any eschatological system (see
The Fundamental Principle of Biblical Heremeneutics).
|The Great Tribulation|
|24:21-22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
||13:19-20 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which
God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days,
no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
|Christ's hyperbole must not be misunderstood to imply a global catastrophe. We know He was not talking about
a tribulation that would be literally greater than any ever experienced since He knew of Noah's Flood, and Noah's Flood wiped out all
but eight souls. And we know that the Jews themeselves used this language to describe the destruction of 70 AD, as witnessed by
this famous quote from Josephus in which he
said that the destruction of 70 AD was "the greatest of all" such destructions, "not only that have been in our times, but,
in a manner, of those that were ever heard of." And again, Josephus left us this most astounding record of the extremity of the Great Tribulation
his people suffered when great multitudes had come to celebrate Pentecost:
Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places,
but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when
it was crowded with inhabitants.
Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished
exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world.
Josephus ~ Wars of the Jews, 6.9.4
Christ's description therefore makes perfect sense as limited to the nation of Israel
in the first century. This was already obvious
for many reasons such as His warning that His disciples should "flee to the mountains" (see above) which would
make no sense at all if he were talking about a global catastrophe.
Furthermore, we recognize His description as apocalyptic hyperbole designed to invoke the same language that was given
through Ezekiel when he prophesied the Babylonian destruction of the first Temple in 586 BC:
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments
in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. 9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done,
and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.
10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers;
and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.
11 Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things,
and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare,
neither will I have any pity. 12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence,
and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee;
and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.
There are many similarities between Ezekiel's prophecy given before the Babylonian destruction and the Olivet Discourse given before the
Roman destruction. I included the context which shows the "thirds" used in that judgment just as there are "thirds" used prominently in
Zechariah's prophecy of judgment:
7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts:
smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die;
but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire,
and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name,
and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
The first part of this passage was fulfilled by Christ in the first century, as it is written:
31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night:
for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
And the final part of this passage is fulfilled in the Church, the Body of Christ, as declared by the Apostle Paul:
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Thus the text before and after the judgment on the "third part" in Zechariah 13:7-9 is locked down to the first century, and it would
be doing great violence to the text to rip the middle section out and apply it to the distant future,
especially since there is every indiation that it too was fulfilled in the Great Tribulation of 66-70 AD.
|24:23-28 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that,
if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
||13:21-23 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce,
if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
|These passages are a repetition and expansion of His earlier warnings against deception discussed
above. We have evidence from 1 John that there were many "antichrists" at the time he wrote,
and we also have this testimony from Josephus about
the many false prophets that abounded at the time of the destruction just prior to 70 AD:
A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in
the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs
of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people,
who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep
them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.
Josephus, Wars of the Jews 6.5.2
In both Matthew and Mark, Christ reminds his first century audience that His words are prophetic, saying
"Behold, I have told you before [it happens]." The text of Mark shows a broader application, in which Christ says that
He has foretold us "all things."
|As the Lightening shineth from East to West|
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
|This passage is unique to Matthew's account. It indicates that the "coming" of the Lord in judgment would be sudden,
unexpected and without warning like lightning. It carries with it the sense of being "everywhere" - spanning the whole land of Israel
from east to west, which is what happened when the Romans invaded with their huge army.
This passage is a favorite amongst futurists
who insist that Christ used it to illustrate that His physical body would be visible to everyone, everywhere in the world,
from the east to the west at His Second Coming. But this an extremely unlikely interpretation given that everything
- and I do mean everything - up to
this point in the Olivet Discourse was obviously fulfilled in the first century, and that Christ put a "cap" on it all at the end
when He declares that everything He was prophesying would be finished during the lifetime of his first century audience
(see below). It therefore would require an extraordinarily powerful argument to insist that He was talking about
the "visibility" of His physical body as opposed to the sudden all-encompassing catastrophe that befell Jerusalem exactly as He predicted.
This interpretation also comports well with His warning against believing anyone who said "Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there."
|The Coming of the Son of Man|
|24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,
and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect
from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
||13:24-27 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds,
from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
||21:25-28 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations,
with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:
for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with
power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads;
for your redemption draweth nigh.
|This climatic passage is the one most frequenly confused by futurists who read the concept of the Second Coming
of Christ back into this historical scene long before the idea was known to any mortals. At this stage, the disciples did not even
understand that Christ would soon be crucified, buried, and resurrected. Though He had told them, they did not understand that, much less
His "Second Coming" after a 2000+ year heavenly hiatus. The language of these passages is perfectly understood from a Biblical context
as symbolic of the destruction of a sovereign nation - the end of Israel as a nation in this case. The symbols are extremely obvious and
well attested in Scripture.
Darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
We begin with the meaning of the sun, moon, and stars which are symbols of rulers and governments:
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light
to rule the night: he made the stars also.
In almost every other case in the Bible, the word translated as "rule" (memshalah) is used for the rule of governments.
God used the symbols of the darkened sun, moon, and stars in his prophecy of the destruction of Babylon:
9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger,
to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light:
the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And in his prophecy of the destruction of Egypt:
7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.
In this context, it is extremely important to recall that apostate Jerusalem is identified in Revelation 11:8 as spiritually equivalent
to Sodom and Egypt, and so worthy of a similar destruction from God. Thus we understand the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling
of the stars in the corresponding prophecies of Revelation which was a prophecy of the destruction of 70 AD running parallel
to the Olivet Discourse:
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake;
and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Thus we see the perfect coherence of the eschatological teaching of Holy Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The Olivet Discourse, Daniel,
and Revelation all speak of the consummation of the Jewish age - truly the "end of the world [age]" - in the destruction of 70 AD.
The Son of Man Coming with Clouds
Any first century Jew hearing these words of Christ would immediately recall the prophecy of Daniel concerning the Son of Man:
13 I saw in the night visions, and,
behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days,
and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations,
and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Of course, we have the additional insight that this was speaking of Christ and the authority He was given after His resurrection:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Thus we understand the "coming" of the Lord "with clouds" as establishment His Kingdom after His victory over sin and death by His
resurrection. But there is another connected meaning. The "coming with clouds" is a common metaphor for the judgment of God in the
Old Testament, as for example when God judged Egypt:
1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come
into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
Thus we see again the perfect integration of Revelation with the Olivet Discourse in their united declaration of the judgment by
Christ upon apostate Jerusalem:
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man,
having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple,
crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
The "reaping" of the earth is a metaphor for the judgment on Jerusalem when they received the "fruit of their actions."
|The Answer to the Question of "When?" ~ This Generation!|
|24:32-35 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
||13:28-31 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves,
ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh,
even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
||21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
|Here we have the explicit, unequivocal, and incontroverible answer to the
disciples' question that began this integrated discourse. When shall these things be?
The Lord Jesus Christ answered with perfect clarity, directly declaring to His audience that "this generation" - that is, they themselves -
would not pass before all things were fulfilled. He used the phrase "this generation" with exactly the same meaning as when
He warned them that judgment for all the "righteous blood" shed on the earth would be required of "this generation" in Matthew 23,
immediately preceding the Olivet Discourse. Thus Matthew bracketed this great prophecy before and after with the time marker of "this
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes:
and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves,
ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things,
know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass,
till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
These are the "bookends" of the Olivet Discourse. They are there by design of Almighty God. Their meaning can not be denied.
They confirm everything we have seen as we walked through all three versions
verse-by-verse. There is nothing, not a hint of anything, that suggests that the Olivet Discourse was not fully and completely fulfilled
in the first century precisely as Christ predicted. And to cap it all off, we see the final confirmation in the record of the
destruction of apostate Jerusalem:
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
"Mystery Babylon" was apostate Jerusalem, the "Great City" identified earlier in Revelation 11:8 by the names of "Sodom" and "Egypt." Her
destruction was prophesied by Christ Himself, and the charge was that in her was found all the blood of His martyrs.
The identification is sure. The meaning of Revelation integrates perfectly with Daniel and the "Synoptic Apocalypse" aslo known
as the "Olivet Discourse."
This article is being discussed on the Bible Wheel forum here.