In the previous post on Matthew, I covered the first and last sections (A and A') of chapter ten together. And as you also may recall, Matthew chapter ten is structured according to the following chiasm:
A) Instructions to the twelve apostles (10:5-15)
B) Persecution and family division (10:16-23)
C) Enemies of the Master’s household (10:24-25)
D1) Consolation of the twelve: "Do not fear them..." (10:26-27)
D2) "Do not fear those who... but Fear Him who can..." (10:28-30)
D3) Consolation of the twelve: "Do not fear, therefore..." (10:31-33)
C’) Enemies of the Master’s household (10:34-36)
B’) Persecution and family division (10:37-39)
A’) Reception of the twelve apostles (10:40-42)
The next two parallel sections are B and B', and both of them describe persecution and family division (as noted above and below). In both sections (B & B'), Matthew records these words of Jesus to his twelve apostles:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the Father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
...Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Now, I realize that I've said this before in an earlier post, but for the sake of unmistakable emphasis I'm going to repeat myself. There is a very good reason why Jesus took his twelve apostles aside and told them that they would be delivered over to courts, flogged in their synagogues, and dragged before governors and kings to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. It is because the Son of Man was going to come upon that generation in judgment.
I also realize that I've said this before, but for the sake of protecting myself against prejudicial, egotistic, premillenial brethren who read this post and feel the need to scold me for teaching "unbiblical" views, I'm going to repeat myself. There is a very good reason why Jesus took his twelve apostles aside and told them that they didn't need to be anxious about how they were to speak or what they were to say, and that what they were to say was promised to be given by the Holy Spirit to them in that hour. It was because the Son of Man was going to come upon that generation in judgment.
And last of all, I realize that I've said this before too, but for the sake of abundant clarity, I'm going to repeat myself one more time. There is a very good reason why they would be hated by all for the sake of Jesus' name, and why only those who would endure to the end would be saved, and why those who would not lose their life for Jesus' sake would not find life. It was because the Son of Man was going to come upon that generation in judgment.
Of course, you didn't need me to emphasize this for you. Everything you needed to know was spoken just as clearly by Jesus. He said these very words (in section B above):
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
From the context itself, it's obvious that whenever the Son of Man was prophesied to "come" and visit, he would be coming upon all of the towns of Israel and before all twelve apostles could go through all of them. This exact language about the Son of Man coming in judgment is mentioned in multiple places throughout Matthew's gospel, which should lead us to believe that they're all talking about the exact same time-frame and events. For example, in Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus tell his disciples again that:
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ...For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Notice Jesus' own repeated emphasis upon the very close time-frame in which this "coming" of the Son of Man would take place. It's as though Jesus insisted on repeating himself over and over again for the sake of abundant clarity. (Sound familiar?) Jesus repeats this same message again; this time, it's in Matthew 23:32-39, where we find Jesus condemning the ungodly rulers of Israel within Herod's idolatrous temple, and lamenting over Jerusalem and it's temple's soon-coming destruction:
Fill up, then, the measure of your Fathers! You serpents! You brood of vipers! How are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth... Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate!
In the very next verses of Matthew' gospel, we find Jesus standing outside of the temple and prophesying against Jerusalem; and in this prophecy we find identical statements with the prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 10 (B & B'). Furthermore, Jesus' prophecy clarifies Matthew 10 by explicitly describing this "coming" of the Son of Man as the destruction of Jerusalem and it's idolatrous temple at "the end" of the Old Covenant "age." Matthew 24:1-21 says that:
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end [of the age] is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas, for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! ... For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
In Luke's gospel, we find the exact same recording of Jesus' prophecy against Israel, only stated in Luke's own words (and for a difference audience than Matthew, of course). Do yourself a big favor and pay very close attention to the identical prophecy of Jesus here in Luke 21:10-24, and compare it with the statements of Jesus above in Matthew 10:16-23 (section B & B' above). Luke writes:
Then [Jesus] said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are the days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
By comparing the language of Matthew 10, Matthew 24, and Luke 21, it is obvious that Jesus was prophesying about a soon-coming judgment upon the land of Israel. "These are the days of vengeance," Jesus said, "to fulfill all that is written." What? Is Jesus saying that the Old Covenant scriptures and prophets spoke of the end of the Old Covenant age and a day in which the Lord would come in judgment upon that land and that temple (Herod's Temple)? Jesus certainly seems to have thought so.
Also, notice carefully that in the place where Matthew records the words, "When you see the Abomination of desolation standing in the midst of the Holy Place," Luke interprets that very same statement as meaning, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies..." That would be a very odd statement for Jesus to tell his disciples if he intended that as a prophecy for future generations thousands of years later on in history.
Continuing this same train of thought, but just a few verses later in Matthew's gospel, Jesus speaks with abundant clarity about when these judgments would take place. He says they would take place in his generation. Matthew 24:23-34 reads:
...If anyone says to you, "Look! Here is the Messiah!" or "There he is!" do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, "Look! he is in the wilderness," do not go out. If they say, "Look! He is in the inner rooms," do not believe it. For as lightening comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. ...From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Luke 21:25-33 records these exact same words of Jesus, immediately after the parallel reference above. Make no mistake about this. The prophecy of Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are describing the exact same events.
And finally, in case you were skeptical about this very near time-references about Jesus "coming" in judgment, Matthew 26:60-65 should seal the deal. In these verses, Jesus stands before the High Priest of Israel and many of the Jewish Rulers of Jerusalem, and it is there that we find Matthew recording these details:
At last, two [witnesses] came forward and said, "This man [Jesus] said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'" And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has uttered blasphemy!"
You may want to call me a heretic. You may even want to accuse me of engaging in some kind of theological jujitsu. But if you want to make a rational exegesis of the biblical text, what you cannot accuse me of being is crazy. I am not the one who repeatedly clarified that the Son of Man would come upon that first century generation of Israel in judgment. Jesus taught that message. If you've got a problem with that message, take it up with Jesus. And once you're done with Jesus (as if you could possibly win), you may also want to consider taking it up with his apostles too. They also taught what Jesus prophesied, namely this exact same soon "coming" of Christ in judgment upon Israel (II Thess. 2:1-7; I John 2:28-29; James 5:7-8; Rev. 1:1-7; Heb. 10:36-39; II Pet. 3:1-7).
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