Showing posts with label II Peter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label II Peter. Show all posts

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What Shall I Cry? (A homily for Advent, Isaiah 40:1-11)

Advent  (Second Sunday, Year B)
Isaiah 40:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-15a, 18
Mark 1:1-8



In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib the king of Assyria waged war against the cities of Judah—including Jerusalem. But Hezekiah, king of Judah, was not willing to surrender to the Assyrians. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, sent his ambassador—the Rabshakeh—along with a huge army to Jerusalem to intimidate Hezekiah, and to persuade the people of God to think differently about their situation.

Once the Rabshakeh arrived outside the gates of Jerusalem, Isaiah tells us that he addressed the people Israel with a loud voice, informing them that their surrounding cities had been laid to waste, and that their city was next, unless, of course, they surrendered peacefully. And if they were to surrender peacefully, not only would they not be destroyed, but the King of Assyria would give each of them their own fig tree and vine from which to eat and their own cistern from which to drink. By making an agreement with the King of Assyria, they would no longer need to worry about their warfare, for they would receive care by the hand of a good shepherd who leads his sheep to a new land of promise, “a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards” much like their own (36:10-17).

King Hezekiah had a decision to make. He and his people could surrender to the Assyrians, or they could repent before the Lord, ask for His help, and hope that the Lord would answer favorably according to their prayers.

Hezekiah made the wise decision and he went into the Temple and prayed. That night the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, and Isaiah let King Hezekiah know that the Lord heard His prayer and was pleased with it. And in response to his prayer, the Lord promised to end the war of the Assyrians against them. That night the angel of the Lord would pass over Jerusalem and plague the Assyrian armies, causing many to die and the rest to flee away from the city.

Jerusalem was then spared. Her warfare had ended. The Lord delivered His people once more from their enemies. Now it was time to celebrate the Lord’s victory.

All of these events I just described are recorded in the book of Isaiah, chapter 36-37, only a few chapters prior to our reading in Isaiah 40. And if you were to gloss over chapters 38 and 39, at first glance the message of Isaiah 40 seems to be describing that victorious event (i.e. that event of Jerusalem’s deliverance from Assyria). Consider how Isaiah 40 begins:
Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her in iniquity is pardoned… (vv. 1-2)

Here the Lord declares that His people ought to be comforted by His good news, and His good news is this: her warfare has ended, and the Lord has pardoned her iniquity. That sounds like a reference to the warfare which ended in the previous story about the King of Assyria attacking Jerusalem.

Then Isaiah hears another voice crying out:
Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness!
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God!
…Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  (vv. 3-5)
Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news!
Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news! Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”  (v. 9)

Because Israel’s warfare is over, now the time has come to prepare a path for a procession of the Lord to His throne. The imagery of paving a highway for God through the wilderness is reminiscent of Israel’s exodus from bondage in Egypt, when God first claimed Himself as Israel’s King and carried them into the promised land. In chapters 36 & 37, we found a “Passover” theme: The people were in bondage and the angel of the Lord passed over His people, striking down all of Israel's enemies. Here in chapter 40, we find a clear “Exodus” theme. Here we see God leading His people in a victorious procession through the wilderness and into the promised land.

However, as I said a few moments ago, if you were to read Isaiah 36-37 and then gloss over chapters 38-39, Isaiah 40 seems to be describing that victorious event mentioned in 36-37. But Isaiah is not actually talking about Israel’s deliverance from the King of Assyria. And we know this because of chapters 38-39. In those chapters, Isaiah tells us a strange little story that doesn’t appear to be very important until we connect it with the message of chapter 40.

In chapters 38-39 Isaiah tells us that King Hezekiah became very sick and when the king of Babylon heard he was sick, he visited him and brought him lots of gifts; and Hezekiah not only accepted his gifts, he expressed his gratitude to the King of Babylon by giving him a tour through all of Jerusalem and even inside the Lord’s Temple, showing him all his treasures (Isa. 39). That action of Hezekiah provoked the Lord, and so the Lord sent Isaiah to give an important message to Hezekiah:

Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (39:5-7)

And take special notice of Hezekiah’s following response as well (39:8). Then Hezekiah responded to Isaiah saying,

“The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” (For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my days.’)

This rise and fall of King Hezekiah, and God’s promise to send his people into exile in Babylon, is the background of our reading today from Isaiah (40:1-11). If we were to skip over Isaiah’s brief mention of Hezekiah’s sickness (Isa. 39), we would be missing out on the fact that this great promise of comfort was not supposed to be fulfilled in the days of Hezekiah, even though many people of Israel probably thought it was. Isaiah's proclamation of God's promise was for a future generation, long after the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel's exile to Babylon.

Even Isaiah seems to have believed God’s word of comfort was too good to be true. He hears a voice telling him to cry out God’s good news, but he doesn’t know if God’s message really is good news for his generation. “What shall I cry out?” Isaiah asks, for “all flesh is grass and all of its loyalty is like a flower of the field.” Isaiah knows that the people of Israel in his generation were not loyal to God. “Surely the people are grass,” Isaiah says. And just as surely as the people are grass who will fade away by the breath of the Lord,  so shall the word of the Lord stand firm. The days were coming when Jerusalem and the glories of its Temple would be carried away to Babylon, and nothing would be left; all would be destroyed, and the people of Israel would be taken captive to Babylon too.

Now, at this point you might be wondering what all of this has to do with Advent.

Advent is a season when we—people of God—are called to wait upon the Lord to enter our lives again. And as we wait up Him we’re supposed to be preparing ourselves for His coming by repenting of our sins and by meditating upon His promises.

But what has God promised for us? What has God promised that we need to be preparing ourselves to receive?

Perhaps it’s best to answer those questions by imagining ourselves as the people of God in Isaiah’s day. Are we that much different than them? Are the people of God today much different than the flowers of the field in Isaiah’s day? When the Lord speaks to us—His people—addressing our foolishness directly, just as He did with His people in Isaiah's day, what is our response? Even when Hezekiah received a warning from the Lord directly, all he seemed to care about was peace and security while he was alive. Are our ways of thinking much different than Hezekiah's? Are we willing to sacrifice our time, energy,  and petty inconveniences to ensure greater peace and security for the next generation, or do we care more about having peace and security in our own lifetime at the expense of future generations?

When we want God to come to our rescue, of course then we pray fervently to Him, and we teach our children to pray too. When we need rescuing, then we wait attentively for Him to respond favorably to our prayers; but let's be honest: when God graciously delivers us from our sins, our tendency is to go right back to where we were before, to our old foolish ways. And to make matters worse, sometimes we don’t even seem to care much about what happens to the next generation because of our foolish sins. We care far more about what happens to us. We care far more about having peace and security in our lives, even if that means a future generation of God’s people would suffer from our foolish decisions today.

So what message should we be crying out? What message should we be crying out in a generation like ours, whose loyalty is like a flower of the field that fades away with every gust of wind?

The answer to that question comes from our Gospel reading today (Mark 1:1-8). John the Baptist referred to this prophecy of Isaiah as confirming his ministry of baptism, which means that Isaiah’s message of hope was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and in John’s baptism of Jesus. Jesus was the one of Isaiah’s prophecy for whom a highway was to be cleared, and John’s baptism was the way that highway to Jesus was paved. Jesus was the one for whom even the mountains of Johns world were to make room. Jesus was the one whom the people of Israel needed to repent before and receive forgiveness. Jesus was the Word of comfort for Israel.

But Jesus wasn’t simply the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Jesus was and is the glory of God revealed for all “flesh” to see (Isa. 40:5), therefore Jesus is the one for whom even the mountains of our world need to make room. Our world has mountains of pride, valleys of despair, crooked places of perversion, rough places of bitterness, but Jesus comes as our Word of comfort and paves a highway for us. He is the one who pays the penalty for our iniquity and delivers us from exile. His body, into which we have been baptized, is the Temple he destroyed and raised to life again. Jesus is the name above all names that we lift up without fear before the world, saying “Behold your God!”

Jesus is also the one who makes good on his promises as the King of kings. Jesus is the one who rules over all nations and subdues our enemies under His feet, declaring and end to our warfare. Jesus is the one who calls us to lay down our carnal weapons of warfare and surrender to His rule; and by surrendering to Him, he promises to fulfill His word as our good Shepherd, leading us to rest in his good land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

And as we learned in our Epistle reading for today (2 Peter. 3:8-15a, 18), Jesus is not slow to fulfill this promise to us either. Rather, he is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 


Therefore, this is the message we ought to be proclaiming: Come to Jesus for your warfare to end and your iniquity to be pardoned. Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. Confess your sins and surrender yourself unto God, then accept His invitation to feast on the grain and vineyards of His good land. Feast on the bread and wine which your King has prepared for you this day at His Table, so that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

* * * * * *


Heavenly Father, stir up your power, and with great might come among us; and, because we are greatly hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.







Monday, September 16, 2013

Let us not love in word, but in deed



"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." (I John 3:17-19 ESV)






"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (II Peter 1:5-8 ESV)





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

John Owen: A Prophecy of Gospel Times Only




One of the last things I listed in one of my recent posts concerning Matthew chapter 10, I mentioned Hebrews 10:36-39 and II Peter 3:1-7 as apostolic references to the "coming of the Son of Man" in judgment upon Israel. Because those verses are often misunderstood by Christians today, I've taken the liberty to list a brief historical commentary from John Owen, the Prince of Puritans (or so he has been called), concerning those specific verses. For those who are unfamiliar with John Owen, he is recognized as one of the greatest biblical scholars among the English Puritans. 

But first, before we get to John Owen's comments, we need to get our bearings straight. So we'll start by reading the text of Hebrews 10:36-39:
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Commenting on Hebrews 10:36-39 John Owen writes:

After [Jesus’] incarnation and ministry, he was now, with respect unto them, he that had come. …Yet after this [Jesus] was to come again. …He was to come for the punishment and destruction of his stubborn and inveterate adversaries. …Such as were declared enemies…

Of the first sort, were of the Jews, who slew him, who murdered him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and thereon continued their hatred against the gospel and all that made profession thereof. He was to come to “destroy those murderers, and to burn their city;” which fell out not long after writing of this epistle, and is properly intended in this place. See Matt. 24:3, 27, 30; 2 Pet. 3:4; Jude 14; Rev. 1:7; Mark 14:62; James 5:7,8.
For hereon ensued the deliverance of the church from the rage and persecution of the Jews, with the illustrious propagation of the gospel throughout the world.
…The Pagan Roman Empire was the second sort of his adversaries who were immediate enemies unto his gospel, and consequently to his person.1

Notice carefully that John Owen interpreted various references from Matthew 24, II Peter, Jude, Revelation, and James as though they all referred to the destruction of Jerusalem. This "coming" of the Son of Man was "for the punishment and destruction of his stubborn and inveterate adversaries." He then lists the 1st century Jews as the first of those adversaries! This was not an anti-semitic opinion of Owen. This was good exegesis of historical and biblical theology, straight out of the Scriptures -- the most Jewish bundle of literature to be found in the first century!
But notice also that John Owen specifically referred to II Peter 3:4. John Owen's comments on that apocalyptic portion of Scripture are very insightful. When commenting on 2 Peter 3:1-7 and it's description of a the old heaven and earth being destroyed and a new heavens and earth being created, John Owen appeals to Isaiah’s description of the Mosaic Covenant (Isa. 51):
The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea” (v. 15), and gave the Law (v. 16), and said to Zion, “Thou art my people”—that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth – made the new world. …And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isaiah 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. …And in our Savior Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evidence then, that in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. …On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state.2

Commenting just a few verses later, on 2 Peter 3:13, John Owen says:
“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” What is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isaiah 65:17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”? Saith Peter, “It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the Gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evidence, from this place of Isaiah, with chapter 66:21-22, that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure forever. The same thing is expressed in Hebrews 12:26-28.3

Commenting on Hebrews 12:26-29 [which quotes Haggai 2:6 and describes the “shaking” of “heaven and earth”], John Owen says:
It is the dealing of God with the Church, and the alterations which he would make in the state thereof, concerning which the apostle treats. It is therefore the heavens and earth of Mosaical worship, and the Judaical church-state, with the earth of their political state belonging thereunto, that are here intended. These were they that were shaken at the coming of Christ, and so shaken, as shortly after to be removed and taken away, for the introduction of the more heavenly worship… and immovable evangelical church-state. This was the greatest commotion and alteration that God ever made in the heavens and earth of the church, and which was to be made once only…  
This is the conclusion of the whole argumentative part of this epistle, that which was aimed at from the beginning. Having fully proved the excellency of the gospel, and state of the church therein, above that under the law, and confirmed it by an examination of all the concernments of the one and of the other, as we have seen; he now declares from the Scripture, according to his usual way of dealing with those Hebrews, that all the ancient institutions of worship, and the whole church-state of the old covenant, were now to be removed and taken away; and that to make way for a better state, more glorious, and that which should never be subject to change or alteration.4







1.  John Owen, An Exposition of Hebrews, [Marshallton, DE: N.F.C.E., 1969 reprint] Vol. 4, pp. 583-584. Brackets mine.
2.  John Owen, Works, [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965-68] Vol. 9, p. 134. Italics mine.
3.  Ibid. Bold and Italics mine.
4.  Ibid., Vol. 7, p. 366f

Monday, May 27, 2013

Instructions to the Twelve (B and B')





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 generationMatthew 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).