Times Of The End: Matthew 24:3

Times Of The End: Matthew 24:3
“3) As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?””Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭3‬
Though all the Apostles were with Jesus as He came out of the temple in the previous two verses, it appears now as He sits on the Mount of Olives that only Peter, James, John and Andrew are in His company. (See Mark 13:3) They question Him privately.
This is a point often skipped over, but of great significance. Though all had equal access to Jesus, only this small group took every advantage of abiding in His presence. They were consistently pictured at His side.
The same is true today. Every believer has invitation to abide in His presence, study His Word, come boldly before the throne of grace, worship Him and walk by the Spirit, but so few spend significant time with Him. We allow many worthless and mundane things to steal our focus and attention while only a few spend time at His feet in private. Make it your ambition to be in that small group.
They were aware that significant changes were at hand. He had warned them often of His coming death and resurrection. (Matthew 16:21; 20:17-19) They took the occasion to ask Him three key questions:
When will these things be? What will be the sign of Your coming? What will mark the end of the age?
These three questions were profound. They were still on their mind after His resurrection. Look at Acts 1:6; “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” To this Jesus replied; “7) … It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.””
I would suggest the words “end of the age”, “times”, and “epochs” are crucial. The disciples were thinking in terms of an event, but Jesus was speaking of mysteries of a coming age, epoch or entire dispensations of time.
Though He had hinted about it in John 14-17, at this point the disciples were clueless of the coming age of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is often referred to as the “age of grace” or “the church age.” It might even be called “the age of the Gentiles.” It has already spanned nearly 2,000 years! But notice, this long “age” was not even on their radar screen!
The Apostle Paul spoke in depth about this mystery in Ephesians 3:1-12. He had unparalleled insight into “the age of grace” or “the Church age.” It behooves us to live and walk in the full benefits of this age of the indwelling Holy Spirit in which we now live! He made this application the focus of praying for believers in the next context of Ephesians 3:14-21. It is worthy of your careful study.
But now let me stretch you with another thought. Like the disciples, I often hear questions about “the end times.” We want a nice and neat explanation of exactly what is going to happen and when! Like the disciples, Christians are searching for a time and date. But what if “the end times” relate more to an age than a specific event? Could it be that God wants us to discern the “signs of the times” rather than looking for neatly packaged events? Are we as clueless as the disciples were about God’s calendar?
I confess, I am thinking more in terms of “the times of the end” than I am “the end times.” For example, the Bible talks about an expansion of international travel, the gospel going to every nation, times of tribulation and martyrdom, Israel becoming a nation, the forging of a one world government system and the rule of antichrist. This will be accompanied by an apostate Christian church that competes with and obscures the revived bride of Christ. Of necessity there will also be an explosion of technology to track the mark of the beast.
Hmm, I have watched many of these things take shape during my sojourn on earth. If I were born a mere 20 years earlier, I could conceivably embrace all of them including the expansion of international aviation to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel 12:4 and Israel becoming a nation.
Here is my point, many things blend together in “the times of the end.” The Bible presents this as a gradual time of transition that spans one full generation. This will be followed by the return of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom. (Revelation 20:1-7) Granted, there are numerous views as to how the return of Christ will transpire, but don’t lose sight of the big picture; Jesus is coming again!
I personally believe we are in the times of the end of this age. It has been unfolding right before our eyes in my generation. This will culminate with the next age on God’s calendar. God is still in control! The earth is not going to be destroyed at this time. Jesus is preparing to rule this present earth for a full millennium.
The problem I see is that people blend the end of this age and the end of the world together in their thinking. These two events are very different and are separated by the millennial reign of Christ.
Stay tuned as Jesus unpacks the times of the end in the next two chapters.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Destruction of the Temple Foretold: Matthew 24:1-2

Destruction of the Temple Foretold: Matthew 24:1-2
“1) Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2) And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”” Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭1‬-‭2‬ ‭
This is an unfortunate place for a chapter division. The eight Woes that Jesus pronounced on the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-39 were directly connected to His prophecy of the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24:2.
And so it happened. Let me quote from Barns Notes on the New Testament. He does an exceptional job of expounding this history. “The buildings of the temple. The temple itself, with the surrounding courts, porches, and other edifices. See Barnes ” :”. Mark says, that they particularly pointed out the stones of the temple, as well as the buildings. “In that temple,” says Josephus, the Jewish historian, “were several stones which were forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and sixth in breadth;” that is, more than seventy feet long, ten wide, and eight high. These stones, of such enormous size, were principally used in building the high wall on the east side, from the base to the top of the mountain. They were also, it is said, beautifully painted with variegated colours.
There shall not be left here one stone upon another. At the time this was spoken, no event was more improbable than this. The temple was vast, rich, splendid. It was the pride of the nation, and the nation was at peace. Yet in the short space of forty years all this was exactly accomplished. Jerusalem was taken by the Roman armies, under the command of Titus, x. D. 70. The account of the siege and destruction of the city is left us by Josephus, an historian of undoubted veracity and singular fidelity. He was a Jewish priest. In the wars of which he gives an account, he fell into the hands of the Romans, and remained with them during the siege and destruction of the city. Being a Jew, he would of course say nothing designed to confirm the prophecies of Jesus Christ. Yet his whole history appears-almost like a running commentary on these predictions respecting the destruction of the temple. The following particulars are given on his authority:
After the city was taken, Josephus says that Titus “gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and temple, except three towers, which he reserved standing. But for the rest of the wall, it was laid so completely even with the ground by those who dug it up from the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those believe who came hither that it had ever been inhabited.” Maimonides, a Jewish writer, has also recorded that “Terentius Rufus, an officer in the army of Titus, with a ploughshare tore up the foundations of the temple,” that the prophecy might be fulfilled, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field,” Micah 3:12. This was all done by the direction of Divine Providence. Titus was desirous of preserving the temple; and frequently sent Josephus to the Jews to induce them to surrender and save the temple and city. But the prediction of the Saviour had gone forth; and, notwithstanding the wish of the Roman general, the temple was to be destroyed. The Jews themselves first set fire to the porticoes of the temple. One of the Roman soldiers, without any command, threw a burning firebrand into the golden window, and soon the temple was in flames. Titus gave orders to extinguish the fire; but, amidst the tumult, none of his orders were obeyed. The soldiers pressed to the temple, and neither fear, nor entreaties, nor stripes, could restrain them. Their hatred of the Jews urged them on to the work of destruction; and thus, says Josephus, the temple was burnt against the will of Caesar.–Jewish Wars, book vi., chap. iv.  5, 6, 7.”
Quoted from Barns Notes on the New Testament

Lamentation For Jerusalem: Matthew 23:37-39

Lamentation For Jerusalem: Matthew 23:37-39
““37) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38) Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39) For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭37‬-39
It is difficult to read these words without thinking of Psalm 91. God wants to protect His people. He wants them to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty. He wants to be their refuge and fortress. He wants to cover them with His pinions and let them seek refuge under His wings. (Psalm 91:1-4)
But Jerusalem opposed Him! It persecuted and killed those sent to warn them. It embraced foreign gods and set up many idols. It spurned God and embraced foreign morals and values. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all prophesied against them. They were bent on evil and destruction.
Just prior to the time of Jesus they had a little time of reprieve. The temple had been rebuilt and the sacrificial system restored, but wickedness and corruption was boiling under the surface. The religious leaders were again leading the people astray. They were about to reject and crucify their Messiah.
These verses epitomize how much Jesus loved and longed for His people. He wept over this city. The next chapter opens with His prophecy that the city was about to be destroyed and the temple torn down. Not one stone would be left upon another.
At some point in the future, the Jewish people will turn back to Him. They will welcome Him with open arms. They will cry out; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Guilty Generation: Matthew 23:34-36

The Guilty Generation: Matthew 23:34-36
““34) Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35) so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36) Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭34‬-‭36‬
This generation of Jewish religious leaders carried extra condemnation. They not only crucified the Messiah, but they also launched the bloody persecution against the early Christian church and it’s leaders. They perpetrated the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:54-60), the killing of the Apostle James (Acts 12:2), and the arrest of Peter. (Acts 12:3-19)
Much of the violence against the early church was carried out by them. (Acts 8:1-3) There is no record of the full amount of suffering and human blood shed by these religious leaders, but it was surpassed only by the Roman persecution itself that eventually came.
In verse 35, Jesus said the blood guilt of all the righteous from Able (Genesis 4:6-8), to Zechariah the priest (2 Chronicles 24:20-21) was going to be poured out on this generation. Why? What is the connection?
When John 8:44 and John 10:10 are viewed together, we discover that Satan is ultimately behind all death and violence; especially aimed at the righteous. This will culminate with the antichrist and his violent persecution of both Israel and Christians in the end times. They were willing partners with Satan.
But why would generation of religious leaders carry more guilt? Because they crucified the Messiah! They were willfully blind and ignorant to the volume of prophecies pointing to the Messiah in the Old Testament. Furthermore, they closed their eyes and ears to the manifold signs, wonders and teachings of Jesus during His public ministry.
In a sense, the book of Matthew was written as a formal charge against the Jewish religious leaders of that generation. They chose to ignore the evidence and conspire with the devil in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Read Matthew 27:22-26. Look carefully at verse 25; “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and our children!’” Jesus granted their request.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to the Stench of Death: Matthew 23:27-28

Woe to the Stench of Death: Matthew 23:27-28
““27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28) So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭27‬-‭28‬ ‭
Jesus now becomes extremely graphic about the inner moral decay of the Pharisees and religious leaders. He compares them to magnificent and ornate sepulchers that were carved and painted outwardly to appear beautiful, but when opened up were full of decaying bones and rotting flesh. This description could not be more graphic.
The pugnacious nature of this comparison can be illustrated by John 11:39 when Jesus ordered them to remove the stone from the tomb of Lazarus; “… Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” It was unimaginable. Death stinks.
But this was exactly what Jesus was saying about the scribes and Pharisees in this seventh woe. Outwardly they looked magnificent, but inwardly they were putrid and decaying. They pretend to be righteous, but inwardly were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
This picture of religion is the opposite of what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ produces. The Holy Spirit imparts inward life and not death to the born-again believer.
Listen to how Paul described the believer in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16; “14) But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15) For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16) to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” Paul compared Christians to an aroma of life. Jesus compared the Pharisees and scribes to an aroma of death. They were the stench of death!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global ‭‭

Wow To The Filthy Inward Cups: Matthew 23:25-26

Wow To The Filthy Inward Cups: Matthew 23:25-26
““25) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26) You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭25‬-‭26‬
This woe exposes the weakness of the Law itself. It was good at making the outside look good, but it did nothing to cleanse and change the human heart. The inside was still sinful and dirty. Conforming to outward legalism does not affect the inward greed, lust and self-indulgence.
Paul touched on this inherent weakness of the Law in Galatians 3:21-22; “21) Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22) But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
The problem was that the outward Law could not impart new life to the inward spirit of man. It made the outward look good, but the inward was untouched.
This woe that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees was the first exposure of this principle. They tried desperately to arrive at self righteousness through the Law but could not change their own human nature. They were religious but lost.
They looked like clean cups outwardly, but inwardly they were full of robbery and self indulgence. You can wash the outside of a pig and dress it in a tuxedo, but inwardly, it is still a pig. The outward bath and nice suit does nothing to change the inside nature of a pig.
So it was with the Pharisees and the Law. They conformed outwardly, but inwardly they were a mess. Rigid legalism does nothing to cleanse the inside of the cup. Jesus exposed the inward filth of the human heart.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe To The Religious Profit Reapers: Matthew 23:23-24

Woe To The Religious Profit Reapers: Matthew 23:23-24
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭23‬-‭24‬
Jesus now looks at the practice of tithing. Many believe the tithe in the Old Testament amounted to 10% of the annual income, but this was actually collected three separate times annually. Numbers 18:20-24 points out that 10% was given to the Levites to support their temple services. Deuteronomy 14:22-24 says that another 10% was paid to the service of the sanctuary, commonly in cattle or grain. Then Deuteronomy 14:28-29 shows that every 3rd year another 10% was given to the poor to be eaten in their own dwelling. Altogether, nearly 1/3 of the property of the Jews was devoted to religious service by the Law. This was besides the voluntary offerings that were made.
The mention of mint, anise and cummin becomes intriguing in the text. These were herbs of little value and not considered part of the produce of the land mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22, but the Pharisees required these as well. They were very meticulous in counting the tithe, but very sloppy with righteous living.
Notice the contrast Jesus set up in Matthew 23:23. They did well with eternal tithing, in fact the bigger tithe became an expression of pride and social status among the Jews. Refer to the story of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4. The pious religious leaders would linger close to the treasury trying to quickly calculate what was given in the tithe to see who was greatest.
However, Jesus pointed out that they neglected weightier inward provisions of the law that included justice, mercy and faithfulness. Religion was reduced to an external show that did nothing to change the heart.
Thus Jesus applied a common proverb to the Pharisees. They were guilty of straining out gnats but swallowing camels. Some provisions of the Law like tithing they watched closer than modern IRS agents, but the important things of justice, mercy and faithfulness were totally ignored.
Do you see what was happening? They were extracting every denarius from the tithe of the poor, because from it they were compensated, but they closed their eyes to justice and mercy toward the orphan, widow and alien. This is where the previous charge Jesus made in Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 becomes so grievous. They were padding their own pockets while exploiting the poor. They were devouring widows houses.
Though not stated in the text, they may have excused themselves from paying tithes on what they received as support from the tithes of the people. They were not farmers. They did not have crops or cattle from which to tithe.
No wonder Jesus called them hypocrites. They were not promise keepers, they were profit reapers. They had cashed in on the tithing system. It had become a scam. They were taking the cream off the top for themselves. Do you see the weight of this Woe Jesus pronounced against them?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Truth Benders: Matthew 23:16-22

Woe to Religious Truth Benders: Matthew 23:16-22
““16) Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17) You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18) And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19) You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20) Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21) And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22) And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭16‬-‭22‬ ‭
Jesus now exposes the degree of superstition practiced by the Pharisees. Instead of being bound by their words they made degrees of binding oaths. For example, if a person swore an oath by the temple it was nothing, but if he swore by the gold in the temple, he was obligated. (Vs 16-17) Jesus pointed out the utter foolishness of the whole system of oath making that empowered truth bending.
They were like blind guides for other blind people who were constantly adding new rules as the game went on. Their words could not be trusted. They did whatever they pleased. They applied the Law to others, but they became a law unto themselves. There was no solid foundation under what they taught, how they lived and how it applied to themselves. They became religious truth benders.
Instead of clearly and truthfully representing God and His Word, they used their position to rule and exploit people. They twisted and changed things to match their own objectives and excuse themselves of any wrong or fault. They used their positions as religious leaders to control and manipulate people. Jesus pronounce a woe on these religious truth benders.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Proselytizers: Matthew 23:15

Woe to Religious Proselytizers: Matthew 23:15
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭15‬
This woe is directed toward making followers of self rather than followers of God. The Pharisees were committed to traveling far and wide to find a student, but then they would turn them into disciples of hell instead of disciples of heaven. Religion can be intoxicating.
Saul of Tarsus is a prime example of this system. He was young and zealous and was surpassing his contemporaries in what he thought was service of God, but it led him down the path of becoming a mercenary. He oversaw the stoning of Stephen as recorded in Acts 7:54-8:1. Then he orchestrated a ferocious persecution against the early Christians. (Acts 8:1-3) The entire time, he was deceived into thinking that he was serving God!
His whole understanding of the Law was bent around justifying his actions. (See Philippians 3:4-6) His devotion to “religion” made him an enemy of God. His story stands as an example of this woe Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees. They were religious, but throughout the four gospels they were the critics and enemies of Jesus. They eventually crucified Him!
Saul’s conversion is recorded in Acts 9:1-9. When Jesus appeared to him, he posed the question; “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Another way of asking that question might be; “Saul, Saul, why are you fighting against God?”
But wait, Saul was devoutly religious. He had volumes of zeal. How could someone so sincere be so deceived? How did he get so far off track?
We could ask the same question of many religious zealots today. Pick whichever world religion you want and I will show you many proselytes of hell. Like Saul, they lead the charge against the gospel and the true God. They feed on the blood of born-again believers. They may be devout, religious and sincere… but they are tragically wrong. This has been the case throughout history.
“Blind religion” is Satan’s playground. He uses it to deceive people and obscure the truth. It is bathed in the blood of the martyrs. So what is the answer?
It boils down to the simple gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s what converted Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. That is the narrow gate that every true child of God must enter through into heaven. (See Matthew 7:13-14) Don’t let anyone or anything block your way through that gate! Woe to the religious proselytizes!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Woe to Religious Predators: Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47

Woe to Religious Predators: Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47
“[14) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]” Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭14‬ ‭
Notice the unique markings on this verse. When that occurs, it is an indication that this verse does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Later versions of the Gospel of Matthew may have borrowed this verse from Mark 12:40 or Luke 20:47. Notice that both of those Gospels include the charge that the scribes and Pharisees made a habit of devouring widows houses. What does that mean?
Notice that this eastied to the idea of making long prayers for appearance sake. This may have been similar to the practice in the Catholic Church of selling indulgences. These unscrupulous religious leaders would sell their services to say a Mass or pray departed loved ones out of purgatory. They played on the emotions of the widow who would pay huge sums of money to ensure that their loved ones would be spared suffering.
History during the Middle Ages is full of tragic examples where the church literally devoured the full estate of widows. They were easy prey. Biblical ignorance has been exploited by religious leaders throughout history. I include this merely as an example.
It appears that the scribes and Pharisees may have had a similar practice. Jesus was exposing and condemning them. Their long prayers for appearance sake may have been sold to widows for a similar reason. The whole of Scripture gives strong warnings against exploiting widows and orphans.
2 Timothy 3:6 hints that false teachers also preyed on weak women for sexual exploitation. They would “enter into households” and captivate weak women. Though the word “widow” is not used in the verse, it is not unreasonable. They were very vulnerable and therefore “weak.” This kind of exploitation and spiritual abuse is strongly condemned in the Bible.
The addition of this “woe” in Matthew 23:13 has strong biblical foundation. Woe to any religious leader who uses their position to exploit widows or prey on women and children. The condemnation Jesus pronounced on these religious predators is justified.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global