The Olivet Discourse: Part One

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No teaching of Christ has generated as much controversy as the portion of the Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24:1–35. Many people believe that this section, at least in part, is about the final return of Jesus to usher in the new heavens and the new earth (see Rev. 20–21). Critics seize upon this belief to discredit our Savior’s words. If the Olivet Discourse is about His final return, they say, Jesus is a false prophet since the generation in which He lived died off and the world continues on (Matt. 24:34). Several people, in order to answer this objection, have said that “generation” refers not to Christ’s hearers but to a later group who will witness many of the signs in Matthew 24:1–35. According to this interpretation, Jesus is referring to events that will come in the far distant future. This view is unsatisfying, as we will see in the days ahead.
This text is difficult, primarily because different Christians view it dramatically different.
Look with me at the “bookends”
Matthew 24:3 ESV
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?”
Matthew 24:34–35 ESV
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.
Now this very specific timing is much of what has made this passage so difficult.
Clearly, the disciples are asking Jesus about the destruction of the temple, which we know from history will happen less than 40 years after this event in 70 AD.
We also see that Jesus tells His disciples that it will happen in their lifetime.
Some have struggled with this text so much that it has led them to try and take things in an unnatural way
Generation DOES NOT equal “church age”
Jesus did not return yet
Jesus was not wrong.
We are going to approach today’s text somewhat differently than usual.
First, look at this outline of the text with me...
I. The beginning of the “birth pains” (vs. 2-14)
II. The destruction of the temple (vs.15-21)
III. The time of “Great Trouble” (vs. 22-28)
IV. The coming of The Son of Man (vs.29-31)
V. Jesus’ comments on the timing of these things (vs. 32-35)
So, we will look at each of these sections together, striving to explain and understand them, then we will conclude with the main point.
All throughout we will attempting to answer the disciples questions regarding the destruction of the temple, the second coming, and the end of all things.

I. The beginning of the “birth pains” (vs.3-14)

“birth pains”
Messianic expectation
Setting question:
Matthew 24:3 ESV
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?”
This question sets the stage for Jesus’ discourse.
OT Prophecy
dual fullfilment
“Hills” theory
Hollister to San Juan Bautista
All 3 questions, in the disciples minds, were 1.
Matthew 24:4 ESV
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.
Matthew 24:5 ESV
For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.
Matthew 24:6 ESV
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
Matthew 24:7 ESV
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
Matthew 24:8 ESV
All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Matthew 24:9 ESV
“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.
Matthew 24:10 ESV
And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
Matthew 24:11 ESV
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
Matthew 24:12 ESV
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:13 ESV
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:14 ESV
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So we have seen here that
The birth pains began in the time of the Apostles and continue until now
We live in a time where false prophets are leading many astray (Mohamed, Hubbard, Ellen White, Joseph Smith, Pope)
We live in a time of governmental turmoil
We live in a time of growing hostility to the message of Christ
We will face temptation to allow our love to grow cold
We must continue to proclaim the Gospel during this time of unrest.
One day, “the end” of the birth pains will come
So be sure to...
Be on guard against false teachers
Don’t allow the turmoil of world affairs to quench your zeal for Christ
Don’t allow fear of man to quiet your ferver for sharing the Gospel.
Next Division

II. The destruction of the temple (vs.15-21)

Part of the birth pains.
Section II is a subpart of Sections I-III about the time of “Great Trouble”
Matthew 24:15 ESV
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
Matthew 24:16 ESV
then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Matthew 24:17 ESV
Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,
Matthew 24:18 ESV
and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
Matthew 24:19 ESV
And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!
Matthew 24:20 ESV
Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
Matthew 24:21 ESV
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.
The Horror of the Seige of Jerusalem
As the legions charged in, neither persuasion nor threat could check their impetuosity: passion alone was in command. Crowded together around the entrances many were trampled by their friends, many fell among the still hot and smoking ruins of the colonnades and died as miserably as the defeated. As they neared the Sanctuary they pretended not even to hear Caesar's commands and urged the men in front to throw in more firebrands. The partisans were no longer in a position to help; everywhere was slaughter and flight. Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught. Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.
In section II we see
that Jesus instructed His disciples to flee the destruction of Jerusalem.
That the destruction was coming soon.
That the destruction of the temple was an outward and obvious sign of the beginnings of the “Birth Pains”
So, in response...
Recognize that indeed this time of trouble is underway
Realize, that though our message will go forth and God will build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against them, we live in a time that will not see the whole world in submission to Jesus until the end arrives.
Next Division

III. The time of “Great Trouble” (vs. 22-28)

Matthew 24:22 ESV
And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
Matthew 24:23 ESV
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
Matthew 24:24 ESV
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:25 ESV
See, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:26 ESV
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.
Matthew 24:27 ESV
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:28 ESV
Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

IV. The coming of The Son of Man (vs.29-31)

Matthew 24:29 ESV
“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.
Matthew 24:30 ESV
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:31 ESV
And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Next Division

V. Jesus’ comments on the timing of these things (vs. 32-35)

Matthew 24:32 ESV
“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.
Matthew 24:33 ESV
So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
Matthew 24:34 ESV
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Matthew 24:35 ESV
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Recognize that the stage is set for the end of all things and be faithful in your mission as you wait

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