The Prophetic Parables of Matthew 13 (p4)
with The Prophetic Scope of Matthew 24 (p4)
AW Pink (1886-1952)
Copyright: Public Domain
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The Prophetic Parables of Matthew 13
We have endeavored to show in our exposition of Matthew 13 that the prophetic parables found therein contain an outline sketch of the history of Christendom, i.e., the circle of profession, that sphere where the authority of Christ is nominally owned. That which is in view, particularly in the first four parables, is the circle of human responsibility, and therefore it is a picture of failure which is presented to us. Look where you will, it is always the same; whenever God has committed anything to man as a responsible creature, he has failed in his trust.
God placed Adam in Eden on the ground of human responsibility—that is, on probation; and he fell. God gave to Noah the sword of magisterial authority, but he failed to govern himself. God committed to Israel the law, and they broke it: before Moses came down from the mount they had set up the calf and were worshipping it. God instituted priesthood in Israel, in the tribe of Levi, and Aaron and his sons were duly consecrated to their office; yet on the very next day two of Aaron’s sons offered strange fire, and judgment fell upon them. God instituted kingship in Israel, and that also was a sorry failure, as the books of Kings and Chronicles bear witness. God endowed Nebuchadnezzar with great power and it turned his head: he became so bloated with his own self-importance that he made an image to himself and demanded that all should worship it.
And the Christian profession has been no exception. Paul announced that after his departure “grievous wolves should enter the flock,” and they did. The evil introduction by Satan at the beginning of this dispensation has never been eradicated, nor will it be till harvest-time. Instead of things getting better, Scripture explicitly declares they will become “worse and worse”; until Christ will “spew out” the whole system that bears His name.
The seven parables of Matthew 13 divide into four and three, the usual division of a septenary series. The first four were spoken to the multitude on the seashore; the last three to the disciples within the house. Hence, the first four give us the external view of the history of Christendom; the last three treating of that which is internal or spiritual. The first four are arranged in two pairs, the first two giving us the individual aspect of things, the wheat and tares. The second pair set forth that which is collective and corporate, the mustard-tree and the leaven.
Again: the first parable shows us a “sowing”; the fifth and sixth reveal the resultant crop. In like manner, the second parable also shows us a “sowing,” while the third and fourth describe the harvest which springs from it. Should it be asked, Why is the crop from the second sowing mentioned before that of the first? The answer is, this is in keeping with God’s invariable method: “Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual” (1Co 15:46). Cain was born before Abel, Ishmael before Isaac, Esau before Jacob. The nation of Egypt existed before Israel; Saul came to the throne before David, and so on.
Let us now briefly review the details of these parables. The first represents our Lord still here upon earth, in Servant-form, scattering broadcast the Seed of the kingdom. It intimates the ratio of the Gospel’s success, and forewarns us that only a fractional portion thereof produces abiding results. It makes known, from the human side, the various hindrances which render most of the Seed unfertile. Thus, this parable plainly repudiates the popular delusion which supposes that this age will yet witness a universal reception of the Gospel; it positively forbids any expectation of a millennium brought about by human enterprise or the labors of Christ’s servants. It declares that as the result of the opposition of the devil, the flesh and the world, most of the Seed is either caught away or choked, and general barrenness is the result. Nor is there any hint at the close of the parable that such opposition would cease or that the yield would increase; instead, the Lord affirmed that it would decrease from an hundred-fold down to thirty-fold. The history of the last nineteen centuries has fully corroborated the teaching of this parable and made manifest the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction. Only a fractional proportion of people in any land, state, city, or village really receive the Gospel! Not only is this true in general throughout the world, but it applies with equal force to the religious sphere. Where is the church to-day which can carry on its work if the faithful minority were removed?
The second parable carries us forward to a point after Christ’s ascension, and shows us dual forces at work in Christendom. These “dual forces” are named in verses 24, 25. They are Christ (through His servants) sowing His “good Seed” and the Devil sowing his “tares.” Through the unwatchfulness of the Lord’s servants, while “men slept,” the Enemy got in his work, and as the result the crop in the field, as a whole, is spoiled, and is to continue thus to the end of the age.
Some have experienced a difficulty in verse 27. In view of the fact that the “tares” so closely resemble the wheat that the one cannot be distinguished from the other till harvest-time, how was it that their presence was detected at such an early date? The difficulty is more imaginary than real. Note the difference between what is said in verse 25 and verse 27: in the former it was “men” that slept: in the latter, it was the “servants’’ who discovered the presence of the tares. These “servants” obviously refer to the apostles, who were endowed with the Holy Spirit to an extent that none others have been, and therefore possessed a discernment which none others have had since then.
But though the “tares” were detected, orders were given that they must not be removed; they were to “grow together” with the wheat until the harvest. It is a great pity that many with more zeal than knowledge have ignored this command of Christ’s. This word of His at once exposes the uselessness, worthlessness, and unscripturalness of “reform” movements and efforts. Men have indulged the idle dream that they could improve the world by ridding it of noxious weeds: in other words, by the banishment of drunkenness and immorality, and the purifying of politics-as well might they attempt to purify the waters of the Dead Sea! Christ said, “Let both grow”; do not waste time in seeking to get rid of the “tares.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature” is our marching-order, and due attention to it will leave no time for seeking to root up weeds! Finally, it is blessed to note that the Enemy can neither injure the wheat nor prevent the garnering of it. The sowing of his tares was by God’s permission.
The third parable carries us beyond the days of the apostles and anticipated the time when the outward character of professing Christianity underwent a radical change. That which had hitherto been despised, had become popular; that which was so insignificant in the world, assumed huge proportions. But instead of this being a great blessing, it was a fearful curse. So far from its being a triumph for the Gospel, it evidenced a victory of Satan. The little mustard-seed developed into a monstrosity, and produced that which gave shelter for the agents of the Devil. Instead of living as strangers and pilgrims here, professing Christians took part in politics and sought to reform the State. Instead of having as their hope the returning Christ, they sought to improve the world, and to such an extent did they imagine they had succeeded, it was announced that the millennium had commenced.
The parable of the leaven presents to us something still more tragic. Just as the mustard-tree depicted the outward corruption of the Christian profession, this fourth parable shows us the inward corruption of it. Into the “meal,” which represents the pure doctrine of Christ, a foreign element was stealthily introduced. This was designed to make the food of God’s people lighter and more palatable to the world; but it corrupted the same. The Lord announced that this evil process would continue until the whole was leavened. This cannot be completely realized while the Holy Spirit remains on earth; but how nearly this prophecy has become history shows us how very close at hand must be the time when He will take His departure.
But though these four parables give us a sad picture of the unfaithfulness of men, there has been no failure with God. That cannot be. In spite of all the breakdown in human responsibility, and notwithstanding Satan’s opposition, God has been slowly but surely working out His “eternal purpose.” “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world,” says Act 15:18, and clear and abundant proof of this is furnished here in Matthew 13.
The fifth and the sixth parables bring before us the gracious and blessed work of Christ, securing for Himself two Objects which are inexpressibly precious to Him, namely, the “treasure” hid in the field and the “pearl” from the sea; which represent redeemed Israel and the Church of the present dispensation. This gives us the brighter side of things, and shows that, notwithstanding Satan’s Divinely-permitted success, Christ shall yet “see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied” (Isa 53:11).
In connection with the next parable there remain two points to be considered: first, Christ’s interpretation of it, which is found in verses 49, 50. The careful reader will observe that this contains a principle similar to that found in connection with the interpretation of the second parable which is given in verses 41-43. In the parable (itself) of the tares Christ went no farther than what actually takes place here on earth, see verse 30; the state in the next world of those represented by the tares is not revealed. But in the interpretation of this parable, which Christ gave to His disciples, their future destiny was made known, see verses 39-43. Thus the interpretation carries us farther than do the details of the parable itself. This principle is also exemplified in a number of symbolic prophecies: Daniel 7 supplies a notable illustration—the explanations there given going beyond the symbols used.
It is thus in the seventh parable. In verses 47, 48 the final destiny of neither the good nor the bad fish is given. Neither in the parable of the Tares nor of the Net does the execution of judgment form part of the parable itself. The reason of this is not far to seek. These parables all treat of the present dispensation. while the churches are on earth: God’s judgment will descend after they have gone. Hence. in the parable itself the “tares” are left in the field (v. 30); and in the last parable the “bad fish” are left on the shore. that is. on earth (v. 48). This is clear from the fact that the “vessels” into which the “good fish are gathered” are on earth. The execution of judgment upon the “tares” and on the “bad fish” occurs at a later date, and this was indicated by Christ Himself, in His giving the interpretation separately and after the parable itself.
In further confirmation of what has just been said. it is to be noted that, the fishermen have nothing to do with the work of judgment. As Christ declared “at the end of the age (which will be more than seven years after the Rapture) the angels shall come forth.” etc. (v. 49). Thus it is the “angels” who execute God’s judgment—compare carefully Rev 7:1, Rev 8:1, Rev 16:1, etc.
One other point connected with the last parable must be noted. In verse 49 we are told that “the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.” This is the very opposite of what the fishermen do in verse 48: they, first, gather the good fish into vessels, and then cast the bad away. In both the parable of the Tares and of the Net the “angels” are occupied with the wicked. The “just” in verse 49 refer to the godly Jewish remnant who will be on earth, after the Church has been removed just before at the end of this age.
The very fact that Matthew 13 contains seven parables intimates that we have here a complete something, and that is, the history of the Christian profession on earth. In the prophetic outline presented by Christ, the salient points and principal epochs in this history are noticed. In the first, which is introductory, the earthly ministry of Christ is in view. The second, describes what took place in the days of the apostles. The third, brings us down to the fourth century, when the little mustard-seed became a great “tree,” which pointed to the union between the State and professing Christianity in the days of Constantine. The fourth takes us to the end of the sixth century, and forecast the rise of the Papacy, the woman corrupting the meal.
After the fourth parable there is a manifest break: the Lord leaving the seaside and retiring within the house: thus He was hidden from the multitude! Marvelously and accurately does this correspond with the history of Christendom, for, following the establishment of Romanism, came the Dark Ages, when the multitudes were forsaken by Christ. After the break, come the next two parables spoken to the disciples only. These forecast the great Reformation in the days of Luther, Calvin, etc. Most significant is it that the central object in each is Christ seeking that which was hidden and bringing it to light. That which He first unearthed was the “treasure” hid in a field. How manifestly this found its parallel in the recovery of the precious Word of God which had for so long been kept back from the people! The parable of the “one pearl” anticipated the recovery of the blessed truth of the oneness in Christ of all God’s people.
The seventh parable, as its position in the series indicates, treats of conditions at the close of this dispensation. In the light of this, how very significant are the words at the end of verse 47: “A net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind.” No efforts are now being spared to attract fish of “every kind” into the various denominational “nets,” and everything that would tend to frighten or keep away worldlings is carefully avoided. In modern “church” (?) services there is something to suit the tastes and meet the needs of all, except the true children of God! Social, economic, and diplomatic problems and issues are discussed to satisfy the political mind. Worldly amusements are introduced to attract the lovers of pleasure. Grand organs are put in and professional vocalists engaged to soothe and charm the aesthetic. Dramatic speakers, so-called “Evangelists,” who are but religious showmen, are employed to please the sensation-monger. In short, everything that can please the flesh has been brought into the churches (?) to draw the crowds and thus catch fish of “every sort.” Sad it is that so much time, money, and energy are wasted in such misguided and God-dishonoring efforts. Sinners do not need amusing and cheering, but showing their lost condition. The business of the ministers of the Gospel is not to tickle ears, but to preach that which, by the Spirit’s application, will touch hearts and search consciences. Their duty is to make manifest the character of God, the awfulness of sin, the certainty of its punishment, and to bid their perishing hearers, “Flee from the wrath to come.”
The next thing to happen will be the removal of God’s saints from the earth, and their translation to heaven: see 1Th 4:16-17. Following this, after a brief interval, God will pour out His judgments upon the wicked, and then shall “the angels come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 49, 50). These verses will then receive a solemn and literal fulfillment. After this “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (v. 43), i.e., the upper or heavenly department of Christ’s millennial kingdom—Joh 1:51 implies the two spheres of the Messiah’s Kingdom. May the Lord grant that each reader of these articles shall
The Prophetic Scope of Matthew 24
The prophetic discourse of Christ found in Matthew 24 and 25 was delivered by Him in private to a few of His disciples less than a week before the Crucifixion. He had left the Temple for the last time. His public ministry was completed. He had announced to the leaders of the nation that, “your house is left unto you desolate,” and had declared, “You shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
As Christ left the Temple, accompanied by His disciples, they, no doubt, awed and puzzled by what He had just said, directed His attention to the magnificent buildings of the Temple, particularly to the massive stones of which they were constructed, saying, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (Mar 13:1 and compare Joh 2:20). To which He responded, “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” (Mat 24:2). Then, as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, in full sight of the City and Temple, the disciples asked, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world ?” (Mat 24:3).
Each of the first three Gospels supply us with an inspired account of our Lord’s prophetic discourse, but it is only by diligently comparing them and noting their differences that we can discover the scope and design of each, for there is no mere repetition in Scripture. Luke’s account differs from Matthew’s and Mark’s in two important respects—what is related and what is omitted. Matthew’s account is based upon a threefold question, see Mat 24:3; whereas Luke’s is based upon a twofold question, see Luk 21:7. It is most important that the student should carefully note the omission of any reference to Christ’s “coming” in Luke’s account. The second main difference is connected with the time for “fleeing”. In Mat 24:15-16 we read, “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.” Whereas in Luk 21:20-21 we read. “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains.” That part of our Lord’s prophetic discourse recorded in Luke 21 (to the middle of v. 24) was all fulfilled by the year A.D. 70. First, Jerusalem was invested by Cestius Gallus, who was repulsed. Later, it was attacked by Titus, the emperor’s son, who was successful. But between the two besiegements, there is good reason to believe that, all Christians “fled,” and that none of them perished in Jerusalem. Luke’s “sign” is past, Matthew’s is yet future. It is most important to observe that in Matthew 24 no reference is made to the destruction of Jerusalem after verse 2; while, on the other hand, in Luke 21 no reference at all is made to “the abomination of desolation.’’
Now the first thing to do in taking up the study of Matthew 24 is to pay careful attention to its context, namely chapter 23. There, a sevenfold “woe” is uttered, and solemn sentence of doom is pronounced by the Lord Jesus upon the apostate nation of Israel. This is found in verses 34-38, closing with those fearful words, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Then the Lord added, “For I say unto you, you shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (v. 39). This last verse is most important. The “coming” of Christ which is there referred to is not His descent into the air to catch up the Church, but His return to the earth unto the people of Israel. It is this which supplies the key to Mat 24:3, and shows that everything in Matthew 24 is yet future and is wholly Jewish.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple” (v 1). Mark the first word of this verse: the “and” denotes that what follows gives a continuation, without any break, of that which is recorded in the closing verses of chapter 23. It supplies a solemn confirmation of what was there announced: “Your house is left unto you desolate” is verified by the words “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple.”
“And His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. 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” (vv. 1, 2). This foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, or more specifically, the razing of the Temple. It is most important to observe that this was said before the prophetic discourse of Christ’s which is recorded in Mat 24:4 and onwards.
“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?” (v. 3). That this question was asked separately from “And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” or “age,” shows plainly that the “when shall these things be?” referred specifically to the overthrow of the Temple, which implied the destruction of the City. It is to be noted that only Luke records Christ’s answer to that question, see Luk 21:20-24. This part of our Lord’s prediction Matthew was guided to omit.
“And what shall be the sign of Thy coming?” (v. 3). What did the disciples have in mind when they asked this question? Surely there cannot be the slightest difficulty for us now to discover the true answer. So far as the inspired records go, up to this point the Lord had said nothing whatever to His disciples about His going to the Father’s house to prepare a place for His people, and of His coming again to receive them “unto Himself.” No hint whatever had been given of His future descent into the air for the purpose of removing His saints from this earth. Therefore this aspect of the Lord’s “coming” could not have been in the mind of the disciples at that time. It should be obvious to every honest heart and impartial mind that when they asked, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming ?” they had before them what He had just said to the nation of Israel, namely, “You shall not see Me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Mat 21:9); which was His coming back to the earth,. One other thing enables us to fix the meaning of this question of the disciples, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming?” No “signs” are now given to or for those whose calling is a heavenly one. How could there be, when of them it is written, “we walk by faith, not by sight”? (2Co 5:7). God’s people today are not to be looking for “signs,” but listening for a sound, namely, the “shout” of the Lord (1Th 4:16)!
“And of the end of the age?” To what “age” did the disciples refer? Surely there can be only one answer: that associated with Christ’s “coming” to the earth itself. It should be carefully borne in mind that this question was asked by the disciples, as Jews, before the Cross, before the Christian dispensation began. It is of the greatest importance that this fact should be kept before us, for a mistake on that point necessarily involves an erroneous interpretation of what follows. If we remember that at this time the apostles had no thought of (or, at any rate, no real belief in) Christ’s death and resurrection, it should help us to see that the Christian “age” could not have been in their minds. They were Jews, in spirit, hopes, expectations—the very first verse of Matthew 24 (following right after Mat 23:38) more than hints at that. It is failure at this very point which has led so many to imagine that Matthew 24 teaches that “the Church” will pass through the great Tribulation.
It is to be carefully observed that in His answer the Lord referred the disciples to Daniel: “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place” (v. 15). It is interesting to note that the expressions “the end” or “time of the end” occur in Daniel just thirteen times, and that they are found nowhere else in the Old Testament. These expressions refer to the unfulfilled 70th “week” of Dan 9:24-27, which brings to a close Israel’s national servitude under Gentile domination. The new “Age” will be introduced by the second advent of the Messiah to this earth and the consequent placing of Israel at the head of the nations. References to that “Age” are found in Heb 2:5, Heb 6:5. Thus the disciples rightly connected the “end of the age” with the “Coming” of Christ; for His return to this earth and the ending of the “Age,” i.e., the “Times of the Gentiles” synchronize. What is so important to note is that in Mat 23:39 Christ did not connect His “coming” with the destruction of Jerusalem and the overthrow of the Temple, but with the glorious epoch of Israel’s national conversion.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (vv. 4, 5). The Lord was here addressing His disciples as the representatives of the godly Jewish remnant of the future. Matthew does not record Christ’s answer to their first question, that being given in Luke. There is nothing at all in Matthew 24 parallel with Luk 21:20. Nor is there anything in it which falls, directly, within the scope of the Christian dispensation. The whole of this parenthetical dispensation is ignored, coming in as it does between the 69th and 70th “weeks” of Daniel 9. Verses 4-14 of Matthew 24 treat of the first half of the 70th “week”; verses 15-30 of its second half. Though verses 4-7 describe conditions which have obtained, more or less, all through the centuries of this Christian era, yet will they appear in a much more intensified form during the Tribulation period.
Fuller and further details concerning the time covered by Christ’s prophetic discourse in Matthew 24 are furnished in the Revelation, the major portion of that book treating of the same period. At the close of this present dispensation Christendom is spewed out (Rev. 3), the saints are raptured (Rev 4:1), and then the united company of the redeemed are seen in Heaven worshipping God (Rev 4:4-11). Following this, the Lamb as the “Lion” of the “tribe of Judah“ takes “the book” (Rev. 5), and Israel at once appears on the scene. As soon as the “seals” of that book are broken we find that which corresponds exactly with what we have in Matthew 24. Marvelous, minute, and many are the parallels between the two chapters. At a few of them only shall we now glance.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mat 24:4-5). This was the first part of the Lord’s reply to the questions asked by His disciples. “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four living creatures saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev 6:1-2). These words picture the Anti-christ deceiving men, posing as the true Christ—of. Rev 19:11.
“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not troubled: for all must come to pass, but the end (i.e. of the 70th “week”) is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Mat 24:6-7). “And when He had opened the second seal I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev 6:3-4). Thus the contents of the second seal correspond exactly with the second part of Christ’s prophecy.
“And there shall be famines” (Mat 24:7). “And when he had opened the third seat, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse (the color of famine, see Lam 4:8; Lam 5:10); and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst, of the four living creatures say, A measure of wheat for a penny (a day’s wage, see Matthew 20:2) and three measures of barley for a penny” (Rev 6:5-6).
“And pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Mat 24:7). “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with Him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Rev 6:7-8).
“All these are the beginnings of sorrows” or “birth-pangs” (Mat 24:8). These “birth-pangs” are the travail which shall yet precede the birth of a regenerated Israel. If the reader desires to trace out the remaining correspondences between the two chapters let him compare Mat 24:8-28 with Rev 6:9-11; and then Mat 24:29-30 with Rev 6:12-17.
Passing on now to verse 15: “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth let him understand.” This is the point which marks the division between the two halves of the 70th “week”; compare Dan 9:27. These words were addressed by Christ to His apostles, but the “ye” need occasion no difficulty. The Lord was speaking to them as Jews, as the representatives of those who shall be on earth at the time these things are fulfilled. That this is not a “begging of the question” should be clear by a reference to Mat 23:39: the word “Ye“ there was spoken to the scribes and pharisees as the representatives of the Nation both present and future, that is, of the nation as a unit. A similar instance is found in 1Th 4:17, “Then we which are alive.” The apostle did not say “they,” but addressed those Thessalonian saints, including himself, as the representatives of all believers who shall be alive on the earth at the Lord’s coming in the air.
The “abomination of desolation” is the image of Anti-christ (Rev. 13) which will yet be set up in the re-built Temple at Jerusalem. The reference here in Mat 24:15 is not to the defiling of the Temple by Titus, as Dan 9:27, Dan 11:31, Dan 12:11 clearly show. It is in “the midst of the week” that “sacrifice and oblation’’ are made to cease. It is then that the pseudo-Christ will throw off his mask and appear as an opposing Christ, demanding that Divine honors shall be paid to him alone: an Old Testament type of this is found in Dan 3:1-7.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake (i.e. the sake of the godly Jewish remnant) those days shall be shortened” (Mat 24:21-22) The double reference to “those days,” and there is a third one in verse 19, finds its interpretation in the “when you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation” of verse 15. It was not the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus of which Christ here spoke. His words in verse 22 are clearly parallel with Dan 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book” i.e., God’s “elect” among the Jews. Thus the “great tribulation” of Mat 24:21 instead of referring to the time when Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel dispersed, speaks of that which shall immediately precede the day when they shall be “delivered.”
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe not” (Matthew 24:23). This has in view the time when the Man of Sin shall sit in the Temple of God “showing himself that he is God” (2Th 2:3-4).
“For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Mat 24:27). Never once is this title of Christ’s used in any of the Pauline (Epistles which are addressed to the members of the Body of Christ. We are waiting the call of “God’s Son” (1Th 1:9-10).
“For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Mat 24:28). The “carcass“ refers to the apostate mass of Israel; the “eagles” are the symbols of Divine judgment: see Deu 28:26, Eze 39:17, Rev 19:17.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Mat 24:34). With this should be carefully compared Mat 12:43-45. Not only would not the Jewish nation (“generation”) pass away, but it would not cease as a “wicked generation.” But when Matthew 24 has been completely fulfilled then that “wicked generation” shall “pass away,” and be followed by a new Nation: see Psa 22:30-31; Psa 102:18; Deu 32:5, Deu 32:20.
The reference to “the days of Noah” in verses 37-39, Mat 24:37-39 are in striking accord with the rest of this prophetic discourse, and at once fix the scope thereof. First, Noah lived at the very close of the antediluvian age: so Matthew 24 describes conditions at the very end of the Jewish age. Second, Noah and his house were saved through a great and sore judgment of God: so an elect Jewish remnant will be preserved through the great Tribulation (Rev 12:6, Rev 12:14). Third, Noah and his house came forth from the ark on to an earth which had been swept clean by the besom of destruction, and entered into a new Age: so the godly Jewish remnant pass through the great tribulation, and from them will spring millennial Israel. Fourth, judgment consumed the ungodly: “So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” But how blessed for the Christian to remember that before the Flood began, Enoch—type of the Church—was translated! May this blessed hope be the stay of our hearts, and the purifying power for our walk. May we, instead of looking for “signs,” be listening for that Sound of all sounds; instead of dreading the swiftly approaching Tribulation, be found praising God that we shall be high above it all; instead of studying the character of Mussolini or others to find in them marks of the Man of Sin, may we be “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13).