Olivet Discourse (Nine)

It is written:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29)

Does the language of this passage indicate that Jesus is talking about the Second Coming at the end of time?

How could these events have been fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., as Jesus said they would (Matthew 24:34)?

The answers to these questions are not difficult when we allow ourselves to be guided by the Scriptures.

First, the language that Jesus uses here was common throughout the Old Testament for reference to the downfall of nations. Apocalyptic and earth-shattering language is used throughout the Old Testament for the downfall and removal of nations.

For example:

Isaiah 13:10-11-For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. 11  “I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

This passage is not about the end of the world, but about the destruction of the nation of Babylon (Isaiah 13:1).

Again:

Isaiah 34:4-10-4  All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree. 5  “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, And on the people of My curse, for judgment. 6  The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, And a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7  The wild oxen shall come down with them, And the young bulls with the mighty bulls; Their land shall be soaked with blood, And their dust saturated with fatness.” 8  For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion. 9  Its streams shall be turned into pitch, And its dust into brimstone; Its land shall become burning pitch. 10  It shall not be quenched night or day; Its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

This passage is about the nation of Edom, not the end of the world (Isaiah 34:5).

Again:

Ezekiel 32:6-11-6  ‘I will also water the land with the flow of your blood, Even to the mountains; And the riverbeds will be full of you. 7  When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give her light. 8  All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,’ Says the Lord GOD. 9  ‘I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries which you have not known. 10  Yes, I will make many peoples astonished at you, and their kings shall be horribly afraid of you when I brandish My sword before them; and they shall tremble every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of your fall.’ 11  “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you.

This language is applied to the Pharaoh of Egypt in Ezekiels day and age, not to the end of the world (Ezekiel 32:2). It would be executed by the king of Babylon (Ezekiel 32:11).

Second, the language of Matthew 24:29 again looks to the Old Testament, where similar language had reference to high political figures and warriors.

Genesis 37:9-Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”

Judges 5:19-20-The kings came and fought, Then the kings of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; They took no spoils of silver. 20  They fought from the heavens; The stars from their courses fought against Sisera.

The language of Jesus in Matthew 24:29 was couched in Old Testament terminology for the destruction and downfall of nations and political powers, which makes perfect sense of its’ fulfillment in the Roman destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Matthew 24:34).

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