THROUGH THE BIBLE IN THREE YEARS

This program of daily Scripture studies is designed to help you in daily honoring God with adoration.

Each day, Monday through Friday, a Scripture with commentary is posted.

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TODAY'S SCRIPTURE STUDY

MATTHEW

CHAPTER 24

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 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.

After Jesus' exchange with the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees in Chapter 23, Jesus left the temple. As they were leaving, the disciples began to remark how great the temple was, and how beautiful the stone work. Some of the foundation stones were as much as 70 feet long, 10 feet wide and 8 feet high! But Jesus had just said in Matthew 23:38, that this "house shall be left desolate!"

Jesus took this opportunity to explain that their focus should be on the spiritual and not on the physical. Yes, there are things beautiful in this world - many things. And we certainly should recognize them. But, the Christian's focus should be on spiritual things. Jesus was not making less of the beauty of the temple, He was making more of the temporal nature of things, and how we should be constantly reminded that only spiritual things last.

As discussed earlier (See Matthew 23:37-39), Titus came in 70AD and destroyed Jerusalem. In that destruction, every stone of the temple was broken or removed!

There are many beautiful churches in the world today. And we certainly admire the dedication and devotion of saints who have given to build them. However, what is more important is the souls that either come or don't come to church! All that is in this temporal world shall be burned away! But how many shall enter the "New Jerusalem?"

I have had the privilege of traveling to other countries and visiting many churches there. Some of them are nothing but poles, thatch roofs and dirt floors! They are just as effective in the spiritual work of evangelism and education of the saved! Yes, I admire the great cathedrals - especially their great glass work and stone work. But the more important work is preparing for the time when these things shall be gone, and only what is done for Christ shall matter!

Jesus' statement certainly changed the focus of the disciples! They were graphically reminded of "the end," and began to wonder about how and when.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

Jesus sat down on "the mount of olives," and the disciples gathered round Him as they often did. They were ready to sit at His feet and gather in the informative teaching of the Master. This is the difference between those who are saved and those who are not. Those who are saved are continually sitting at the feet of the Master, learning to live according to His will.

But this time was different.

The disciples had three questions: "WHEN" would be the end; "WHAT" would be the sign of Jesus' return; and what signs would point to "the end of the world."

I think it is very important to begin with Jesus' FIRST statement: "Take heed that no man deceive you!"

Deceit is the trickery of the devil. Satan is condemned to the "lake of fire and brimstone" where he shall be "tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)

And that ole devil wants company!

Satan will do anything he can to deceive people! Those who have not Christ, those who believe not the Word of God, can easily be led astray.

But through faithful study, diligent prayer, and determined effort ministering for Christ, His people CANNOT be deceived! ((See Mark 13:23-24))

At times, Christians may become wobbly, but by taking heed they won't fall down! The truly converted are "born again" by the "incorruptible Word of God" ( 1Peter 1:23), and "sealed in the Spirit" ( Ephesians 1:13), and they shall not be deceived by the trickeries of the devil!

However, Christian, remember Jesus said "TAKE HEED! Be LISTENING and LEARNING!
And the FIRST thing to "take heed" of is IMPOSTERS!

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Christians are certainly concerned with the "signs of the times." But their FOCUS is not on the signs, nor on "when." Their FOCUS is on JESUS! The focus of the Christian is to "know the Truth" (John 8:32)!

Do you know how agents of the FBI learn to spot counterfeit bills? They FIRST learn what the REAL ones look like!!

Yes, the Christian is to be LISTENING and LEARNING by studying the Bible. And there are many subjects discussed in the Bible. For instance, the Bible teaches:
how to treat one another,
that we must WORK for a living,
that we should pay TAXES,
that children are to be obedient to parents and respect elders of authority,
and, many other subjects, including "the end times."

But, I'm afraid, many folk are majoring in the minors!
The PRIMARY subject of the Bible is JESUS! ((See Revelation 1:1)) The Greek word for "revelation" is apokalupsis. It means disclose, or unveil. The MAJOR purpose of the Bible is to teach us CHRIST and Who He is; so that we will know the "Truth!" Then, we will be able to spot "counterfeits!"

Before going on with the reading and comprehension of the remainder of Chapter 24, and with Chapter 25, we should establish the CONTEXT of this speech by our Lord.

It is imperative, that though many things happen in the world, we Christians be PRIMARILY FOCUSED upon two things:
KNOWING JESUS,
and LIVING LIKE HE WOULD!

Jesus said in Mark 13:22, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." But the true Christian is continually studying the Bible, and learning the "Truth!" The acts of some of these "false Christs" have been, and will be, very strong delusions indeed. But there is security in KNOWING CHRIST! It IS possible for those who have been "enlightened" to fall away from Christ (See Hebrews 6:4-6). It is possible for a person to be "enlightened" about Christ, and never repent and be saved. It is NOT possible for those who have been genuinely SAVED to "fall away" from Him Whom they KNOW!

Now, there have been many who came saying they were the Christ, the Messiah. And some of their proofs have been very, very convincing. But, it is NOT possible for a Christian, continually studying the "Truth," to be fooled by an imposter!

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

In the thousands of years since man was created, there have been relatively FEW years without WAR! Yet, when news of a war circulates, many become distraught. Jesus said, in effect, "When you hear of a war, don't get in a clamor!" Wars happen because people are sinners!

Wars have been declared because of land disputes, moral issues, defense issues. War DOES happen. And there WILL BE a "war to end all wars." Jesus will one day come and fight against the devil himself, and those that are "deceived" into following the devil. There is a spiritual sense of finality when one considers THAT war; because JUDGMENT of all mankind follows! ((See Revelation 20:7-13).

There are also "Famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes," happening in different places all the time. These things destroy lives. And, yes, we should be concerned about them; and administer aid to those harmed by them.

But let me say again, our PRIMARY FOCUS should be on two things:
KNOWING CHRIST,
and LIVING AS HE WOULD!

Jesus also said, "see that ye be not troubled." The Greek word used here is throeo. It means to be overwrought, or so overcome that no predetermined train of thought can be produced. The reason Christians don't become "troubled" in this world is because Jesus gives us "peace that passeth all understanding."(Philippians 4:7).

Another reason that Christians do not become overwrought about circumstances in the world is because Jesus said, "these things must come to pass!" The popular singing group, "THE MARTINS," have a song about this. IT says, in part, "It didn't come to STAY, it came to PASS!!" All things in this world are temporal. And all shall one day PASS AWAY! But Jesus lasts for ETERNITY!!!

Notice that Jesus said, "All these are the beginning of sorrows!"

They are "travailing pains" for the "end" which is "not yet!"(vs 6)

They are things we must deal with in our lives, while our FOCUS is upon KNOWING CHRIST and LIVING AS HE WOULD!

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

The "travailing pains" lead to DEATH! Jesus is foretelling the fact that many Christians will be persecuted, mailigned, beaten and DIE as a result of the world's hatred for them.

For instance, in the Roman persectution of Christians, when ONE was caught, MANY were FOUND! By capturing one Christian, and grueling him/her, others were found and also captured.

Again, the warning about "false prophets" (Vs 11).

But look closely at verse 11. I'm afraid we are seeing this today! Iniquity certainly "abounds" in our world today!

Jesus had said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples , if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) The "this" was the LOVE the disciples showed for one another! (See John 13:34).

The persecutions by the world, and the betrayal of many Christians has caused the deep abiding LOVE of one another to be LESSENED! And genuine care toward the world in general has waned. Not many years ago, Christians studied hard and learned how to witness to the lost. Now, few do.

However, Jesus gives hope in the next statement (vs 13). What Jesus was saying here is that those who are saved WILL "endure to the end." They are not afraid of malignment; neither are they afraid of DEATH! The love and hope of God rests IN them, and they do not fear what man can do! (See Psalm 56:11).

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

In Colossians 1:6, Paul says the Gospel was preached in "all the world." And in Colossians 1:23, Paul describes it as having been preached to "every creature."

In Mark 16:15, Jesus told His disciples to preach the Gospel to "every creature." That small group of disciples (about 500) did exactly that!

They were persecuted, and chased. But as they went, they preached! And, in all likelihood, by the time of John's writing of Revelation (about 95AD), the Gospel had literally reached the entire known world at that time!

But the end has not yet come! Why? It has been noted by many scholars that Jesus probably was referring to the "end of the age" of the Jewish nation prophesying and witnessing of Messiah to come. And that age ended with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. But there is yet another age to be fulfilled: that of the Gentiles (See Romans 11:25). And Jesus promised to be "WITH" all His disciples until the "end" of that age! (See Matthew 28:20)

Again let me emphasize the purpose of all disciples of Jesus:
to KNOW Christ,
and to LIVE as He would!

And to do those two things, the Christian of today is to preach the "Good News" of Jesus wherever he/she goes!

God will determine "the end!" Until then we should stay with our primary focus. The "end" shall not be determined until the "GOSPEL" has done its complete work in the world, and the last who WILL be saved IS saved.

So, regardless of how big a mess this world is in, KEEP PREACHING JESUS!

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

What exactly is "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet?" Perhaps these verses would give some context to Jesus' statement: Daniel 9:26-27, Daniel 11:31, and Daniel 12:11.

These verses speak of an abominable destroyer, and perhaps Luke 21:20 gives us some insight as to exactly WHAT, or WHOM it is. The armies of the Roman empire came into Jerusalem and literally destroyed it (and the temple) in 70AD. During that destruction, it is said, by the historian Josephus, that Romans idols were set up in the temple area before its destruction. He also stated that they sacrificed to their idols in that place! (See "The Works of Josephus," "War of the Jews," Book 6, Chapter 6, Section 1)

This was certainly an abominable act in the time after Jesus had left the "house" of Jerusalem "desolate" (See Matthew 23:38). The "age" of the Jewish people prophesying of a Messiah "to come" was then over, and the "age of the Gentiles" was ushered in.

During the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Roman armies, thousands upon thousands of Jewish people ran! They HAD to run, or be killed! Christian Jews were included! Many ran to Pella, "a town in the territory of Gilead; according to Eusebius, it is beyond the Jordan, 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Pella , on the mountain road to Gerasa; site unknown but may be modern `Wadi Yabes.'"(from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.)

They ran to the mountains. Those who were taking their evening respite on the "rooftops" of their houses, fled. They ran in haste, and took very little with them.

Luke 21:24 adds this to the statement: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Fromt that time to this Jewish people, and Christians alike, have suffered many "calamities!" They have been maligned, persecuted, beaten, skinned alive, crucified and other atrocities!

And, if this were to continue, none of them would be physically "saved" in the world (Verse 22). But "for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."

Titus had originally determined he would starve Jerusalem to death. But the affairs of Rome, concerning other areas of the world, demanded his presence in Rome itself. Thus, he took Jerusalem by storm, and some escaped. God has a way of ordering the affairs of this world to benefit His people, even in the most difficult of times!

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

Jesus had told them "before" (See above on verse 5) of "false Christs." Many have indeed "risen" over the centuries. And some have shown "great signs and wonders." And let me reiterate the commentary on verse 5: Jesus said in Mark 13:22, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." But the true Christian is continually studying the Bible, and learning the "Truth!" The acts of some of these "false Christs" have been, and will be, very strong delusions indeed. But there is security in KNOWING CHRIST! It IS possible for those who have been "enlightened" to fall away from Christ (See Hebrews 6:4-6). It is possible for a person to be "enlightened" about Christ, and never repent and be saved. It is NOT possible for those who have been genuinely SAVED to "fall away" from Him Whom they KNOW!

Now, there have been many who came saying they were the Christ, the Messiah. And some of their proofs have been very, very convincing. But, it is NOT possible for a Christian, continually studying the "Truth," to be fooled by an imposter!

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

When Christ does come again, it will be VERY FAST! When one sees lightning, it appears QUICKLY, and flashes across the sky from one place to another. Perhaps reading Zechariah 9:14, and 1Thessalonians 4:15-17 will help understand this better.

The destruction of Jerusalem can be seen as Christ "coming" in judgment against unbelieving Jews. It can also be seen as His "coming" to disperse believing Jews into the world with the Gospel. It can also be seen as a future event, in which He shall come to "end" the "fulness of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:25).

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Those "dead," unbelieving Jews were the "carcase" where the Roman armies gathered. The "eagles" represent the devourer; which may be God's instrument - the Roman government, or God Himself!

By the providential act of God, the Roman armies came and destroyed the city. God still rules over the acts of men!

But the Jewish nation, as a whole, were not READY! They had been too focused on the "events" of the world, and did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They were too preoccupied with tradition, and not fulfilling their primary purpose for God. They were not ready for His coming as SAVIOR, and then they were totally unprepared for His judgment!

Now, I'm gonna step off in some deep waters here. Let me connect a couple of Scriptures which have already been discussed.
First, Jesus said, "..the end is not YET." The end of Jerusalem, at that time, was certainly not the "end times" we refer to today.
Second, Jesus said, "..watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."(Luke 21:36).

Now, I agree that the "end" of the age of the prophecy of Messiah to come was at the destruction of Jerusalem.
But I also believe there is ANOTHER time reference here. There is another "end," YET TO COME!

You may not believe in a rapture as I do. And I'm certainly not going to tell anyone that they should be a pre-tribulation rapturist as I am. But I will say one thing. If it happens, we should be READY! Because when the "Devourer," Jesus comes, we certainly don't want to look like a "carcase!" A dead body with no works!

And that's certainly a reason to be sure and focus on our primary purpose: to KNOW Christ, and to LIVE as He would!

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

We could begin to discuss symbolism here, and get many various meanings from the Scripture. For instance, the "sun..darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light, and the stars fall from heaven...." Symbolically, this could mean falling of kings and kingdoms, unexplainable calamaties, etc. Or, it could be taken literally to mean exactly what Jesus said!

The word "immediately" (Greek: eutheos) can be interpreted with varying definitions: soon, shortly, or even immediately. It is translated "immediately" in Matthew 8:3, and "shortly" in 3John 14.
Did Jesus mean that "soon" after, or "shortly" after that "tribulation" these things would occur? I believe He did. "Shortly," or even "immediately" certainly means SOON. To God, "a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8) We have been seeing kingdoms fall for over 2000 years; and we have certainly seen many unexplainable calamities! One day "soon," or "shortly," we shall see "..the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory!" I believe that is an event that could happen ANY DAY NOW!

When that happens, there will be a great SHOUT, the sound of a TRUMPET, and the "dead in Christ shall rise," and those that "remain shall be quickly changed!" (See 1Corinthians 15:51-57.) I love what Paul says in verse 58 of that same text: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

In other words, BE READY! Be focused on the primary purpose: KNOWING Christ, and living as He would!

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Remember, Jesus is talking to believing disciples. He wanted them to believe that He could come AT ANY MOMENT!! The reason Jesus wanted them to believe that, is because He wanted them to LIVE as if He could come at any moment. He was inspiring them to WORK: to do the work of "proclaiming" the GOSPEL!

And soon, in their realm of life, they would see many of the things Jesus spoke of. Kingdoms would fall, there would be earthquakes, pesitlences, famines. There would be a tremendous persecution of Christians.

So when they would "see all these things," they were to know that the time was "near, even at the doors!"

My friends, the time is STILL "near!" It is "even at the doors!" The "generation" of Christians (Gentile Christians) spreading the GOSPEL is not yet fulfilled! But it COULD be fulfilled at any moment!

Now, I must ask this question: Are YOU READY? Are you going about life with your primary focus?

The next two verses (Verses 35 and 36) give us two things that should inspire every Christian to live as this day were the last day before Jesus comes.
First, God's Word is TRUTH. It will NEVER perish! All the things of earth will one day perish. Even the stars, sun and moon will be folded up like a garment (See Hebrews 1:12). But God's Word "shall NOT pass away!" Therefore, let us focus upon what God has said, is saying, and will say. Let us focus on proclaiming that truth to all the world.

Secondly, "of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." The time is "not YET," for we do have today! But the time is "shortly" to come! And we, knowing not WHEN, must be going about life preaching the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE. ((The reason Christians need to preach to the cat, the dog, the bird, the cow, etc....is because we need the PRACTICE!))

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

What was happening in the "days of" Noah? People were having parties, working, getting married, going fishing - doing all the normal things of enjoying life. But one thing they were NOT doing, was believing Noah!!

When Jesus comes again, it's going to be like THAT! That's the way people are. Fewer than 20% of the population of the world believe in Christ. And much fewer than that are actually working in His ministry performing the primary focus He proclaimed.

But, as it was in Noah's day, "the flood CAME!" And all those who didn't believe were washed away IN the flood! In fact, of all the people in the world at that time, only EIGHT were saved! (See 1Peter 3:20).

Christian, how many people do you know who are living like it was in Noah's day? THOSE are the people to whom you should be proclaiming the Gospel like it was the LAST day you'd have an opportunity!

THIS is the central focus in the speech from Jesus in Matthew 24 and 25. Don't get off so far on the study of "the end times" that you forget your primary purpose!

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

This is yet another admonition to be constantly working in the ministry of our Lord.

Not many years ago, early one morning, Ann was still asleep and I had the bright idea to prepare her breakfast. So I went to the kitchen and got the eggs and bacon out of the refrigerator. Then I got the skillet out of the cabinet. As I was spraying the skillet with "Pam," I dropped it! That skillet landed on our tile floor with a LARGE clatter! It awakened Ann, and she immediately looked by her on the bed, but I wasn't there. She came into the kitchen and said, "WHEW! I'm glad you're still here! I heard a loud bang, and thought the rapture had occured, and you were GONE!" he he

Can you imagine working with someone, and all of a sudden they VANISH? That's what it'll be like.

Now Jesus, again, sums this up with an admonition to be WATCHING -- READY! (vs 42)

43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

And here's yet another example leading to diligence in ministry for our Lord!

Now if a man owns a house, and didn't watch carefully, a thief could come in and steal everything! But if the owner was WATCHING, and PREPARED, the thief wouldn't have been able to steal from him!

Be "READY!" And the way to be ready is to be doing the things that our Lord said were important. I cannot emphasie enough, the importance of LEARNING Christ, and LIVING like He would!

46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

As if to put a final punctuation mark upon the preceding statements, Jesus tells a story about a servant who is supposed to be doing the work of his master. Jesus is the Master, we are the servants.

If we are faithful, we shall be rewarded.
If we become lax, there is a real problem!!! See what Jesus said in verse 51. Now, we know that, if a person is saved, He will not be "cut asunder," and be appointed a place with "hypocrites!"

The indication I get from this is that those who are genuinely saved will not become lax! Of course, we are ALL going to be lax at times. But the genuinely saved will not be continually lax!
It's almost the same as what Jesus said earlier, "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matt 24:13)

The meaning there is that those who are saved shall endure to the end!

At the risk of over redundance, let me emphasize that the PURPOSE of this speech to the disciples is to inspire them to the work of the ministry.
I hope it has that effect upon ALL Christians!

PLEASE CONTINUE WITH US IN BIBLE STUDY TOMORROW.