by Steven Chan
In Matt 24:1-3, when the “disciples came to Him to show him the buildings of the temple, Jesus answered 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 – and as Jesus sat on 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?
In Matt 24:15-16, Jesus told them when “there shall not be left one stone upon another” of the building of the temple: “When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand),16 then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains:”
Jesus was warned them that He will come in judgement on the city of Jerusalem through the destruction of Jerusalem which subsequently occurred in AD70 through the Roman armies that overthrew the Jewish resistance and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.
In describing God’s judgement against Jerusalem in Matt 24:29-30, Jesus used apocalyptic language which is often used in the Bible to describe the coming of God in judgement against the cities and nations (eg in Isaiah 13:1, 6-13 against Babylon; Eze 32:2, 7-8 against Egypt; Isa. 19:1: “The burden of Egypt. Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt”):
“29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall 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 on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
We know that the above passage refers to the Coming of the Lord in punishment of the city of Jerusalem because Jesus said in Matt 24:33-34 that all the things that He had just described would happen in that generation and that He had given them signs to indicate when it was going to happen so that those in Judea could run to the mountains when they saw the signs (Matt 24:15-16): “even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh, (even) at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.”
Unfortunately, some have erroneously inferred that because the above passage of Matt 24:29-30 refers to the Coming of the Lord in the destruction of Jerusalem, then it follows that ALL references to the Coming of Jesus Christ must also be referring to the same ONE event of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 because of the similar descriptive words used; including the passages following Matt 24:34.
It is very evident that the above inference is erroneous for the following reasons:-
1. Similar descriptive words do not necessarily refer to the same events; the immediate context must always be examined to ascertain its meaning within that context.
For example, to the church at Ephesus, Jesus wrote in Rev 2:5 thus: “Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.” Jesus said that He would come to the church at Ephesus to remove their candlestick unless they repented. Clearly, this Coming of Jesus was NOT the same as the Coming of Jesus in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in AD70.
Similarly, in 2 Thess 2:3, the man of sin, also known as “the son of perdition” that is to come before the Coming of the Lord, was not the same person as “the son of perdition” in John 17:12 (the latter referred to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus). Although the same descriptive phrase was used in both instances, it did not necessarily refer to the same person; the immediate context makes that clear.
2. In contrast with signs given for them in Judea to run to the mountains in the Coming of the Lord for the destruction of Jerusalem and that all those events would happen in that generation, there will be no signs for the (other) Coming of the Lord at the end of the world which would be like a thief in the night.
From Matt 24:15-34, Jesus provided them with the signs so that they would be able to discern when would be the Coming of the Lord for the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem. In Matt 24:33-34, Jesus concluded the discussion of the signs for the destruction of Jerusalem with the following statements:” So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near–at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Jesus clearly said that all the events/signs that He had given prior to Matt 24:33-34 would happen in that generation.
3. From the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus transitioned to the discussion of Coming of the Lord at the end of the world. Then Jesus went on to make the following statements in Matt 24:35-37: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Jesus switched from the discussion of the signs for the destruction to Jerusalem to the discussion of “heaven and earth will pass away” (v 35) and that in contrast with the destruction of Jerusalem for which there were signs indicating its imminent destruction (so that “them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains” Matt 24:16), the coming of the Lord at the end of the world would be like the days of Noah, in that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” and He used the critical word, “BUT” to contrast that transition in discussion (“But of that day and hour no one knows”). There will be no place to run to.
Those who rejected that Jesus had transitioned His discussion from “Judgement on Jerusalem”, to “Judgement on the whole world”, contend that in reality, Jesus was merely stating that no one actually knows the exact day of hour for the destruction of Jerusalem although there would be signs for its imminent destruction. Therefore the subsequent discussion from Matt 24:36 onwards referred to the same event of the destruction of Jerusalem. As will be noted in the next point, their inference is incorrect.
4. The coming of the Lord at the end of the world will occur at a day or hour which no one expects. This is unlike the case of the Coming of the Lord for the destruction of Jerusalem where signs were given so that those in Judea could run to the mountains.
According to Jesus in Matt 24:38-44, just like the days before Noah’s flood, whereby the people did not know until the flood came and took them away, the Coming of the Lord would be in like manner, in that “you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (v 39, 42); in fact He would “come at an hour you do not expect”(v 44):-
”For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Now, let’s ask the question: Did the people of Jerusalem know when the destruction was going to happen? Yes, as Jesus had given them signs to warn them when it was going to happen. So, did the destruction of Jerusalem come at an hour that they did not expect? From history, it is said that the siege of Jerusalem occurred from March to September AD70. During this siege, the Jewish historian, Josephus recorded that the conditions were terrible including horrific starvations. So, how could the coming of the Lord, described as coming as a thief in the night (v 43-44; I Thess 5:2), possibly refer to the destruction of Jerusalem since they were already under siege for about 6 months? So, it is evident that from Matt 24:35 onwards, Jesus was discussing a different event and not Jerusalem, i.e. in answer to the third question asked by His disciples in Matt 24:3: “and what (shall be) the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
5. In addition to the above, there are seven (7) reasons why the Coming of the Lord on the Last Day (i.e. at the end of the world) did not happen in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 (despite the novel attempts by the proponents of the so-called “Consistent Eschatology” or “Realized Eschatology” to explain away these passages of scriptures by arguing that they should not be understood in a literal manner but in a non-literal manner – ie. symbolically or spiritually). Given space constraint, they will be briefly listed hereunder:-
i. In AD 70, Jesus did not bring with Him those who had died in the Lord: 1 Thess 4:13-18: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus”;
ii. In AD 70, the Dead in the tombs were not raised, changed/transformed by putting on immortality or incorruption. Post-AD 70, they were still mortal and they all died subsequently (John 6:40; I Cor 15:51-54).
The Resurrection at the Last Day is unlike earlier resurrections like Lazarus or those in Mt 27:51-53 as in the latter cases they did not put on immortality even though they were raised.
iii. Those Alive in AD70 were not Changed/Transformed nor Caught up in the air to be with Him forever. (I Cor 15:51; I Thess 4:17; John 14:3; Acts 1:9-11)
Also, according to AD70 Doctrine proponents, those who were “taken” in Matt 24:40 were “the Jews taken away by the Roman armies”, but that picture does not match up with I Thess 4:17 where those who were “caught up or taken up” were Christians living at the coming of the Lord!
So, it is clear that the interpretation of Matt 24:40 by the AD70 proponent does not fit the picture provided in 1 Thess 4:17. Both pictures could only fit the conclusion that Jesus was discussing about the Coming of the Lord on the Last Day when He shall raise the dead and judge the world (John 6:40; I Thess 4:16; John 12:48; Acts 17:31) because at the Coming of the Lord on the Last Day, those saint who are still alive would be “taken up” – thus fitting the description of Matt 24:40 & I Thess 4:17. The picture of 1 Thess 4:17 contradicts the inference of the proponents of the AD 70 Doctrine as regards Matt 24:40.
iv. In AD 70, the Heavens and the Earth were not destroyed (they remained to this day) (2 Pet 3:5-12; Rev 21:1-2)
v. In AD70, the entire World was not Judged – if judgement had already occurred in AD70 then, those living after AD70 will not face Judgment for that DAY of Judgement has passed already. Also, there will be no crown of righteousness to be hoped for from the Judge: 2 Tim 4:8, if as according to the AD70 Doctrine that has already past.
Note: (John 12:48; Acts 17:31 – the world will be judged in the last day – a one day event – the Day of Judgement – 2 Pet 2:9; 2 Tim 4:1; Matt 25:41ff). John 5:28-29: “for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29) and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment”
Destruction of Jerusalem was a localized event & took many days; it was not universal.
vi In AD 70, Jesus did not deliver the Kingdom to the Father as death has not yet been abolished (if He had delivered up the kingdom to the Father then those living after AD70 would not be in the kingdom).
I Cor 15:23-26: But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. 24 Then (cometh) the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.”
vii. Post AD 70, we are still not in the new heaven and new earth because “Death, mourning, crying and pain”, are still with us today. Also, people today are also still marrying (if they were living in the age of the resurrection then according to Luke 20:34-36, they would be like angels).
Rev 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
“But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”(Luke 20:34-36).
Brethren, based on the above scriptures, we can be sure that the Coming of Jesus in the Last Day did not happen in AD70.
So, we can be certain that our One Hope remains: Titus 2:11-13: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Eph 4:4: just as you were called in one hope of your calling;