with Jeremy Westcott–
I suggested to you last time that Matthew 24 is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of all chapters in the Bible. This is because people read into it what they expect to see, and do not come with an appreciation of covenant language and covenant understanding.
We will look at the whole of Matthew 24 in due course, but for today I want to concentrate on two particular sections. Here is the first:
Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:11-14).
This is Jesus prophesying, and He is talking about an awful time. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, needing to endure. Then He says, “This gospel shall be preached…”. And I thought the gospel was supposed to be good news! If this is how it is, then no wonder some Christians are so miserable and pessimistic. No wonder some have a siege mentality and are just holding on, waiting for Jesus to come and rescue them.
And verse 14, I have heard that preached on so many times. We have been taught that Jesus cannot come back yet, because not every people-group has heard the gospel. The end cannot come until we have preached the gospel to every nation.
The end of what? That is the question we ought to be asking. The end of the world? The end of time?
Clearly not, because we’re still here. Why do I say that? Let’s look at the second passage I want to highlight today.
So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Matt 24:33-34).
“So you, too…”- Jesus is speaking to his disciples directly here – “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (my italics). That phrase ‘Truly I say’ is the ‘Amen, Amen’, the ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ of the older versions, and it means ‘Listen carefully and pay special attention to what I am about to say – this is particularly important.’
‘This generation’. That means a period of up to about 40 years. You really have to twist the meaning of the word to make it mean anything else, which hasn’t stopped some people doing exactly that.
So everything that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 right up to verse 33 – ‘all these things’, including preaching the gospel to the whole world – were to happen in the next 40 years or so, during the lifetime of most of those disciples. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, enduring to the end – it has all already happened. Now, there is an application of that, and in a sense of course it is always happening, has happened throughout the history of the church.
But the fact is, it happened already. And the end came.
Now that has blown many of your theologies right out of the water. Around the world, prophetic people are struggling to fit what God is showing them into an eschatology that simply doesn’t work, because it is based on a false premise, and a misinterpretation of this passage of scripture, amongst others. As I say, that is because people have not approached it with a proper understanding of covenant and covenant language.
Next time, we will look at how ‘all’ was fulfilled in that generation, and explore the question ‘the end of what’? Once again, we will be looking at some very familiar scriptures, and you will likely already have a very clear understanding of what they mean, because of what you have always been taught. And once more, I’m going to ask you to look again…
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Related resources from others
- Understanding Matthew 24 (Jonathan Welton – YouTube teaching series).
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