Kingdom Inauguration | Matthew 24:29-35

July 12, 2015 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Summer Eschatology

Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 24:29–24:35

Kingdom Inauguration - Matthew 24.29-35 from Damascus Road Church on Vimeo.

Introduction | More Fun Times with the End Times
Good Morning! We are in our series on the book of Matthew; the Gospel account of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, as the Christ, the Savior – King of God’s people. This series covering Chapters 21-25 has been titled the Rejection of the King. Over 6 weeks we will be looking at a particularly challenging section in Matthew Ch 24 and 25. These chapters are an extended period of teaching Jesus gives his disciples much of which falls into the category of Eschatology (Study of the End Times). Jesus has just been preaching in the temple. It included judgement of the Jewish religious leaders and condemnation on how they have and will treat prophets, and will kill Jesus. He gave a sentence at the end of the sermon saying “Your house has been left desolate” and finished with hope; if they trusted Jesus. He then left the temple. Disciples want clarification and Jesus gives them robust teaching on more than they ask for. Part one was End is coming (Least controversial) Part two, the Abomination of Desolation (Some controversy regarding the tribulation) where we spent a lot of time talking about what happened to the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in 70AD. Part three gets tricky; what questing is Jesus answering? And what specifically is he talking about? When is Jesus coming OR where is he coming to? Part 4,5 and 6 is all about getting ready and being ready.
Matthew 24:29-35 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
While there are many distinct perspectives on the end times, depending on which you hold you’ll see this text differently. Is Jesus talking about the end of the Jewish age or the end of the world?
There are three ways to handle the first three verses:
1. They are all taking about the second coming of Jesus and the end of history as we know it.
2. 29 is talking about the intermediate period (now) and 30-31 alone talk about the second coming.
3. Not a literal description of second coming but symbolic description of the fall of Jerusalem, destruction of the temple, and Jesus coming to The Father, in heaven, for enthronement.

Verses 29, 34 | What do we do with it?
At first glance it is easy to see these verse must be talking about the return of Jesus to the earth and the end of history, we’ve got a tribulation, stars falling from Heaven, Jesus riding a cloud, trumpets and angels. However a strictly literalist view of these verses removed from the context they are spoken, the genre of speech (in this case prophetic), and the story arc of scripture, leads to some significant challenges if it talking about the physical second coming of Jesus to the earth and the end of world history. Specifically what do you do with parts of verse 29 and verse 34 with Jesus saying “Immediately after the tribulation of those days….” And “Truly, I say to you this generation will not pass away until these things take place” The prevalent perspective of many Evangelical Christians is the tribulation is some future occurrence we should be warned about and be looking towards. Most Dispensationalists do not believe any of the beginning of chapter 24 refers to the destruction of the first century temple but it pointing to a future temple in a rebuilt Jerusalem, so from their perspective the tribulation discussed is in the future and has not already occurred. In that case they do not fully consider the context of what Jesus is saying and who he is saying it too. So Jesus saying Immediately after the tribulation is no problem because it’s in the future. Liberal theologians who hold to a historical perspective will say simply say Jesus got it wrong about his return after the tribulation of 70AD. Still critics use this as a hammer to hit the truth of the Bible or Jesus.

Part one: When will these things be? Temple destroyed and desolation of the temple and Jerusalem. Part two: When will you be coming (in glory) and the end of the age.

Immediately means immediately and here is why. The tribulation Jesus is referring to “of those days” already happened. I believe all of verses 4-28 Jesus is speaking in relation to what Jerusalem will experience (and indeed did experience) in 66-70AD with Rome coming in and destroying the city and temple. Therefore, I believe Jesus is still answering the first question but giving some additional clarity about what the implications of the temple being destroyed are and where they should look for hope after desolation.
Jesus has an audience in these disciples who he constantly tells them “you will see, you will hear, you will experience, you will endure, you will preach, you will flee.” If we’re going to understand where we are in history and what Jesus is talking about we need to have some historical context. We are in the middle of History; there is one grand beginning and one final end. However, in between there are many seasons and season have transitions. I believe, Jesus is talking about the end of AN age, not the end of THE age.

What about the sun and moon darkened, stars falling, and powers of heaven shaken? This is going to be challenging. I believe we need to listen to this through the lenses of the disciples who heard it, and the Jewish audience Matthew was writing to. Regularly in the Old Testament, particularly in the prophets, grand cosmic language was used to describe real world on the ground political and societal changes; specifically judgements from God with-in History to highlight catastrophic political reversals. Here are two examples from Isaiah where similar language and concepts to Jesus teaching are used.
Isaiah 13:9-10,13 9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. ….. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.
The first was in reference to judgment coming to the city of Babylon, the second is the destruction of Edom.
Isaiah 34:4-5 All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. 5 For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction.
Ezekiel has similar language about judgement on Egypt in chapter 32. We should endeavor to take the Bible literally where the Bible takes itself literally. If Jesus is using the same grand language the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah, Ezekiel, to talk about the end of cities why should we assume he is speaking literally.

RT France “If such language was appropriate to describe the end of Babylon or Edom under the judgement of God, why should it not equally describe God’s judgement on Jerusalem’s temple and the power structure in which it symbolized.”
Truly, I say to you, this generation and all these things. This is difficult if Jesus is talking about the future.
Generation means Generation. I am not a language scholar but I trust those who are. The word for generation Jesus uses throughout Matthew means “generation” It doesn’t mean race of people or type of people. In the first century it means about 40 years, this still give us trust worthy words from Jesus that were fulfilled in the time period Jesus gives the disciples when “All these things” are “the beginning of the birth pains” talked about back in verse 8. Additionally, I believe Jesus can’t be talking about big signs and wonders of His coming future return to earth because then you could begin to predict when that was going to happen. We’ll see next week if there is one big idea Jesus want’s his disciples to have it is you will NOT be able to tell or know if he is coming. The destruction of the temple CAN be told by signs, but the coming of Jesus cannot be. “I want you to know what to look for to prepare for the destruction of Jerusalem as it will be in your lifetime. You don’t need to know about the time of my second coming, there will be no signs to proceed it and not even I know the hour.” Beside Divine Judgment what is Jesus telling them about?

Verse 30-31| Kingdom Inauguration
Signs and appearances of the Son of Man “in Heaven” are talked about this must be Jesus returning to earth. Possibly, but it doesn’t say the Son of Man will appear; first it actually says the sign of the Son will appear. I believe Jesus is still speaking with prophetic language and not talking about divine space travel.
Daniel 7:13-14 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

This not talking about the close of history; but a vision of Jesus coming to the Father to receive His kingdom.
I believe this is not Jesus coming (again) to earth, but to the throne of Heaven in vindication and authority.
There is an inauguration of Jesus Christ the King. This is the inauguration of the “church age” or the age of the gentiles” this is when people’s relationship as chosen people of God will not be defined by the bloodline of their families or nationality but by the blood of Jesus which pays for adoption into God’s family and citizenship into His kingdom. Where there is an inauguration and an new administration, the first thing they do is to tear down what the previous one accomplished, reverse executive orders, even redo the wall paper in the White House. When there is an inauguration of a new administration there is mourning for those who hoped in the previous one, because the old way is gone.
Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Jerusalem can mourn the end of their city and the destruction of their temple but an infinitely greater hope is present. There are two types of mourning in the OT and the NT. There is a mourning that is a worldly grief of suffering consequence for sin; and there is a Godly grief that leads to repentance and life. (2 Cor 7) Yes they mistreated Jesus, yes their city is gone, and their temple is destroyed; but when offered something better they turn bitter. God pursues us with Grace and hears pleas for mercy. Everyone wants to experience power and glory. The temple and the city were as permanent to the these Jewish disciples as the world itself. When they’ve fled and its gone they will have to completely embrace an entirely new/different form and understanding of God’s Kingdom. When they (or other disciples) are in mourning over what is lost he wants rest in what truly is. Look at the one who was pierced for your transgressions and sin. People are more comfortable in the misery they know than the unknown of something new and greater.
Kingdom Inauguration means Kingdom Messengers. The word Angels = Messengers – There is a message of the Gospel that needs to go out! Yes sometimes angels mean heavenly being, but John the Baptist is called a “Messenger” the same word as angel. A trumpet can mean many things; it’s a call to battle, to mission. It declares the ascension of a new king! It warns those of pending destruction. It is also an announcement of a year Jubilee (and end of the crushing weight of debt and oppression) This is good news that went out to the known world during this great generation of disciples who kept going and preaching AND it continues to go out to the whole world today! There are more people who know Jesus now than ever before and yet the messengers still go out. Matthew 8:11 talks about all people coming from the east and the west, etc. all languages, tribes, peoples. That is why Jesus gave them and us the Great Commission. Preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations IS a loud trumpet blast declaring the defeat of sin on the cross and the victory of Jesus in the resurrection. The release of captives enslaved to sin, the payment and clearance of our debt of sin before God. If this Jubilee is going to happen and be experienced people need to know they’re free from bondage, penalty of sin is paid for, sight is available, broken are healed. This is the work and the mission of the spreading the gospel by disciples living as messengers. Jesus says you’re worried about the destruction of the temple where people have had to travel great distances to try to be close to the presence of God, but I am going to send you out across the world like a trumpet blast not simply declaring what is owed to God, but what has been paid for by God in Jesus Christ. Things don’t always look to our eyes and experience like a great Jubilee deliverance, but we are to sound a trumpet that the world we know and see is not all there is. The oppression we experience, the brokenness we walk in, the sin that defiles us does not have to define us. We can blast that trumpet and go on mission with great hope it will be received and responded to because the power isn’t in how well we play the notes but in the Holy Spirit. If the gospel is received it is the work of the Holy Spirit and God the Father sending angels (either heavenly ones or earthly messengers) to announce the inauguration of the King.

Verse 32-33 | Summer is Coming
Jesus wants his disciples to have great hope and closes His answer about the destruction of Jerusalem and inauguration of His heavenly Kingdom with a brief lesson from a fig tree. The fig tree would have been in the spring stage of tender branches and budding leaves as Jesus was talking. Leaves are coming out that means fruit is close behind. The fig tree doesn’t mean winter is coming, it means winter is OVER and summer is near! That is good news! Summer is great! Yeah it can be hot, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright unbearable, but there is one fundamental truth of summer, the sun burns bright! The light of the Son, Jesus, burns bright. Jesus came to shine light in to the dark world. The world was darker then than is now because the identity of the savior was shrouded in the fog of winter, when now he has been revealed. The Kingdom of Jesus has grown and will continue to grow! Don’t be discouraged in the wake of the Abomination of Desolation and the end of an old chapter. We don’t need to fear even sensationalistic or even horrifically brutal circumstances we can rest knowing God is both in them and working through them. Recognize God is doing something new and something greater is coming! There is hope after desolation. There is summer after winter. Jesus will return and the glory he has in heaven will be done here on earth.

Verse 35 | We Trust Jesus NOW!
I believe, Jesus is on the throne now! What does it mean for Jesus to be on the throne? He’s not waiting out on the wings just sorta watching and hoping everything works out, or things get so bad The Father tags him in and he jumps in the ring and finally starts wrestling and working out all things for good for those who trust in Him. I believe He has fought; and is fighting; for us and through us now. He’s not on the sidelines, he’s not waiting to engage, so neither should we.
Colossians 2 :13-15 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Jesus on the throne now means we are alive now, we are made new and being made new now, we obey now, we go on mission now.

Jesus on the throne means when we pray we know we’re appealing to the highest authority in the universe.
Jesus on the throne means when we read His commands and instructions we can trust they lead to our joy.
Jesus on the throne means when we see injustice, error, and or sin we don’t sit on the sidelines we engage.
Jesus on the throne means He not limited/bound in his ability to impact our world, or our hearts.

Jesus tells us when we gather not to look to the sky, but to remember the cross, where our sins were paid and His Kingdom was purchased by His blood. Trust Jesus!

More in Summer Eschatology

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July 19, 2015

Thief in the Night | Matthew 24:36-25:13