As stated in the prior post, these are my opinions on events as the Bible becomes more clear to me overall. Many may disagree with these views and that’s understandable. My view of these verses are read from the standpoint of the questions asked by the disciples in verse 3 in reference to Jesus’ statement in verses 1-2.
In verses 4-6, Jesus warns of following false people. It seems most were expecting the Messiah to be a military type conqueror, overthrowing any invaders or enemies. At this time, Rome was the invader. Jesus seems to be warning his disciples not to follow such leaders that would rile them to rebellion as they were false. Many would try to usurp that position in Jesus’ name. The “end” reference in verse 6 is referring to the end of the (Temple) age. He also states there would be disasters, rumors, and wars (v6-7). He says that they shouldn’t be alarmed even when they are being delivered for execution. Jesus further mentions all these things are just birth pangs (v8) as his Kingdom was being born. He speaks about more signs which relate to the time period (40 years) he was referencing. (Yes, This could also relate to all of history since that point.) In verse 14, Jesus states that after all the signs have manifested and the Good News is preached to the rest of the world (he later sends them on The Great Commission), the end would come. I believe this, like much of the rest of Matthew, is referencing the Temple system that Jesus, as King, would be replacing.
In the next several verses, Jesus states things that would be primarily relevant to Israel. He talks about how the abomination would come upon the holy place (Jerusalem/the Temple). As seen in verse 28, this would seem to relate to Rome destroying the Temple in 70AD. In that time, vultures and eagles were often considered the same thing. Rome’s standards often portrayed eagles atop them and Caesar’s visage on their banners (which the Pharisees considered an abomination as it portrayed a false god). It would seem that Jesus is hinting that when his followers see Rome attacking Jerusalem, they should run to the mountains (v16) leaving everything behind (v17-18). Pregnant and nursing women would have a harder time fleeing (v19). As well, in winter it would be harder to flee, and Rome invading on the Sabbath would cause those fleeing to have to violate their laws about traveling too far on that holy day (v20). Verses 21-22 reiterate that the invasion will be short and the destruction conclusive. Once Rome does away with the temple and scatters the Jewish people, the sign of Jesus’ rule being fully instituted would be complete.
It seems Jesus is trying to tell those who follow him not to defend the Temple or Jerusalem as that system is slated for judgment from God. Like in the Old Testament judgments, the people are forewarned and given the signs of this destruction coming so they will have the opportunity to flee (v16&25) or change. Likewise, Jesus tells them not to follow false messiahs who would most likely try to lead counterinsurgencies against Rome (v23-26) as they will fail and be wiped out. As stated above, verses 27-28 talk about Rome (the vultures/eagles) destroying the Temple, an effect that would be known about around the world and would spell the end of that age.
Jesus goes on to explain several events in verse 29. These seem, in part, to be images to convey people of that age who were powerful, just as we consider Hollywood actors to be “stars.” The old system’s leaders, such as the chief priests, would no longer have any power. They would fall from the heights they had placed themselves over others.
Again in verse 30-31, it sounds like end time prophecy (and it could have the double meaning of just that). However, as Jesus states several times throughout Matthew, he was bringing about the spiritual Kingdom very soon. When his Kingdom was established, his angels (or messengers) would go out to the four corners and gather all who received the Good News into the Kingdom. In verses 32-33, Jesus goes on to state to his disciples that they will see the signs of these things coming themselves. Again, verse 34 establishes the time table, “this generation.” Jesus states again that these things will happen (v35) as he’s said, but the specific day and hour within this 40 year period are unknown (v36).
I want to reiterate that I’m viewing all of the verses in context of the entire theme of Matthew–a direct message to the Jewish people of the coming judgment and destruction of the Temple system. Likewise, Jesus’ Kingship would be firmly established (v37). I will try to finish the main themes of the rest of chapter 24 in the next post.