I'm going to do something a little different today. I have been wanting to re-due my study of Matthew 24 in light of my recent understanding of the Divine Council Viewpoint. So today we are going to look at an introduction to the "Olivet Discourse." Then next week back to 1 John, and occasionally, at random times, I will add to this study of Matthew 24.
Matthew 24 is known as the "Olivet Discourse." Yeshua preached this sermon "As he sat on the Mount of Olives" Matthew 24:3 tells us. We think of the "Sermon on the Mount" as being Matthew 5-7, but this is also a "Sermon on the Mount." Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
Before we begin our study of chapter 24, we need to examine its context, remember, context is King. Apart from an understanding of its context, you can come up with all kinds of weird interpretations.
So, let's begin at the beginning. Matthew, Mark and Luke are usually known as the Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic comes from two Greek words, which mean "to see together" and literally means able "to be seen together." The reason for that name is this, these three Gospels each give an account of the same events in Yeshua's life. There are in each of them additions and omissions; but broadly speaking their material is the same, and their arrangement is the same. It is therefore possible to set them down in parallel columns to compare the one with the other. We will be doing this as we study Matthew 24.
Matthew was the Gospel that was written for the Jews. It was written by a Jew in order to convince Jews. One of the great objects of Matthew is to demonstrate that all the prophecies of the Tanakh are fulfilled in Yeshua, and that, therefore, he must be the Messiah. It has one phrase that runs through it like an ever-recurring theme— "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet." That phrase, in varied form, occurs in the Gospel as often as 10 times. Yeshua is the prophesied Messiah.
Yeshua's birth and Yeshua's name are the fulfilment of prophecy:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:21-23 ESV
Let me say here that Mary never called her son by the Greek name Iesous (Yeah-soos) or the English name Jesus. Our Savior's name when He walked this earth was Yeshua. Matthew 1:1-16, makes it clear that He came from Hebrew decent through the tribe of Judah. In other words, He was Jewish. He was born to and raised by Jewish parents who raised Him under Jewish culture. He spoke Hebrew. Yeshua is the name that all the apostles would have known Him by, and what His mother would have called Him.
The word "for" here is the conjunction gar which is explanatory, giving the reason why He is called Yeshua. It is because Yeshua literally means: "Yahweh's Salvation, or Salvation from Yahweh." Mary was to call her son "Salvation from Yahweh." The angel's words make it plain that this son will be the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of God's promises to David centuries before (2 Sam. 7:16). Every time Mary spoke Yeshua's name she would be reminded that He was Yahweh's Salvation. He was Yahweh's salvation because He was Yahweh in human form, He was Immanuel, God with us.
The flight into Egypt was prophesied:
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son." Matthew 2:14-15 ESV
Matthew is quoting here from Hosea:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Hosea 11:1 ESV
When we study this text in the context of the entire book, we find that Hosea is referring to the Exodus described in the book of Exodus. But the writer applies Hosea 11:1 to Yeshua as a youth returning to Judea from Egypt. This reference does not seem in keeping with the intention of Hosea. It is here we must remember where the meaning of a text ultimately resides—in the intention of its author; God Himself. And as we read the Scripture in the context of the Bible as a whole, we see that He has made an analogy between Israel, God's son, being freed from Egypt, and Yeshua, God's Son, coming up from Egypt; a pattern that runs throughout Matthew's Gospel. "Out of Egypt I have called my son" is Exodus typology, where Yeshua is the New True Israel.
Herod's slaughter of all the young children in an attempt to kill Yeshua was prophesied:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more." Matthew 2:16-18 ESV
Joseph's settlement in Nazareth and Yeshua's upbringing there was prophesied:
And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:23 ESV
Yeshua's healing of their sickness was prophesied:
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." Matthew 8:16-17 ESV
The triumphal entry of Israel's Messiah, Yeshua, was prophesied:
If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" Matthew 21:3-5 ESV
Yeshua's betrayal for thirty pieces of silver was prophesied:
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, Matthew 27:9 ESV
It is Matthew's primary purpose to show that the prophecies of the Tanakh received their fulfilment in Yeshua; how every detail of Yeshua's life was foreshadowed in the prophets; and thus, to compel the Jews to admit that Yeshua is indeed the long awaited Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jews knew very well the teaching of the Tanakh that Messiah would bring in the promised Kingdom of Heaven.
"MESSIAH" is the transliteration of a Hebrew word mashach, meaning, "anointed one," that was translated into Greek as Christos. They viewed Messiah as a warrior-prince who would expel the hated Romans from Israel and bring in a kingdom in which the Jews would be promoted to world dominion. The course of Yeshua's ministry is one in which He sought to wean the disciples away from the traditional notion of a warrior Messiah. Instead, Yeshua tried to instill in their minds the prospect that the road to His future glory was bound to run by way of the cross, with its experience of rejection, suffering, and humiliation. Yeshua taught them that His Kingdom was not of this world, it was not a physical kingdom but a spiritual one.
Yeshua answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." John 18:36 ESV
This is a second class conditional sentence which is called "contrary to fact." It should be translated "If My kingdom were of this world, and it is not, then My servants would be fighting, which they are not."
Yeshua is a King and He has a kingdom, but His "kingdom" was not the type of kingdom that would compete with Caesar's kingdom by waging war. Yeshua is no political revolutionary: His kingdom is not of this world.
Yeshua is saying in very plain words that His Kingdom is not a physical, geographic, Kingdom. His Kingdom is spiritual, it is other worldly, it is not of this (physical) realm.
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." Luke 17:20-21 ESV
Could words be plainer? Yeshua taught that His Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom. Yet, despite the clear words of Yeshua, many are looking for a physical Kingdom. His Kingdom is here now, it was consummated in A.D. 70, it is a spiritual Kingdom, not a physical fleshly kingdom, and it did not come with observation.
Matthew teaches us much about the Kingdom of Heaven. Thirty two times in Matthew's Gospel Yeshua talks about the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew's dominating idea is that of Yeshua as the Messiah and King of Israel.
Yeshua spoke Hebrew; the Gospel writers translated Yeshua's sermons and parables into Greek. Mark, Luke, and John translated Yeshua's words as "Kingdom of God." Matthew sometimes used this phrase too, but often he preferred to translate Yeshua's Hebrew words as "Kingdom of heaven." The two phrases mean exactly the same thing, because they are translations of the same Hebrew words of Yeshua.
What did Yeshua mean when He spoke of the Kingdom of God? He meant, quite simply, the rule of God. The Kingdom of God is the reign of God. Matthew emphasizes the coming Kingdom and the judgement of all who reject it. Right at the beginning, there is John the Baptist's call to repentance and warning of judgement to all who rejected God's Kingdom.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" Matthew 3:1-3 ESV
The emergence of John was like the sudden sounding of the voice of God. It had been four hundred years since the voice of the prophets had spoken.
The Jews believed that Elijah would return before Messiah came, and that he would be the herald of the coming King and evidence that the judgement was drawing near.
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. Malachi 3:1-2 ESV
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. Malachi 4:5 ESV
John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt around his waist. That is the very description of the raiment which Elijah had worn in 2 Kings 1:8. John's message was one of repentance or judgement. Had they known their Bibles; they should have recognized him.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:7-12 ESV
John warns them not to count on their ancestry to save them. They needed to repent, turn to God, or they would suffer His wrath. Verse 12 is a prophecy speaking of AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem.
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. Matthew 4:23 ESV
This should have made it clear to them who he was. Who else could do this but the promised Messiah of Israel? Isaiah 35 foretold that, the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.
When John was in prison and began to doubt who Yeshua was, he sent his disciples to ask if He was He that should come. Yeshua said His works should make it evident that He was Messiah.
And Yeshua answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Matthew 11:4-6 ESV
Yeshua warns that those who reject Him as Messiah and His Kingdom will suffer judgement.
I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:11-12 ESV
Here Yeshua uses a famous and vivid Jewish picture. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came, there would be a great banquet at which all Jews would sit down to feast. The Jews looked forward, with all their hearts, to this Messianic banquet; but it never, for a moment, crossed their minds that any Gentile would ever sit down at it. Yet, here is Yeshua saying that many shall come from the east and from the west and sit down at the table at that banquet.
Still worse, He says that many of the sons of the Kingdom will be shut out. The Jews had to learn that the passport to God's presence is not membership of any nation; it is faith
Yeshua continually warned the Jews of their coming judgement because of their apostasy. I believe that most, if not all, of Yeshua's parables deal with the Kingdom of God or the destruction of Jerusalem because of their rejection of that Kingdom. As we move closer to chapter 24, notice the building of the judgement theme.
"Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons." Yeshua said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." Matthew 21:33-44 ESV
Keep verse 43 in mind, because it relates to the prophecy of Yeshua in Matthew 24. Yeshua had clearly prophesied that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to another nation who would bring forth fruit. Listen to what God said to Israel through the prophet Isaiah:
You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will put you to death, but his servants he will call by another name, Isaiah 65:15 ESV
Let's continue on in Matthew as we move toward chapter 24:
And again Yeshua spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Matthew 22:1-7 ESV
It is clear that the reference here is to Jerusalem. Its destruction in AD 70 is clearly predicted here.
Let's look at chapter 23. In this chapter Yeshua pronounces seven woes upon the scribes and Pharisees. Verses 13-26 of this chapter form the most terrible of all discourses ever delivered to mortals. It was pronounced in the Temple, in the presence of multitudes. This was the last of the Lord's public discourses; and it is a most impressive summary of all that He had ever said, or that He had to say, of a wicked and hypocritical generation.
The Greek word used for "woe" is ouai; it is hard to translate for it includes not only wrath, but also sorrow. These woes can be contrasted to the Beatitudes. Those in Christ's Spiritual Kingdom would be blessed, but those who reject it are damned. Yeshua, the Messiah, is here pronouncing judgement.
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Matthew 23:33-35 ESV
Yeshua's charge is that the history of Israel is the history of the murder of the men of God. He says that the righteous men, from Abel to Zacharias, were murdered. The story of Zacharias is found in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22. Zacharias rebuked the nation for their sin, and Joash stirred up the people to stone him to death in the very Temple court; and Zacharias died saying, "May the Lord see and avenge!"
In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis is the first book, as it is in ours; but, unlike our order of the books, 2 Chronicles is the last in the Hebrew Bible. We could say that the murder of Abel is the first in the Bible story, and the murder of Zacharias the last. From beginning to end, the history of Israel is the rejection, and often the slaughter, of the men of God.
Notice, who their blood is come upon; "on you" —the scribes and Pharisees of the first century; the ones Yeshua was then speaking to. See also Luke 11:50-51. This is confirmed in the next verse.
Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Matthew 23:36 ESV
Now, all commentators that I have read are agreed that "this generation" means the generation then living. Keep that in mind when we come to verse 34 of Matthew 24. Yeshua says that the Jewish people would be punished for their rejection of God's servants, and the Kingdom of God would be taken from them, and it would all happen in that generation.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. Matthew 23:37-38 ESV
By "house," He was referring Jerusalem, and certainly the Temple, was included. The word "desolate" is the Greek word eremos, it means: "waste, desert, desolate, solitary, or wilderness."The city and the Temple were both destroyed in AD 70.
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Matthew 23:39 ESV
The meaning is that after the week of the passion, Yeshua will not again publicly reveal Himself to the Jews. Unless they acknowledged His Messiahship and repented, they would die in their sins. Some of them did repent, but most of them perished.
Now, with all of this in mind, we move into chapter 24 and the "Olivet Discourse" of Yeshua. This is one of those places where chapter and verse divisions can be very detrimental. We need to ignore the break here, and go from the end of chapter 23 right into 24:
Yeshua left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Matthew 24:1 ESV
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!" Mark 13:1 ESV
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, Luke 21:5 ESV
The discussion that Yeshua had just had with the scribes and Pharisees took place inside the Temple grounds. Now, as they depart from the Temple (hieron - the Temple complex) the words of Yeshua, "Your house shall be left to you desolate," still burned in their ears. They point out the buildings of the Temple and their magnificence. Mark says that they particularly pointed out the stones of the Temple. What could possibly happen to such a massive edifice? There was nothing quite like the Temple in the ancient world. There was such a reverence for the Temple, even in distant parts, that one would scarcely dare to imagine that it could ever be destroyed.
Let me give you a little historical background on the Temple. There were three historical Temples in succession; those of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod. The first Temple was built by Solomon, about 1,005 years before Christ, 1 Kings 6. He spent seven years building it, 1 Kings 6:38. This Temple remained till it was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, 584 years before Christ, 2 Chronicles 36:6,7,19.
After the Babylonian captivity, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, but with vastly inferior and diminished splendor. This was called the second Temple. This Temple was often defiled in the wars before the time of Christ. It had become very decayed and impaired. Herod's Temple was really a massive rebuilding of the Zerubbabel Temple, so both are called the "second Temple" by Judaism.
This rebuilt second Temple is the one under discussion, and it was called Herod'sTtemple. Herod the Great came to power in 37 B.C. and determined that he would please his Jewish subjects and show off his style of kingship to the Romans by making the Jerusalem Temple bigger and better than it had ever been. His most notable contribution was the magnificent stonework of the Temple platform which was greatly enlarged. The descriptions in Josephus and the Mishnah have been fleshed out by recent archaeological discoveries.
This Temple was begun in 19 B.C. by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, and was completed so as to be fit for use in nine years, about eight years before Christ. Herod had kept 10,000 workmen employed in building this Temple for eight years. Additions continued to be made to it, and it continued increasing in splendor and magnificence till about AD 64. John said (John 2:20), "Forty and six years was this Temple in building." Christ was then thirty years of age, which, added to the sixteen years occupied in repairing it before His birth, makes forty-six years.
This Temple surpassed the first two in architectural splendor. The Temple was a source of wonder. The stones themselves of these buildings were of great size. Those in the foundation were as much as 60 to 67 feet long, 71/2 feet high, and 9 feet wide. To the Jewish people, there was nothing like this building in the whole world.
The Temple was erected on Mount Moriah. The space of the summit of the mount was not, however, large enough for the buildings necessary to be erected. It was, therefore, enlarged by building high walls from the valley below and filling up the space within. One of these walls was 600 feet in height. The ascent to the Temple was by high flights of steps.
The appearance of this from the Mount of Olives with its white marble decorated with plates of silver was breath takingly beautiful. Josephus says that in the rising of the sun it reflected so strong and dazzling an effulgence that the eye of the spectator was obliged to turn away. To strangers at a distance, it appeared like a mountain covered with snow, for where it was not decorated with plates of gold, it was extremely white and glistening.
Rabbinic literature is not particularly favorable to Herod. Nevertheless, concerning Herod's Temple it states, "He who never saw Herod's edifice has never in his life seen a beautiful building."
The Temple sight is now occupied by the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, center of the Muslim worship (the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina).
It was of this magnificent Temple that Yeshua said, "not one stone shall be left upon another."
But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." Matthew 24:2 ESV
And Yeshua said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." Mark 13:2 ESV
"As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." Luke 21:6 ESV
Yeshua predicted that this massive Temple would be utterly destroyed in an act of God's judgement. At the time this was spoken, no event was more improbable than this. Yet, all this happened in AD 70 exactly as Yeshua said it would. After the city was taken, Josephus says that Titus, "gave orders that the soldiers should dig up even the foundations of the Temple, and also the city itself." Thus, fulfilling the prophecy of:
Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Micah 3:12 ESV
Thomas Newton says, "Not leaving one stone upon another, is a proverbial and hyperbolical way of speaking to denote very exemplary destruction."
Luke further expounded upon this idea in:
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." Luke 19:41-44 ESV
Here we clearly see the reason for this utter destruction of Jerusalem: "Because you did not know the time of your visitation." The nation had rejected Yeshua as their Messiah and because of this, they were judged, their Temple and city destroyed as had been prophesied.
F.F. Bruce described the destruction of the city in this way:
"Accordingly, in April of AD 70 Titus invested Jerusalem... As the siege wore on, the horrors of famine, and even cannibalism, were added to the hazards of war. By September 26 the whole city was in Titus' hands. It was razed to the ground, only three towers of Herod's palace on the western wall being left standing, with part of the western wall itself. "
Yeshua pronounced doom on the Temple because the true center of the relation between God and man has shifted to Himself. In chapter 23, Yeshua has already insisted that what Israel does with Him, not the Temple, determines the fate of the Israelites. Yeshua taught this same idea in John 4:
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." Yeshua said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:20-24 ESV
The "you" here is plural, meaning: "You Samaritans will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." That's amazing for a Jew to say. The day is coming, He says, when Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of David, the place with the Temple of God, will not be the focus of true worship.
He had already said that He Himself was the (John 2:19) new Temple —the new meeting place with Yahweh. The Temple was about to pass away as the focal point of worship. And what would be in its place? A new mountain? A new city? A new building? No. A new Person. The Son.
"But the hour is coming, and is now here"—this statement reflects the tension which existed between the two comings of the Messiah. The two Jewish ages were then overlapped. The New Age of the Spirit was present, yet they were still living in the Old Age of the Law.
"Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth"—what does this mean? The Greek text has one preposition ("in") that governs both nouns ("spirit," "truth"), linked by the conjunction "and." This means that Yeshua was describing one characteristic with two nouns, not two separate characteristics of worship. We could translate the phrase "the Spirit of truth." Generally speaking, Judaism was a worship of the letter, not of the spirit.
Yeshua is saying, there are no more Temples, there are no more places of worship where God is to be sought and found? There's no more priesthood. There are no more altars. There are no more sacrifices. There are no more vestments. There is no more incense, candles, all that goes with it.
Much of what we see going on in church today are carried over from the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, there was a separate priestly class. Well today we have a man made clergy, separate from the people with certain official titles and supposedly certain official authority. In the Old Covenant, the priest wore particular garments. They wear a garment to carry out the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement and other garments on the other days. And today in our churches, in our Protestant churches, we have individuals wearing robes and collars. That's a carry over of Judaism. In the Old Covenant they had an earthly sanctuary. And what do we call our buildings? Sanctuary or Church. In the Bible a building is never called a Church?
Many people today associate worship primarily with going to a Church building, as the Jews did with going to Jerusalem. Yeshua clarified that "true" worship transcends any particular time or place. We can and should worship Yahweh 24/7 as we set aside every activity as an expression of our love and service for Him.
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Hebrews 10:1 ESV
The Law system was a shadow of the good things about to come—mello. The good things were the spiritual things of the Gospel. It had been prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and that God would raise a Spiritual Temple, the church, Christ's body. The fleshly, earthly tabernacle was a shadow, and God destroyed it in AD 70. We now live in a Spiritual Kingdom, with a Spiritual Tabernacle, we worship God in spirit and in reality.
With that background in mind, in our next study of Matthew 24 we'll look at the disciples' questions in verse 3.