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1. Introduction

Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy is the first in our series on eschatology, studying end times.

Some quote Matthew 24 as proof that we live in the last days. Therefore we need to look closely at Jesus’ teaching to understand what He is saying.


2. The Prelude to Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy


A. The Eight Woes of Jesus

In Matthew 23:1-31, Jesus proclaims eight woes against the followers of the Old Covenant. Here I summarise an excellent article from Wikipedia.

  • They taught about God, but did not love God – they did not enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor did they let others enter.
  • They loved money
  • Preaching God, but converted people to dead religion.
  • Teaching that an oath sworn by the temple or altar was not binding, but that if sworn by the gold ornamentation of the temple, or by a sacrificial gift on the altar, it was binding. The teachers and Pharisees worshiped at the temple and offered sacrifices at the altar because they knew that the temple and altar were sacred. How then could they deny oath-binding value to what was truly sacred and accord it to objects of trivial and derived sacredness?
  • They taught the law, but did not practice some of the most important parts of the law – justice, mercy, faithfulness to God.
  • Presented an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), but they were full of greed and self-indulgence.
  • Exhibiting themselves as righteous on account of being scrupulous keepers of the law but were, in fact, not righteous: their mask of righteousness hid a secret inner world of ungodly thoughts and feelings. They were full of wickedness. They were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones.
  • The religious leaders professed a high regard for the dead prophets of old and claimed that they would never have persecuted and murdered prophets when, in fact, they were cut from the same cloth as the persecutors and murderers: they too had murderous blood in their veins.

B. The Number Eight

Number eight in Hebrew numerology means a new beginning. Using the number 8, He says that He is starting something completely new called the New Covenant. If there is something new, then the old is about to pass.


C. Judgement is About to Come

He gives the scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites these warnings when He says that all the blood of innocent people is about to come on them:

that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Matthew 23:35

D. When it will Happen?

And then, in the next verse, He gives a timeframe when it is going to happen:

Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Matthew 23:36

To understand Jesus’ Last Days prophecy correctly, we need to know how long a generation is.


3. How Long is a Biblical Generation?


A. Forty Years

The most commonly used number for a Hebrew generation is forty years. For example, the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years; therefore, it was determined to be one generation.

So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.

Numbers 32:13

B. One Hundred Years

Talking to Abraham, God told him it would be four hundred years before they returned to Israel, and that was four generations:

Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

Genesis 15:13-16

We will see that within one 40 year generation and within one 100 year generation, Jesus’ prophecy was correct – exactly!


4. The Signs of the Times and The End of the Age

There are three questions that Jesus will answer in Matthew 24:4-35:

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?

Matthew 24:3

See also Mark 13:3–13 and Luke 21:7–19.

  1. When will these things be?
  2. What will be the sign of His coming?
  3. And of the end of the age?


5. Question 1: When Will These Things Be?

We have seen a generation of 40 years and 100 years in the Old Testament.

The questions in Matthew 24:3 relate to Jesus’ discourse in the previous chapter:

Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Matthew 23:36

Ending with:

Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Matthew 24:34

Therefore, according to Jesus’ prophecy, everything found in Matthew 24:4-33 will happen within one generation.


6. Peter’s Pentecost Sermon Starts the Last Days


A. Last Days Start

In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes the prophet, Joel, declaring there will be judgment for the Jews during the last days. Peter was there for Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy a few months before. He understood there was only one generation before Jesus would return in the judgment of Israel and the destruction of the temple/sacrificial system.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the gre
at and awesome day of the LORD.

Acts 2:17a, 19-20

Peter then told the Jews they rejected the Messiah:

Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Acts 2:23

Therefore, the Jews needed to repent:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

B. Peter Confirms One Generation Limit

Peter’s use of Joel’s prophecy confirms the Last Days will finish in one generation.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

Acts 2:17a, 19-20

7. What Event Ends the Last Days Prophecy by Jesus?

Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in 30CE. The temple’s destruction happened in 70CE, precisely forty years later. The final removal of its stones happened 100 years after Jesus’ prophecy, in 130CE. Jesus’s last day’s warning was exact and correct, using biblical definitions of a generation – 40 years and 100 years.

And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:2

In the Wailing Wall today, we see the sub-foundations of the temple, not the temple itself.


8. Taking a Closer Look at the Last Days Prophecy by Jesus

As Jesus laments over Jerusalem, let’s take a closer look at what He is saying.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'”
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Matthew 23:37-24:2

See also (Luke 13:34-35)


A. See! Your House Is Left to You Desolate 

The Roman army is the abomination of desolation, causing the final vanishing of the Old Covenant in 70CE. The Old Covenant’s vanishing happened because the priesthood could no longer perform sacrifices due to the temple’s destruction. In The Law No Longer Applies, we read that the Old Covenant had already been done away with in 30CE.

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),

Matthew 24:15

The abomination that causes desolation refers to the Roman Empire entering Jerusalem in 70CE. The words holy place are Hagios topos in the Greek language. Hagios topos never means the temple in the New Testament. Having ‘stood‘ in the city for several days, the Romans finally took the temple, destroying it. The Romans took the remainder of the city a few days later, destroying the city in September 70CE.

We know from ancient history the eagle was the emblem for the conquering armies of Rome.

Roman ornament with an Aquila (100–200 AD) from the
Cleveland Museum of Art

For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Matthew 24:28

Luke clarifies what brings the desolation – armies.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

Luke 21:20
B. Jesus’ Prophesy

Precisely by Jesus’ prophecy, this happened within one generation. Titus first came in 67CE with his armies and surrounded Jerusalem. He was unsuccessful, with the Jews defeating Titus. He then reinforced his army and was about to siege Jerusalem to destroy it in 67CE when he returned to Rome to quell a revolt. Those who believed remembered Jesus’ prophecy:

Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Luke 21:21-22

The believers escaped from Jerusalem in 67CE, and those who understood that the law was dead and the Passover fulfilled were wise, not returning to celebrate Passover in 70CE.


C. Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

The establishment of a new kingdom and a New Covenant happened in 30CE, and the Old Covenant vanished when the High Priest offered the last sacrifice on the 9th of August, 70CE. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this. The kingdom is now and we reign now!

The kingdom is not in a future millennium.
Indeed, the church fathers did not believe the kingdom was yet to come, nor in a future millennium. The theory of Dispensational Millennialism only started in the 19th century.


D. Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple

The physical destruction of the temple meant that the Old Covenant had disappeared, as it was no longer possible to practice the sacrifices. On the 9th of August, 70CE, the Jewish priests ran out of lambs due to the siege. The next day the temple was burned to the ground. Some present-day Christians want to rebuild the temple and re-establish sacrifices before Jesus returns. However, rebuilding the temple would mock Jesus’ prophecy about the temple being internal and Jesus’ sacrificial death.

(See also Mark 13:1, 2; Luke 21:5,6)

The law, in its totality, was nailed to the cross with Jesus.

having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:14

Therefore, it vanished when the Romans destroyed the sacrificial temple system forty years later in 70CE.

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 8:13

E. The Carcass of the Law

So far, we have seen that the eagles are the Roman legions making up the Roman army. The Roman military is also called the abomination that caused the desolation of Jerusalem in 70CE.

For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Matthew 24:28

So what was the carcass the Romans were coming to feed on in 70CE?

There were no physical dead bodies when the Romans arrived to lay siege. The Jews had defeated the Romans in 67CE, and the Romans had returned to Rome. The physical dead bodies only started after the Romans returned.

However, there was something dead.
All that remained of the law was a dead carcass; it had died forty years earlier on the cross. And therefore, Roman’s eagle came, destroying any opportunity to reinstate the law. The Romans ensured no stone was on another, pulling the temple to the ground. However, historians tell us that the stones stayed within the temple’s vicinity for 60 years.

Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, Titus Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple…

Josephus

“It was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe Jerusalem had ever been inhabited.”

(The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Book VII, Chapter 1.1)

Jesus prophesied these events, and Paul also told the Hebrews a few years before its destruction when He wrote to them in the book of Hebrews.

Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 8:13

F. Final Destruction in 130CE

Sixty years after this destruction, the Roman Emperor Hadrian finished the job. Here is a recent quote from historian Sara Toth Stub:

The Bar Kokhba revolt was a major turning point in Jewish history. It was the final crisis that scattered the people of Israel into a diaspora that would last nearly 2,000 years. Yes, the famous destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, which left the Second Temple in ruins, also sent people fleeing to the diaspora, but the brief attempt to throw off Roman rule in 130 CE was the last straw. Enormous numbers of Jews, both soldiers and civilians, were slaughtered. Many of the survivors were sold into slavery. Others fled a nation that had been decimated by war. It was a loss that completely severed a people from its roots.

Remembering Hadrian, Destroyer of the Jews: Sara Toth Stub

Do you remember how the Jewish Generation is both 40 years and 100 years? Here we see Jesus’ prophecy is incredibly accurate. Firstly in 30CE, Jesus prophesies the temple’s destruction within one generation.

  • Forty years later, the Romans destroyed the temple, and then;
  • One hundred years later, the Romans came and finished off what they had started. They ransacked over 1000 villages, killing over 600,000 people and Jerusalem was no more, with the Jewish people scattered into a diaspora until 1948.


9. Question 2: What Will Be the Sign of Your Coming?

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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.

Matthew 24:29-30

A. Sign of the Last Days Prophecy of Jesus

It is essential to see it as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, not the final parousia of Jesus. Jesus is still to come in the future for His glorious Bride. Jesus is referring in this scripture to His coming to Jerusalem before Jerusalem’s judgment in 70CE. We need to be careful to not fall into the trap of seeing the word parousia as only referring to the future return of Jesus. Parousia refers to six separate “comings” of Jesus in the New Testament, as we see in ‘Jesus’ Comings.’


Jesus says in Matthew 24; that He is coming in power and glory within 40 years. That sign declares the kingdom of God has come with power. The sign of the coming of the son of man occurred with Jesus’ visitation in 66CE, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE, three and a half years later. Josephus, Tacitus and Pseudo-Hegesippus described this visitation. Jesus’ visitation is the sign of His coming, not the actual final return of Jesus.

Note that Matthew 23:36 says all these things in the previous verses will happen in one generation:

Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Matthew 23:36


10. The Last Days

The end of the age is still to happen; the last days have already finished. That is why the writers of the New Testament Bible are in the last days.

Each of the apostles knew that they lived in the last days.


A. Luke:

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams.

Acts 2:17

B. Paul:

Talking to Timothy before his death in 64-67CE about the last days, it is clear that Paul said they needed to separate from the sinners they were living with during the last days:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

In Hebrews, Paul stated that they were already living in the last days.

has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:2

C. Peter:

Peter is talking about being in the last days before the destruction of Jerusalem.

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,

2 Peter 3:3

D. James:

Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

James 5:3

Are all the church fathers wrong? Present-day Futurists still hold on to their belief that we live in the last days now. However, the Word of God is quite clear!

And the prophecy by Jesus is correct; the last days were completed within one generation.


11. Question 3: And of the End of the Age?

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

Matthew 24:35-36

A. Only the Father Knows!

Do you see the change? Heaven and earth have not passed away yet. Jesus knew what would happen in the next generation – the last days.

But only the Father knows when the heavens and the earth will pass away, and Jesus will return!!

Only the Father knows is because when Jesus said this, He did not have the authority at that time.

Matthew 24:35 until the end of Matthew 25 (the servants, the ten virgins, talents, and nations) all apply to the end of the age. These verses do not refer to the last days.


12. The End of the Age – Not Part of the Last Days Prophecy by Jesus

We need to interpret what the word ‘age’ means in Greek:

αἰών aiōn; an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; especially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): — age, course, eternal, (for) ever(-more), (n-)ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end).

Aion is where we get the word eon from – a long time of unknown length. Yet the age was predetermined per Jesus’ prophecy of being one generation.

It is essential to see that Jesus makes a clear distinction between the last days and the end of the age. We have seen that the writers of the New Testament understood that they were in the last days.


A. Jesus is With Us Until the End of the Age

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

B. The Time of the Final Harvest

The end of the age is when the final harvest will take place.

The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

Matthew 13:39

C. When the Kingdom is Returned to the Father

Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Matthew 13:40-43


13. Theology of Futurists

A. Incorrect Theology of the Last Days Prophecy by Jesus

Futurists compel us to believe that Matthew 24:4-35 applies to then and also now to get around this glaring problem. Yet careful study allows no biblical evidence to take this ‘leap of faith.’ Futurists state that they have the correct theology, so we must change the gospel.

Futurists believe that we are now in the last days, rather than the end of the age. They preach that a future millennial kingdom reign will be on earth, centred in Jerusalem. Yet, they fail to see a difference between the Last Days and the End of The Age. Futurists must hold to Cessationalism and Dispensationalism to remain faithful to this theology. They must discount that the power of God is for today if they want to stay true to this theology. They believe that there is a coming Great Tribulation, yet Jesus taught us that the Great Tribulation would happen within one generation and never again!

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:21

Futurists teach that Matthew 24 refers to the 40 years and the future. Jesus said the Great Tribulation would never happen again! Is Jesus a false prophet? – no! Jesus’ last days’ prophecy was fulfilled. What is yet to happen is the end of the age and the final coming of Jesus.


B. Cessationist and Dispensational Theology

My teachings on this subject align with what all the church fathers through to Augustine, Martin Luther, and Spurgeon teach. It is only since John Darby in the 1880s and the release of the Schofield Bible that “theologians” have changed to the modern Futurist view. These same “theologians” decided to teach that healing and miracles are not today! They say that because they believe in Cessationist Theology and Dispensational Theology. These people commonly have not seen anybody healed or raised from the dead. (Of which I have seen Holy Spirit heal every disease group and the dead raised in the name of Jesus Christ).


13. Summary of the Last Days Prophecy by Jesus

Jesus is not a false prophet – everything declared between Matthew 23:36 and Matthew 24:34 happened between 30CE and 70CE, finally in 130CE. Precisely 40 years and 100 years of Jesus’ prophecy – one generation!

It is poor exegesis to use Matthew 24 to support a narrative that we live in the last days now.

The last days finished in the generation Jesus prophesied, as the apostles taught.

The last days and The End of the Age are two separate events.

The future End of the Age is after we complete the Great Commission and before the day of judgement.

The Last Days finished in the generation Jesus prophesied.


© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/Dr Neville van Eerten 2022

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