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November 29 I Thursday

Ezekiel 35-36

2 Peter 1

 

“Now learn this lesson from the fig-tree: as soon as its twigs become tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.”    —Matthew 24:32

 

Despite the many and varied ways that people have interpreted Matthew 24, I suggest that verses 15 to 35 are primarily concerned with prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem. These verses paint a grim picture of something that would take place in the lifetime of the generation
of those to whom Jesus spoke.

Jesus warns that when these events begin, “...let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers… For then there will be great distress…” (Matthew 24:16-21). This graphically describes the terrible time surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem, which began when Rome seized money from the temple coffers in 66 A.D. The Jews revolted, and Rome responded by besieging Jerusalem for the next four years. By the end, the city and its temple were destroyed, and over 1 million people were dead. Less than 10 percent survived to be taken captive and enslaved.

At the climax of this destruction, Jesus speaks of
“...the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). This does not in the first instance refer to Christ’s second coming, for Jesus said all these events would take place in the lifetime of the disciples. Instead, theologian and scholar G.B. Caird says the phrase refers to “a mighty reversal of fortunes within history and at the national level.”
The presence and revelation of God were not to be found any longer in the temple or the city of Jerusalem but in Christ establishing His reign in the hearts of His people beginning on the Day of Pentecost.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig-tree,” Jesus told His disciples. The events surrounding Jerusalem’s destruction were the leaves that announce the coming of summer, but the fruit is found in the new era of God dwelling by His Holy Spirit in the church. In this new era, Christ is not confined to any one building, city or nation but reigns supreme over all. It is an ongoing era in which believers continue to be added to Christ’s body and empowered by His Spirit.

It is no longer to the nation of Israel that we look for the knowledge of God. The destruction of
Jerusalem was a terrible tragedy, but the emergence of the church of Jesus Christ is the glory that God brought out of the rubble.

Prayer: Almighty God, thank You that even in the most horrifying situations, You bring about Your good purposes. Help me to see Your blessings even in the midst of tragedy.


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