Math 24: 1-36 Commentary
Math 24:1-36 My Commentary
My former view (up to 2007). All of Math 24 describes a process that began at the time of Jesus and extends into some distant point in the future when we see all these events having taken place. “This generation” refers to the general “race of Jews.”
Introduction note: Imagine getting a long list from Jesus about the end times and eagerly looking for these signs, only to find only the first few happened. You would think "He wasn't a prophet or telling the truth." What point was a prophet if you couldn't see the things then and there. If He meant it for a later date, surely he'd have given it at a later date. It served no purpose for the apostles to know these things would happen in 2000 years time. Same with the Book of Revelation. Unless He said something like "Seal up this scroll for a later date." He told Daniel, “Go your way Daniel for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.” (Dan 12:9) BUT he specifically told John, “Do not seal the swords of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.” (Rev 22:9) The whole Revelation prophecy was for then, not for some future (sealed) time.
My inescapable view (on and off since 2007). I asked myself this question: ‘Could all of the signs in Math 24 have taken place in the 40 years from 30AD to 70AD?’ (And concluded Yes.) If so, then “this generation” would refer to that generation of Jews (of roughly 40 years) of which Jesus and Peter and Paul were some. I examined the whole Bible by cross-referencing every word in Math 24 throughout the NT & OT. When I tried to give up the study, the next day I’d be doing my devotionals and find lots more supporting texts. Now I have too much evidence to dismiss the theme that seems woven into the very fabric of scripture.
Note: Josephus whom I reference was a Jewish commander of one of the Galilean towns. He defended it against the Romans. Rome was too strong and eventually after a battle defeated the city, killed everyone but spared Josephus on the proviso he interceded between the Jews and Romans during the Jewish Roman wars. It was death or that so he chose to do it and also to write up the truth of what happened over those terrible years in the land of Israel. His many books are very detailed and worth reading. He was the only non Christian to write during this time.
Math 24:2 Stones of Jerusalem temple all thrown down. Temple destroyed in 70AD exactly 40 years from His death - ie at Passover. Romans began attack at Passover 70AD in April. Third wall breached May 25th. Temple destroyed August 10th. Some escaped and were killed on the run. Upper City entered Sept 26th and all killed.
Math 24:4 Many will come in My name saying I am the Christ/Messiah... What false Christs/Messiahs appeared between 30-70AD? Josephus informs us that there were many who pretended to divine inspiration; who deceived the people, leading out numbers of them into the desert. He says, "The land, was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew the people after them in multitudes into solitudes and deserts, to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God." Among these are mentioned particularly Dositheus, the Samaritan, who affirmed that he was Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-10) who said he appeared among the Jews as the Son of God; and Theudas (in 42AD) who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan where he would divide the waters. An Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by Felix. Under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of Christ were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day. Josephus. (Antiquities. b. xx. c. 4. and 7.)
Math 24:6 Wars & rumours of wars.... Roman emperor Caligula ordered his image statue to be set up in the temple of God, which the Jews refused and then so expected a war with the Romans, that they stopped plowing their fields. At Caesarea under Cureanus the Roman governor, where the Jews and Syrians contended about the right of the city during Passover, which ended there in the total expulsion of the Jews, above 20,000 of whom were slain. The whole Jewish nation being exasperated at this, flew to arms, and burnt and plundered the neighbouring cities and villages of the Syrians, making an immense slaughter of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews. At Scythopolis they murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500. At Ptolemais they slew 2000, and made many prisoners. The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more: the people of Gadara did likewise; and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews. At Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the former were slain. The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city and, assaulting them unarmed, killed 10,000 of them. And elsewhere in great numbers. (Antiquities b xviii)
Math 24:7 Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom...
1) That of the Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder of some Galileans going up to the feast of Jerusalem, while Cumanus was procurator.
2) That of the whole nation of the Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, and other allies of the Roman empire; which began when Gessius Florus was procurator.
3) That of the civil war in Italy, while Otho and Vitellius were contending for the empire.Between 66-70AD five Roman emperors deposed each other through violent deaths (Nero to Vespasian). The Jews themselves say, "In the time of the Messiah, wars shall be stirred up in the world; nation shall rise against nation, and city against city." Sohar Kadash. "Again, Rab. Eleasar, the son of Abina, said, “When ye see kingdom rising against kingdom, then expect the immediate appearance of the Messiah." Bereshith Rabba, sect. 42. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says of this period: "It was full of calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage in peace itself."
Math 24:7 Famines ... There was a famine foretold by Agabus Act_11:28, which is mentioned by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius, and which was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food, Antiq. xx. 2. Four times in the reign of Claudius (41-54 a.d.) famine prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece.
Math 24:7 Pestilences Raging epidemic diseases; the plague, sweeping off multitudes of people at once. It is commonly the attendant of famine, and often produced by it. A pestilence is recorded as raging in Babylonia, 40 a.d. (Josephus, Antiq. xviii. 9. 8); in Italy, 66 a.d. (Tacitus 16. 13). Both of these took place before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Math 24:7 Earthquakes Many of these are mentioned as preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Tacitus (Tacit. Annal. lib. xii. and lib. xiv) mentions one in the reign of Claudius, at Rome, and says that in the reign of Nero the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse were overthrown (60AD) by an earthquake, and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed and almost destroyed by an earthquake, (Annales, 15. 22.) Others are mentioned as occurring at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos. One at Crete in the reign of Claudius. (See Grotius.) One at Campania, mentioned by Seneca; and one at Rome, in the reign of Galba, mentioned by Suetonius in the life of that emperor. Add to all these, a dreadful one in Judea, mentioned by Josephus (War, b. iv. c. 4). accompanied by a dreadful tempest, violent winds, vehement showers, and continual lightnings and thunders; which led many to believe that these things portended some uncommon calamity.Luke 21:11 adds, "And fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven," Josephus, who had probably never heard of this prophecy, and who certainly would have done nothing designedly to show its fulfillment, records the prodigies and signs which He says preceded the destruction of the city. "A star, says he, resembling a sword, stood over the city, and a comet that continued a whole year. At the feast of unleavened bread, during the night, a bright light shone round the altar and the temple, so that it seemed to be bright day, for half an hour. The eastern gate of the temple, of solid brass, fastened with strong bolts and bars, and which had been shut with difficulty by twenty men, opened in the night of its own accord. A few days after that feast, he says, "Before sunsetting, there were seen over all the country, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities." A great noise, as of the sound of a multitude, was heard in the temple at Pentecost, saying, "Let us remove hence." Four years before the war began, Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, came to the feast of the tabernacles when the city was in peace and prosperity, and began to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegroom and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" He was scourged, and at every stroke of the whip He cried, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" This cry, Josephus says, was continued every day for more than seven years, until he was killed in the siege of the city, exclaiming, "Woe, woe to myself also!" - Jewish Wars, b. 6 chapter 9, section 3. Tacitus records almost exactly the same thing.
Math 24:8 Beginning of sorrows. First persecution of Christians took place under Nero Caesar in 64AD. Sign of beast 666 attributed to Caesar Nero in mid-60s. History tells us that the army of Cestius Gallus enclosed Jerusalem in AD67, then deterred by its strength, retired to Cæsarea. This was the signal for which the church waited, and it then fled beyond the Jordan. (PNT v15) Hence there should have been no true believers in Jerusalem by 70AD because they had been warned by the times and by Jesus.
Math 24:9 Persecution and killing of disciples, and hated by all nations. James killed in AD44. Paul in AD67 & Philip round this time too. Bartholomew in AD68. Peter & Andrew in AD69. Nations are specific nations in the Roman empire. See verse 6 above.
Math 24:12 Love of many will grow cold. After betrayal, love is lost between families. (Math 10:35) No evidence.
Math 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be protected/saved. Those believers who remain faithful God will watch over and keep safe. No evidence.
Math 24:14 Gospel of kingdom...all the world...all nations...end shall come. The apostles were commanded to preach the Kingdom. World and nations must mean the same thing because one was dependent on the other in this verse. Augustus (Luke 2:1) decreed that "all the world" should be taxed and it was done. This was the Roman world. When Jesus used this phrase, his hearers understood the meaning "Roman world" because to them there was no other. If Jesus had meant Iceland and Australia and Peru, and the Apostles had understood this, they'd have asked "How do we get there?!" But He didn't mean these places & the apostles didn't need to ask because they knew the world He was speaking about. It was a world that travelled through Jerusalem often which was a crossroads for just that world. In fact Jerusalem sat right in the middle of that world. (Italy to Iran, Arabia to Greece, Libya to Georgia, Spain to Afghanistan.) As they travelled to the "world", all these "nations" would hear about the kingdom of Christ. The nations were all reached in the days of the Apostles, by 70AD, so the "end" could come.
Math 24:15 Abomination of desolation of Daniel...in the holy place. Abomination means idolatry - someone or something in utter opposition to God. (Herod Agrippa I died in AD44 after proclaiming himself a god.) Desolation means loneliness, destruction, misery and a wasteland. Something was standing in the holy place that was about to cause utter desolation to Jerusalem (& Judea). What was it? Perhaps an idol but that served no purpose since the Romans then captured and destroyed the temple on or before Aug 10th and promptly burned it. The images of their gods were on the ensigns that they wore. (I Macc 1:54; Dan 12:11) The holy place has traditionally been seen as the temple (Jesus earlier repremanded the people for selling in the temple courts) or the holy of holies. However, taking this view, those in the city could not have escaped in time for the city had been surrounded long before this & the people were already starving to death. In addition, Jesus had removed the need for the holy of holies in His resurrection and become this himself. Then where else might there have been a holy place? The Mount of Olives - where Jesus was saying this very prophecy and where he wept over Jerusalem & ascended to heaven and where at the end of the Gentile/Nations Age, he will stand for the Last Battle (Zech 14:4). When General Titus arrived with his troops, he posted his 10th legion on the Mount of Olives (and his 12th and 15th legions on Mount Scopus, further to the east,) thus commanding all ways to Jerusalem from east to north. Once the believers saw the 10th Legion standing on the holy place (Mt Olives) they evacuated Jerusalem in haste. Why? Because this was the sign and the Romans would shortly encircle the city without any way out. (Luke 21:20 confirms this thought "When you see the armies encircle Jerusalem.")
Math 24:16 Flee into the mountain. Where do they have to go? Into the mountain (caves) as fast as possible. Why? Not only is Jerusalem falling but the Romans will pursue and kill those who flee too. In April AD70 at Passover, the Romans began their siege. On May 25th they breached the outer 3rd wall. On or about June 1st they breached the 2nd wall. On July 22nd the 1st wall fell. On Aug 10, the temple was burned. In September they got into the Upper City. By Sept 26th Jerusalem had fallen and all the city's residents were dead. By the end of that year Jerusalem and most of Judea was desolate, Jews in most cities either having been killed (1.1 million) or captured. (100,000 survivors were sold into slavery.) A few escaped as refugees into the mountains and nearby countries. (See Isa 66:16) Titus also destroyed all the tress on Mount Olives during the siege.
Math 24:17 On housetop don't go down into house. People often slept on the housetop roof in the summer. There wasn't time to go down into the house to get their belongings. The exodus out of Jerusalem was not unlike the exodus out of Egypt on the night of Passover. In fact, it was Passover when the Romans began their attack and it may well have been the very same night they fled from Jerusalem. In fact General Titus and his army encircled the city in April at Passover and began their seige at this very time.
Math 24:18. Nor return home from the fields. Again, such was the urgency there was no time to return home to get possessions.
Math 24:19. Woe to children & babies. Why? Because if they were stuck in Jerusalem, they were about to starve. Some residents even ate their own children, Josephus reported. (He knew because he was in the city hired by the Romans as a go-between the two parties. He was the one who gave us the precise dates later.) Even if the children and babies survived into the mountains, they wouldn't have had clothes or much food.
Math 24:20 Flight not in winter or on Sabbath. Israel gets some snow in the winter in the hills and the rivers are high. Apparently the gates of Jerusalem were closed on the Sabbath. In fact, their flight was in April which was mid Autumn and not too cold. Plus a Jew was not supposed to travel more than 1.1 kms on the Sabbath and Mt Olives was that distance right into the arms of the waiting 10th Legion.
Math 24:21 Great tribulation not before or after. Tribulation means persecution. Did not more Jews died during WW2 under Hitler? But percentage wise, in 70AD the majority of the Jews in Israel were either killed or were sold into slavery. Far greater tribulation than the Jews in WW2 (black as that time was.) Read Joel 2 for a description of what happened too.
Math 24:22 And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect's sake, those days shall be shortened.
Shortened means abridged. It's an imminent time. Saved means delivered or protected. Elect means select or chosen. The elect are a few - Math 20:16 - many called but few selected. These elect are to be gathered from the 4 winds (v24.) Rufus was one of the elect (Rom 16:13). There are elect angels (1 Tim 5:21). Paul endures all things for the elect's sake (2 Tim 2:10). The Colossians are compared to the elect and exhorted to put on the fruit of the Spirit (Co ,3:12). Peter speaks to the elect scattered in Asia (1 Pet 1:2 & 2:4 & 2:9). Jesus is elect (1 Pet 2:6). John speaks about an elect lady (2 John 1:1 & 1:13.) In Revelation the elect are with Christ during the war with the beast (Rev 17:14.) These few elect will be saved/protected not destroyed, to reign (soon) with Christ.
Math 24:23-24 At that time if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ! Or, There! Do not believe it. (v24) For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders; so much so that, if it were possible, they would deceive even the elect. Jesus reiterates his earlier points about false christs (v4.) Wonders are also omens (v7). Powerful signs and wonders which even the elect might believe -this must be something like counterfeit acts of Christ. A man called Barcochab proclaimed Messiah of Akiba, 'made as if flame came out of his mouth; and many of the Jewish doctors in these times, and following, gave themselves up to sorcery, and the magic art.'
Math 24:25. Behold, I have told you beforehand. Beforehand/predicted. Jesus gives these apostles such warnings before they happen. The whole speech is imminent in its timing. All the elect would have died but He shortens the suffering so that some will see it through and enter heaven alive.
Math 24:26 Therefore if they shall say to you, Behold, He is in the desert! Do not go out. Behold, He is in the secret rooms! Do not believe it. Secret rooms is the ground floor room of the house often used for storage or for being alone. If people tell you to go here or there to find Christ, don't go. He won't be there.
Math 24:27 For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. Speed or widespread? Could be either or both.
Math 24:28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered. Dead bodies will abound during the tribulation. Very sad time. See next verse for what follows this tribulation.
Math 24:29 And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
Tribulation is affliction/pressure. Sun will be obscured/darkened. Stars shall fall from their heights. Observable signs in the sky of unusual astronomical events. The sun was darkened during Christ's crucifixion. Similar events.
Math 24:30 And then the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in the heavens. And then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the heaven with power and great glory.
First the sign of the Messiah of Israel (Christ) and then He Himself shall come. What is the sign? It is to be distinguished somehow from the false signs of v24 (same Greek word). Jesus is talking about the tribes of Israel not about tribes from every country worldwide. The ‘earth’ is the ‘land’ not the globe. ‘See’ (Greek here means ‘wonder’) with wide open eyes as at something remarkable. Josephus said a sign was seen in the sky in 70AD at Jerusalem’s fall: "A star resembling a sword, stood over the city, and a comet that continued a whole year. At the feast of unleavened bread, during the night, a bright light shone round the altar and the temple, so that it seemed to be bright day, for half an hour. The eastern gate of the temple, of solid brass, fastened with strong bolts and bars, and which had been shut with difficulty by twenty men, opened in the night of its own accord. A few days after that feast before sunset, there were seen over all the country, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities." According to Josephus, everyone across Israel saw heavenly battles. God speaking out of the clouds (Greek ‘nephele’) above Israel is seen throughout the Bible, OT & NT. Jesus often went up into the mountains to pray. Why? To be nearer the city of God & His Father who lived there.
Math 24:31 And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
One end of heaven to the other. Does this mean the universe or the global sky or the sky above the ‘land where the tribes live’? Ezek 7:2, Yahweh prophecies destruction on the “4 corners (winds, edges) of the earth/land (776 erets).” He’s talking here about judgment on the land of Israel (not the earth worldwide). In Acts 2:5 “Jews from every nation under heaven” means Jews from the Jewish Roman world who were in Jerusalem.” Heaven was the sky above the lands occupied by the majority of Jews & Acts 2 lists those specific lands. These nations (not USA or NZ) were the same as listed in Isa 11:12 (see following) but more detailed – specifying the Mediterranean coastlands of Crete, Cyrene, Libya, Rome…Isa 24:1 refers to the “earth (776 erets)” but actually means Judah and perhaps nearby territories. Isa 11:11-12 lists the “earth (776 erets)” and the “4 corners” from which Judah shall be gathered – Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq (Assyria), Mediterranean coastline. Where were they to be gathered to?
Jesus is speaking to and about Jews who are the elect (1588 eklektos) of God – the calling of the Jews back together to Jerusalem, as He did in Isaiah & Ezekiel. Jesus said many would be called but few would be elect (1588). In Luke 18 Jesus says He will avenge His elect speedily. Paul alludes to the believers in Rome as God’s elect, specifically Rufus (Rom 8:33; 16:14).Paul calls the Colossian believers the elect (3:12). All the elect have not come in when Paul says he lives for the elect still to receive salvation (2 Tim 2:10) Peter (apostle to the Jews) writes to the elect scattered throughout Asia (1 Pet 1:2). Peter speaks about Jesus being the elect one (1 Peter 2:6) & the believers as a royal priesthood in contrast to the gentiles (2:12). The trumpet (4536 salpigx). Jesus was to descend from heaven with 3 noises – a shout, voice of archangel and with a trumpet (1 Thess 4:16-18). Followed by the rising of dead and then the rising of those still alive at His coming. John was still alive in 70AD (it’s believed). Peter had died in 68AD and Paul in 67AD. When Jesus came (in 70AD,) He shouted with the voice of a trumpet and called the dead home first, followed by the elect still alive (John et al). Why did he shout? Same reason He shouted at Lazarus. Showing His authority over evil. Where was home? The clouds beneath heaven. Those who rise will meet the Lord who has descended from higher up and together the elect would all be with Jesus in the clouds (3507 nephele) for eternity. Funny place to be. No rising back up to wherever Jesus descended from. Unless in the clouds is the New Jerusalem. Yes! Hebr 12:2 - the heavenly Jerusalem, Mt Zion, the city of the living God, countless masses of angels, mass gathering of the firstborn in Christ, an immovable kingdom. This kingdom sits (invisibly unless the Spirit allows you to see it as Stephen did shortly before he died in Acts 7:56) in the clouds below the earth’s upper atmosphere not far above the earth. It’s not in outer space. In Rev 1:11-17 we see the Lord in His glory as He speaks like a trumpet. John looks into heaven in Rev 4:1 and again hears the trumpet voice of Christ speak to him. In heaven he sees 24 elders (same word as Sanhedrin ieolder leaders)
Math 24:33 His coming is near. James 5:8 "Coming of the Lord is nigh." (James died AD44.) It was expected shortly, before all the apostles had died.
Math 24:34 This generation will see the fulfilment of all these things - including "hereafter you shall see the Son of man seated in power and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Math 26:64). Paul said to the Romans (13:11) "Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." (Romans was written in 56AD, about 30 years after his conversion. John couldn't have lived into the 90sAD as some reckon or this would not have been true) and "The day is at hand" and "The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly." (Rom 16:20) Shortly, at hand, nearer – John is expecting the fulfilment of all things in less than 30 years. From 56AD to 70AD was 14 years.
Math 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away/by but My words will by no means pass away/by.” Heaven and earth will pass away one day when we are in the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1) The word is parerchomai (pass by, go by, pass away, carry past, pass near, pass, take away). When we are carried to the new earth, the old earth will pass from view – when we go there, the Law will cease to have effect upon us. While we remain in the old earth, the Law remains in effect (including the Saturday Sabbath.) The Rev 21 text gives the possibility that the 2 heavens/earths co-exist but out of view from each other. (Pass does not mean destroyed.) The heaven/earth is time bound. Quite possibly the new heaven/earth is not time bound. So one can overlap/pass by the other without the 2 aware of each other.
Math 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Jesus spoke these words about 27AD and to that point this was true and during the ministry of the apostles, neither did they know. Being still future, 70AD could well have seen the fulfilment.
Math 24:37-41 “For as in the days of Noah so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. In the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying, until the day Noah entered the ark and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the son of Man. Two will be in the field: one lifted and the other left. Two grinding at the mill: one lifted and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know the hour your Lord is coming.” Notice I have changed the usual translation “take away” to “lift.” That’s because the Greek word used here is ‘airo’ and primarily means ‘lift/elevate/take up.’ (Texts that use airo include: Math 4:6; Math 9:6; Math 11:29; Math 14:12; Math 14:20; Math 16:24; Luke 17:13; John 1:29; John 8:59; John 11:41; John 17:15; Act 4:24; Act 8:33; Rev 10:5.) It was Noah’s family who God lifted up and rescued from the waters. The whole point of these verses is to warn the believers that the coming of the Messiah will be unexpected. One day the Lord would say, “The Ark (New Heaven) is leaving in 7 days time. (Gen 7:4) Get everyone and the animals inside now!” This whole passage is about Noah and his family eating and drinking and marrying before the flood comes, until suddenly the Lord said, “Enter!” And once in, Yahweh closed the door (Gen 7:16) What would God do to the rest who didn’t get on the ark? “Destroy them and the earth.” (Gen 6:13) Really? God destroyed the Earth? No, he destroyed the dry land upon which Noah lived. If he had destroyed the ‘Earth’ we wouldn’t be here today. And he certainly didn’t destroy the fish so it wasn’t the Earth he destroyed but the land. “Everything on the earth (land) shall die.” Gen 6:17 (But not the fish.) So the Noah judgement was only about people and land animals/birds – everything that needed the land to survive. (Not fish.) And when the rain had ceased and the water all subsided it happened that the “waters dried up from the earth.” ??? No, “from the land.” (Gen 8:7) If all the waters had dried up we wouldn’t have seas any more. I will address more about this issue of earth/land in my longer study.)
The “End Times” Finished about 70AD
The New Covenant instituted about 30AD at the Lord's Passover gave Israel 40 years grace to bow the knee (like the 40 years He gave them in the desert from the Passover in Egypt to entering Israel.) During those 40 years, the apostles were faithful in completing their Math 28:16-20 mission to make disciples of all nations. In fact Peter achieved the first part of this ("teaching all nations") in his very first gospel sermon in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5,14.)
In 70AD Jesus brought judgment on the nation of Israel. Jerusalem/Israel fell for the second time (the first being 586BC). It was the Father's judgement on Israel as a nation under Him. Crucially since Jesus was now resurrected and had ascended (unlike the first time in 586BC when He had not), the mechanism was in place for redeemed Israel to go straight to glory.
At the same time as Israel was judged in 70AD, Jesus returned on the clouds of heaven (visible to all the believers waiting for Him on the hills outside Jerusalem, for it was from the believers that he had ascended) and lifted up His 144,000 holy (without fault) elect (Rev 14:5) and caught up the rest of the redeemed from every Jewish nation (Acts 2:5).
The 144,000 are His priests and reign with Him from the New Jerusalem on the New Heaven under the New Covenant. The rest of redeemed Jacob/Israel live on the New Earth and also live under the New Covenant. They have received their salvation in full.
I. The Kingdom promised comes in 70AD.
When Jesus preached to the multitude on the mountain in Math 5-7, He was giving promises that were going to be seen in the lifetime of some of them. Thus the words were not some distant dream or hope after 2000 years or more but a near reality. As near as 40 years hence. Jesus was calling Israel for one last time to rise to be the worldwide messianic heralds Yahweh called them to be. Those who lived up to this would be written in the Lamb's book of Life and the total of the faithful Jews would be 144,000.
The Mosaic (Old) Covenant was built on the understanding that both parties (Yahweh & Israel) kept their side of the agreement. Yahweh remained faithful. Israel did not. (Neh 10:32-34).Yahweh signalled the end of the covenant many times and prophesied that it would come to an end. That end would be the end of an age - the age of the nation and mission of Israel as a separated people set apart to represent Yahweh. This age was to end at some definite point and it would usher in a new age - the age of Jesus reigning with redeemed Israel sitting on the throne with Christ in His new Kingdom.
Gentile children of Jacob would also be reached and brought back into the Kingdom of God. (Hosea 1:4-11 and Romans 9:24-27). Among these Jacobean gentiles, Yahweh would put the seal of His Spirit and these chosen people would continue to fulfil the commands of Jesus
Jesus came only to reach the lost of the house of Israel (backslidden Jews and gentile/apostate Jacobians.) He didn't come for the rest of the world. Yahweh is God of Israel and Jesus the Messiah (Christ) of Israel.
There is a strong parallel in the Exodus. At the Passover, Yahweh instituted His covenant with Israel promising to be with them as their God. Through 40 years of testing Israel proved to be a disobedient people and that generation of Israelites almost all perished in the desert without seeing the Land of Israel which God had promised Abraham. But at the end of 40 years, the Israelites did enter into this Land. At least one of the original group got there - Joshua who had served with Moses in the Tabernacle of Meeting.
About 30AD Jesus died at the Passover in Jerusalem. For 3 years prior to this He had taught Israel and showed them the Father. He told them to expect His coming in glory imminently. The apostles preached the same. By 70AD all the apostles had died, except John, most of them in the late 60sAD. John lived through the Lord's coming unlike the others who had already died. (John 21:22 "If I will that he stays until I come, what is that to you. Follow Me.") But, both those who had died and those still alive at His coming, ascended into heaven together. (I Thess 4:14-17)
Moses died just before Israel entered the Promised Land but he was saved. (We know that because he met with Jesus on the Mount.) Peter died in 69AD, just before the Fall of Jerusalem & Andrew the same year. Paul died in 67AD by beheading. Most if not all 12 apostles except John died before 70AD. None walked into the Promised Land alive as Joshua had done, except John.
All the New Testament books were written prior to 70AD (most around 60AD.) Some put a possible later date for John’s writings (after 64AD) but nothing can be proved later than 70AD.
The sacrifices had stopped at the first Fall of Jerusalem on August 10th, 586BC. They commenced again 70 years later in a newly built temple in 515BC. Yahweh gave the land of Israel a 70 year Sabbath (2 Chron 36:21) to cleanse the land & so sent the people of Israel into exile (in Babylon) off the land to do this. He sent a promise through Jeremiah that in 70 years they would return to the Land and this happened. (Jer 25:11)
At the second Fall of Jerusalem on August 10th, 70AD, the daily sacrifices stopped. There was no promise from Yahweh of them restarting. They have ceased to this day. The Old Covenant was finally and irrevocably broken and a New Covenant made, described by both Jeremiah (Jer 31:31) and Jesus (Heb 12:24). The New Covenant was instituted at the Lord's Passover in 30AD and completed 40 years later.
Israel has only one promise left. Yahweh said that the seed of Israel will not cease until the sun, moon and stars withdraw. (Jer 31:35-36) In the distant future, there will yet be some seed of Israel who will join with the believing gentiles, to live in the New City together. (Rom 11:15 "For if their casting away reconciles the world, what will their reception be except life from the dead?" Rom 11:23 "For God is able to graft them in again.") In this Gentile age, these Jews are in the same boat as gentiles - needing to hear the gospel of Christ - God has no special favour towards them anymore in relation to faith or mission. But at the end of the gentile age ("when the fullness of the gentiles has come in" Rom 11:25) then all who are seeds of Israel at that time will be saved.
At the same time as Israel was judged in 70AD, Jesus returned on the clouds of heaven and took home His 144,000 elect. (Rev 7:4 "Sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel." and Rev 14:4 "A first fruit to God & the Lamb.") These minister with the Lord wherever He goes now across His kingdom.
Jesus healed people because he wanted them to "enter life" whole. He warned some that it was better to "enter life" minus an eye (if it caused you to sin) than not get into heaven at all because of that sin. It wasn't a figurative suggestion (as many think) but a very real one. As real as the healings He did. Why did Jesus heal so many in His lifetime and in Peter's lifetime? Because most of them were probably on their way to the New Jerusalem in 40 years time. Why were there no recorded healings (and certainly no mass ones as before) after 70AD? Because all the first wave of elect had gone home.
II. Jesus is seated on the right hand of the Father and has already come on the clouds.
Any one text in scripture needs to be examined for its own worth but also how it reflects and mirrors other similar verses. No one text should stand on its own in regard to laying a foundational teaching.
In Math 26:64 Jesus tells the Jewish authorities at his trial, "Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of the heavens."
From this text alone we assume that Jesus means that sometime shortly after this event (the trial) the Jewish authorities will see Jesus seated in heaven and they will also at the same time see Him appearing to them all on the clouds of heaven.
Secondly we should analyse the text itself from its Greek base. The word “see” means to gaze at something wonderful. The clouds are those we see in the sky above us. And for anyone to have seen Jesus on the clouds, they must have been low clouds not high ones. The word for “coming” is “erchomai” (not parousia), a present imperfect verb which means appearing, coming or going! If Jesus is sitting on the right side it can’t mean He is going on the clouds (as at His resurrection) because by then He is already back in heaven. Now we must examine whether this literal interpretation stands with other texts on the same subject.
It’s good to check the Greek words because sometimes the English words used from one text to another are the same but the Greek origin is different. For example, Math 24:3 asks “What shall be the sign of your coming?” Now without knowing the Greek we could imagine that Math 26:64 and this text are related since both talk about His coming. But the Greek differs, In Math 24:3 it’s “parousia” (coming) and in Math 26:64 it’s “erchomai” (coming). What’s the difference between these 2 Greek words?
Parousia means “presence” (being with) with the opposite being “absence.” In Phil 2:12 it describes the presence of Paul with His friends. It also has the idea of arrival but as having arrived and not in process (James 5:8; 2 Thess 2:8). The biblical hope is for a Divine King who is living with his people (parousia). Erchomai is talking about a process, meaning to come or go or appear at a place. The hope is that one day this King will arrive.
How quickly will he arrive? In Rev 3:11 Jesus says “I will come (erchomai) quickly (tachu = shortly, without delay).” His arrival was imminent.
Has Jesus sat down in glory? Yes, in Rev 3:21 Jesus says “as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne.” Now if he has already sat down, then according to Math 26:64 Jesus should also have come/arrived/appeared on the clouds of heaven at the same time or immediately afterwards. If not, then the text and prophecy is misleading.
Would any of His disciples see His coming on the clouds? From the above text they were certainly expecting to do so just as they had seen him ascend into heaven. Math 16:28 : "Truly I say to you, There are somestanding here whoshall not taste of death until they see the Son of Mancoming (erchomai) in his kingdom." Here is the reply.Some of Jesus’ disciples would die before Jesus came on the clouds but others would be alive – “standing here.” (1 Thess 4:17 Those alive meet with those already in clouds.)
Who was dead and who was alive? Paul, James, Peter, Stephen and others are all recorded as having died before or during Nero’s persecution in the mid 60s AD. The only disciple still alive by the late 60s appears to have been John. This ties well in with Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:22 “If I will/desire that he (John) remain until I come (erchomai), don’t worry. You follow Me.” Some disciples supposed from Jesus’ remark that John would not die as a result. John comments on this in verse 23 but does not refute the prophesy of Jesus. Therefore, there were some standing in the literal presence of Jesus who did not die before they had seen Jesus come in the clouds.
By clouds, did he means real clouds? Yes. The Greek word is “nephele”, the same description (Hebrew ‘anan) for the cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness from Egypt. Jesus ascended to heaven and natural clouds (Acts 1:9) hid him from the disciples who were watching. The angel who then appeared said Jesus would return in the same way. There is no good reason to believe clouds were to mean something else. Real clouds figure frequently in the biblical record as the place of God’s presence – Moses at Mt Sinai Exod 14:20 (1 Cor 10:1); Mt Transfiguration Luke 9:34; (Jesus often went into the mountains to pray and God’s voice came from the clouds above.
Who will see him in the clouds? Everyone there at the time. The apostles saw Him go and the angel said he would come back as he had gone – only those in the vicinity saw him go, so likewise all who are there at his returning will see him. Rev 1:7 says “Behold, he comes with the clouds and every eye shall see him, and they who pierced him from all tribes of the earth will wail because of him.” It doesn’t say that the unbelievers will see Him, only that they will wail. The saints will rejoice to see him but the rest will wail.
Jesus is seated on the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). If he has already also come on the clouds of heaven (which I believe is true from the expectation of the biblical record) then the Jewish authorities (those who pierced him) wailed, as did all the Roman powers who had a hand in his death. In addition, his prophecy of “coming quickly” was true and has passed. Further, his apostles who died in the 60sAD met with those still alive (eg John and others) at his coming and all ascended into the clouds and heaven. Furthermore the words of the angel were fulfilled “He will come as you saw him go.”
When did his coming on the clouds take place? Some time after many of the disciples had died but before all of them had died. In other words, sometime after the early 60sAD. What significant event happened in that period that answered most of what Jesus spoke about in the gospels? The destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This could well have been the moment.
III. Apostles judged Israel and rule nations.
Jesus told his 12 apostles that when he sat on the throne in glory, they who followed him would also sit on 12 powerful seats and judge the 12 tribes of Israel (Math 19:28.) The Jewish saints in glory were to judge the Jewish tribes. When the disciples joined Jesus in the clouds, they went to glory and the 12 apostles now sit and rule over the nation of Israel. Their first task was to judge unrepentant Jews. In fact all the repentant Israelites who walked with Yahweh would have the right to judge unbelieving and faithless Israelites. “The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation (of Israel) and condemn it (Math 12:41)” How many faithful Jews made it to glory before judgement? “A remnant of grace (Rom 11:5).”
Their second task was to rule over Israel henceforth. Wasn’t this Jesus’ task? Yes and no. Jesus was to rule over the house of Jacob until the end of the age (Luke 1:33) but of His kingdom there would be no end. The end of the age occurred when Jesus came in the clouds and that generation of Israel was judged. From the end of the (Jewish) age, Jesus handed over rulership of Israel to His disciples who would rule from their powerful seats. Meanwhile Jesus would rule over His whole kingdom (now wider than just Israel.) Other (gentile) saints who go to glory would also receive power to rule over other nations (Rev 2:26).
IV The Jewish covenant and age closed around 70AD.
The Bible uses a number of different words to mean “age” and “forever.” The phrase commonly translated “forever” is “ein aion.” The Greek word “ein” (1519) means “to the point reached/to the end of.” The Greek word “aion”(165) means “age.” So ein aion actually means to the end of the age. It doesn’t mean forever in the sense of unlimited time. It has an end.
A similar Greek phrase is “ein aion aion” which means “to age age” (to the end of this age and the age to come) commonly translated “forever and ever.”
The Bible talks about various ages. There is a Greek word “aionios” (166) which means “ages.”
Other Greek words related to the end are: eggizo (1448 = has drawn near/is at hand); eschatos (2078 = last/final); genea (1074 = one generation of people); ginomai (1096 = fulfilled/cause to be); sunteleia (4930 = very end/utter completion); telos (5056 = end/conclusion/limit); teleos (5055 = ended/completed/finished).
Related Hebrew words are: olam olam (5769 = time future concealed, translated forever); olam olam ad (= to the end of the future concealed time – usually translated forever and ever); dore dore (1755 = age/generation/revolution of time).
In the Old Testament we read about covenants and statues that were olam olam. For example, keeping the Sabbath was an olam olam covenant between Israel and Yahweh (Exod 31:17); the promise of the land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was olam olam (Exod 32:13); Aaron’s priesthood and his seed were to be priest ‘forever’ (Exod 40:15); burnt offerings were to be olam olam (Lev 6:22). Since all of these promises have now ceased (eg the burnt offerings at 7AD), we can see that olam olam was not ‘forever’ but ‘until the end of an age.’ So ‘forever’ is misleading. It means ‘to the end of the age,’ an age which has now passed.
There is more than one age. There are Hebrew passages which talk of Yahweh’s character being “olam olam to olam olam.” That is, His person exists through ages, unlike the covenants He has made with His people, all of which His people broke at one time or another. For example, “Blessed Yahweh, the God of Israel, from olam olamtoolam olam.”(Ps 41:13)
In the New Testament we read of different ages too. "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this aion (age)nor theaion (age) to come." (Math 13:32) If the age to come is post-resurrection and there is no sin in the new heaven and new earth, then how could this text make sense? It makes sense because the age of the Jews has finished and we’re now in the age of the gentiles – in both blasphemy is possible.
Jesus was dead but is alive to the end of the ages (plural.) Rev 1:18 "I am the living one. I became dead and behold I am alive ein aion aion."
We know one age has passed from texts like Math 24:34 “Truly I say to you, This genea (generation) shall not pass until all these things are ginomai (finished.)”. The word “genea” throughout the New Testament means ‘one generation,’ not a race of people. For example, Math 1:17 “All the genea from Abraham to David.” A very significant thing happened with this generation of Jews - significant firstly because it was the generation Jesus chose to be born into and secondly because it was the end of an age. Many things (“all these things”) were going to happen between the time of the resurrection and before the generation had died. An age would pass in the process.
The harvest Jesus spoke about was to happen at the “very end of the age” (Math 13:39) The tares would be burned in the fire during this time. (Math 13:40) A great fire swept through Jerusalem during its destruction in 70AD and all Jews in the city perished. It’s believed there may have been more than half a million people in the city at the time for the Passover, trapped by the attacking Romans outside. (See below.)
In Math 10:22 Jesus said “Whoever endures to the end (telos) will be saved.” The ‘end’ is the coming (erchomai) of Jesus before they have finished preaching to all the cities of Israel. (V23) Here again we see the end of an age. Before the disciples have finished preaching, Jesus will have come (on the clouds.)
Some passages are hard to understand until you examine the context more closely. Jesus said to Martha John 11:25-26. "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall not ein aion (to the end of the age) die." But when you look closely at the text, it makes sense. First Jesus says “If you believe in Me even if you die, you shall live.” The next verse (v26) follows on directly from the first so that those brought back to life are the ones being referred to “who live.” So he will resurrect some who die prior to the end of the age. These ones who then live (again) and believe will not die before the end of the age. Lazarus would come into that category, given that the end of the age is in roughly 40 years. (In John 6:51 Jesus says to the unbelieving Jewish leaders that if they eat His bread, they will live to the end of the age. The text in John 11 qualifies this when he addresses his believing disciples.)
What about Jesus being with his disciples to the end of the age? "Behold, I am with (accompanying) you always (everyday) until the sunteleia (utter end)of the aion (age).” Math 28:19-20 The text in Math 28 was specifically to the 11 apostles. With his life (Holy Spirit) inside them, these disciples had Jesus’ special companionship with them all through their ministry and suffering until the end of that age. Then they went to heaven to reign with Jesus there (a 12th added in Acts 1) as 12 judges over 12 tribes.
There are various “ends” associated with the end of this age.
First is the end of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth as prophesied by scripture. “Jesus loved his disciples to the end (telos).” (John 13:1) “After this, knowing that everything was now teleos (finished/completed), that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst." (John 19:28) Everything prophesied about the ministry of Jesus the Messiah was now complete as he died on the cross. Paul said that Moses veiled his face to stop the Israelites from seeing the completion of the Law in Christ. (2 Cor 3:13)
Second is the end when Jesus comes in the clouds & delivers the kingdom to God when all powers have been overcome & death rendered idle. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations. And then the telos shall come…. Shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds.” (Math 24:14, 30) “Made alive, they who are Christ's at His parousia (presence); then is the telos (end) when He delivers the kingdom to God.” (I Cor 15:23-24)
Third is the end for the disciples of Jesus’ generation. Jesus said to them, “Whoever endures to the telos (end) will be saved.” (Math 10:22) In its context this primarily refers to the end of their physical lives, but given that some in their generation would see Christ returning in power, the end also refers to His coming on the clouds. Moreover, by their enduring in His works to the end, the disciples would receive power over nations. (Rev 2:26)
Fourth was the imminent end of the age of the Old Covenant with Israel. “And all these things happened to them as examples, and it is written for our warning on whom the telos (end) of the aion (age) has come.” (1 Cor 10:11) A clear reference by Paul to the end of an age – “has come.” Also Peter (I Pet 4:7) writing about 64AD said, “But the telos (end) of all things has eggizo (drawn near).” Jesus’ appearing (v13) was fast approaching. Peter saw the end in view. It was imminent.
V. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He was grieving its future destruction, judgement & the end of that age.
As Jesus looked over Jerusalem from Mt Olives, He wept (Luke 19:41) because He saw in the Spirit what was going to happen to the city exactly 40 years later, at a subsequent Passover.
In April 70AD when Jerusalem was full of Passover visitors and residents (numbering 600,000 to 1 million people), Roman General Titus surrounded Jerusalem with his 10th legion on Mt Olives and 12th & 15th legions on Mt Scopus, and began a long siege of the city. The Romans battered the walls and entered the city on May 25th. The inner fortress fell on July 22nd. On Aug 10th they broke into the Temple and destroyed it by fire, breaking down all the temple walls to get the melting gold inside. The temple fell on exactly the same day it had fallen during the Babylonian siege – Aug 10th, 586 BC. The siege ended on Sept 26th after 143 days. (See Josephus’ Wars of the Jews Ant. b. xx. c. 11. s. 8.)
All the visitors and inhabitants of Jerusalem died in 70AD during this siege mostly from starvation and disease but also by the sword during the fighting. From Jerusalem the Romans marched to Caesarea on the Mediterranean where they slaughtered many more Jews. Jews in other towns were killed too. In 73AD Massada fell with all the Jews there committing suicide before the Romans entered. About 90,000 Jews were taken captive as slaves and sent throughout the Roman world. (Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and destroyed Pompeii.)
Why had Rome done this? In 66AD the Jewish Zealots had led a rebellion against Roman rule under Caligula. Why had they rebelled against Caligula? Because he had ordered his image statue to be set up in the temple of God but the Jews had refused. This had led to the killing of 20,000 Jews in Caesarea which led to the Jews destroying many Syrian cities (Lebanese) which led to the Syrians retaliating against Jews in their cities and over100,000 Jews were killed. These were some of the events leading up to 70AD. Wars and rumours of wars were common at this period. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for all these things must occur; but the end is not yet.” (Math 24:6)
In 67AD the Romans attempted to take Jerusalem but failed. This was a sign for the saints in Christ to leave the city. Luke 21:20 “When you see Jerusalem encircled by its enemies, flee.”
Primarily the nation of Israel fell because it was Yahweh’s ultimate judgement on Israel. Jerusalem’s capture happened exactly 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus – 30AD to 70AD.
Jesus had predicted 40 years earlier when He wept over the city, that Jerusalem would be surrounded with a mound that would be thrown against its walls (Luke 19:43). The walls were almost 5 miles in circumference with 13 castle towers. Josephus tells us that Titus built a mound against the walls of the city around its entire circumference to keep the Jews inside.
In the years immediately before 70AD, a number of signs appeared in the heavens forecasting a grim future. "A star,” reported Josephus, “resembling a sword, stood over the city, and a comet that continued a whole year. At the feast of unleavened bread, during the night, a bright light shone round the altar and the temple, so that it seemed to be bright day, for half an hour. The eastern gate of the temple, of solid brass, fastened with strong bolts and bars, and which had been shut with difficulty by twenty men, opened in the night of its own accord. A few days after that feast, before sunset, there were seen over all the country, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour fighting in the clouds, and besieging cities." Jesus prophesied of this time: "Fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." (Luke 21:11)
Josephus and Tacitus both report another sign. “Four years before the war began, Jesus the son of Ananus, a plebian and a husbandman, came to the feast of the tabernacles when the city (Jerusalem) was in peace and prosperity, and began to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegroom and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" He was scourged, and at every stroke of the whip he cried, "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!" This cry continued every day, until he was killed in the siege of the city, exclaiming, "Woe, woe to myself also!" (Josephus: Jewish Wars, b. 6 chapter 9, section 3.)
Jesus continues: “For many will come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and will deceive many.” (Math 24:5) What false Christs appeared between 30-70AD? Josephus informs us that there were many who pretended to have divine inspiration & who deceived the people, leading out numbers of them into the desert. He says, "The land was overrun with magicians, seducers and impostors, who drew the people after them in multitudes into solitudes and deserts, to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God." Among these are mentioned particularly Dositheus the Samaritan, who affirmed that He was Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-10) who said He appeared among the Jews as the Son of God; and Theudas (in 42AD – Acts 5:36) who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan where he would divide the waters. An Egyptian false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by Felix. Under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea, impostors of Christ were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost every day (Josephus: Ant. b xx. c 4. and 7.)
Rev 13:18 records the number of the beast being 666. Nero ruled Rome from 54Ad to 68AD (when he committed suicide) and persecuted the Jews from 64AD. The gematria of his Hebrew name nrwn qsr totals 666. Jews and Christians would have clearly seen Nero as the beast. Hence Revelation must have been written prior to 68AD when Nero died.
VI The New Testament books were all completed by 70AD.
VII Who is the “YOU” in the Servant passages in Isaiah 40-57 (which Paul quotes in Rom 15:21)?
The whole context is Jacob/Israel, and more specifically here, those from the tribe of Judah, including Jerusalem.
Isa 40:9 “Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God.’” It will be 144,000 from the cities of Judah who become His first-fruits and serve Him in Heaven’s temple. He is preparing them even then for this future task.
What does the God of Israel think of the Gentile nations? Isa 40:17 “All nations/gentiles before Him are as nothing… less than nothing and worthless.” In contrast to “His flock” (v9-11).
Isa 48:1 “Hear O house of Jacob. Isa 48:12 “Listen O Jacob and Israel, My called: I am He, the First and the Last.”
Thus Israel is His called. (Note Acts 2:39 “As many as the Lord our God will call.”) So when he talks about the earth and heavens in Isa 48:13 he is talking about Israel, not other races. And when he talks about “all of you” in v14, this is all Israel, not other races. How do we know? Because he goes back to “the called” in v15 which is Israel (v12.)
Also he mentions Abraham, their father. Isa 41:8 “Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You I have taken from the ends of the earth/land and called from its farthest regions.” Isa 51:2 “Look to Abraham your father… for Yahweh will comfort Zion… (Note Acts 7:2 Stephen says immediately prior to his death “The God of Glory appeared to our father Abraham… v8 and Jacob begot the 12 patriarchs… v15 Our fathers…)
Other names of God related to Israel. 51:15 I am the Lord your God who divided the sea… 54:5 “For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts, your Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel. He is called the God of the whole earth/land…”
Note too the emphasis on keeping the Sabbath for the YOU. Isa 56:6 “Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbaths and holds fast My covenant” will I bring to My holy mountain. 58:13 “Call the Sabbath a delight.” The Jews have kept the Sabbath from the beginning which has pleased Yahweh very much.
VIII When it says “all people” in the Bible, does it always mean all people on the globe? Never. It’s always dependent on the context. In Isa 40:1 Yahweh is speaking to Jerusalem about her judgement being finished and then says in v5 “And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed (to Jerusalem) and all flesh shall see it together.” All flesh here means all the people of Jerusalem.
Peter quotes Joel in Acts 2:17-21 “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/daughters/young men/old men/My male and female servants...” First we note that the recipients are YOUR and MY. Who is Joel referring to? Joel 2:28-29 is the reference. Now interestingly, Peter’s quote leaves out the last sentence of the Joel prophecy. Joel adds in 2:32 “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
The latter part is very important. It shows that the context is not worldwide. It is precisely for Jerusalem.
Now let’s go back to the verses preceding Joel 2:28 to get the context. V27 “Then you shall know I am in the midst of Israel.” V23 “Children of Zion.” V18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land (interestingly translated land here when it is erets.) & pity His people.” The people Israel.
So the whole context of Acts 2:17 is Israel and Jerusalem in particular and the Lord’s people there. It is not all the people worldwide. It is specifically His people in Judah. And Joel 2:32 confirms this – deliverance is for the remnant of Jerusalem.
Hence it is the relations/servants of redeemed Jerusalem upon whom the Holy Spirit would be poured out. Not on anyone else.
Many of the people of Judah were scattered in different Gentile nations at this time (Joel 3:1-2). Just as they were in Acts 2:5 when “devout Jews came from every nation under heaven.” (having come for the Festival of Pentecost.)
More to come…