Sermon: The Eternal Word Matthew 24:29-35

Truth Taught- Jesus challenges his followers to realize that His Words have authority and are eternal

Introduction

For the last two weeks we have been looking at Jesus’ warning to His disciples concerning the fall of the great city, Jerusalem and the unstoppable destruction of the Temple.  These events were going to take place, there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.  Jesus had declared the woe judgement on the City, the Temple and the leadership.  He left the Temple declaring it to be desolate followed by His disciples they made their way to the Mount of Olives.  Here, the disciples ask Jesus two important questions…

Matthew 24:3 (ESV) 

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?” 

Jesus answers their first question by explaining the complete certainty of the fall of both the city and the Temple.  He told them not be deceived by those who come with promises of deliverance, namely, false Christs and false prophets.  Believe none of these false prophets; those who say the time is sooner than it really was by claiming that natural disasters would be markers.  He told them there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and other events that some could use as false alarms of the fall of the city and Temple.  He told them not to be taken in by these false claims. 


Then our Lord told His disciples the two markers to watch for…First, that the known world would be evangelized.  He did not mean that the known world would all be Christian but that the Gospel of the Kingdom would go to all the known world during that generation.   We saw through the ministry of the Apostle Paul that this did, in fact take place as Jesus said… 

Colossians 1:4–6 (ESV) 

since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 

Romans 16:26 (ESV) 

26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 


Paul speaks of his ministry as encompassing the whole world.  The same word Jesus uses. 
Our Lord told His disciples that when that takes place, the end of the Temple and the City is near. 
Then, He also told them that there would be a second marker and when they see it, they are to drop everything and flee the city.  He said when they see the…

Matthew 24:15–16 (ESV) 

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 

After this unmistakable sign, there is another event that will take place.  This event takes place immediately after the fall of the City and the destruction of the Temple.  It will last until the return of Christ.  This event is the ingathering of God’s people through the ages and then Christ will return.  

Our Lord wanted to make sure His initial disciples did not make the mistake and confuse these two events.  The Temple would be destroyed but that does not mean His 2nd coming would immediately follow.    


There are, of course, many end times systems.  As stated before, my goal is to simply look at the Scripture and not look to systems.  I also realize the last two messages have been somewhat technical and yet we must seek to understand what Jesus told His early followers because coming up next week, Lord willing, we will see what He tells us concerning His return and the end of the age. 

Bear with me, I understand the passage we are going to read today seems like at first reading it should go with the Apostles’ second question.  However, it is still part of Jesus’ answer to their first question concerning the destruction of the Temple and the fall of the City.   To understand, we must look to the OT. 

Prayer

Matthew 24:29–35 (ESV) 

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 

1.  Old Testament Language of Cosmic Collapse

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Here in this language and imagery we must be careful not to forget our normal method of biblical interpretation.  This is not the first time this imagery of cosmic disorder or cosmic collapse has been used in the Bible. 
There are two times when this prophetic language has been used to refer to God’s judgement on the nation of Israel.  This is very relevant for what Jesus is telling His followers regarding the coming judgment on the City.  

Very close to this is Jesus’ words that Heaven and Earth passing away but His Word will endure throughout all eternity.  The cosmos is something we are tempted to view as eternal but compared to God’s Word it is very temporary. 
The Israelites believed their City and Temple were enduring. And fixed.  They viewed the Old Covenant as permanent but Jesus has taught and will further teach that it’s the cross that begins the New Covenant…As He said…the NC in My blood.  So, Jerusalem as they knew it had to fall.  The Temple had to be removed to make way for the NC.

In the land of Israel during the Prophet Amos we read about the destruction of both Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel in terms of cosmic chaos or cosmic collapse.

Amos 8:9–10 (ESV) 

“And on that day,” declares the Lord God, 

“I will make the sun go down at noon 

and darken the earth in broad daylight. 

10  I will turn your feasts into mourning 

and all your songs into lamentation; 

I will bring sackcloth on every waist 

and baldness on every head; 

I will make it like the mourning for an only son 

and the end of it like a bitter day. 

The day of the Lord was a time greatly anticipated by the Israelites because they believed that God would then judge the nations and restore Israel to her former glory. Yet, said Joel, God would punish not only the nations but unfaithful Israel as well.

Joel 2:10–11 (ESV) 

10  The earth quakes before them; 

the heavens tremble. 

The sun and the moon are darkened, 

and the stars withdraw their shining. 

11  The Lord utters his voice 

before his army, 

for his camp is exceedingly great; 

he who executes his word is powerful. 

For the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; 

who can endure it? 

Jesus picks up on this pattern as He declares that God’s judgement is coming to the City of Jerusalem because they have rejected their Messiah and refused to repent. 
By using this type of language all who heard it that day would have quickly connected it to God’s coming judgement on His people.  It would take place in 70 AD.

2.  Jesus Applies the Language of Daniel Directly to Himself

30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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.

Jesus has already used the Book of Daniel in His prediction of the coming destruction of the City and the Temple.  

Matthew 24:15–16 (ESV) 

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 

Here He alludes to another verse from Daniel.  This time its…

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) 

13 “I saw in the night visions, 

and behold, with the clouds of heaven 

there came one like a son of man, 

and he came to the Ancient of Days 

and was presented before him. 

14  And to him was given dominion 

and glory and a kingdom, 

that all peoples, nations, and languages 

should serve him; 

his dominion is an everlasting dominion, 

which shall not pass away, 

and his kingdom one 

that shall not be destroyed. 

Here Jesus or as Daniel calls Him, the Son of Man is not coming from heaven to earth as many end times systems teach but is, in fact, going from earth to heaven.  It is after His work is completed and He returns to heaven that our Lord receives dominion and power.  So, Jesus coming on the clouds is His coming back to heaven to receive His reward for accomplishing the Father’s will perfectly.  

What is the sign that Jesus has received vindication?  What is the sign of the enthronement of the Son?  What is the sign that He has glory and honor due Him?  The Temple is destroyed.  All the tribes of Israel will mourn their great loss.  They have rejected their Messiah, they have murdered their Messiah, they have crucified their Messiah.  He had already passed judgment upon them.  For them, it’s all over.  No repentance and no salvation.  By our Lord’s language they knew that what was going to take place, namely the destruction of the Temple would be God’s hand of judgment just as Jesus warned.

Zechariah 12:10–14 (ESV) 

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves. 

3.  The King’s People are Gathered

31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 

The next step in Jesus’ vindication is that the Gospel message goes forth and through it, Jesus conquers evil powers, and saves the elect.  Glorification and enthronement are that the Gospel of the Kingdom goes out and He gathers His people from all tribes, nations and tongues.  

Those who are sent to preach and teach the good news go forth from one end to the other.  

Here the term angels is used.  However, angel comes from the Greek word that simply means messenger.  The gospel goes forth and the Lord’s elect are gathered. 
This is the time period in which we currently live.  This has been going on now for 2,000 years.  Beloved, we live in the days of the great ingathering of Jesus’ people.  Through the Gospel the King is gathering His people, making ready His return.

This verse again gets its true meaning from OT allusions.  This verse is OT language of ingathering of God’s people.  Jesus takes this language and applies it to the Church.

Deuteronomy 30:4 (ESV) 

If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 

Zechariah 2:6 (ESV) 

Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord. 

Zechariah 2:10–11 (ESV) 

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 

Isaiah 27:13 (ESV) 

13 And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. 

It is the New Covenant and the Gospel message that accomplishes the gathering of God’s elect from the four corners of the heavens.  It is the Gospel that is the trumpet blast that calls the King’s chosen to Himself.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that does what the OC and the Temple could never do.

The Apostle Paul used the same type of language when he wrote to the Church at Thessalonica…

1 Thessalonians 1:7–8 (ESV) 

so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 

The King is gathering His people together from all the earth. 

4.  A Parable to Explain the Coming Destruction

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Here, Jesus wants His people to understand that when they see the Abomination of Desolation that it’s like looking at the fig tree which is about to produce fruit on its new growth branches.  He tells them when you see new growth and new leaves on the fig tree, you know summer is near.  When you see the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple, you know the end is near.  It happened as Jesus said, within their generation.

5.  Jesus’ Words are Trustworthy and True 

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 

Children, do you know that the things you read about in the Bible are absolutely true?  These things are not made up or make believe.  There are things in the Bible that seem like special effects in a movie.  These are the things only God can do.  It’s so important to learn to read and read your Bibles every day to discover all the amazing things God has done.

To His followers this discourse concerning the destruction of all they knew to be their connection to God was really outside of their comprehension.  The Temple was seen as the symbol of their meeting with God.  To them, this was really equivalent with heaven and earth passing away.  Here Jesus is telling them that everything He has told them will outlast the Temple and Jerusalem.  Even Heaven and Earth are temporary when compared to Jesus’ Words.  

At the passing away of the Temple came the final fulfillment of the Old Covenant.  God was making ready for the NC. 


They were to be the evangelists of the Gospel.  They were to be the messengers with the New Covenant Gospel and through them and many others even to our day, Jesus would gather His elect.  

Conclusion

We are called to be the messengers of God’s Word.  We are called to share the Gospel with others.   Through us, the Gospel of the Kingdom must go forth.  This is the trumpet blast that God uses to gather the elect from the furthest reaches and corners of heaven.  This is the call that brings in God’s people from the four corners of the earth.

He was challenging His first followers to believe every Word He said to them.  Regardless how sensational and awesome His Words may have seemed to them; they were called to believe every Word Jesus spoke. 
We too are required to believe every Word spoken by Jesus.  We realize, some things are more difficult to comprehend than others.  We too are called to believe everything found in God’s Word.  Beloved everything, we see around us is temporary and passing away.  We too are called to see that the Word of God is trustworthy and true.  It is eternal and so is its authority.

Resources Used:

ESV Study Bible

Matthew by RT France

The Olivet Discourse by Sam Storms

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