Jesus’ disciples have come to Him on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem overlooking the city and the temple mount and asked Him what sign would precede His coming in judgment that would result in the destruction of the temple and mark the end of the Jewish age. The first thing He noted and will repeat two more times was a warning that they not be deceived by false Christs and false prophets who would arise to mislead many by appealing to people’s carnal desires for a worldly leader who would deliver them from their earthly oppressions. It was for this very reason that they had rejected the true Christ, Jesus, and He rightly understood man’s fallen nature and how tempting those antichrist’s promises would be even to His disciples. He also knew that sin was the ultimate cause of all man’s earthly oppressions, and there can never be any lasting peace and true salvation apart from the salvation from sin provided by Him who takes away the sin of the world.
What was the next sign that He gave? See Mat 24:6. Although as Americans we are safely protected from the turmoil in other parts of the world by oceans on either side and the strongest military force in the history of the world, what has been the natural response of most people throughout history when they hear of wars and rumors of wars that could engulf them? See Jer 4:19-21,29, 6:22-26, 8:16, Amos 3:6; cf. Dan 7:15, 28, 8:27. Cf. also Josephus’ description in Jwr 3:532-542 of what happens even to those who disagree with those fomenting war but are consequently caught up with the vanquished.
What instruction does Jesus give to His disciples about the wars and rumors of wars that would arise and reach their ears? See Mat 24:6, and note that the NAS “frightened” means “troubled” (KJV), “alarmed” (NET); see 2Th 2:2 in a similar context where the same word is translated “disturbed” and parallel to “shaken from your composure”. In what sense are we to “see” so as to not be frightened? See Mat 13:13-14. What is it that we are to see that allows God’s people to maintain their composure and not be alarmed by such things? Cf. Psa 27:1-3,14, 46:1, 112:7, Isa 8:12-14, Hab 3:16-19.
Why does Jesus say in Mat 24:6 that his followers should not be frightened or disturbed by the wars and rumors of wars of which they were about to begin hearing? If such things must take place before the coming of the Lord and God’s people are disturbed at just the report of them, will they be able to stand before Son of Man when He actually arrives in judgment upon the wicked? Cf. Luk 21:34-36. What does this remind us about the need to both be courageous and prepare ourselves in righteousness and holiness for the coming day of the Lord? See 1Co 16:13, 2Pe 3:11; cf. Isa 13:3-13, Eze 13:5, 30:3, Joel 1:15, 2:1-2,11-13, Amos 5:18-20, Zep 1:14-16 and think: in what way do righteousness and holiness alone prepare us to stand in that day? Cf. Pro 10:25. What is it exactly that makes it necessary for the wars to take place that Jesus predicts? See Mat 23:37-38, 24:2, and the entire context of the Jewish nation’s rejection of her Messiah, the Prince of Peace, and His salvation from sin that alone makes for peace, which is also a type of the even greater and more wholesale rejection of Christ’s salvation by all nations in this present Church age; cf. 2Th 2:1-3, 2Ti 4:3. What does this help us to understand about the way that God may use war to sift and destroy the wicked when He comes in judgment for the salvation of His people? See note.
Although war is among the most destructive forces to mankind and its ravages justly feared as an “end” to many things as people know them, does Jesus say that the frightening wars His disciples shall hear of and that will threaten to engulf them will be the end? Cf. Luk 21:9. What does He say in Mat 24:7 to explain why not, and that further expounds upon the wars that will precede His coming? In what way is nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, a natural consequence of people rejecting the Prince of Peace who came to save them from their sins? Cf. 2Ch 15:3-6, Mat 5:38-45, 7:12.
1. The Jewish War 3:532-542 532 After this fight [at Taricheae] was over, Vespasian sat upon his tribunal at Taricheae, in order to distinguish the foreigners from the old inhabitants; for those foreigners appear to have begun the war. So he deliberated with the other commanders, whether he ought to save those old inhabitants or not. 533 And when those commanders alleged that the dismissal of them would be to his own disadvantage, because, when they were once set at liberty, they would not be at rest, since they would be people destitute of proper habitations, and would be able to compel such as they fled to fight against us, 534 Vespasian acknowledged that they did not deserve to be saved, and that if they were allowed to flee away, they would make use of it against those who gave them that permission. But still he considered with himself after what manner they should be slain; 535 for if he had them slain there, he suspected the people of the country would thereby become his enemies; for that to be sure they would never bear it, that so many that had been supplicants to him should be killed; and to offer violence to them, after he had given them assurances of their lives, he could not himself bear to do it. 536 However, his friends were too hard for him, and pretended that nothing against Jews could be any impiety, and that he ought to prefer what was profitable before what was fit to be done, where both could not be made consistent. [I.e., in times of war when hard choices have to be made, the way of the world is to choose that which is to one’s advantage over justice and truth.] 537 So he gave them an ambiguous liberty to do as they advised, and permitted the prisoners to go along no other road than that which led to Tiberias only. 538 So they readily believed what they desired to be true, and went along securely, with their effects, the way which was allowed them, while the Romans seized upon all the road that led to Tiberias, that none of them might go out of it, and shut them up in the city. 539 Then came Vespasian, and ordered them all to stand in the stadium, and commanded them to kill the old men, together with the others that were useless, which were in number a thousand and two hundred. 540 Out of the young men he chose six thousand of the strongest, and sent them to Nero, to dig through the Isthmus [of Corinth], and sold the remainder for slaves, being thirty thousand and four hundred, besides such as he made a present of to Agrippa; 541 for as to those who belonged to his kingdom, he gave him permission to do what he pleased with them; however, the king sold these also for slaves; 542 but for the rest of the multitude, who were Trachonites, and Gaulanites, and of Hippos, and some of Gadara, the greatest part of them were seditious persons and fugitives, who were of such shameful characters, that they preferred war before peace. These prisoners were taken on the eighth day of the month of Gorpiaios [Elul].↩
2. The old house must be taken down (though it cannot be done without noise, and dust, and danger), ere the new fabric can be erected: the things that are shaken (and ill shaken they were) must be removed, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain, (Heb 12:27). Matthew Henry.↩