We have two concluding comments on Matthew 23:37–39 before we study chapter 24. First, verse 38 is in the present tense in the original Greek, which is a way biblical authors often make statements of certainty. The desolation of Jerusalem’s house — the temple — is sure to come. Secondly, verse 39 might indicate that this event is not God’s final word on the nation that has rejected His Son. On the one hand, Jesus’ promise that the city will not see Him again until it says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” may mean that the Jews who have rejected Him will bow to Him as King of kings when He returns, just like every other person who has denied Him (Phil. 2:5–11). Of course, only those who have received Him before His return will be saved, Jew and Gentile alike. On the other hand, the “Blessed is he” of Matthew 23:39 could be Jerusalem’s future confession of faith in Jesus. This would imply that a great many Jews will trust Christ right before His return in glory (see Rom. 11).
Matthew 23 ends with our Lord’s lament over Jerusalem due to the judgment it will soon feel. Chapter 24 depicts this judgment, beginning with a description of Jesus’ travels. Jesus has been teaching in the temple (21:23–23:39), when He then heads for the Mount of Olives (24:1–3). This is significant because the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of God leave the temple and go east to a mountain — the Mount of Olives (11:22–12:28) — right before the Babylonians decimated Jerusalem in 586 b.c. Yahweh’s glory, John MacArthur writes, took “exactly the same route Christ follows” in Matthew 24:1–3 (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,170). Before Babylon destroyed the first Jewish temple, God’s glory left. Now Jesus, the glory of God (James 2:1), leaves the second Jewish temple, revealing to those with eyes to see that its grandeur will soon end.
The disciples again prove that even they do not understand all that Jesus has said and done, pointing out the beauty and size of the temple to our Lord (Matt. 24:1). But this physical structure will soon be replaced by Christ as the center of true religion (Rev. 21:22), a fact He brings to light when He predicts the end of the temple (Matt. 24:2), something unthinkable to the Jews of His day.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
It is a terrible thing to think that the Lord can become so fed up with those who claim to be His servants that He departs from their presence. God sometimes seems absent to us because we have grieved Him (Zech. 1:3). If you feel as if the Lord is far from you this day, consider whether there is unconfessed sin in your life. If we feel as though God is absent, this does not necessarily mean we are being disciplined, but it is a possibility we should consider.
For further study:
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For the weekend: