Matthew 24:1-14 Part 5

Until now we’ve been working through what Jesus said to His disciples with regard to the frightening phenomena to be observed and experienced by “this generation” in advance of His consummation of the age.  Included in those phenomena are false christs who would deceive many, great violence and battles (as nations and kingdoms clash worldwide), famines, and shaking – (seismos) earthquakes.  And should you read the histories of the time, all those things did take place in abundance (not that history books confirm Scripture, but upon having been written correctly a history book would fit in with it.  In fact, a writer of history ought to be judged by the historical context of Scripture!).

Jesus commanded His disciples to open their eyes (both physical eyes and their understanding) in order that they not be frightened or anxious about all of that; because, in the Providence of God it was necessary to be; and it was just “beginning of travails” – the starting labor of the birth of a new age and a new covenant and a new “heaven and earth.”

The disciples themselves would be severely persecuted by Judaizers everywhere they went. (which we know did happen – from reading the apostle’s letters to the Churches and Luke’s Acts of the apostles.)  (They were humiliated, falsely accused, thrown out of synagogues, stoned, beaten, and killed.)  We are reminded here of the warning they received from Jesus back in chapter ten concerning the things they would find and the things that would happen to them in searching the country for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  I’ll refer back to that shortly.

But, as we go on to verses ten, eleven and twelve, Jesus now relates to the disciples, in prophetic language, the aggravated, chaotic conditions in Israel, which would continue to intensify as the “end” came nearer.  Let’s read that once more:

“And then many shall be entrapped, and they shall deliver one another and kill one another; and many false prophets shall be raised up, and they shall deceive many; and because of the lawlessness to be multiplied, the love of many shall be caused to expire.”

Now, this is a further description of a very, very intense situation building within Israel and Jerusalem (all prophesied in the Old Testament – some of which I’ll read for you in a few minutes) in which the depraved condition of the nation reaches its lowest point.

And as we read these words of our Lord we are immediately drawn to this word “entrapment” which we’ve already seen a number of times before.  It is “skandalizo.”  And, as before, we are driven to Isaiah chapter eight which is the prime prophetic passage having to do with Israel’s entrapment and crushing upon the Rock which is Christ the Messiah!  Listen:


“And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a trap and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.”


And here the prophet Isaiah prophesies the aggravated activity of false prophets during this time…


“and when they shall say unto you, ‘Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that whisper and that mutter’ – should not a people seek unto their God?  for the living to the dead?!!!  To the Law and to the testimony:  if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them!!!

“And they shall pass through it, in trouble and hungry; and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves and curse their king and their God, and look upward.  And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness….” (This is always the course when people listen to false prophets.)


And then, using all the words recorded in Scripture concerning the creation of the universe, Isaiah describes the day by day disintegration of the Old Covenant nation (Isaiah twenty-four) as God brings the sanctions of the Covenant against her and decreates her.  And it all begins with her entrapment and crushing upon the Rock which is Christ, back in chapter eight!

Now, the reason that all of this is so astonishing is because there seems to be this mass “delusion” whereby an entire nation was entrapped!  Although they were supposedly the ones perpetrating the hoax (being wolves in sheep’s clothing), they, themselves were the ones caught in the snare!  (And we also can say that there is still mass self-delusion about all these things even today!)

And all this occurred even though it is so clearly described by the apostles of Christ (in the Revelation and in the letters of the apostles), and by Jesus before them, and by the prophets of God before Him, and by Moses before them!

The incredulity and blindness and self-delusion is incredibly astonishing – in the light of a flood of promises and warnings from God in the very Scriptures that were entrusted, from the beginning, to this people!  In clear and specific language from Moses (concerning whom they were the purported experts) they were warned about exactly what would happen to them; and the prophets picked up the same, explicit language as they called Israel to repentance!

Now, concerning these three verses in which Jesus describes the awful conditions in Israel and Jerusalem (blindness, deception, betrayal of family and friends, hatred, and lawlessness), I want to read Moses’ warning to Israel about what would happen to them should they not obey God.  (This is a more lengthy passage, but it’s extremely interesting.  So please pay close attention to all the words and refuse to let your mind stray away.)  This is part of Deuteronomy chapter twenty-eight.

(After Moses relates the pestilence and famine and disease and economic disaster, he says this:) 


“And all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue you, and shall overtake you until He shall have consumed you; and until He shall have destroyed you; because you did not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commands and His ordinances which He commanded you.  And these things shall be signs in you and wonders among your seed for ever….

“And you shall serve your enemies which the Lord will send forth against you, in hunger and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in the want of all things; and you shall wear upon your neck a yoke of iron until He shall have destroyed you.  The Lord shall bring upon you a nation from the extremity of the earth, like the swift flying of an eagle – a nation whose voice you shall not understand; a nation bold in countenance, which shall not respect the person of the aged and shall not pity the young.  And it shall eat up the young of your cattle and the fruits of your land, so as not to leave you corn, wine, oil, oxen and sheep; until it shall have destroyed you; and shall have utterly crushed you in your cities, until the high and strong walls be destroyed in which you trust in all your land; and it shall afflict you in your cities which (God) has given to you.  And you shall eat the fruit of your body – the flesh of your sons and your daughters – all that he has given you, in your straitness and your affliction….

“He that is tender and very delicate within you shall look with an evil eye upon his brother and the wife in his bosom and the children that are left….

“And she who is tender and delicate among you, whose foot has not assayed to go upon the earth because of delicacy and tenderness, shall look with an evil eye on her husband in her bosom and her son and her daughter; and her offspring that comes out between her feet – the child which she shall bear, she shall eat them because of the want of all things… and in your affliction with which your enemy shall afflict you in your cities.

“If you will not hearken to do all the words of this Law, which have been written in this book, to fear this glorious and wonderful Name – “the Lord your God’ – then the Lord shall magnify your plagues and the plagues of your seed (great and wonderful plagues and evil and abiding diseases).  And He shall bring upon you all the evil pain of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they shall cleave to you.  And the Lord shall bring upon you every sickness and every plague that is not written, and written, in the book of this Law, until He shall have destroyed you.  And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the sky in multitude; because you did not hearken to the voice of the Lord your God.

“And it shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you; and you shall be quickly removed from the land….  And the Lord your God shall scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to another….

“Behold, I have set before you this day life and death, good and evil.  If you will hearken to the commands of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His ordinances, and His judgments, then you shall live, and shall be many in number, and the Lord your God shall bless you in all the land into which you go to inherit it.  But if your heart change, and you will not hearken and you go astray and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day that you shall utterly perish….”


There shall be famines, and disease, and warfare, and kingdom against kingdom, and great creation phenomena, and multiplying lawlessness, and hatred and betrayal even within families, and cannibalism, and great deception from false prophets and teachers who raise themselves up on the name of God’s Anointed and who entrap many in apostate doctrine.

It is Israel to whom Moses is speaking; and it is Israel (and Jerusalem) about to be abandoned and left a wilderness in which there is free demonic lawlessness!  As Jesus says (in verses ten, eleven and twelve of our text), there is about to be deception, and entrapment, and abatement of love (hatred), and betrayal (delivering one another – i.e. to penal sanctions and death), and killing one another – a multiplication of lawlessness!  All preludes to (as Moses said) to God’s rejoicing in destroying Israel for her rebellion.

Now, unbelief and rebellion against God always ends in delusion, despair and barrenness, and (finally) death.  I want to look at these things, just for a minute or two, from the standpoint of the absolute Truth that’s here for all ages to see and understand.

Although what transpired in Israel, leading up to and including 70 AD, stands as a singular event in all of history (never to be repeated), there are things here that we can’t avoid, because these things occurred (as Paul said) for our benefit!  Therefore we must examine them for our sanctification.

God’s Word is forever “settled in the Heavens” (according to the Psalmist).  Therefore there is no Truth anywhere else.  Those who think otherwise (according to Paul in Galatians three) are “bewitched.”  And “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

There is a clear rendering here, by our Lord Jesus Christ, of the ill effects of unbelief and rebellion against God and His Word.  People first become “entrapped” into apostasy.  It’s strange, but it’s not new.  Some who have known the “way of righteousness” turn aside!  By suffering, by persecution, by strange teaching (the philosophies of men) or by a “shaking” event of some kind.  They are deserters.  The apostle John says of them:  “they were with us, but they were not of us.”  Religion is okay to them while it’s “cheap.”  But under some circumstances, when there is a “cost,” it will be quickly abandoned.

And then there is lawlessness.  Now, the world order always exhibits lawlessness.  And it will until the King completes putting it all under His feet!  With regard to Israel, it did abound in a special manner.  That was no ordinary abundance of lawlessness.  Hell seemed to break loose and inhabit Jerusalem in great blasphemies and evil and violence.  Faction was raised up against faction; roving bands plundered and killed; families and friends hated each other and brought false witness against each other (as Jesus said, verse ten, they would deliver one another).  The land abounded in suicides and rapes and cannibalism and intrigue and licentious behavior.  And life becomes of no value to those in unbelief and rebellion.  Paganism is barren; and the sum of it is to despise life.  And its only comfort is to take it away – in others… or in self.

Then Jesus says there will be great deceptions – false prophets.  This is different from the false christs up in verse five.  Those were impostors of the “anointed of God.”  But these are people who have elevated themselves, and who lure other people away with high sounding words and false doctrine.  And the world is seemingly besieged constantly with these who preach and witness and vigorously proclaim that which is untrue.  And people who are troubled and anxious are easily deceived by babblers and seers and mystics and magicians who seize upon their victims and lure them away.  (Especially in their most needy and vulnerable times.)

And when they are lured away, their love expires, and they betray, in hatred, those with whom they were associated before.  Now, true and serious Godliness is summed up in love for one another in the faith.  But when there is entrapment and lawlessness and deception, passions are inflamed; affections are alienated; and the former love comes to nothing.  And betrayal is accomplished for the sake of the deception!  Apostates and deserters are the most bitter haters and the most accomplished betrayers!  “Brother shall deliver brother to death,” says Jesus to His disciples in chapter ten verse twenty-one!  Those who are in rebellion and lawlessness desert; and then they hate and betray those who still adhere to the former life!  They throw off the disguise and become fully involved in the secrecy and the intrigue and the delusion; and enmity and malice are strangely diffused into their minds – almost by contagion.  And they consume and “eat up” those with whom they formerly had a relationship:  both family and friends!

Now, these are the things that Jesus told His disciples concerning the things that would be happening in Israel and Jerusalem.  It is the nature of those entrapped upon the Rock which is Christ.  Fear and anxiety and despair and deception and hatred and betrayal and devaluing of life!  In bondage – no liberty in the resurrected Christ!

When the end of the age was coming to pass, there was truly a Satanic uprising as the Revelation of Ezekiel and St. John reveal – the phenomenon of eschatological events reflected in demonic activity – a “loosing” of Satan from the bowels of hell!  It was a rampage of Satanic activity.

Far be it from me to explain that phenomenon fully.  Israel, as the consummation of the age neared, became a wilderness inhabited freely by demons!  But our Lord cast demons out of cities and persons; and Scripture says that He “chained” Satan, by His resurrection out of death, from impeding the Church from its assigned mission in the Holy Spirit!  And in commanding that mission, the Lord promised that He would be with us throughout!

Now, there is no imminent eschatological event today!  There is a general decline and falling away due to sin and depravity – something that has taken place time and again through history.  It’s nothing new.

And whatever relationship there was between hyper-demonic activity and the eschatological “end of the age” is certainly not the case now!  As I said, there is no imminent eschatological event!

By His crucifixion and resurrection, and by His establishment of His Church, and by His Parousia and consummation of the age, Jesus Christ inaugurated a New Covenant Age – the Gospel Age – which will reach its fullness only when what we’ve been commanded to do has been done!  And that is to disciple the nations, teaching them to obey the King!

So sin and unbelief and self-willed lawlessness can’t be equated with, and justified by, eschatologically inspired demonic activity!  It is not the case.  There is no eschatological event imminent!

But I’ll tell you what….  The Church and Christ’s people are still hated out there in many places.  (Jesus warned His disciples of that in verse nine here.)  There is still suffering and persecution of Christ and His newborns.  And there are those who are entrapped by that into apostasy.  And, as Jesus said back in chapter eighteen, “it is necessary, but woe to that one who entraps one of these little ones….”

But it is that one who perseveres to the completion – to the end – who will be saved.  Perseverance.  Unmoved by any of these things.  Staying in the faith… holding fast to the Rock which is Christ, in the power of His resurrection.

We’ll have a further translation here in chapter twenty-four next time; and we’ll finish verses thirteen and fourteen on that occasion.