August 25, 2020 – Tuesday
Matthew 24:21-27 NIV
21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
There is so much in these eight verses there needs to be a short overview even though our focus is really on verse 23. The fall of Israel, especially of Jerusalem, was so terrible many thought these verses applied to that event. And perhaps they do in the sense of a wheel within a wheel. What is meant by that? Simply that the fall of Jerusalem, as horrendous as it was, was only a forerunner of what is to come in the end times spoken of in the book of Daniel and by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation.
How bad was it after the fall of Jerusalem? Here is a small excerpt, a fuller account may be read here, Around the walls, there were gruesome scenes that must have resembled hell on earth. Thousands of bodies putrefied in the sun. The stench was unbearable. Packs of dogs and jackals feasted on human flesh. In the preceding months, Titus had ordered all prisoners or defectors to be crucified. Five hundred Jews were crucified each day. According to Josephus over one million Jews were killed with some saying over a million were crucified, but this must be an exaggeration due to the number of trees that would have been required.
But back to our verses. We know this was not the time Jesus was speaking of, the fall of Jerusalem, for there was no one saying to others ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ When the end times do come there will be many who will pose as the Messiah. There will be false messiahs or as Jesus tells us if someone says He is here, do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (emphasis added)
How are we to know when the real Jesus has arrived? Jesus provides the answer, For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
When He arrives like lightening, there will be no question about who He is. Everyone will know. The Expositor’s Greek Testament adds, the coming of the true Messiah, identified with the Son of Man, compared to the lightning, to suggest a contrast between Him and the false Christs as to visibility, and enforce the counsel to pay no heed to those who say: He is here, or He is there.
This really makes sense when we consider Christ’s transfiguration in Matthew 17:2 His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. And His description in Revelation 1:14, The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. Like John, Daniel in chapter 10:5-6 also had a vison of Christ, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches … .
With these descriptions in mind, we know what to expect when we see Him and what to believe and what not to believe. Our faith and the written word of God will lead us.