Morning: Matt. 24:3; Noon: 2 Sam. 3:6-5:16; Evening: Psa. 67
It is the Bible question of all Bible questions, when will the end come and what will signal that the end is near? The Greek language had several words to desribe the close or the end of something, but in this context the disciples introduced a question that Matthew described them as asking about when the synteleia would occur. James Strongs, a Greek Scholar of his time, defined the synteleia as the “entire completion,” i.e. the “consummation” of a dispensation or age. This in itself does not necessarily imply that they are asking about the absolute end of ALL things universally. The Hebrew writer for instance described Jesus sacrifice occurring at the synteleia, i.e. the “end of the ages,” though time still continues today (Heb. 9:26). His sacrifice, however, did occur at the end of the Mosaic dispensation, a time when the law of Moses reigned and ruled over the physical nation of Israel.
So what end do the disciples ask Jesus about? Although Jesus had just publicly proclaimed the destruction of the Jewish Temple, it may be asking too much of the early disciples’ understanding at this time that they would ask about the end of the Mosaic dispensation. Jesus does immediately proceed to explain in detail the destruction and signs that will come before the temple is destroyed, but near the middle of His discourse He suddenly interjects and says, “But of that day and hour no one knows.” There appear then to be two parts to Jesus’ response to His disciples. 1). The end of the Mosaic age 2). The end of all ages. Note, that in speaking about the end of the Mosaic age, it had spiritually ended at Jesus sacrifice as Hebrews 9:26 indicates, but it would be physically destroyed in A.D. 70. So again we ask, what end did the disciples ask Jesus about? For the early disciples, the destruction of the temple was identical to the end of all ages. In fact, it would have been impossible for them to separate the two as they stood in awe and showed Jesus the grandness of the Jewish Temple. Jesus, however, clearly indicated that there would be a separation. First the destruction of the temple, then the end of the world at another time unknown and without signs.
I wonder sometimes if we’re not like those early disciples. For instance, could we imagine a world without the United States? Could we imagine a world where places like New York City or Washington D.C. came to a screeching halt? It probably seems to us just as it did to the early disciples that only the end of the world would bring an end to something of such magnitude and power. But we would be foolish to think so. Nothing is impossible for God. The Psalmist said, “Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psa. 1356:6). Whatever we have, whatever lifestyle we live, whatever place we dwell, God can bring an end to it without notice. One morning I woke up surprised to find that our oven had went out on us. Yes, I was surprised that a 30 cubic foot METAL BOX had clunked out on us! If I was surprised by a metal box clunking out momentarily, I can only imagine how surprised some will be when something far grander comes to an end. The point? Be watchful, be ready, and keep your eyes on the one thing that will never come to an end, eternity.
“Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved… we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).