If like me you use Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Calendar, then you will see that Matthew 24 is part of the schedule for today.
My reading again of this portion brought me much joy and prompted me to consider the words in verse 8: “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
As is my habit, I was prompted to start making a few notes and this developed into the following study which I hope to continue on a weekly basis.
I can but pray that the Lord is pleased to bless it to your comfort, edification, joy and spiritual benefit.
Sincerely in Christ’s name,
THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS, Part 1
“All these are the beginning of sorrows,” Matthew 24:8.
Thoughts arising from my reading of this chapter as part of my daily reading today and which are the first section of a brief study of Mathew 24:1-31.
I hope to continue the study on a weekly basis.
Like so many of God’s people throughout the ages since Matthew recorded these words, I have delighted in this chapter. Yet, it is a chapter which all too many have misunderstood and made the basis of false notions. The lack of clarity of the Word of God is not to be blamed for this nor would we be correct in concluding that such error arises because God’s Word is hard to be understood. It is our foolish tendency to jump to conclusions without due consideration that causes misunderstanding and folly. The ‘golden rule’ of Scriptural interpretation is “rightly dividing the word of truth”. That is, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” 1 Corinthians 2:13. Thus we will be led to an understanding of ‘the mind of the Lord,’ 1 Corinthians 2:16.
I have ever rejoiced at the Saviour’s readiness to answer the questions of His disciples. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you,” Matthew 24:3-4.
1. These questions arose from the Saviour’s troubling disclosure.
“And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Matthew 24:2. Men have ever loved the OUTWARD symbols of religion. Even among true Bible believers the outward may take the place of that of which it merely is a witness. In this case the temple with its beauty, had become more important than the ONE Who was to be worshipped there!
Today, many believers lay such importance on the place of worship, the long attachment their family may have had to it, that they are blinded to the error that had invaded and corrupted the true worship of God that may once have been conducted there. These are but ‘shades’ of the mind and attitude of the disciples here.
2. The Saviour would have us know that He does not suffer from such folly and that He will not permit anyone or anything to take His place at the centre of our worship. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Matthew 24:2.
The Lord Jesus is engaged in a war against error and falsehood, especially any corruption of His Word. Not for nothing is He set forth in the most militant terms and celebrated as such by His people. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name,” Exodus 15:3. “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle,” Psalm 24:8. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,”Revelation 19:11-16.
The world has yet to learn this truth!
3. In the war the Saviour conducts, there is no sparing of wickedness. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,”Matthew 24:2. Go to Jerusalem today and you will see the literal fulfilment of these words!
That which is today called the ‘wailing wall’ is all that is left of the area of the temple of which the Saviour here speaks. It is in actual fact merely that which was a retaining wall, part of the foundation of the temple, and not part of the temple itself. There is not ‘one stone’ of the temple, destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, left upon another. All were ‘thrown down’.
There is a lesson there for those who are inclined to dismiss a simple, literal understanding of God’s Word and replacing such with a process of ‘spiritualisation’!
I take delight in noting the words in verse 3, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately.” This denotes patience and His inclination to give time to His disciples and to deliver them from their perplexity. He surely signals the importance of the subject He is about to discourse upon. Yet, how many Christians and Christian pulpits give little or no attention to this important aspect of Holy Scripture. I believe it fair to say that in the Bible there are as many direct references to the end times and the second coming of Christ as there are of His first coming!
The Saviour opens His discourse with a warning. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you,” Matthew 24:4. We can only take heed to this warning by HEEDING ONLY what is written in God’s Word on this subject! Many men have produced helpful comments on such portions as this, BUT the wisest and most trustworthy have always insisted that their readers double check all that they write against what the Holy Scriptures teach. One of the principles of the Protestant Reformers was set forth by the Latin phrase, “Sola Scripture”. The Scriptures alone are the bedrock of our belief and practice!
There is much error spread by deceivers about the end times and the glorious return of Christ. Given that that the return of Christ will mark the frustration of the devil’s and man’s open rebellion against the Lord, it is little wonder that every attempt has ever been made by the enemy to blind men’s eyes to this time of Christ’s triumph and the overthrow of the devil’s deception of mankind in his efforts to overthrow God and His purpose.
It is clear from verses 6 and 7, that the age between the ascension of Christ to His Father’s throne and His return in glory will be one of distress, confusion and violence. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” It reminds us of Genesis 6:11. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”
However, these turbulent events signal not the end but rather they but merely indicate “the beginning of sorrows,” verse 8.
The climax of the storm of which wars and rumours or reports of wars, nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers or different places are but the first rising of the waves of a coming tempest, has often caused men to jump to wrong conclusions.
Note the Saviour’s words. “ . . . see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet,” verse 6.
I believe that we are presently seeing an increasing of these things. In our lifetime up to the present time there have been the unspeakable horrors of World War 2, finally brought to an end by the use of the atom bomb, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, innumerable outbreaks of hostilities in Israel, in Africa and more recently the repeated troubles in Afghan and Iraq and now we have televised the daily frightful savagery of the Russian invasion of Ukraine!
Please note that the Saviour said: “All these are the BEGINNING of sorrows.”
(End of part 1 of our study)