Escaping the Wrath of God

 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple, Jesus prophesied that the temple would be taken down stone by stone. “Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1,2.

Jesus was sat overlooking the temple on the Mount of Olives, his disciples: Peter, James, John and Andrew joined him. In the conversation that followed, Jesus referred to Daniel’s end times prophecy, when he said, “When you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place; (let the reader understand)” Matthew 24: 15.

Daniel prophesied, He shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Daniel 9: 27.

Jesus’ disciples would know immediately what Jesus was referring to by ‘the desolating sacrilege.’ Alexander the Great invaded Israel in 330 B.C. The Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes launched a massive campaign of repression against the Jews.

It was Judas Maccabeus who led a full-scale revolt in 165 B.C that drove Antiochus and the Greek army out, and the Jews regained control of their temple and land.

Eyre & Spottiswoode Study Bible ‘Sacrifices and offerings cease.’

Antiochus Epiphanes, whose troops desecrated the temple in 168 B.C, and suspended the daily burnt offerings and other services and erected an idol-altar (apparently a statue of Zeus Olympus) and entered the Holy of Holies; Daniel 9: 27 and 12: 11 and Mk 13: 14 it seems to refer to a desecration which shall take place in the end, during  the period of the great tribulation in Mt 24: 15 (cf Lk 21: 19-24) It probably refers also to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

Jesus on the cross took upon himself the desolating sacrilege.

Jesus prophesied the desolating sacrilege, “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand).” Matthew 24: 15  Matthew’s words added ‘Let the reader understand,’ God’s plan of redemption was through the death and resurrection of the Messiah, the understanding was hidden from the Jewish leaders and people. The Jewish leaders collaboration with the pagan Roman Pontius Pilate, placed themselves under Satan’s spiritual authority.

Chief Priest Caiaphas, asked Jesus at his trial before the council, “Are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus replied, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14: 61,62.   The council condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy. ‘The Messiah’s Secret’ – The Jewish council did not believe that the Messiah would come and die, and that’s why when Jesus was dying on the cross they shouted, “So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” Mark 15: 31,32.

Pilate, the Roman Governor was undecided, when he questioned Jesus. Jesus did not deny the charges against him. Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said so.” Mark 15: 2.

Pilate turned to the crowd at the Praetorium, and asked them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted, “Crucify him.” Mark 15: 9,13. Having the crowd’s approval Pilate sentenced Jesus to be crucified.

God’s plan was fulfilled, Jesus was innocent of their charges against him. But in taking the punishment which carried the death sentence, he became the redeemer of the nation of Israel and all nations on the earth. In his one sacrifice of himself on the cross, Jesus took upon himself, the desolating sacrifice, the idolatry of kings, dictators, governments, and their warfare, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom. The devil’s pursuit of world dominance over people’s and nations, was brought to nothing, through Jesus becoming the desolating sacrifice, laying down his life’s blood for all sin, and its causes upon the cross.

Jesus he embodiment of God’s living power, His spoken word was fulfilled, “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26: 26-28. In his resurrection God forgave Israel’s sin as a nation, the desolating sacrilege sacrifice and for the sin of their unbelief in Jesus who was the nations Messiah, Redeemer, and Saviour.

     The Church escapes God’s wrath.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11: 25,26. These words from Jesus and other words from Jesus that Paul heard from the apostles brought a fresh understanding to Isaiah’s prophecy of ‘escaping the wrath of God,’ Jesus said, “There will be two men in a field; one is taken and the other left. Two women grinding at the mill; one is taken and the other left.”  Matthew 24: 40,41. Paul, interpreted Jesus’ words to include both Jews and Gentile believers, who would be called out from the earth and those resurrected from the dead in Christ. 

Isaiah’s prophecy, ““Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past. For behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her and will no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26: 20,21. Isaiah 27: 2,3.

Paul taught in the churches a Christians’ resurrection in Christ.

Paul writing to the church at Corinth, he explains that in our resurrection we shall have our own body that will be transformed to an eternal spiritual body at the calling out of the church. “It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44.                                                                                                                                                               Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he explains that the dead who are believers will be united with their own body, God will gather the dust of each person’s body, God will transform the dust to an eternal spiritual body, “And the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 17

Paul’s first letter Thessalonians, Christians were dying but were not bodily resurrected like Jesus from the dead. Paul gave them assurance saying that it was according to the Lord Jesus’ words,  “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18.

The church called out from the earth escaping God’s wrath.

The Thessalonians received the word concerning a believer’s bodily resurrection in Christ. They also, believed what Paul taught that they would be delivered from the great tribulation. Paul writes, “For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thessalonians 1: 9,10.

Jesus did not call out the church.

In 70 A.D the Christians in response to Jesus’ words, “When you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place; ( let the reader understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Matthew 24: 15,16. The Christians, when they realised the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem, they hoped to flee to the mountains.                                                                               

“The Footsteps of the Messiah by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.  Page 439. Ariel Ministries Press USA. 2000. The Roman siege of Jerusalem was lifted, because of the need for fresh supplies of food, and during the short period the Hebrew Christians fled across the Jordon to Pella. “The Christians crossed the Jordon River and set up a new Hebrew Christian Community in the town of Pella in the Transjordan. There they waited for the prophecy of Jesus to be fulfilled.”

God fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that he would protect his people, “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past.”  Isaiah 26: 20. Isaiah 27: 2-4.

But it was Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple that was fulfilled, “Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2.

Jesus’ prophecy – Roman Titus led the Roman Army and destroyed the temple by setting it on fire. The Roman soldiers perhaps would search the ruins, demolishing the walls looking for melted gold. The Roman occupation of Israel ended in 135 A.D.

The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words Editor Verlyn Verbrugge. Greek word ‘genea’ – generation. “The events referred to Matt 24: 34; Mk 13: 30; “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.” Lk 21: 32 generally have been taken to refer to cosmic events associated with the second coming of Christ. But if these events were expected within the first generation of Christians, were Jesus or the evangelists mistaken? Not at all. The failure of events to materialise can be attributed to a gracious postponement by God of the catastrophe as well as to a telescoping event.”

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