A Leader’s Guide for a New Generation of Christians
by Mark Mountjoy
Prerequisites—things that are required as prior conditions for something else to happen or exist—are a neglected consideration, generally, in apocalyptic themes, promises, and studies in Bible prophecy. It is a widespread belief, all around the world, that Jesus fulfilled only part of his mission, to be born, to preach the Gospel, die for the sins of the world, and ascend back to God the Father. After sending the Holy Spirit to establish the Church on the Day of Pentecost most people believe the Church and even the whole creation eagerly awaits the promised Second Coming.
Now, this idea, though extremely popular, is inaccurate and does not faithfully reflect what the New Testament teaches about stipulations, conditions, and prerequisites clearly given about developments that must come to fruition before the return of the Lord. In order to call attention to what the Bible says, this essay will list passages and verses that name requirements that have to first be fulfilled before the Parousia of Jesus could take place.
The Second Temple Has to Exist
Almost nothing is more salient and clear in the New Testament (certainly in the Gospels) than the reality of the Second Temple. This edifice figures larger than life in the heart and minds of the Jewish people for obvious reasons: It was the center and hub of their religion. It was the direction in which their prayers to God were focused. It was the place where, twice every day, sacrifices for their sins were carried out by the High Priest and the Levites. It was the destination of pilgrimage of tens of thousands and even up to three million visitors from all over the Diaspora. These mandatory events (three in all) include Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost/ Firstfruits), and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In short, the Second Temple cannot be overestimated in the role it plays in our understanding of the New Testament, but that is not nearly all: Another aspect of this building’s destiny encompasses the precise place where the instigators of the fourth kingdom would stage their coup d'état presuming to take the promised kingdom of God by force.
The Gospel Has to Be Preached to All Nations
Before we enter this section of our study let us be mindful to humbly beseech God to grant us humility, wisdom, and understanding to not only see and hear his Word, but also to receive it into our hearts.
“Father we come to You and ask that You grant us a humble and contrite heart, one that You do not despise. As we pursue Your truth help us reflect on what it means for our lives on every level—how we think about the past, how we think about the present, and what we expect in the eternal future. We know Jesus is the resurrection and the life and trust that we have a building that has foundations and an inheritance that will never pass away.
While we gather around Your Son, help us appreciate how one by one You brought to pass all the prerequisites that needed to happen to faithfully fulfill Your Word.
We thank and praise You for Who You are and Your just and true judgments and ask these blessings in the Name of Jesus. Amen.”
We turn our attention to Matthew the 24th chapter where we read:
24 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 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.
3 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?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.1
15 When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)2
The above passage from the Olivet Discourse comes in three slightly different versions across Matthew and Mark and Luke. However, it is in Matthew and Mark where it is clearest that the accomplishment of Gospel preaching to “all the world” comes decidedly before the Abomination of Desolation which was foretold by Daniel to happen in what was the Second Jewish State Temple.
Now, here, we must pause and address the query (or quibble) that this Abomination of Desolation standing “where it ought not” has reference to an expected event, NOT in the Second Temple, but in A FUTURE Third Temple. Is this true? Is this even possible? Could it be that we are assuming far too much and making “much ado about nothing” to insist that, somehow, an important landmark event such as the successful preaching of the Gospel AND the Abomination of Desolation belong to a first-century setting and that only?
We need to seriously question our assumptions, no matter what answer may seem appropriate!
Now, we feel certain that, upon review and careful consideration we will all be able to agree that, based strictly on the contextual constraints that need to surround the Olivet Discourse—namely the initial situation of Jesus departing from the Temple and the leading questions the Apostles made to Jesus in the first place:-
“Master look at these beautiful stones and these beautiful buildings.”
Was the object of their questions a Second Temple they could see, or a Third Temple that they never made any comments about? We need to stay with this question and go around the room and solicit feedback to allow everyone a chance to make their own thoughts known.
To be fair to the Discourse we need to be able to agree that Jesus departed from the Second Temple and the Apostles admired the Second Temple, not a Third Temple. Is this correct? To hold to the subject in question we need to be able to affirm that they received an answer to their questions about the fate of the Second Temple (not a Third Temple) from the Lord.
If we are on one accord with these observations then, we can concede that Matthew 24:14 and 15 show that the Gospel would be preached to all nations before the Abomination of Desolation of the Second Jewish State Temple. It might be sufficient to show that the Gospel was preached in all the world from Matthew 24 alone since Jesus did say it would be done before that generation passed away (Matthew 24:34).
But the claim that Matthew 24:34 points to the immediate period under consideration are viewed with high doubt and suspicion and people want more proof to even begin to think that the evidence leans that way.
But a couple of notices in Romans, one in Colossians, and one in Titus tell the whole story. See Romans 10:18 and then see Romans 16:26. Examine and ponder Colossians 1:23 and be amazed at Titus 2:11. The problem these affirmations would present to modern Christians is how could the Gospel be preached to all nations exhaustively when that is not a historical fact, by any stretch of the imagination?3
There Must Be an Apostasy First
A second stipulation, according to the Apostle Paul, was a falling away, and apostasy. As we look at his comments in 2 Thessalonians we will discover that there are two things that could be contained in that one event, but both things happened in the contemporary period.
2 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
To begin with, Paul’s teachings about the apostasy have been adulterated with a false concept of a Rapture—a distracting and unjustifiable interpolation of something Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2. Now, Judæa was a religio-political entity and it had a more than one hundred and twenty-eight-year-old agreement with the Roman Empire where the Levitical priesthood made sacrifices to God on behalf of the Roman Empire, not occasionally, not once, but twice every day. To break this agreement was at once an apostasy and a declaration of war.
All the authorities and even the rebels in Israel knew the direct implications of breaking this religious agreement (which, by the way, had everything to do with the Second Temple and such a brazen act of abstinence of the agreed-upon sacrifices threatened the very existence of the Temple making it conceivable that the Romans might retaliate by destroying it.4
The question stands, did the Jews dare deny a sacrifice on behalf of the well-being of the Roman Empire before Yahweh, the God of Israel? Let’s let that remain unanswered as we delve into a parallel development in the churches of Judæa: and the Diaspora Christians succumbing to seduction and joining the so-called ‘Freedom Movement.’ We know this was happening from Galatians, Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation—the first because a desire was engendered in them to want to be under the Law, in Hebrews the author comes right out and says some had fallen away and put Christ to an open shame (Galatians 4:21 cf. Hebrews 6:6).
The epistle of 2 Peter informs us of the same thing: some were clean and went back like a dog to its vomit or a sow to her wallowing in slop (2 Peter 2:22).
Jude and 1 John let us know that infiltrators were even in the Churches “sporting themselves in their own deceivings while they feast with you.”5 Is it clear that on the religio-political front a dangerous step was on the verge of being taken to sever respect and religious obligations that the Jews, since 63 B.C to A.D.66, or 129 years had to maintain? At the very same time, the barometer of Judaization and falling away, sadly, claimed the faith of Christians who walked away from Jewish Nationalist hopes, but who (again) changed their minds and forsook Jesus.
Now, this two-fold apostasy would entangle the unbelieving Jews and the backsliding Christians in one and the same debacle: Levitical sacerdotal routines (which were mandatory under the Law). By going through these sacrificial routines the time would come when the visitors and pilgrims would be trapped in the Holy City and unable to get back home.6
The strongest possibility existed that they would be murdered on the Temple grounds, starve to death, die by disease and plague or, in best case scenario that was still horrible, end up being taken away as a slave into the wider Roman Empire at the end of a failed secession attempt.
The Man of Sin Has to Be Revealed
We have looked at the preaching of the Gospel, the advent of the abomination of desolation in the Second Temple, the falling away, and now we come to the revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the Apostle Paul continues—
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Based on the hindsight history of the First Great War against the Romans we do not have to look very far to guess who the son of perdition was that Paul had in mind: Simon Bar Giora.
Paul said he was already at work when he penned the second epistle to the Thessalonians (that excludes any and everyone who was not born anywhere near the writing of 2 Thessalonians!). This decidedly precludes anyone born in any other generation beyond the one in which Jesus named all these things would come to pass—in the Olivet Discourse, in Acts,7 all the way to the Book of Revelation itself.8
Paul declares this person to be “the mystery of iniquity,” but why? We can fathom why by revisiting Daniel 7 where we see the fourth beast and its little horn making a vain bid to seize the kingdom of God by the persecution of the saints, blasphemy against God, and the force of arms and insight.9
Persecution, blasphemy, and insight do not work, of course, but the beast’s calculated efforts were mysterious and ironic for the simple fact that neither Daniel 2:40-44 nor 7:7-26 actually come out and say who this fourth kingdom was. From either text, it could be said, the jury was out and the question was purely and theoretically an open one, however, as usual, the Jews were inclined and only too happy to name the Romans as being the ‘obvious ’culprits.10
And so, Israel’s would-be fourth kingdom turned out not to be the fourth kingdom at all and the person who nominated himself to be Israel’s would-be messiah would end up being the epitome of all evil,11 and all that was bad in the people of God, all that God detested culminated into a thing that represented a direct anti-type to righteousness and nothing that could convince God to give the unregenerated nation something so holy as the promised kingdom of God!
Oddly enough, the apostasy, revelation of the Man of sin, and doom of the citizens and apostate Christians bring us full circle and back around to every major aspect of the prophecies contained in the Olivet Discourse—including the Second Temple, which is the scene of iniquity and the punishment thereof.
It Has to Happen in ‘This Generation’
We now come to what might be called “grand parameters” of Jesus’s discussions with his Apostles, not just in the Olivet Discourse, but everywhere in the Gospel According to Matthew.
What the Lord says in Matthew 11 helps us grasp the meaning of the expression “this generation:”
16 “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say,
“He hath a devil.”
19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say,
“Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber,
a friend of publicans and sinners.”
But wisdom is justified of her children.
20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matthew 11:16-27).
The above pericope grants us insight into the inherent meaning of this oft-used expression. It tells us that it has to do with people who saw and negatively judged John the Baptist and who turned around and harshly criticized Jesus, too (verses 18 and 19). In verses 20, 21, and 23 Jesus upbraids specific cities in the Holy Land—Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum—because they both saw and audaciously rejected his mighty works and refused to repent.
In the very next chapter, Jesus continues to condemn his contemporaries for their blasphemous and unjustified assessment of him (see Matthew 12:22-24). Therefore, Matthew 12:31-45 and Matthew 24:34 have a very specific group of people in mind; it does not have an obscure, unclear meaning when we consider each aspect of what he is saying.
Likewise, the events described in 2 Thessalonians 2 fall in the same window of time adding yet another layer of meaning to the prerequisites under consideration. But if the Apostle Paul and the other authors of the New Testament expand upon the same Parousia as that anticipated by Daniel and our Lord, in the Olivet Discourse, why is this not a central feature of traditional wisdom around this field of study?
There are a number of plausible reasons why this has escaped the attention of careful scholars, but we are certain that there probably is no direct sinister conspiracy to hide or misrepresent the truth. The most obvious cause for the existing challenges has to do with haphazardly picking and choosing proof texts and building a jig-saw puzzle doctrine that really makes no sense and has no chance of ever coming true.
The same mechanisms, theorems, and logic that produced the 19th century Millerite Second Adventist Movement are the same forces at work today churning out books, movies, and songs about Jesus coming back because of dire events happening in the world all around us and rumored events and hush-hush conversations about a red heifer and a building of a Third Temple in the Holy Land.
But if lessons from the recent and distant past are any indicator, the next ten to twenty centuries will witness a repetition of deceptively plausible, but ultimately false interpretations of New Testament prophecies, even as the keys to understanding these very things are in the context, vocabulary and, most of all, the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:35 cf. 1 Peter 1:24-25).
Nevertheless, when one examines the logic behind Futurism it will be noticed that the idea of a Third Jewish Temple and our generation today is central and essential to it. The idea of a Third Temple is, ultimately, also the germ that destroys Futurism and makes it an unbiblical idea, even as the need for it (whether the idea is an innocent oversight or an intentional deception) still it is a proverbial sleight of hand similar to pulling a rabbit out of a hat!
From the above considerations, we arrive at a stunning but inevitable conclusion that efforts to mock up a similar situation as that framed by Matthew 24:1-14 and the extent of the events which only allow them to reach the end of the lifetime of Jesus’s contemporaries are desperate interpretations which must be propped up with all kinds of excuses and rationalizations in order to invoke and authorize a Second Coming in our own times are doomed to disappointment, failure, and embarrassment simply because it is built on a string of very serious omissions, falsehoods, and pretenses.
This is to say that nothing in the Olivet Discourse, Acts, the epistles of Paul, or Revelation chapter 11 require anything besides the historic Second Jewish Temple and any other notions are entirely illegitimate, groundless, and without any warrant. Indeed, when we connect what is said about the demolition of the Second Temple, the preaching of the Gospel to the entire οἰκουμένῃ and the Abomination of Desolation and the contemporary framework of the lifetime of the citizens of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, it becomes very clear that the apocalyptic stipulations of the New Testament have already been met a long time ago.
1 The order of events (Matthew 24:14, before verse 15 and Mark 13:10 before verse 14 make it all the more certain that the Gospel and the scope of its fulfillment have the οἰκουμένῃ of the Jewish Diaspora in mind and not the wider Roman Empire or the entire earth from the first century to some hypothetical date in mind.
2 Based on Matthew 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-4, and Luke 21:5-7 Jesus believed and taught that the Abomination of Desolation, foretold by Daniel (in Daniel 9:26-27) about 569 years prior, would be directly fulfilled in the Second Temple (not an imaginary, fictitious and elusive Third Temple).
3The difficulty is solved by the language Jesus uses in Matthew 24:14. This Greek expression “οἰκουμένῃ,” though translated “earth” really indicates the Diaspora and the nations thereof would be Jews and proselytes near and far (Acts 17:6). And so, in reality, it is completely possible that the Gospel was preached to ALL Jews and proselytes before the deadline of the occupation of the Temple by an abomination of desolation standing “where it ought not.”
4 Eleazar, the Sagan of the Temple, had jurisdiction and authority to either permit or deny the continuation of the prescribed sacrifices. Josephus describes the alarm felt by Jewish authorities on the prospect of any cessation of the sacrifices and oblations to God on behalf of Nero and the Roman Empire. (See Wars of the Jews 2.10.4:197 cf. 2.17.1:409-4:417)
5 It is certain from numerous New Testament texts that Zealots and Sicarii were attending Christian meetings in order to make a sport about their own Jewish apocalyptic beliefs to the disdain of the believers (Galatians 2:4; 2 Peter 2:13 and Jude 4)
6 Such a sad day did come, as the people, ignoring the prophecies and commandments of Jesus to vacate the Holy City, insisted upon performing the Law’s prescribed rituals and were finally trapped in the city, first for forty-two months by the Jewish rebels and finally by Titus in the Spring of A.D.70. See Wars of the Jews for the tragic spectacle that it was (Wars of the Jews 6.9.3:421-4:428).
7The Apostles Peter and Paul are direct and certain that the dangers facing the Jewish people were to be realized in their immediate future. See Acts 2:40; Acts 13:41. InActs 24:24-25, the Greek rendering of Paul’s speech and Felix’s reaction show that the judgment in question was pending and near rather than distant and afar off.
8 Many realities in the Book of Revelation hold the subjects down to the civilization and context in which it was originally intended to convey. These do not allow the narrative to make any sense in any other alien framework. For example, see Revelation 6:12-17 and compare it with Luke 23:27-31, and see Revelation 18:23-24 and compare it with Matthew 23:29-39 and Revelation 20:7-8 and compare it with Matthew 12:43-45. The struggle of the first Christians, therefore, was against competitors: People who had every logical reason to believe they and they alone were the servants entitled to receive the promised kingdom of God and who likewise believed, the Roman Empire was destined by Bible prophecy to be short-lived and come to a speedy and sudden end.
9 The Book of Revelation has the false prophet seducing the masses with some extremely convincing form of sorcery to convince them that Acts of God required them to be in the Holy City and not out where all sensible refugees had fled. Josephus does not fail to note the close relationship of charlatans with the bad actors involved in orchestrating the First Jewish Revolt (see Wars of the Jews 6.5.2:286-288).
10 A Roman Fourth kingdom was the universal opinion of the Jews from the time of King Judah II Aristobulus (circa 67 B.C.) down to the second century Bar Kokhba Revolt (A.D.132-136). Josephus himself shared this opinion (Antiquities of the Jews 10.10.4:206-210). In comments on Antiquities 10.10.4:206-210 the translator William Whiston reinforces the idea that Daniel 2 was about the “destruction of the Roman empire by Jesus Christ” when it means no such thing and belief in such a notion only got billions of people who believed in it confounded, disappointed and killed!
Indeed, it is a mistake to think Jesus and the Apostles went along with this notion when everything in the Gospels, Acts, the epistles, and the Book of Revelation point to the post-Hasmonean Jewish kingdom as standing in line for Divine visitation, universal judgment, and extinction.
11 When the Second Temple was destroyed and the Romans went into the rubble to see where the Second Temple was, they saw Simon Bar Giora standing there wearing a white frock and a buttoned purple cloak. The Romans supposed, at first, that he was a ghost. This means that in the calamitous collapse of the building on the spot where Simon was where that most sacred room used to be and Paul predicted that there he would be “showing himself that he is God” (not anyone else).
Now we know for sure that he had no business being where the Temple was unless he wanted to prove something, but furthermore, somehow he escaped being killed by the heated limestone explosions, the fire and smoke, and beams, and pillars falling all around him. Terentius Rufus arrested Simon as the supreme leader of the Jewish revolt, sent him to Rome, where he was later ceremonially executed by being thrown to his death from the Tarpeian Rock near the Temple of Jupiter.
*There are some very misleading statements at 5:48-55, and 6:37-42, and 6:48-7:6, in the above presentation, like, for example, the statement that only now the Jews are trying to build a Third Temple. This is not true!
In the second century, Bar Kokhba strove to build a Third Temple and it is an unanswered question about whether he was successful or not.
Under Emperor Julian the Apostate fourth century Byzantine Christians faced the terrifying prospect of the rebuilding of the Temple until God thwarted the project by a violent earthquake that destroyed the scaffolds and burned the workers. We want to address the claims made in this video on The Scriptural Limits of Bible Prophecy: A Discussion.
The Jews have always had a desire to rebuild the Temple, but there is a big difference between having a desire to make a Third Temple a reality and prophetic imperatives that revolve around the Second Temple. I recommend doing your own research on all attempts to build a Third Temple, including, Earnest Martin’s The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, and Robert Browning’s The Emperor Julian.
Caption: The Emperor Julian the Apostate. Julian was Constantine the Great’s nephew and sought to destroy the claims of Christians by financing the building of a brand new Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in A.D.363. Source: christianpost.com