Matthew 13, The End of the Age and the Disciples’ Understanding #2
Just as there is a consensus that the disciples were confused and mistaken in their questions to Jesus, there is almost total agreement that Matthew 13:39f is a prediction of the end of the Christian age. (E. G. Amillenialists (Riddlebarger, Amillennialism, 111). Postmillennialists (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA; Apologetics Group, 2009), 263, 325. Dispensationalist, Thomas Ice, Prophecy Watch, (Eugene; Or. Harvest House, 1998), 44f). It is assumed that the prophecy is about the church, and New Covenant promises and is not concerned with the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. The failure to see Jesus’ parables as an expression of the kingdom hope of Israel is the fatal flaw in all futurist eschatologies.
The parable in Matthew 13 is about the end of the age that the disciples were inquiring about in Matthew 24:3. One thing that helps identify that age is to ask the simple question: What age did that temple and Jerusalem represent? Did the temple in any way represent the current Christian age? Indubitably not. There was only one age that the temple and Jerusalem represented. That was the Mosaic Covenant age. There can be no disputation about this. Thus, if Matthew 13 and Matthew 24:3 are concerned with the end of the same age, then indisputably, Matthew 13 and Matthew 24 are about the end of the Old Covenant age.
When Jesus predicted the end of the age (Matthew 13:39-40, 49) he used a distinctive Greek term sunteleia tou aionos. This is the same term that the disciples utilized in Matthew 24:3. The topic is patently the same. The point that we just made is established even further by these facts.
Notice that Jesus said “harvest is at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:40). Jesus did not, as the KJV suggests, say that the harvest would be at the end of the world. He was predicting the end of the age. He then said that at that end of the age “then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father” (v. 43). So, the end of the age would be when the righteous would shine.
It is critical to understand Matthew 13:43 is a direct allusion / citation of Daniel 12:3: “Then (the time of the resurrection, (v. 2) and the end of the age (v. 4), shall the righteous shine…”
So, Daniel predicted the resurrection, the time of the end, and the righteous shining forth in the kingdom. Jesus predicted the harvest (the resurrection), at the end of the age, and said it would be when the righteous would shine in the kingdom. There is little doubt that Jesus was drawing from Daniel 12.
Note now where fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy is posited by the God of heaven. In verse 6 one angel asked another when “all of these things” would be fulfilled. Verse seven is heaven’s divine answer:
“Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”
There could hardly be a clearer more definitive answer. Let me express my argument succinctly:
Jesus’ prophecy of the end of the age and harvest, when the righteous would shine in the kingdom is the reiteration of the prophecy of Daniel 12.
But, the prophecy of Daniel 12 posited the end of the age and harvest, when the righteous would shine in the kingdom, at the time when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered (Daniel 12:7).
Therefore, Jesus’ prophecy of the end of the age and harvest, when the righteous would shine in the kingdom, would be fulfilled when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered.
There is patently no other time and no other event that fits the description of the shattering of the power of the holy people than the cataclysmic destruction of Old Covenant Judaism in AD 70. ( For an examination of the incredible significance of the AD 70 catastrophe see my The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat (Ardmore, Ok.; JaDon Management Inc. 2007). The book is available on Amazon and my this site).
As an illustration of the power of Daniel 12, in July of 2016 I had a formal public debate with Dr. David Hester of Faulkner University, (Montgomery, Al). Prior to that debate I had asked Dr. Hester if, in his view, Daniel 12:2 is the same resurrection as in John 5:28-29 and Acts 24:14-15. His response was that Daniel 12:2 is in fact the same resurrection. So, in the debate I noted that Daniel 12 unequivocally posited that resurrection at the end of Torah, not the end of the Christian age.
Dr. Hester’s “response” was shocking and revealing. He rejected his own admission that Daniel 12 refers to the final resurrection. When that backfired on him, he changed his position – mid-debate – and simply made the claim, with not so much as a word of proof, that even if Daniel 12 does refer to AD 70 that it is not limited to that time. So, he took three positions in one debate!
Another shocking development in that debate, illustrative of Dr. Hester’s total desperation was when I noted that since Daniel 12 = John 5:28-29 and since John 5 = Acts 24:24-15, that this therefore (logically) demands that Daniel 12 is the same as 1 Corinthians 15. Dr. Hester objected from his table saying, “I never said that.” The fact is that he never explicitly and verbally connected Daniel 12, John 5, Acts 24 and 1 Corinthians 15. However, as I noted repeatedly in the debate– and Dr. Hester never offered a word of rebuttal – if in fact Daniel 12:2 is the same as John 5:28-29 and Acts 24:14-15, then unless one wants to take the (unprecedented) position that John 5:28-29 and Acts 24 speak of a different resurrection, at a different time from that in 1 Corinthians 15, then logically and inescapably, that means that Daniel 12:2 does in fact equal 1 Corinthians 15. This was, and is, a devastating falsification of Dr. Hester’s view. (DVDs and Mp3s of that debate are available from me).
When Jesus told the parable of Matthew 13 the disciples would immediately have thought of the prophecy of Daniel. (Amazingly, Thomas Ice, citing Pentecost admits that Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24:2 caused the disciples (mistakenly of course, per Ice) to think of Zechariah 14 and the prediction of the coming of the Lord at the destruction of Jerusalem. This is a tacit admission that scripture does in fact conflate the end of the age with the destruction of Jerusalem. http://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/AnInterpretationofMatthew24_25_2.html). They would have known that the end of the age was not the end of the Christian age, but the end of the Mosaic age.
Daniel is not alone is positing the eschatological fulfillment within the context of the end of the Old Covenant world of Israel.
In Isaiah 24-27 a united prophecy of Israel’s last days fate, the time of Israel’s salvation, the resurrection (Isaiah 25:8-9), is posited at the time when the city and the temple would be turned over to foreigners. In chapter 27:9-10, that salvation, the time when Leviathan, the Great Serpent was destroyed at the coming of the Lord (26:21-27:1-2) we are told that Israel would be saved through judgment, once again when the city and the temple would be destroyed.
In Isaiah 65-66 the prophet posits the coming of the New Creation at the time when God would destroy the Old Covenant “heaven and earth” and create a New People with a New Name (Isaiah 65:13-19). And there are many other OT prophecies that likewise foretold the coming of the kingdom and salvation at the end of Israel’s aeon. For the moment however, we will allow our comments on Daniel 12 and Isaiah 24-27 and 65 to suffice.
The fact is that the Old Covenant prophecies contain many predictions of the last days, the day of the Lord, the resurrection, the end of the age. And it places those events, not at the end of the Christian age, and not at the end of time. Those prophecies place those eschatological events at the end of the Old Covenant age, and at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The New Testament teaches the same thing. To ignore this is to miss the story of Biblical eschatology. We will have more on the end of the age and the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24 as we continue.
For a greater understanding of the end of the age, get a copy of my book, The Last Days Identified. You will be amazed at the evidence that proves that the end of the age was in the first century.