In our on-going investigation of whether Jesus predicted two different comings, of different nature, at different times, we want now to take a look at the argument that Jesus contrasted “those days” i.e. the days of the Jewish War, with “that day”– the time of his final coming. Be sure to read the entire series of articles, beginning here.
The Olivet Discourse: Those “Days” and “That Day” – And Luke 17
Those who place so much emphasis on “those days” versus “that day” would do well to take a look at the problems their argument presents them.
In Luke 17:22, Jesus said “the days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man.” (my emphasis) Jackson says this verse means, “He was indicating that severe times were coming to test them, and they might wish that the end of the world had come.” (Wayne Jackson, The A.D. 70 Theory, Courier Publications, P. O. Box 55265 Stockton Ca. 95205, 1990)32). Obviously, Jackson applies this passage to the end of time.
Notice now verse 26: “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” (emphasis mine)
Consider: first, our critics insist that when Jesus spoke of “those days” he was speaking of the days before the fall of Jerusalem. They insist that “that day” is a technical reference to the coming of Jesus to end time. (Actually, “that day” and “the day” is a reference to the “final” or “second coming” of the Lord. That coming came at the end of “those days”–in 70 AD. It is lamentable that the futurist inserts a gap of 2000 years between “those days” and the climactic “that day”).
These writers do not believe Jesus ever referred to his coming in a reference to “those days.” At the least they do not believe “that day” can be a referent to the fall of Jerusalem climaxing “those days.” Luke 17 categorically disproves this thesis!
Luke 17 – The Olivet Discourse and “That Day and Hour”
If it is the case Jesus never refers to his “second coming” (the end of time per our critics) in association with the plural term “days,” then any passage that speaks of “days of the Son of Man” cannot be referent to Jesus’ “second coming.” But Luke 17:22,26 speaks of “days” in association with the coming of Jesus. Therefore Luke 17:22f cannot be referent to the “second coming” of Jesus. This leaves our critics with two choices.
First, they can abandon the “those days” versus “that day” argument; but to do so leaves them without their “continental divide” for Matthew 24. They are thus forced to acknowledge it is a unified discourse about the fall of the Jewish World. If there is no division of Matthew 24 at verse 36 there is no division!
Second, they can give up Luke 17 as a referent to the “end of time.” To abandon Luke 17 as a referent to the end of time has serious implications for the futurist. If Luke 17 is not speaking of our future then it applies to the fall of Jerusalem. But if Luke 17 speaks of the fall of the Theocracy, then all of Matthew 24 speaks of the fall of Jerusalem! Why is this so? To avoid this problem, an increasing number of commentators are now admitting that the entirety of Matthew 24-25 was predictive of AD 70, but, that end of the age foreshadows the “real” end, coming at the “end of time.” See my AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? for a thorough refutation of that theory.
The Amillennialist divides Matthew 24 into two segments; verses 4-35 are seen as speaking exclusively about Jerusalem’s demise. Verses 36-51f are seen as a discussion of the end of time. But the reader needs to know that in Luke 17:21-37 Jesus describes his coming with language drawn from both sections of Matthew 24! (See Ed Stevens book, What Happened in AD 70? for an excellent chart on the comparison of Matthew 24 and Luke 17.
In Luke 17:23-24 he uses the language of 24:26-27, (first section). In 17:26-27 Luke records Jesus using the words of Matthew 24:37-39, (second section). In verse 31 he says the same as in Matthew 24:17-18, (first section). In verses 35-36 he uses the identical language of 24:40-41, (second section). In verse 37 he uses the language of 24:28, (first section).
Imagine the following: The Olivet Discourse supposedly speaks of two comings of Christ, A.D. 70 and a yet future end of time. In Luke 17, Jesus discusses the end of time coming. Yet in Luke 17 Jesus quotes language from Matthew 24 that discusses only the AD 70 event. Would it not be terribly confusing, to say the least, for Jesus to utilize in Luke 17 language from his Olivet Discourse in which he was speaking exclusively about Jerusalem’s fall, and yet in Luke his discussion had nothing to do with Jerusalem’s fall?
For instance, how could Jesus speak in Luke 17 of his disciples not coming down off their roof tops to get their possessions if he was speaking of an INESCAPABLE, catastrophic, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” event? How indeed when he had used this very image in Matthew 24:17f to urge them to escape the impending disaster?
Now since Jesus, in Luke 17, uses the identical language of Matthew 24 (from both “sections”) and makes no distinction in subject matter, we conclude that Luke 17 and the entirety of Matthew 24 speak of the same subject. Since Luke 17 cannot be speaking of a final, time ending coming of Jesus, and yet Luke 17 discusses the same subject as Matthew 24, (both “sections”) it must be true that Matthew 24 cannot be referring to a final, time ending coming of Jesus. The so called contrast between “those days” and “that day” is therefore proven false.
The fallacy of this distinction is further demonstrated in Luke 17. In Luke 17 there are three references to days and a final day. Noah’s days led to a final day (v. 26-27). Lot’s days led to a final day (28-29); and the days of the Son of Man led to a final day (v. 26, 30). Yet it is obvious that the final day of the coming of the Son of Man cannot be an end of time coming. It was his coming in judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD. The application to this study should be obvious.
At this juncture we observe that not only in Luke do we find “those days” leading to “that day” of the coming of the Son of Man being compared to the days of Noah, we find the identical comparison in Matthew 24. Notice that in Matthew 24:37, Jesus said “as in the days of Noe, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” He proceeds to describe the activity of the unbelievers in Noah’s day who went about their normal activities oblivious to impending disaster. He then says “they knew not until the flood came and took them all away.” Remember, Luke says this was “the day” Noah entered the ark. Jesus then says “so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (v. 39).
Jesus was speaking of the days leading up to the day of the Son of Man! This is after the so-called “continental divide” of the chapter and is in direct contradiction to the claim that in Matthew 24 Jesus never referred to his coming in association with “those days!” In the very section of Matthew 24 where there is supposed to be no mention of “those day,” or days plural, we find “days” leading to “the day” of the coming of Christ! Just as in verses 4-28 Jesus spoke of the events of “those days” leading to “the day” of the coming of the Son of Man (v. 30) he continues his “days” leading to the “day” discussion in verses 37f! There simply is no contrast in subject matter.
In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke of those days (v. 19, 22, 29); but “those days” would be consummated by the “coming of the Son of Man” (v. 30). How can we escape the conclusion that the coming of the Son of Man is “that Day” of verse 36, and was the consummation of “those days”; especially when Luke 17, [as well as Matthew 24:37f!], says the coming of the Son of Man would have “those days” leading up to the “day” of his revealing?
Once again, the only way to avoid this dilemma is to acknowledge that Luke 17 is not a discussion of the end of time. Yet to admit this demands that Matthew 24 also is relinquished as containing any such discussion. In debate terms this is called a “two-horned dilemma” and both horns are sharp indeed! The dilemma is not only sharp, but, proof positive that the Olivet Discourse is a united essay on the Lord’s coming in AD 70.