The Olivet Discourse and the Issue of the Sabbath
We are examining a list of supposed contrasts between the so-called First and Second Sections of Matthew 24. The contrasts have been suggested by numerous commentators through the years for the purpose of proving that Matthew 24 discusses two subjects: the fall of Jerusalem (v. 4-35), and the “end of time” (vs. 36f). Our study draws on various sources that it is unnecessary to cite since the supposed contrasts are so popular and so common that they are unquestioned. Be sure to read the first article for introductory remarks.
One of the things that strikes me about these so-called contrasts is that no where in the Olivet Discourse does Jesus clearly speak of these contrasts. In other words, at no time does Jesus ever say, this is how it will be prior to the fall of Jerusalem, but, here is how it will be prior to my final coming. If there are as many contrasts in the Olivet Discourse as it is claimed, why do we not find that kind of language? Instead, the supposed “contrasts” are pure fabrication, with no substance.
Sabbath Versus No Sabbath
In Amillennial literature it is suggested that the fall of Jerusalem and the second coming of Christ must be separated because, “This, (the fall of Jerusalem, DKP) would be while the Sabbath was still binding”; but it is then claimed that this is not true of the second coming, “This will be long after the Sabbath law ended.” It astounds me that this is seriously set forth as proof of a division in subject matter in Matthew 24!
The reader needs to understand that in the Amillennial world, one of the fundamental doctrines is that the Old Covenant was abolished at the Cross. Thus, in this paradigm the Sabbath was no longer binding after the Cross, and certainly not in A.D. 70! Yet here it is being claimed that the fall of Jerusalem would occur “while the Sabbath was still binding”! Now the Cross occurred circa A.D. 33; the fall of Jerusalem occurred in A.D. 70. But the fall of Jerusalem would occur while the Sabbath was still binding, says the Amillennialists. Therefore the Sabbath Law, and by implication the entire Old Covenant, must have been in effect in A.D. 70! This is absolutely inescapable.
It will undoubtedly be rejoined that the Sabbath would not be binding on Christians at the time of the fall of Jerusalem. But the Jews would still be observing the Sabbath and the Christians caught inside the city would not be allowed to escape. But this does not help; in fact, it opens the door to the Dispensational paradigm that is vigorously rejected by the Amillennialists.
The Sabbath and the Olivet Discourse– Is This Really A Problem?
Exactly what is meant by the claim that the Sabbath would “still be binding” at the fall of Jerusalem? The Dispensationalists would note that the Jews still observe the Sabbath and therefore, the situation that Jesus describes could potentially therefore refer to the future? They would argue that the same situation could apply to our present or even our future. Do the Jews not consider the Sabbath still binding? Who would wish to deny this?
According to the Amillennial view of the Law, the “binding” or “not binding” nature of the Law was exactly the same in A.D. 70 as it is today. Thus, the present or the future offers the identical situation with the observance of the Sabbath by the Jews as existed in A.D. 70.
As a matter of fact, there may never be a time when the Jews no longer consider the Sabbath binding in the same sense they did in the first century! So, since, per the Amillennial claim, the Second Coming must occur “long after the Sabbath law ended” yet the Sabbath law will never end to the Jewish mind (and this is the identical situation as in A.D. 70) then the Second Coming can never occur!
The choices here are very limited:
1.) One must acknowledge the objective validity of the Law until A.D. 70; or,
2.) One must acknowledge that the supposed contrast offered in the argument posits a situation that will always exist–Jewish observance of the Law.
Be sure to get a copy of my book, Torah To Telos, The Passing of the Law of Moses, for an powerful study of the question of the passing of Torah. In contrast to the claim that the Law of Moses passed at the Cross, the Bible is very clear that Torah remained until AD 70.
But since the Jewish attitude concerning observance of the Law will always be the same as in A.D. 70 then this supposed contrast between when the Sabbath would still be bound and when the Sabbath would be abolished is simply specious. This is a false contrast, and in no way proves that Jesus discussed to different comings at two different times.
This is highly suggestive that the supposed contrast between AD 70 and a claimed future coming of Christ, in the Olivet Discourse, is a fabrication, and not Biblical.