November 14, 2019
  • 10:14 pm Transcendental Meditation: Mechanics of the Technique (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)
  • 10:14 pm Vipassana Guided Meditation – Insight Practice
  • 10:14 pm Romanov Family | Faith in God to the End (with Helen Rappaport)
  • 10:14 pm Behind the Scenes of Ounce of Faith: Part 2
  • 9:14 pm To The Ends Of The Earth – Hillsong Worship
The End of the Age: The Last Days According to Jesus with R.C. Sproul


As we continue now with our study of the crisis
in eschatology the point I want to look at in this session is this question: When Jesus
spoke about His coming at the end of the age did He mean by that phrase the ‘end of the
age’ the end of world history, or was He talking more specifically about the end of the Jewish
age? That’s one of the critical points that are
in dispute here with respect to timeframe references of New Testament eschatology. I’d like to read a portion of the text of
Matthew for you from the New King James Bible, or the New King James translation, where we
read in chapter 13 verse 38 Jesus’ interpretation of the parable of the tares. He says, and I quote, “The field is the world. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom,
but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age. And the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned
in the fire so it will be at the end of this age.” Now, the reason I read from the New King James
is that it reads differently from the original King James. And now if you’ll follow with me for a moment
I’ll read from the original King James. In verse 38 we read, “The field is the world”
— that’s exactly the way the New King James renders it — “the good seed are the children
of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one.” The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the
harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” Verse 40, “As therefore the tares are gathered
and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world.” Now, notice in verse 38, 30 and 40 three times
the old King James version translated the words of Jesus by using the English word ‘world.’ In the New King James world is used in verse
38, but in verses 39 and 40 the word ‘age’ is used instead of world. Now, why is that? Why the change? Well, the simple reason for the change is
that there are two different Greek words in the New Testament text that are being translated
here. In verse 38 the Greek word is the word ‘cosmos,’
which is the common word used to describe the world. We talk about cosmic events and so on. That’s the Greek word cosmos. Then in verses 39 and 40 we have the Greek
word ‘aion,’ which means ‘age’ or epoch, not world. I can only guess as to why the original translators
of the King James version translated the Greek word ‘aion’ by the word world rather than
age. My guess is that they assumed as many have
assumed that when Jesus was talking about the end of the age He meant the end of the
human age, the end of world history. And so translators indicated that in the rendering
of the text. But frankly, they shouldn’t have done that
because of the difference of the Greek words and the New King James has corrected that
somewhat loose translation of the original. But that still doesn’t solve our problem,
because the term ‘end of the age’ could refer, of course, the end of the human age. It refers to the end of some time period,
the end of some epoch. Now, again, the question is whether it’s the
end of history as we know it, or is it more particular and definitive with reference to
the Jewish age? Well, again we have to ask the question to
assume the possibility of a distinction between the Jewish age and the human age we could
be open to the charge of just being engaged in unbridled speculation and creating out
of thin air a distinction that the Bible is ignorant of. Now, in order for that not to be the case
I think it would be important for us to find in Scripture some reference to the use of
this term age that is more particular and more distinctive than to the general concept
of the age of human beings, or of world history. Now, when we look at Luke’s version of the
Olivet Discourse, which is found in the 21 chapter of his gospel, and I’ll turn your
attention to that now. We have some details in Luke’s version of
the Olivet Discourse that are not found in either Matthew’s version in Matthew 24 or
in Mark’s version in Mark 13. And the passage that is the most interesting
for us in this context I will read to you beginning at Luke chapter 21 verse 20. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by
armies then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the
mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. And let not those who are in the country enter
her.” Now, remember I mentioned that early on in
this series that this was contrary advice to what was the universally accepted plan
of survival in the case of a military assault or a siege. The people would immediately go to the strongest
fortified city for their safety and security, and one of the reasons why Josephus tells
us that 1.1 million people were killed in the destruction of Jerusalem, is that because
after the armies of Rome invaded and crossed the borders of Palestine, and the word was
passed on through the villages and townspeople from all over fled to Jerusalem for safety,
but the Christians didn’t, because Jesus here clearly gives the warning not to do that. “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. Let not those who are in the country enter
her, for these are the days of vengeance.” Whose vengeance? The vengeance of God is being poured out now
upon Jerusalem. “These are the days of vengeance, that all
things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and those
to who are nursing babies in those days for there will be great distress in the land and
wrath upon this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive
into all nations.” Again, this is one of the most remarkable
future predictions that we find in any surviving literature of any type from any place at any
time. One person said give me one argument for the
truth of Christianity, and the answer was the Jews, that the Jewish people had maintained
their identity, their ethnic origins without a homeland for 2,000 years, and they gather
on a regular occasion and they’ll say to each other, “Next year in Jerusalem.” I’m of Irish descent. When I was a kid my parents let me stay home
from school on St. Patrick’s day because the radio, popular radio, featured Irish songs
all day. My mother sang Irish lullabies to me when
I was an infant when I would go to bed at night, and I grew up memorizing all these
things, but as much as they tried to preserve our Irish heritage for two or three generations,
we didn’t meet around a table saying, “Next year in Dublin.” I’m an American I don’t really think of myself
as being Irish anymore. But the Jews, despite the loss of their country
and their center of worship, were dispersed throughout the whole world and never lost
their identity. That is unheard of in world history. But it was predicted, that is, the dispersion
of the Jews, is predicted by Jesus right here when he said, “They will fall by the edge
of the sword and be led away captive into all nations.” Now, here is the critical verse: “And Jerusalem
will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Now, here Jesus doesn’t talk about the Jewish
age or the Gentile age, He doesn’t use that language. But He speaks about this strange phrase ‘the
times of the Gentiles.’ Now, simple, elementary deduction. What times of the Gentiles would be distinguished
from what other times? Obviously the Gentiles here is a word — the
term Gentiles, is a word that is used to differentiate Gentiles from? From Jews. And if there are times of the Gentiles there
are presumably or former what? — times of the Jews. And so, we have a specific interim period
in history that is called ‘the times of the Gentiles.’ Now, I said earlier that there are those who
were called full preterists who believe that not only the elements of the Olivet Discourse
were fulfilled in the first century, but all of the New Testament prophecies with respect
to the future have already taken place, including the final coming of Christ, the great resurrection,
the rapture, and all the rest. I don’t believe that. But that those people who take the position
that everything has already been fulfilled in the first century have a problem with this
phrase of the times of the Gentiles. And so they include it as a tiny little interim
right before the destruction of Jerusalem, say between 69 and AD 70, where the Gentiles
had a little thing going on in Jerusalem at the time of Josephus tells us about, but I’ll
skip over that now. When Luke talks about Jerusalem’s being ‘trodden
underfoot by the Gentiles until,’ the word there that is translated until refers clearly
to a terminal point, and that terminal point is the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles. That is to say, Jerusalem will be controlled
by Gentiles for a definite period of history, but there will come a time when that will
end, and that ending will coincide with the ending of the times of the Gentiles. Now, am I making myself clear here? That there is a period in history beginning
in AD 70, where Jerusalem is destroyed, the Jews are dispersed, and this following is
the times of the Gentiles. But that doesn’t go on forever. There is a time when that will be fulfilled,
and presumably that fulfillment will be related to the end of the trampling of Jerusalem underfoot
by the Gentiles. Now, just as a matter of parenthesis at this
point, let me remind you that what transpired in 1948 with the recreation of the Jewish
state, the State of Israel, after almost 2,000 years, and perhaps even more significantly,
the recovery of the city of Jerusalem from the control of the Gentiles in 1967, with
the seven day war — or the six day war, however many days it was — in any case, those two
events have triggered perhaps more eschatological speculation than any two events in the last
500 years, because of people who are looking for the restoration of the nation of Israel
as a supreme sign of the end times. Now, that relates to what kind of position
you have on the millennium, and I’ll go into that later. But I can remember in 1967 watching the Jewish
soldiers fighting their way into the center of Jerusalem with their machine guns and when
they got to the Wailing Wall they threw their guns down and forgot about the firefight and
went right over to the Wailing Wall and started praying and carrying on. And I remember going to an Old Testament scholar
that night and saying what do you do with this? He says, “Well I don’t know what to do with
this, but this is interesting.” And that’s when Karl Barth said people started
reading the Bible in one hand and their newspapers in the other hand. Now, but this is an obscure passage here. And, it’s the only time in the Olivet Discourse
of the three synoptic gospels that any mention is made about the times of the Gentiles. But we do have another reference to the times
of the Gentiles that’s found not in the Olivet Discourse but in one of the most important
didactic chapters with respect to future expectation in the writings of Paul in Romans chapter
11, where Paul talks about the church being grafted into the original tree, or the stump
of Israel, and that we who are Gentiles, or the Johnny-come-latelies, we have been in-grafted
into the historic people of God, who we’re of course the nation Israel and Paul says
in verse 25 of Romans 11, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this
mystery lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened
to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Now, again there’s a lot of controversy in
interpreting Romans 11. Some believe that Paul here when he speaks
of Israel is not describing ethnic Israel; he’s not talking about Jewish people; he’s
talking about the New Israel, the Christian church. Now, I don’t hold the view that God has two
views and two plans of redemption, one for Israel and one for the church. I don’t believe that for a minute, and I do
believe that the church in the New Testament is the fulfillment of the covenant people
of God known as Israel in the Old Testament. And so I don’t divide those two. However, that does not mean that all ethnic
distinctions are eliminated and that Paul here, I believe, in Romans 11 when he talks
about Israel and in the same breath talks about Gentiles he can only be distinguishing
on the basis of ethnicity. I believe that the Apostle is saying here
in chapter 11 that God is not done with Jewish people, that there is still another chapter
of history that we await where God will once again deal with His people — ethnic origin
of Israel. Again He says, let me read it again. “Blindness in part has happened to Israel
until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, ‘The deliverer will come
out of Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant with them when I take
away their sins.’ Concerning the gospel they are enemies for
your sake [that is the Jews], but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake
of the Father’s, for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” So I hear Paul in Romans 11 talking about
a future redemptive action with respect to His covenant people, the Jews. Now, in any case the most important point
here is that for the second time we see this phrase in the New Testament, ‘the times of
the Gentiles.’ And if there’s any doubt about what it is
distinguished from in Luke, there is no doubt about it in Romans, that the times of the
Gentiles is a timeframe that is distinguished from the times of the Jewish people. And he talks even as Luke does of the times
of the Gentiles being fulfilled. Now, somebody might want to ask me, well,
if that’s the case and if Luke is saying that Jerusalem will be trodden underfoot until
the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, and it’s no longer trodden underfoot, doesn’t
that mean that the times of the Gentiles are over, and we should be at the end? Well, not necessarily because for one thing,
though the Jews conquered Jerusalem, they still have much of it that is in the control
Gentiles, and the Jews don’t have complete domination over the city of Jerusalem. They’re sharing it, it’s still in a certain
sense being underfoot of Gentiles, so I don’t know what that means whether the Jews will
be expelled from Jerusalem tomorrow and we wait another 3,000 years before the time of
the Gentiles be fulfilled. I doubt that. It certainly does give one reason to pause
and say are we on the brink of some great significant redemptive historical event? Now, again, the temptation in every generation
is to think that, because we all desperately want to see the final consummation of the
kingdom of Christ, and every generation should be diligent and vigilant and have that hope
burning in their breast. But for now I’m just trying to say that if
the age of the Gentiles begins in — when we know that the times of the Gentiles begin
in AD 70 — if that’s the case would it not follow logically that the times of the Jews,
or the Jewish age ended in AD 70? — the end of the Jewish age, the beginning of the Gentile
epoch, if you will. So that again the timeframe fits year 70 rather
than being opposed to it. Now, quickly, before our time is up, I want
to give some references of other timeframe references that are not by any means exhaustive,
but that refer to the nearness expectancy of the last days according to the writers
of the Scriptures. In Matthew 10:12, “You’ll not have gone through
the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 26 He spoke — Jesus is speaking to
the high priest, He said, “You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” Romans, Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter
13: “Now, it is high time to wake out of sleep. The night is far spent. The day is at hand.” 1 Corinthians 7, “The form of this world is
passing away.” 1 Corinthians 10 verse 11, critical passage,
“The ends of the ages have come upon us.” Philippians 4:5, “The Lord is at hand.” In the general epistles James 5:8-9, “The
coming of the Lord is at hand. Behold the judge is standing at the door.” 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at
hand.” 1 John 2:18, “It’s the last hour. We know that it is the last hour.” And in the book of Revelation, which we’ll
look at separately, chapter 1 verse 1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” with respect
to, “things which must shortly take place.” l:3, “The time is near.” 3:11, “Behold I come quickly.” Chapter 22, verses 6 and 7. God’s angel “shows His servants the things
which must shortly take place. Behold I am coming quickly,” and so on. We have a list of reference after reference
after reference in the New Testament that calls to the critical situation that the world
was in in the first century with respect to the Day of the Lord, which was the day of
vengeance of God’s visitation of wrath that was tied to some kind of coming of Jesus. Now, what I’m going to suggest to you is that
that coming that is described in these passages is not the final coming of Jesus but it is
His judgment coming on Israel — the judgment coming of Christ on Israel. And in our next session I want to look at
some fascinating things that are recorded by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in
which he gives us an eyewitness account — an eyewitness account, of the siege and of the
destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem.

Otis Rodgers

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Ashton Velasquez Posted on September 9, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Makke this a playlist please

    Reply
  2. paulkevin Posted on September 11, 2019 at 2:53 am

    Sproul did not comment on the second part of Luke 21:22 "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. " It seems to me that Jesus just said he was going to fulfill ALL Bible prophesy. I don't see how "all" can be interpreted as "some".

    Reply
  3. JAMES BRADFORD Posted on September 11, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    God in the Revelation to Jesus clearly defines the exact time of the "Gentile trampling" of Jerusalem as 3 and 12 years. (Rev.11) How can R.C. miss this. It's right there in the revelation. This was the exact time that Eleazar and the zealots, many of them Idumeans, i.e. Gentiles held the Temple mount before the Romans showed up.
    Josephus himself records Titus standing at the walls of Jerusalem and quoting the prophets that men of "lawlessness" would destroy Jerusalem by their own hand.

    Reply
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