Gary discusses Dr. Michael Brown’s recent article, “What Does the Bible Say About the End of the Age?"

“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

The disciples’ question above involves three interrelated, contemporary events: (1) the time of the temple’s destruction; (2) the sign that will signal Jesus’ coming related to the destruction of the temple; and (3) the sign they should look for telling them that “the end of the age” has come. These questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else.

Jesus never indicates that He has a distant coming in mind. There is nothing in the Olivet Discourse that would give the reader the impression that a distant event is in view. Jesus told his disciples that He was “going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels” before the last apostle died (Matt. 16:27–28). While they did not understand the full implications of this coming in judgment, they did know that it would happen within the span of their generation. Jesus confirms the timing of His coming as He outlines the events leading up to the temple’s destruction. We know the temple was destroyed just as Jesus prophesied. This happened within a generation.

For when the Romans had taken Jerusalem, Titus ordered his soldiers to dig up the foundations both of all the city and the temple…. As we read in the Jewish Talmud and in Maimonides, Turnus Rufus, or rather Terentius Rufus, who was left to command the army at Jerusalem, did with a ploughshare tear up the foundation of the temple; and thereby signally fulfilled those words of Micah, (iii. 12,) “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field.” Eusebius too affirms, that it was ploughed up by the Romans, and he saw it lying in ruins.[1]

Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37–101), the Palestinian Jewish historian of priestly decent who compiled a history of the Jewish people for the Romans, was an eyewitness to these events. His Wars of the Jews was written about A.D. 75, five years after the fall of Jerusalem. He wrote of the temple’s destruction that “there was left nothing to make those who had come thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”[2]

The End of the Age

Notice that the disciples did not ask about the end of the “world” (kosmos), as some Bible versions translate the Greek word aion. In context, with the temple and city as their primary focus, they asked about the end of the “age.” They were asking when time would run out for the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the covenant promises that were related to the Mosaic system of animal sacrifices, ceremonial washings, and the priesthood.

Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods, the age of the law and the age of the Messiah. The conclusion of the one was the beginning of the other, the opening of that kingdom which the Jews believed the Messiah was to establish, which was to put an end to their sufferings, and to render them the greatest people upon the earth. The apostles, full of this hope, said to our Lord, immediately before his ascension, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [Acts 1:6]. Our Lord used the phrase of his coming to denote his taking vengeance upon the Jews by destroying their city and sanctuary.[3]

The “end of the age” refers to the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system with its attendant sacrifices and rituals. These were designed to be temporary symbols of the coming atoning work of Christ. The “end of the age” refers to the termination of the exclusive Jewish entitlement to the covenant promises and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the blessings of the covenant and the privileges of the gospel and kingdom (Matt. 21:41, 43; 22:10). “End of the age” is a covenantal phrase. With the temple destroyed, there would be no way and no need to carry out the rigorous demands of the sacrificial system, a system that was predestined to pass away with the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus. Jesus replaces the sacrificial system as the “lamb of God” (John 1:29), God’s dwelling place as the “temple of God” (2:13–22), God’s sanctuary as the “true tabernacle” (Heb. 8:2; John 1:14), and God’s earthly sinful high priest as the “perfect High Priest” (Heb. 2:17, 3:1, 5:1–10, 7:26–28).[4]

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In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of ‘end-times’ fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.

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Gary discusses Dr. Michael Brown’s recent article, “What Does the Bible Say About the End of the Age?” At the end of his article, Dr. Brown lists several points as a summary of his view and Gary responds to them with Scripture and first century context.

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[1] Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Which Have Remarkably Been Fulfilled, and at this Time are Fulfilling in the World (London: J. F. Dove, 1754), 329.

[2] Quoted in J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1975), 83.

[3] George Hill, “Predictions Delivered by Jesus,” Lectures in Divinity (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 103–104.

[4] Jesus is said to be “the end [telos] of the law” (Rom. 10:4). Jesus, through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, brought to an end one age and inaugurated a new age based on His finished redemptive work. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ…. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:15–26, especially verses 24–25).