Asher Norman correctly says that the New Testament describes Jesus as a prophet (often
this is actually seen as other people’s assessment of him). He quotes Matthew 14.5:
‘They (the multitudes) counted him as a prophet’, and John 4.4: ‘A prophet has no
honour in his own country.’ There are a number of other references in the New Testament
to Jesus as a prophet, including Matthew 21.11: ‘This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth
of Galilee’ and Luke 24.19: ‘Jesus of Nazareth … a Prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people.’
Jesus is also referred to as ‘that Prophet’ or the Prophet like unto Moses as described
in Deuteronomy 18.15-19: ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like
me (Moses) from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ After the
feeding of the 5000, we read in John 6.14: ‘Then those men, when they had seen the
sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’
In Acts 3.23 Peter quotes the passage from Deuteronomy about the Prophet like unto
Moses and applies it to Jesus.
Apart from this, the Gospel writers referred to Jesus as the fulfilment of the words
of the Hebrew prophets: ‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were
demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were
sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
‘ He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’’ Matthew 8 16-17.
After the resurrection Jesus speaks to the disciples about the events that have just
taken place: ‘Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while
I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the
Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their
understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.’ Luke 24.44-45.
So the New Testament claims that Jesus is not just a prophet, but the Prophet like
unto Moses and also that His life, death and resurrection fulfils the words of the
Hebrew Prophets who came before Him. The writers of the New Testament believed
that Jesus was more than a prophet, and is in fact the Messiah. However if he is
a false prophet as Asher Norman claims, then indeed all of this is null and void.
Asher Norman correctly says that a prophet is one who communicates God’s words: ‘I
will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put
My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.’ Deuteronomy
18.18. Those words must come to pass or He is a false prophet. ‘And it shall be
that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it
of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not
commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall
die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has
not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not
happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet
has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18.19-22.
He then gives three examples of prophecies of Jesus which allegedly did not come
1. Jesus prophesied that he would be in the earth three days and three nights.
‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so
will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ Matthew
The context of this is a dispute the Pharisees have with Jesus over his miracles.
He has just produced a miracle, which they themselves had said was a Messianic miracle,
healing a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. The response of the crowd
was ‘‘Could this be the Son of David?’ (i.e the Messiah). The response of the Pharisees
was ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the
demons.’ Matthew 12.22-31. Jesus’ response to this was to point out the illogicality
of ‘Satan casting out Satan’ and to say ‘But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of
God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.’ Many commentators say that his
following rebuke on those who sin against the Holy Spirit applied to those who saw
a clear miracle of God and attributed it to the devil.
He then went on to refuse to give them a sign to satisfy their curiosity, and said
the only sign that would be given to them is ‘the sign of Jonah.’ Clearly He meant
that the sign of Jonah was a sign of death and resurrection. Leaving aside arguments
about whether Jonah is a parable or a literal account of something that really happened
(and I believe the latter), the reason why Jesus would refer to the experience of
Jonah as a type of death and resurrection is clear from the book of Jonah.
After Jonah has been swallowed by the ‘great fish’, he cries to the LORD: ‘Out of
the belly of Sheol (the place of the dead) I cried, and You heard my voice.’ Jonah
2.2. He then proclaims ‘I remembered the LORD; and my prayer went up to You, into
Your holy temple. … I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will
pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.’ Jonah 2.7-9. So he goes from
the place of the dead to proclaiming that he will offer sacrifices to the LORD in
the Temple (i.e. he will be alive again). Then ‘the LORD spoke to the fish, and
it vomited Jonah onto dry land.’ Jonah 2.10. Jonah 1.17 tells us: ‘And Jonah was
in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.’
The verse in Matthew 12.40 is actually the only reference in the New Testament to
three days and three nights. All the other references to the coming crucifixion
and resurrection which Jesus makes in the Gospels refer to ‘the third day.’ Jesus
prophesied that He would rise again on ‘the third day’ in Matthew 16.21, 20.19, Mark
9.31, 10.34, Luke 9.22, 18.33, 24.7,46. Paul speaks of Him being raised on the ‘third
day’ in 1 Corinthians 15.4.
For us, three days and three nights generally means 72 hours, but we must understand
the Bible historically and culturally. For the Jewish mind, three days could mean
any part of the first day, all of the second day, and any part of the third day.
This lines up with the traditional view that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon
and was in the grave part of Friday (Luke 23.54-55), all of Saturday (Luke 23.56),
and part of Sunday, the first day of the week (Luke 24.1). So He was raised ‘on
the third day.’
But what about ‘three nights’? It is interesting that in the Tenach there are passages
which speak of periods of ‘three days and three nights’ when it actually means the
event was concluded ‘on the third day.’
In Esther 4.16 we read: ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast
for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast
as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the
law. And if I perish, I perish.’’ And then in 5.1: ‘On the third day Esther put on
her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s
hall. ‘ In this case, ‘on the third day’ is equivalent to ‘for three days, night
1 Samuel 30.12: ‘He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any
water for three days and three nights. 13 David asked him, ‘To whom do you belong,
and where do you come from?’ He said, ‘I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite.
My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. ‘ In this case ‘for three
days and three nights’ somehow was fulfilled when his master left him ‘three days
In these cases ‘three days,’ ‘the third day,’ and ‘three days and three nights’ are
used to signify the same period of time.’
Interestingly Rabbinical literature also manifests the measuring of time whereby
a day and a night can refer to a portion of that time frame: Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah,
tenth in the descent from Ezra was very specific: ‘A day and a night are an Onah
[‘a portion of time’] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it’ [J.Talmud,
Shabbath 9.3 and b.Talmud, Pesahim 4a]
Matthew uses this Jewish idiom: ’’Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was
still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I will rise again.’ So give the
order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.’ (Matthew 27.63-64). Note
that ‘after three days’ was somehow equivalent to ‘until the third day’ not ‘until
the fourth day’.
Therefore this is not an example of a ‘false prophecy’ by Jesus. We could also
point out two issues on this subject showing Jesus as a true prophet and ask the
question if there is anyone else in history about whom the following claims could
Jesus correctly prophesied the place and manner of His death and that He would be
resurrected from the dead (Matthew 16.21). After the resurrection He appeared to
His disciples and convinced them that He really was alive and that all that had happened
to Him was itself the fulfilment of the words of the Hebrew Prophets (Luke 24.44-48).
They then laid down their lives to spread this message, which has now gone to the
ends of the earth and been believed by millions, itself a fulfilment of prophecy
(Isaiah 45.22-23, 49.6, Matthew 24.14, 28.18-20).
2. Jesus prophesied that He would return during the lifetime of his disciples.
Asher Norman’s claim here is based on these sayings of Jesus:
‘Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these
things take place.’ Mark 13.30 (also Matthew 24.34).
‘Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death
till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.’ Matthew 16.28.
We have to look at these verses in context. Both Mark 13 and Matthew 24 (along with
Luke 21) are found in what is described as the ‘Olivet Discourse.’ Here Jesus, seated
on the Mount of Olives, deals with two issues of prophecy.
The coming destruction of the Temple.
His second coming to the earth.
In both Matthew and Mark the discourse follows the disciples’ observations about
the Temple, the magnificent building which would be clearly visible to them as they
sat on the Mount of Olives. Jesus as a prophet tells them that the Temple will be
destroyed. ‘Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another,
that shall not be thrown down.’ Matthew 24.2.
Jesus then goes on to answer another question of the disciples; ‘Tell us, when will
these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the
age?’ Matthew 24.3
Jesus’ answer in all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse describes both events,
the fall of the Temple and the end of the age, when once again armies will surround
Jerusalem and there will be a time of great tribulation. In Luke’s account Jesus
gives details of the coming fall of the Temple, the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish
people and the deliverance of Jerusalem from Gentile rule which will happen at the
end of this age (more on this later in this article).
He even gives instructions to those who will be alive at the time of the destruction
of the Temple by the Romans to flee the city when they see the armies coming to surround
it, which history records was followed by followers of Jesus at the time: ‘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. For these are
the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe
to those who are pregnant and to those 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. And Jerusalem
will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ Luke
The answer to the first of Asher Norman’s objections based on Mark 13.30 and Matthew
24.34 is as follows. In this prophecy Jesus was speaking to both to His own generation
which would see the destruction of the Temple and the final generation before His
second coming. There would be people alive listening to Him who would see the destruction
of the Temple (forty years later) but not the Second Coming. Concerning the date
of His Second Coming He made it clear that no one would know this date: ‘But of that
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’ Matthew
When he said ‘this generation’ will not pass away until all these things take place,
there are two possibilities to consider:
That generation did not pass away until the Temple was destroyed as Jesus prophesied.
The word used for generation is the Greek word ‘genea’ which usually means generation,
but can also mean ‘race.’ So Jesus could have been assuring the disciples that despite
all the terrible events which would befall the Jewish people following the destruction
of the Temple and the dispersion amongst the Gentiles, ‘Am Israel hai’, the people
of Israel lives. There will be an identifiable Jewish people until His second coming.
In fact He makes it clear that the Jewish people accepting Him as the Messiah is
also a requirement of the Second Coming: ‘For I say to you (Jerusalem), you shall
see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Matthew
‘Some standing here’.
To find the answer to the second of Asher Norman’s objections based on Matthew 16.28
(‘Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death
till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom’) we have to carry on reading
into Matthew 17:
‘Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on
a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone
like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and
Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus,
‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles:
one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ And when the disciples
heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched
them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes,
they saw no one but Jesus only.’ Matthew 17.1-8.
This event, known as the Transfiguration, gave the disciples a revelation of the
glory of God in the person of the Messiah Jesus. For the time of His incarnation
He had laid aside His glory ‘taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the
likeness of men’ (Philippians 2.7).
In this Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53.2: ‘For
He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He
has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should
desire Him.’ This means that the Servant would not look different from others and
would not have any special appearance to mark Him out. Obviously if Jesus had walked
around Nazareth or Jerusalem looking as He appeared to the disciples on the Mount
of Transfiguration it would have been a little difficult to miss the fact that there
was something different about him. However Isaiah also says that He would be ‘despised
and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ It is hard to
imagine this happening if He appeared as God in the flesh.
On this unique occasion the disciples had the opportunity to see who Jesus really
was, the Son of God appearing in human form. So they saw the kingdom coming in power
a few days later. Significantly all three Synoptic Gospels give the same sequence
of events at this point (which does not always happen in their accounts). They all
have Jesus saying that some of them will not see death until they see the Kingdom
come in power, followed by the account of the Transfiguration (Matthew 16.27-17.8,
Mark 8.38-9.8, Luke 9.26-36).
A period of time before the Second Coming.
If we look the Gospels as a whole we see that on numerous occasions Jesus speaks
of a long period of time between His departure (ascension) and His coming again (e.g.
Matthew 24.45-51, 25.1-13, Luke 17.20-35, Luke 19.11-26). In Luke 19.11-12, which
introduces the parable of the Minas he says: ‘Now as they heard these things, He
spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the
kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: ‘A certain nobleman went
into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.’
The concept of a departure and a long period before the date of His return ties in
with a number of Scriptures in the Hebrew Prophets, in particular in the book of
Hosea where we read: ‘For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king
or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward
the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king.
They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.’ Hosea 3.4-5. A time
of being set aside for Israel during which time they have no king, sacrifice or priesthood
is implied in this passage which ties in with Jesus words about the coming dispersion
of the Jewish people. The passage ends with a turning to the LORD and ‘David their
king’ in the latter days. ‘David their king’ is clearly the King Messiah, Yeshua
who will bring deliverance to Israel in the latter days of this age. Hosea goes
on to ‘I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offence. Then
they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.’ Hosea 5.15.
There is even a hint at this being a period of roughly 2000 years. ‘Come, and let
us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but
He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise
us up, that we may live in His sight.’ Hosea 6.1-2. Psalm 90.4 speaks of a 1000
years being like a day in the Lord’s sight.
The concept of the Messiah coming, being rejected by the majority and then returning
‘when they acknowledge their offence’ ties in with New Testament prophecy about the
return of the Messiah after a long period of time (see Romans 11). This also ties
in with the concept of two appearances of the Messiah, as the Suffering Servant (Messiah
ben Joseph) and the Reigning King (Messiah ben David).
One of the things Jesus said would happen in this age (i.e. before His second coming)
was the spread of His message to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28.18-20). Clearly
this could not have happened within the generation of the disciples since there were
parts of the earth that were unknown to the inhabitants of the world Jesus and the
disciples inhabited in the first century.
From all of this we can conclude that Jesus neither taught nor believed that His
second coming would take place during the lifetime of His disciples. For further
information on this see our articles:
Asher Norman says that Mark applies Zechariah 13 to Jesus which he says is a blunder,
because he associates Jesus with the fulfilment of a verse by Zechariah which describes
God’s punishment of false prophets. The verse in Mark he refers to is:
‘Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this
night, for it is written; ‘ I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’
Mark 14.27 quoting Zechariah 13.7.
Asher Norman writes, ‘Mark’s quote did not include the balance of Zechariah’s verse
which explains that God will strike the shepherd who should not live because he will
be a false prophet who will speak lies in the name of the LORD, It is highly ironic
that Mark’s Jesus identifies himself as Zechariah’s false lying prophet who should
not live.’ (page 36-7).
Actually it is Asher Norman who has blundered here. When we read Zechariah 13 we
discover that it follows the passage in Zechariah 12.10 where Israel looks on ‘Me
whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and
grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.’ Following this in Zechariah 13.1
we read: ‘In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.’ This means that after Israel
looks on one who has been pierced (the Suffering Servant Messiah) a fountain of cleansing
for sin is opened to them. In other words the looking to the Messiah brings the
cleansing from sin (which is exactly what the New Testament says about looking to
Jesus for salvation). Zechariah 13.2-6 then describe the cutting off of the false
prophets and the unclean spirit from the land: ‘‘It shall be in that day,’ says the
LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they
shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit
to depart from the land.’
In Zechariah 13.7 there is a change in the subject from the false prophets and the
unclean spirit to the true Shepherd, who is described as the ‘Man who is My Companion’
by the LORD. So this verse cannot possibly be referring to the false shepherd as
Asher Norman erroneously claims: ‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the
Man who is My Companion,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd, and the
sheep will be scattered.’
Jesus could rightly apply this verse to Himself as the Shepherd who would be struck
and following this the disciples would be scattered. The verse also has an application
to the end times when the terrible events of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah
30) will take place. Zechariah 13.8-9 goes on to describe a slaughter of two thirds
of the people with one third coming through this time of trouble to call on the name
of the LORD. Following this Zechariah 14 prophesies the coming of the LORD in person
to Jerusalem to save His people. In that day He will stand on the Mount of Olives
(Zechariah 14.4) and establish the Messianic Kingdom (Zechariah 14.9). This ties
in with the New Testament which says that the point of Jesus’ return will be the
Mount of Olives (Acts 1.11-12) in power to bring in the Messianic Kingdom (Matthew
24.29-30, Revelation 11.15, Revelation 19-20).
Therefore Zechariah is not at all a good witness for the prosecution’s view that
Jesus is a false prophet.
True prophecies of Jesus.
Asher Norman does not refer to the prophecies, which Jesus actually made. As we
have already indicated these mainly deal with two events, which would occur after
His death and resurrection.
1. The destruction of the Temple and dispersion of the Jewish people.
2. The Second Coming – events that would precede and follow it.
Concerning the destruction of the Temple we find these words in Luke’s Gospel:
‘Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known,
even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now
they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will
build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and
level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in
you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’’
‘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. For
these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those 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. And
Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’
If we look carefully at Jesus’ words we discover that in relation to Israel, Jesus
functioned as the Hebrew prophets did, Jeremiah in particular.
1. He warned of the coming catastrophe.
2. He gave a reason for it.
3. He gave a promise of restoration.
Jesus prophesied the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans
in 70 CE. He told those who believed in him to flee from the city when they saw
the armies gathering, because this was going to lead to a time of terrible slaughter
In these verses Jesus warned of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion
of the Jewish people into the lands of the Gentiles. He also gave a reason for it:
‘Because you did not know the time of your visitation’. In other words the dispersion
happened because Jesus was not recognised as the Messiah. Jesus goes on to allude
to the restoration of Jerusalem in the Messianic Age when He says ‘Jerusalem will
be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ The end
of the times of the Gentiles is the same event as the Second Coming. We can relate
this to the stone smiting the image (which represents the Gentile rule) in Daniel
2. For more on this go to our article:
This subject is actually a problem to Judaism. The destruction of the Second Temple
was an event of enormous significance for the Jewish people: Rabbi Ken Spiro writes:
‘The destruction of the Second Temple is one of the most important events in the
history of the Jewish people, and certainly one of the most depressing. It is a
sign that God has withdrawn from (though certainly not abandoned) the Jews. Although
the Jews will survive in accordance with the promise that they will be an ‘eternal
nation’, the special relationship with God they enjoyed while the Temple stood is
gone … Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinam, causeless hatred
of one Jew for another (Talmud – Yomah).’ Aish.com ‘Crash Course in Jewish History
Part 35 – Destruction of the Temple by Rabbi Ken Spiro.
Apart from this there is no explanation in Judaism for this event which was so terrible.
However before the destruction of the first Temple God sent prophet after prophet
to warn of this event and to give the reason for it. The main prophet who spoke
of this was Jeremiah but before him God had sent many warnings of this event (Jeremiah
26.4-5). Most of the book of Jeremiah is taken up with warnings of the coming destruction
of Jerusalem and the Temple and the reason for it, worshiping false gods and rejecting
the commandments of the LORD (Jeremiah 7.8-10). Jeremiah also gives a promise of
restoration after 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29.10-11). But before
the destruction of the Second Temple there is an absolute silence from God, apart
from the words of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. All we have is a teaching
that there was ‘causeless hatred’ which has no record in any passage of scripture
and seems a minor issue compared to the major rebukes to the people which we find
in the prophets, especially Jeremiah.
In this sense there is a certain truth in the ‘causeless hatred’ theory of Judaism,
but not as it is understood today. The question has to be asked, ‘Who is the object
of the causeless hatred’? Today the Jewish answer to this is that ‘causeless hatred’
meant the hostility of different Jewish factions defending Jerusalem, which allowed
the Romans to break through and take the city. But Jesus spoke about his coming
rejection and crucifixion and used exactly this phrase to describe the opposition
‘He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which
no one else did they would have no sin; but now they have hated both me and my Father.
But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law,
‘They hated me without a cause.’ John 15.23-5, quoting Psalm 69.4.
On the subject of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the Temple the counter argument is often
that Jesus got it wrong when he said there would not be ‘one stone standing on another’,
because the Western Wall is obviously still standing. However the Western Wall is
a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Temple’s courtyard, not a part
of the actual Temple. The building which would have been in view when Jesus made
this prophecy from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24.2 and as He rode down the Mount
of Olives from a point half way down it in Luke 19.41-44 would have been the Temple.
There was no doubt in the minds of His hearers that he was talking about the destruction
of the Temple with not one stone left standing upon it, which was its fate once the
Romans had finished with their destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. In this Jesus was
not only a true prophet, but the only prophet who warned Israel of what was to come.
Jesus made a number of prophecies about His second coming. In the days that precede
this event He says that the following will happen:
There will be an increase in wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes leading to a
time of great trouble on the earth. ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom
against kingdom and here will be great earthquakes in various places and famines
and pestilences.’ Luke 21.10-11
The earth will be full of violence and many people will be afraid of what is going
to happen. ‘As it was in the days of Noah so will it be in the days of the Son of
Man.’ Luke 17.26-27. The Bible says that in the days of Noah ‘the earth was corrupt
before God and the earth was filled with violence.’ Genesis 6.11. See also Luke
There will be great sexual immorality causing a breakdown of family life and disease.
‘Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot’ Luke 17.28-8. ‘Lot was sitting in
the gate of Sodom.’ Genesis 19.1. ‘Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the
wicked.’ 2 Peter 2.7. See also Matthew 24.12, Romans 1.24-27, 2 Timothy 3.1-9.
There will be many false cults bringing religious confusion while organised religion
will form a union known as Babylon which will persecute true believers in the Lord
Jesus Christ. ‘Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many’ Matthew 24.11.
‘And you (believing Christians) will be hated by all for my name’s sake’ Luke 21.17.
See also Matthew 24.23-27, Revelation 17.1-6
The message of the Gospel will reach all nations despite opposition and persecution.
‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … and lo I am with always even to
the end of the age.’ Jesus speaking in Matthew 28.18-20. See also Matthew 24.9-14.
Other prophecies in the Bible indicate that the following will be happening at this
The Jewish people will return to Israel and make the barren land fertile. There
will be a conflict over Jerusalem which will involve all nations of the world. ‘For
I will take you (Jewish people) from among the nations, gather you out of all countries
and bring you into your own land.’ Ezekiel 36.24. ‘And it shall happen in that
day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all nations.’ Zechariah 12.3.
See also Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21.20-24, Revelation 16.16
There will be an attack on the basic truths of the Bible, especially God as Creator,
the divinity of the Lord Jesus and His death and resurrection as a sacrifice for
sin and the hope that He is coming again. ‘Scoffers will come in the last days walking
according to their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ 2
Peter 3.3-6. See also Matthew 24.10-11, 2 Timothy 4.2-5, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 2.18-23
There will be widespread pollution of the earth. ‘The earth is defiled under its
inhabitants… Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and those who dwell in it
are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are
left.’ Isaiah 24.5-6. See also Revelation 8.6-11
There will be an increase in technology and travel helping to bring the world together
into a one world economic and political system. ‘But you Daniel shut up the words
and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro and knowledge
shall increase.’ Daniel 12.4. See also Revelation 13, 17.12-18.
A world leader will emerge, known as the beast or Antichrist, who will take control
of this system. ‘All the world marvelled and followed the beast… And authority was
given him over every tribe, tongue and nation.’ Revelation 13.3-10. ‘He causes all
both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right
hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the
mark or name of the beast or the number of his name... His number is 666.’ Revelation
13.16-18. See also Daniel 7, 2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 17.
Jesus said that in the days before His return there would be a time of ‘great tribulation’
unlike any that has been ‘since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor
ever shall be.’ This time will be so bad that if God did not cut it short all life
on earth would come to an end. Matthew 24.21-2. In this He was confirming a number
of passages in the Hebrew prophets which speak of a time of unparalleled trouble
before the ‘Day of the Lord’. For example Isaiah 24, Jeremiah 30, Ezekiel 38-9,
Joel 2-3, Zephaniah 2-3, Zechariah 12-14. In Daniel 12.1 we read: ‘At that time
Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation,
even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who
is found written in the book.’
I guess a natural response to this would be to hope that, on the subject of a time
of great tribulation coming, Jesus was a false prophet (and the Hebrew prophets too).
However world events are lining up with these prophecies which should warn us that
Jesus is in fact a true prophet and the Messiah. As more and more of the things listed
above come to pass on the earth, may many people recognize that their only hope is
to look to the Messiah who has come once in fulfilment of specific prophecies and
will come again in fulfilment of other prophecies all found within the pages of the
Liberal Jewish hopes that a ‘Messianic Age’ will come in which the nations of the
world work out their differences and live in peace and harmony with each other and
the natural world will turn out to be false prophecies. So too will Orthodox Jewish
hopes that the Messiah will be is a great human leader, who will bring peace and
knowledge of God to the nations and restore Israel. Only the Messiah who is God
himself, coming as Son of Man and Son of God will be able to do this.