The Counterfeit Gospel
When we turn to the 24th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we find that Christ foretold the order of events covering the entire Christian Era, including what was to be consummated prior to the ushering in of His rule when all nations and peoples will become subject to His sovereignty. Those predictions were to have a minor and a major fulfillment. This is also referred to as the short-term and long-term fulfillment of prophecy.
As Yahshua and some of His disciples left the Temple, certain ones remarked about what a magnificent temple it was and how splended were its stones. (Mark 13:1; Luke 21:5) However, Yahshua told them that the time would come when one stone would not be left upon another that would not be thrown down! (Mark 13:1; Luke 21:6) This statement caused the disciples to ask questins. As they sat upon the mount of Olives, they asked Yahshua “when” these things would happen and “what” sign would be given when these things were about to be fulfilled. (Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7)
In answer to these questions Yahshua spoke about DECEIVERS, wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, the “abomination of desolation,” and great tribulation.
We are told in Mark 13:5‑13: “...MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME, SAYING, I AM CHRIST; AND SHALL DECEIVE MANY...TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES; FOR THEY SHALL DELIVER YOU UP TO COUNCILS; AND IN THE SYNAGOGUES YE SHALL BE BEATEN: AND YE SHALL BE BROUGHT BEFORE RULERS AND KINGS FOR MY SAKE, FOR A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM...YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” KJV
In Luke 21:8‑12 we are told: “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME, SAYING, I AM CHRIST...BUT BEFORE ALL THESE, THEY SHALL LAY THEIR HANDS ON YOU, AND PERSECUTE YOU, DELIVERING YOU UP TO THE SYNAGOGUES (Our Israelite brothers and sisters will be given up to the Jews for slaughter and other terrible things), AND INTO PRISONS, BEING BROUGHT BEFORE KINGS AND RULERS FOR MY NAME’S SAKE.”
Judeo-Christians are taught by decivers, and false teachers that apply the verses about deceivers, wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilenes to our time; as things leading up to the tribulation period which they believe and teach will be the last seven years of this ages (after the rapture). The abomination of the desolation is regarded as an idol of the antichrist to be set up in the holy of holies of a rebuilt Jewish temple at Jerusalem. When this happens, according to this Judeo-Christian position, the Jews will flee into the mountians, for then shall be great tribulations.
The minor, or short-term, fulfillment covered the life-span of that generation, a period of approximately forty years, to 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was captured by Titus and the Temple was destroyed by the invading Romans. The major, or long-term, fulfillment, on the other hand has to do with the events which will culminate during the present generation, bringing the age to its close.
The fulfilled interpretation, on the other hand, holds that the deceivers, wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilences were things which Yahshua said would soon happen; things that heppened before the destruction of Herods’ Temple. The abomination, by comparing the parallel acounts, was Gentile “armies” that surrounded Jerusalem to cause its desolation. Upon heeding the warning of Yahshua, the disciples fled from Jerusalem and Judea. What Yahshua called “great tribulation” referred to the judgment that fell upon the Jewish nation, resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temle in 70 A.D.
Our Israel people have been led astray because they have not been taught and made fully aware of the historical fulfillment. The prophecy is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. In order to get the “full” picture, the student will have to read all three accounts. Sometimes a detail not fully explained in one, is explained in the other.
As we have shown you above the statement Yahshua made about the temple being destroyed is recorded in all three accounts (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; and Luke 21:5-6)
Paraphrased: Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
“When shall these things be?” the disciples asked. “and what shall be the ‘sign’ when all these ‘things’ shall be fulfilled?” In addition to the questions about the destruction of the temple, Matthew (and only in Matthew) stated the question: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Yahshua cleraly answered all of these questions. However, the “primary” question; recorded by all the writers, was about the destruction of the temple: “When shall these things be?”
Now to fully understand this destruction of Herod’s Temple they must know why the Romans were in Palestine in the first place. Following is how the Pharisees came to be in "Moses' Seat" when Christ was born. They had many enemies at the beginning and the Sadducees were the first of these enemies. To see a "small" portion of the distortions of the Pharisees on the Bible, in eliminating the Chief Engineer, the God of Intelligence, planning, approachability is seen under the caption "History of the Pharisees," pages 665‑666, of the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Her brother, Simon ben Shetah, had been waiting for such an opportunity. The continued civil war resulted in the sons of Alexander Jannaeus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, in 63 B.C., going hat in hand to Pompey, Caesar's Roman General in Syria, asking him to invade Palestine and slaughter their respective opponents. This is how Rome happened to be in power when Christ was born. The full story can be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia under "Pharisees." "It is difficult to state at what time the Pharisees, as a party, arose, Josephus first mentions them in connection with Jonathan, the successor of Judas Maccabeus. (Josephas in his Ant. 13, 5:9)
Under John Hyracanus (135‑105 B.C.) they appear as a powerful party opposing the Sadducean proclivities of the king, who had formerly been a disciple of theirs, though the story as told by Josephus is unhistorical. (Ant. 13, 10:5; Comp. Jubilees, Book of, and Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs) The Hasmonean dynasty, with its worldly ambitions and aspirations, met with little support from the Pharisees, whose aim was the maintenance of a religious spirit in accordance with their interpretation of the Law.
Under Alexander Jannaeus (104‑78 B.C.) the conflict between the people, siding with the Pharisees, and the king became bitter and ended in carnage. (Ant. 13, 13:5; 14, 1:2) Under his window Salome Alexander (78‑69 B.C.), the Pharisees, led by Simeon ben Shetah, came to power; they obtained seats in the Sanhedrin, and that time was afterward regarded as the golden age, full of the blessing of heaven. But the bloody vengeance they took upon the Sadducees led to a terrible reaction, and under Aristobulus (69‑63 B.C.) The Sadducees regained their power. (Ant. 13, 16:2; 14, 1:2)
Amidst the bitter struggle which ensued, the Pharisees appeared before Pompey asking him to interfere and restore the old priesthood while abolishing the royalty of the Hasmoneans altogether. (Ant. 14, 3:2)
THE DEFILEMENT OF THE TEMPLE BY POMPEY WAS REGARDED BY THE PHARISEES AS A DIVINE PUNISHMENT OF SADDUCEAN MISRULE. After the national independence had been lost, the Pharisees gained in influence while the star of the Sadducees waned.
HEROD FOUND HIS CHIEF OPPONENTS AMONG THE LATTER, AND SO HE PUT THE LEADERS OF THE SANHEDRIN TO DEATH while endeavoring by a milder treatment to win the favor of the leaders of the Pharisees, who, through they refused to take the oath of allegiance, were otherwise friendly to him. (Ant. 14, 9:4; 15, 1:1; 10:4; 11:5‑6) Only when he provoked their indignation by his heathen proclivities did the Pharisees become his enemies and fall victims (4 B.C.) to his bloodthirstiness. (Ant. 17, 2:4; 6:2‑4) But the family of Boethus, whom Herod had raised to the high‑priesthood, revived the spirit of the Sadducees, and thenceforth the Pharisees again had them as antagonists; still, they no longer possessed their former power, as the people always sided with the Pharisees. (Ant. 18, 1:4)
In King Agrippa (41‑44 A.D.) the Pharisees had a supporter and friend, and with the destruction of the Temple, the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees.
HENCEFORTH JEWISH LIFE WAS REGULATED BY THE TEACHINGS OF THE PHARISEES; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older, priestly tradition. PHARISAISM SHAPED THE CHARACTER OF JUDAISM AND THE LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF THE JEWS FOR ALL THE FUTURE."
The Jews did not care if Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, in fact, they hailed it as a great thing. But when the Romans finally got their belly full of the Jews subversion and treason and destroyed Herod’s Temple they hated that and have whined about it ever since.
The Deceivers and False Teachers
Yahshua warned about the deceivers (Matthew 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8):
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For ‘many’ shall come in my name saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.”
All three accounts warn about deceivers or false teachers, but Luke’s account explains “when” these things wouldhappen: “And the time DRAWETH NEAR: go not therefore after them.” This was not something that would take place hundreds f thousands of years later! Yahwhua was warning His disciples about something that was about to happen soon IN THEIR TIME.
Did “many” deceivers deceive “many” people in those days? Yes. According to the historian Josephus, twelve years afterour Savior’s death, a certian impostor named Theudas persuaded a multitude to follow him to the river Jordan which he claimed would divide for their passage. At the time of Felix (who is mentioned in the book of Acts 23:24; 23:26; 24:3; 24:22; 24:24-27; 25:14), the country of the Jews was filled with impostors who Felix had put to death “every” day; a statement which indicates there were many of them. And there are many in our time which will have to be put to death at some point in time. An Egyptian who “pretended to be a prophet” gathered 30,000 men, claiming he would show “how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down.”
Another deceiver was Simon, the sorcerer, who led people to believe he was the great power of God (See Acts 8). According to Irenaeus, he claimed to be the Son of God and creator of angels. Justin tells how he went to Rome and was acclaimed as a god by his magical powers.
Origen mentions a certain wonder-worker, Dositheus, who claimed he was the Christ foretold by Moses. Another deceiver in those days was Barchochebas who claimed to vomit flames. Bar-jesus, mentioned in Acts 13:6, was a sorcerer and false prophet. These are examples of the deceivers of whom history says there were a “great number,” and of whom Yahshaua had prophesied there would be “many.”
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Yeashusa then said in Matthew 24:6-7; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9-10:
“And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but ‘the end is not yet.’ For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”
When Yeashua gave this prophecy, it seems the Roman Empire was experiencing a general peace within its borders. But Yeashua said they would be hearing of wars and commotions. And they did. Within a short time the Empire was filled with strife, insurrection and wars.
Before the fall of Jerusalem, four emperors came to violent death within the space of 18 months. According to the historian Suetonius, Nero “drove a dagger into his throat.” Galba was run down by horsemen. A soldier cut off his head and “thrusting his ghumb into the mouth,” carried the horrid trophy about. Otho “stabbed himself” in the breast. Vitellius was killed by slow torture and then “dragged by a hook into the Tiber.” Writing of this period, the Roman historian Tactius used such expressions as; “disturbances in Germany,”“commotions in Africa,”“insurrectons in Gaul,”“intrigues among the Parthians,”“the war in Britain,”“war in Armenia.”
Among the Jews, the times became turbulent; in Seleucia, 50,000 Jews were killed. There was an uprising against them in Alexandria. In a battle between the Jews and the Syrians in Caesarea, 20,000 were killed. During this period, Caligula ordered his statue placed in the temple at Jerusalem. The Jws refused and lived in constant fear that the emperor’s armies would be sent into Palestine. The fear was so real that some of them did not even bother to till their fields.
But though there would be wars and commotions, Yeashua told the disciples: “See that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the ‘end’ is not yet.” Sermons are preached in many of the Judeo-Christian churches about deceivers, wars, rumors or wars, and other things mentioned in the opening portion of Matthew 24, as though they were signs of the soon coming of Yashua.
Something else that should be noticed is: the word “end” here is not the same Greek word used in the expression “end of the world.” (When the disciples of “the end of the world,” (Matthew 24:3) the word is sunteleia (Strong’s Concordance #4930). But in verse six and 14, the word translated “end” is telos (Strong’s Concordance #5056). Not realizing this, some have taken “end” in verses six and fourteen to mean the end of the world. But the primary end in these verses, understood in context,would be the destruction of Jerusalem. Later, when Yahshua answered the question about the end of the world, He used the term “that day;” when “heaven and earth shall pass away.” Considering the setting, Barnes is not doubt correct when he says the end here is “the end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem.”
Famines - Pestilences and Earthquakes
All three of the gospel writers, record the words of Yeashua regarding “famies, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.” (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11)
The Bible tells about famine “throughout all theworld...in the days of Claudius Caesar.” (Acts 11:28) Judea was especially hard hit. “The disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea” (Acts 11:29), taking up collections of food for the saints there. (1 Corinthians 16:1-5; Romans 15:25-28) Historians such as Suetonius mention famine during those years. Tacitus speaks of a “failure in the crops, and a famine consequent thereupon.” Eusebius mentiions famines during this time in Rome, Judea and Greece.
Along with famines, Yahshua mentioned pestilene; that is, plagues, the spred of disease, epidemics. Famine and pestilence, of course, go hand in hand. Suetonius wrote of pestilence at Rome in the days of Nero which was so severe that “within the space of one autumn there died no less than 30,000 persons.” Josephus records that pestilences raged in Babylonia in 40 A.D. Tactius tells of pestilences in Italy in 66 A.D.
During this period, Yahshua said there would also be earthquakes in many places. Tactitus mentions earthquakes at Rome, that “frequent earthquakes occurred, by which many houses were thrown down” and that “twelve populous cities of Asia fell in ruins from an earthquake.”
Seneca, writing in the year 58 A.D., said: “How often have cities of Asia and Achaea fallen with one fatal shock. How many cities have been swallowed up in Syria? How many in Maedonia? How often has Cyprus been wasted by this calamity? How often has Paphos become a ruin? News has often been brought us of the demolition of whole cities at once.” He mentions the earthquake at Campania during the reign of Nero. In 60 A.D., Hierapolus, Colosse, and Laodicea were overthrown. Pompeii was greatly damaged by an earthquake in 63 A.D. There were also earthquakes in Crete, Apamea, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, and Judea.
Persecution Against the Disciples
Yahshua warned that for His name’s sake, the disciples would be afflicted, hated, imprisoned, beaten, killed, brought before rulers and kings, but they would speak wisdom that their enemies could not gainsay or resist. (Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-17)
That such persecutions came upon the followers of Yahshua in those years is well known. They faced “great persecution” (Acts 8:1) and were “imprisoned and beat in every synagogue.” (Acts 22:19) When called upon to answer charges, they were given wisdom that their persecutors could not resist. (Acts 6:9-10) They were hated and some were put to deat. (Acts 7:59; 12:2)
Adding to the chaos, Yahshua revealed that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11) Peter, who was one of the disciples present when Yahshua gave this prophecy, later wrote about “false prophets” that had risen and of “many” that followed their pernicious ways. (2 Peter 2)
John, who also heard Yahshua give this prophecy, recorded the fulfillment: “Many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Paul spoke of “false apostles, deceitful workers.” (2 Corinthians 11:13)
Hymenaeus and Philetus taught false doctrines and overthrew the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:17-18)
By the time Paul wrote to Titus, there were “many...deceivers...who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not.” (Titus 1:10-11)
Truth was muddied by betrayals, false prophets, iniquity, and the love of many waxing cold. “But he that shall endure (such things) unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13) both now and hereafter. We understand “end” here in a “general” sense, for unlike the use of this word in verses six and fourteen, this reference does not have the definite article in the Greek text.
Follow His resurrection, Christ commissioned His disciples:
“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (because that is where God’s Israel people had been dispersed to).” (Matthew 28:18-19)
Just before His ascension from the Mount of Olives, Christ instructed His disciples to wait at Jerusalem until they were endued with power by the Holy Spirit. He added:
“But ye shall receive power, after that Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
This, then, would be the means by which the disciples would be equipped and prepared to witness as directed. Their testimony had not, as yet, been committed to writing and there was no means at their command to translate the message into the many languages of the nations where it was to go. Yet the mission to “teach all nations” was to be completed before that age ended and that generation passed away.
Nothing less than an act of Divine interposition would accomplish this purpose since there was an urgent need for the spoken word to be heard, not only by those who were familiar with the language of the disciples, but by men representing many nations. Thus, the setting was prepared for what was to take place, for with the coming of the Day of Pentecost, we are informed:
“And thee were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews (that is adherents to Judaism), devout men (devout to Judaism not Christ), out of every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5)
The strange phenomena that the assembly company beheld is described in the opening verses of the second chapter of the Book of Acts, whereupon it is recorded concerning the disciples:
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)
It is important to perceive exactly what the account states about the reaction of those present on that memorable day:
“They were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?” (Acts 2:7)
Now notice carefully their second question:
“And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:8)
When the news spread abroad that something astounding had taken place, it is stated that the multitude was bewildered because “every man heard them speak in his own language.” (Acts 2:6) In the 11th verse the comment is reiterated that “we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
What was so astonishing to the people was the fact that, simultaneously, each one of the many nationalities present heard the message being delivered by the speaker as though it was being given in his own dialect.
Fifteen different languages were being heard as the disciples spoke: therefore, it was a miracle of hearing as well as speaking. This is the truth that must not be overlooked if the purpose of the Divinely-sent demonstration on that Day of Pentecost is to be understood.
In this spectacular manner, it became possible for the disciples to fulfill the assigned mission to declare the truth pertaining to Jesus Christ, His death, His resurrection, and their meaning, to “all nations” at the very beginning of the Christian Era and before the end of that generation that would terminate forty years later with the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple, initiating a long period of desolation for the land of Palestine. The Jerusalem bible offers an interesting translation of Acts 2:4, describing what the disciples experienced:
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.”