This is an excerpt from John Owen’s sermon, The Advantange of the Kingdom of Christ in the Shaking of the Kingdoms of the World, preached to the Commons assembled in Parliament in 1651 (Works, Vol. 8, 334).
That God in his appointed time will bring forth the kingdom of the Lord Christ unto more glory and power than in former days, I presume you are persuaded. Whatever will be more, these six things are clearly promised:
1. Fullness of peace unto the gospel and professors thereof.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox (Isa. 11:6–7).
And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children (Isa. 54:13).
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby (Isa. 33:20–21).
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof (Rev. 21:15).
“And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’” (Mt. 27:25)
Perhaps one of the most misinterpreted teachings of our Lord today can be found in Matthew 24, known as the Olivet Discourse. It is here where many Christians find what they believe to be still-future prophecies regarding the end of the world – wars, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets, the ‘abomination of desolation’, signs in the sky, and more terrifying things before the return of Christ.
In fact, when preparing for this position paper we experienced an earthquake in Idaho and then a few weeks later fear of COVID-19 swept our nation. Both of these events, along with locusts in Africa, have been referred to by John Piper as “pointers” reminding us of Christ’s return. But what if this is a misapplication of Jesus’ lesson to His disciples on the Mount of Olive? What if in this particular passage he was primarily referring to an event that has already taken place?
In this short look at Matthew 24, I will seek to show that Jesus’ prophecy in the Olivet Discourse has already been fulfilled—specifically at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. I too once believed that Jesus’ prophecy was yet to be fulfilled and turned to Matthew 24 in order to understand the “end times.” But I now believe that if we pay proper attention to the context, audience, and the way in which Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled after His ascension, we can see that the events described in the Olivet Discourse have indeed taken place.