This Olivet Discourse Deception study is about the meaning of the Sun, Moon and Stars of Matthew 24:29.
The ‘sun, moon and stars’ are symbolic of earthly dignitaries, great political authorities and great lights in the political or religious heavens.
We know this because in Genesis 37:8-10, Joseph had a dream, ..”And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me. So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” It was symbolic of the power structure.
Isaiah used this same terminology when he referred to the judgment of God against the leadership of Babylon in Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine.“ And indeed, the power of Babylon was destroyed by the Medo-Persian empire.
The disciples would have clearly understood that it was symbolic.
Here are more examples which are clearly not about the literal sun, moon and stars.
Isaiah 13:10 is referring to the Babylonian leaders being removed from power by the Medo-Persians.
“For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.“
Isaiah 13:17 confirms this with, “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,”
Isaiah 34:3-5 foretold the destruction of the Edomites and other nations which were enemies.
“Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.”
Ezekiel 32:6-8 points to the Babylonians desolating Egypt, removing the Pharaoh (Sun) and his leaders (moon) from power.
“I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee. And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.”
Applying the symbols to Matthew 24:29, we can see that the Jewish leaders having their power structure removed, is clearly indicated.
As a result of the ‘people of the prince‘ of Daniel 9, the Roman army of Prince Titus; the temple and Jewish leadership system were desolated.
The High Priest was the Sun, the Sanhedrin Council was the Moon, and the many rabbis were the stars.
Mark 13:24-25 says:
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
This fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel 12:7, that said that the power of the holy people, the Jewish leadership, would be scattered.
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
Commentaries from great theologians about the Sun, Moon and Stars of Matthew 24:29:
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
Shall the sun be darkened, etc. The images here used are not to be taken literally. They are often used by the sacred writers to denote any great calamities. As the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars would be an inexpressible calamity, so any great catastrophe, any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes, is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements. Thus the destruction of Babylon is foretold in similar terms, Isa 13:10; and of Tyre, Isa 24:23. The slaughter in Bozrah and Idumea is predicted in the same language, Isa 34:4. See also Isa 50:3; 60:19-20; Eze 32:7; Joe 3:15. To the description in Matthew, Luke has added, Lu 21:25 there should be “distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts falling them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.” All these are figures of great and terrible calamity. The roaring of the waves of the sea denotes great tumult and affliction among the people, Perplexity means doubt, anxiety; not knowing what to do to escape. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, or by reason of fear. Their fears would be so great as to take away their courage and strength.
Adam Clarke (1837)
“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man. The plain meaning of this is, that the destruction of Jerusalem will be such a remarkable instance of divine vengeance, such a signal manifestation of Christ’s power and glory, that all the Jewish tribes shall mourn, and many will, in consequence of the manifestation of God, be led to acknowledge Christ and his religion. By.. of the land, in the text, is evidently meant here, as in several other places, the land of Judea and its tribes, either its then inhabitants, or the Jewish people wherever found.” (On Matt 24:30)
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, That is, immediately after the distress the Jews would be in through the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it; just upon the destruction of that city, and the temple in it, with the whole nation of the Jews, shall the following things come to pass; and therefore cannot be referred to the last judgment, or what should befall the church, or world, a little before that time, or should be accomplished in the whole intermediate time, between the destruction of Jerusalem, and the last judgment: for all that is said to account for such a sense, as that it was usual with the prophets to speak of judgments afar off as near; and that the apostles often speak of the coming of Christ, the last judgment, and the end of the world, as just at hand; and that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, will not answer to the word “immediately”, or show that that should be understood of two thousand years after: besides, all the following things were to be fulfilled before that present generation, in which Christ lived, passed away, Mt 24:34 and therefore must be understood of things that should directly, and immediately take place upon, or at the destruction of the city and temple,
Shall the sun be darkened: not in a literal but in a figurative sense; and is to be understood not of the religion of the Jewish church; nor of the knowledge of the law among them, and the decrease of it; nor of the Gospel being obscured by heretics and false teachers; nor of the temple of Jerusalem, senses which are given into by one or another; but of the Shekinah, or the divine presence in the temple. The glory of God, who is a sun and a shield, filled the tabernacle, when it was reared up; and so it did the temple, when it was built and dedicated; in the most holy place, Jehovah took up his residence; here was the symbol of his presence, the mercy seat, and the two cherubim over it: and though God had for some time departed from this people, and a voice was heard in the temple before its destruction, saying, “let us go hence”; yet the token of the divine presence remained till the utter destruction of it; and then this sun was wholly darkened, and there was not so much as the outward symbol of it:
and the moon shall not give her light; which also is to be explained in a figurative and metaphorical sense; and refers not to the Roman empire, which quickly began to diminish; nor to the city of Jerusalem; nor to the civil polity of the nation; but to the ceremonial law, the moon, the church is said to have under her feet, Re 12:1 so called because the observance of new moons was one part of it, and the Jewish festivals were regulated by the moon; and especially, because like the moon, it was variable and changeable. Now, though this, in right, was abolished at the death of Christ, and ceased to give any true light, when he, the substance, was come; yet was kept up by the Jews, as long as their temple was standing; but when that was destroyed, the daily sacrifice, in fact, ceased, and so it has ever since; the Jews esteeming it unlawful to offer sacrifice in a strange land, or upon any other altar than that of Jerusalem; and are to this day without a sacrifice, and without an ephod:
and the stars shall fall from heaven; which phrase, as it elsewhere intends the doctors of the church, and preachers falling off from purity of doctrine and conversation; so here it designs the Jewish Rabbins and doctors, who departed from the word of God, and set up their traditions above it, fell into vain and senseless interpretations of it, and into debates about things contained in their Talmud; the foundation of which began to be laid immediately upon their dispersion into other countries:
and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; meaning all the ordinances of the legal dispensation; which shaking, and even removing of them, were foretold by Hag 2:6 and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 12:26 whereby room and way were made for Gospel ordinances to take place, and be established; which shall not be shaken, so as to be removed, but remain till the second coming of Christ. The Jews themselves are sensible, and make heavy complaints of the great declensions and alterations among them, since the destruction of the temple; for after having taken notice of the death of several of their doctors, who died a little before, or after that; and that upon their death ceased the honour of the law, the splendour of wisdom, and the glory of the priesthood, they add1,
“from the time that the temple was destroyed, the wise men, and sons of nobles, were put to shame, and they covered their heads; liberal men were reduced to poverty; and men of violence and calumny prevailed; and there were none that expounded, or inquired, or asked. R. Elezer the great, said, from the time the sanctuary were destroyed, the wise men began to be like Scribes, and the Scribes like to the Chazans, (or sextons that looked after the synagogues,) and the Chazans like to the common people, and the common people grew worse and worse, and there were none that inquired and asked;
that is, of the wise men there were no scholars, or very few that studied in the law,
Kenneth L. Gentry (1997)
“The cloud-coming of Christ in judgment is reminiscent of Old Testament cloud-comings of God in judgment upon ancient historical people and nations. The nature of the event has to do with a ‘Cloud-Coming’ of Christ. It is necessary here to understand the Old Testament backdrop for a proper comprehension of the matter. The Old Testament frequently uses clouds as indicators of divine judgment. That Christ’s taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ’s “coming in glory,” and his “coming in the clouds,” Daniel 7.
Marcellus Kik (1971)
“This clause has been thought to relate definitely to the second, visible, and personal coming of the Lord. But in the light of well-defined biblical language, the reference is rather to a coming in terms of the events of his providence in judgment against his enemies and in deliverance of his people.. Many commentators have taken it for granted that the expression “coming in the clouds” refers to a visible coming of Christ. A careful study of the Scriptures, however, reveals that that is not a necessary interpretation.” (An Eschatology of Victory, p, 140-141, cf. 142-143)
“The judgment upon Jerusalem was the sign of the fact that the Son of man was reigning in heaven. There has been misunderstanding due to the reading of this verse, as some have thought it to be ‘a sign in heaven.’ But this is not what the verse says; it says the sign of the son of Man in heaven. The phrase ‘in heaven’ defines the locality of the Son of Man and not of the sign. A sign was not to appear in the heavens, but the destruction of Jerusalem was to indicate the rule of the Son of Man in heaven.”
“The apostle Paul states in the eleventh chapter of Romans that the fall of the Jews was a blessing to the rest of the world. He speaks of it as the enriching of the Gentiles and the reconciling of the world. The catastrophe of Jerusalem really signalized the beginning of a new and world-wide kingdom, marking the full separation of the Christian Church from legalistic Judaism. The whole system of worship, so closely associated with Jerusalem and the Temple, received, as it were, a death blow from God himself. God was now through with the Old Covenant made at Sinai: holding full sway was the sign of the New Covenant.” (ibid., pp. 137-138)
“The Old Testament is filled with solar, lunar, and stellar language depicting great political upheaval. The rise of kingdoms is compared to the brightness of the sun, moon, and stars. The brightness of these heavenly bodies means that a nation is in ascendancy. When a nation is described as falling – coming under the judgment of God – it is compared to the sun and moon going dark and stars falling from the sky.” [Last Days Madness: The Folly of Trying to Predict When Christ Will Return (Atlanta: American Vision, 1977),96.]
As you can see, the symbolic language of Matthew 24:29 is describing the casting down of the Jewish leaders from power, ending the Jewish national existence.
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