And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?Mark 13:3-4 ASV
The apostles at that time believed that all three events:
- (1) THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE
- (2) THE SIGN OF JESUS’ COMING
- (3) THE END OF THE WORLD WOULD BE SIMULTANEOUS EVENTS
The inherent conclusion demanded by the statement of the three questions at one time (Matthew 24:3) mandates the understanding of most scholars that Jesus’ answer commingles the reply to all three.
In fact, Jesus did far more than commingle the replies; he actually made the reply applicable to both of the two major events in view, requiring us to understand that the destruction of Jerusalem is a type of the destruction of the cosmos, the “coming of Christ” being an essential element in both.
First, he came in judgment upon Jerusalem; finally, he will appear in the Second Advent at the end of all things.
No adequate understanding of this prophecy is possible without taking this into consideration.
THE FIRST AND SECOND FULFILLMENTS
Divine prophecies often combine type and anti-type in the same word.
Jehovah told Adam that he would die in the day that he ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17); yet Adam lived 930 years.
There was a primary fulfillment of this when Adam was separated from the garden of Eden, and a secondary fulfillment in his death (Romans 5:12).
Isaiah foretold the birth of a son by a virgin, yet added a prophecy which confined it to his own generation (Isaiah 7:14-17). The prophet combined type and antitype in the same words.
There are many examples of this in the word of God.
Rachel’s weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:15) was fulfilled primarily by the captivity, and secondarily by the slaughter of the innocents by Herod (Matthew 2:13).
Likewise, Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” has its first fulfillment in the deliverance of the whole nation from Egypt, and secondarily in the coming of the Saviour out of Egypt when “they that sought the young child’s life” were dead (Matthew 2:18).
The rainbow, to which repeated reference has been made in this series, is a natural phenomenon suggesting the nature of prophecy.
There are often TWO BOWS, the secondary and the primary, with a reversal of the colors.