As Jesus and his disciples walked out of the Jerusalem temple, the disciples showed him the size and beauty of the stones (Matthew 24:1-2). Little wonder! That edifice was stupendous! Jesus ignored their appeals to the temple’s beauty and said, “Do you not see all these things? The time is coming when not one stone that shall be left standing on top of another” (Matthew 24:2-3). The disciples were stunned.
The disciples immediately queried: “Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age?” It is right here that Christianity continues to make some astounding claims about the disciples. It is claimed that the disciples were confused, and mistakenly linked the coming judgment on Jerusalem with the end of the age. It is even claimed that the disciples could not imagine the destruction of the temple unless it was at the end of the world. But didn’t the disciples know the temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians 600 years beforehand? The world wasn’t destroyed then, was it?
Were the disciples confused, or in error, to link the end of the age with the judgment on Israel? While many claim they were, the Bible emphatically says no! In Matthew 13, Jesus had already predicted the end of the age, saying it would be “when the righteous shine as the firmament” (Matthew 13:43). This is a direct quote of Daniel 12:3. So, the end of the age would be when Daniel 12:3 would be fulfilled.
Daniel 12 foretold the end of the age when the righteous would shine (Daniel 12:4, 9-13). Jesus predicted the end of the age, and said it would be when Daniel 12:3 was fulfilled. Perfect harmony.
Daniel overheard one angel ask another angel when all of the things he, Daniel, was seeing, i.e. the end of the age and related events, would be fulfilled. Daniel 12:7 is heaven’s answer; “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered, all of these things shall be fulfilled.” So, the end of the age would be, “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered.” The end of the age would be when Israel was destroyed! Now back to Matthew 13.
Jesus said the end of the age would be when Daniel 12:3 was fulfilled, but Daniel 12 would be fulfilled when Israel was completely destroyed. That was, irrefutably, the catastrophe of A.D. 70. Then, in Matthew 13:50f, Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what he had said about the end of the age. They said, “Yes.”
So, in Matthew 24 Jesus predicted the judgment on Israel. The disciples immediately thought of the end of the age. Jesus had already told them that the end of the age was when Daniel 12 would be fulfilled. He asked them if they understood what he said, and they said “yes.” Were they lying?
The disciples were not wrong, nor confused to link the end of the age with the judgment on Israel. The end of the age came “when the power of the holy people” was completely destroyed. That is what the Bible teaches. The real confusion is the belief that the end of the age is yet future.