Matthew 24:26
Why if they shall say to you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) In the secret chambers.—The word is the same as that translated “closet” in Matthew 6:6. What is meant is that the pretenders will in some way or other shun the publicity which would test their claims. There would be whispered rumours that the Christ was concealing Himself in the wilderness beyond the Jordan, or in the inner recesses of some zealot’s house, and would at the last moment appear to claim the throne of His father David. (Comp. Jos. Wars, vi. 5, § 2). Believers in Christ would hear such words with a calm indifference, for they would know that such was not to be the manner of His approach.

24:4-28 The disciples had asked concerning the times, When these things should be? Christ gave them no answer to that; but they had also asked, What shall be the sign? This question he answers fully. The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter. What Christ here said to his disciples, tended more to promote caution than to satisfy their curiosity; more to prepare them for the events that should happen, than to give a distinct idea of the events. This is that good understanding of the times which all should covet, thence to infer what Israel ought to do. Our Saviour cautions his disciples to stand on their guard against false teachers. And he foretells wars and great commotions among nations. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and he left their house desolate, the sword never departed from them. See what comes of refusing the gospel. Those who will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. But where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid. It is against the mind of Christ, that his people should have troubled hearts, even in troublous times. When we looked forward to the eternity of misery that is before the obstinate refusers of Christ and his gospel, we may truly say, The greatest earthly judgments are but the beginning of sorrows. It is comforting that some shall endure even to the end. Our Lord foretells the preaching of the gospel in all the world. The end of the world shall not be till the gospel has done its work. Christ foretells the ruin coming upon the people of the Jews; and what he said here, would be of use to his disciples, for their conduct and for their comfort. If God opens a door of escape, we ought to make our escape, otherwise we do not trust God, but tempt him. It becomes Christ's disciples, in times of public trouble, to be much in prayer: that is never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. Though we must take what God sends, yet we may pray against sufferings; and it is very trying to a good man, to be taken by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. But here is one word of comfort, that for the elect's sake these days shall be made shorter than their enemies designed, who would have cut all off, if God, who used these foes to serve his own purpose, had not set bounds to their wrath. Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th 2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.Behold, he is in the desert - The Jews had formed the expectation that the Messiah would appear suddenly from some unexpected quarter; hence, many would be looking to desert places, expecting that he would come from them. Accordingly, most of the impostors and pretended prophets led their people into the deserts.

Go not forth - Do not follow them; they will only deceive you.

In secret chambers - Concealed in some house, or some retired part of the city. Many would, doubtless, pretend that the Messiah was concealed there, and, either for the purpose of encouraging or deceiving the people, would pretend that they had discovered him.

CHAPTER 24

Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).

For the exposition, see on [1355]Mr 13:1-37.

Ver. 23-26. Mark hath much the same, Matthew 13:21-23. There is no doubt but that our Saviour here hath a special respect to those persons who, about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, taking advantage of the Jewish expectation of the Messiah as a secular prince, who should restore them to liberty, (an opinion which, as we have often heard, had infected the generality of the Jews, and not a little even the disciples of Christ), made themselves heads of parties, and pretended that they were the Messiah, the Christ, thereby to encourage people to follow them, and to stand up for their liberty; of which kind there were several mentioned both in the history of Josephus, and in the Roman history, respecting those times. Our Lord therefore cautions his disciples against such, and thereby taketh them off their expectation of any such secular kingdom of the Messiah as they had dreamed of. He tells them that there would such persons arise, and some of them should do great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they would deceive the elect of God; but he had prayed for them; only they must also watch and take heed, that they might not be cheated and deceived by them, though they came with never so fair pretences, for his coming would be quite of another nature, and his kingdom would be a quite other kingdom. Wherefore if they shall say unto you,.... Any of the false prophets, or the deluded followers of false Christs:

behold, he is in the desert, go not forth: that is, should they affirm, that the Messiah is in such a wilderness, in the wilderness of Judea, or in any other desert place, do not go out of the places where you are to see, or hear, and know the truth of things; lest you should, in any respect, be stumbled, ensnared, and brought into danger. It was usual for these impostors to lead their followers into deserts, pretending to work wonders in such solitary places: so, during the siege, Simon, the son of Giora, collected together many thousands in the mountainous and desert parts of Judea (t); and the above mentioned Jonathan, after the destruction of the city, led great multitudes into the desert:

behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not; or should others say behold, or for certain, the Messiah is in some one of the secret and fortified places of the temple; where, during some time of the siege, were John and Eleazar, the heads of the zealots (u); do not believe them. Some reference may be had to the chamber of secrets, which was in the temple (w);

"for in the sanctuary there were two chambers; one was called , "the chamber of secrets", and the other the chamber of vessels.''

Or else some respect may be had to the notions of the Jews, concerning the Messiah, which they imbibed about these times, and ever since retained, that he was born the day Jerusalem was destroyed, but is hid, for their sins, in some secret place, and will in time be revealed (x). Some say, that he is hid in the sea; others, in the walks of the garden of Eden; and others, that he sits among the lepers at the gates of Rome (y). The Syriac version here reads in the singular number, "in the bedchamber"; in some private apartment, where he remains till a proper time of showing himself offers, for fear of the Romans: but these are all idle notions, and none of them to be believed. The true Messiah is come, and has showed himself to Israel; and even the giving out these things discovers a consciousness, and a conviction that the Messiah is come.

(t) Joseph de Bello. Jud. l. 5. c. 7. (u) Ib. c. 6. l. 4. (w) Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 6. (x) Aben Ezra in Cant. vii. 5. Targum in Mic. iv. 8. (y) Vid. Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. c. 50.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 24:26. Οὖν] according to the tenor of this my prediction. Matthew 24:26 does not stand to Matthew 24:23 in the relation of a strange reduplication (Weiss), but as a rhetorical amplification which is brought to an emphatic close by a repetition of the μὴ πιστεύσητε of Matthew 24:23.

ἐστί] the Messiah, Matthew 24:23.

ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις] the article is to be taken demonstratively, while the plural denotes the inner rooms of a house. According to Fritzsche, we have here the categorical plural (see on Matthew 2:20): “en, ibi est locorum, quae conclavia appellantur.” That would be too vague a pretence. The phraseology here made use of: in the wilderness—in the inner rooms of the house—is simply apocalyptic imagery. “Ultra de deserto et penetralibus quaerere non est sobrii interpretis,” Maldonatus.Matthew 24:26. ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, a likely place for a Christ to be (Moses, Israel’s first deliverer).—μὴ ἐξέλθητε, go not out (cf. Matthew 11:7-9).—ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις (vide Matthew 6:6), in the secret chambers, the plural indicating the kind of place, not any particular place. Both expressions—in the desert, in the secret recesses—point to non-visibility. The false prophets bid the people put their faith in a Messiah not in evidence, the Great Unseen = “The hour is come, and the man is somewhere, out of view, not far away, take my word for it”. Interpreters who seek for exact historical fulfilments point to Simon son of Gioras, and John of Giscala: the former the Messiah in the desert of Tekoah, gathering a confiding multitude about him; the latter the Messiah in the secret places, taking possession of the interior part of the temple with its belongings in the final struggle (vide Josephus, B. J., iv., 9, 5 and 7; Matthew 24:6; Matthew 24:1, and Lutteroth, ad loc.).26. in the desert … in the secret chambers] i. e. whether the false Christ shall go forth into the desert and draw men to him by an ascetic life, or shall influence by teaching in the “schools” of the synagogues, be not deceived.

secret chambers] one word in the original. The same word is translated “closet” (ch. Matthew 6:6), that is the place for prayer on the top or in the upper part of an Eastern house.Matthew 24:26. Ἐν τῆ ἐρήμῳ, in the desert) This might be said speciously (cf. ch. Matthew 3:3), and is applicable to those who drew crowds and bands tumultuously after them; see Acts 21:38. Therefore our Lord adds, “Go not forth.”—ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις, in the secret chambers) This applies to those who pretended to possess hidden treasures, therefore our Lord adds, “Believe it not.”Verse 26. - Wherefore if (ἐὰν οϋν, if therefore). The Lord proceeds to make the matter more plain by entering into details which the "here" and "there" of ver. 23 had not sufficiently denoted. He (Christ) is in the desert. If there was a partial fulfilment of this warning at the siege of Jerusalem, when some impostors tried to persuade the people that Messiah was in the wilderness, preparing to march to their relief, it is to have its chief accomplishment just before the final consummation. Go not forth. Be not deluded into following any local deceiver. The definite place of appearance proves its falsity (see ver. 27). The secret chambers; in penetralibus (Vulgate). When Christ comes the second time, he will not come as at Bethlehem, in secret, in a corner. If any pretender should be announced under such conditions, they were to put no belief in him. These were simple tests which all could apply. To limit the Lord's appearance to particular persons or to a particular place, was to incur fatal error. In the desert - Secret chambers

Rev., wilderness - inner chambers. Both retired places, indicating that the false Messiahs will avoid public scrutiny.

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