Just prior to the opening of chapter 24, in chapter 23 Jesus spent many moments critisizing and condeming the hypocritical religious system of the day. Then at the opening of chapter 24 the disciples come to Jesus to have Him admire the beauty of the temple and this is when Jesus says, " See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.."(verse 2) This came as quite a shock to the disciples who then asked "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?."(verse 3)
The need to explain when the destruction of the temple should take place was not all that important as it was about to happen in just a few years after this when the Romans burned the temple to the ground and took it apart stone by stone ( 70 AD ) in order to retrieve the gold that had melted in between the cracks. What Jesus goes into immediately is the period that will mark His triumphant return and what is to take place prior to this. It is important here to note the exact time-line as described by Jesus Himself so as not to be thrown off by some of the erroneous doctrines and dogmas that have been invented by those who have a personal agenda to keep, or by those who simply do not understand Bible prophecy.
First, we are warned against believing in false christs (verse 4-5), Then Jesus says that there will be wars and rummours of wars but ... " the end is not yet.." (verse 6) And then He goes on to say that there will be several malaises and that these are but " the beginning of sorrows." (verse 8) No mention yet as to the "rapture" or His return. But He does say that "then" meaning, during this period of wars, rummours of wars, earthquakes, pestilence,ect... that we, meaning Christians, and also others of faith, would be hated and persecuted and that " because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (verse 12) ** Never in history has the love of people turned so cold toward one another than in the new millenium.**- Ed.
The Gospel of the Kingdom should be preached into all the world prior to the beginning of the last few years. This has now been accomplished with the Bible being translated into many many languages, even some extremely remote, so that it has in effect been preached in all the world. The Bible says, " and then shall the end come.." (verse 14) "then" shall the end come, not before.
Now it is equally important to understand that all the aforementioned events are not happening all at the same moment in time but that they are congruous (being in agreement, harmony, or correspondence - Webster's) with this prophecy. Prophecies, at times, represent periods of time and not only a specific once only event. This is what we have here in Matthew 24.
Remember the original question in verse 3 ? "what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? This is what we are about to get right into.
Verse 15 starts off with " When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet". This is a start point. All the other things mentioned before all must happen first, and they have as this is being written, so now we are going to focus in on a "zooming in" of events that immediately precede Jesus' return. Jesus will not be returning prior to these events, regardless of what some have been teaching concerning this time period. We will not be "raptured" before any tribulation period as you will soon see.
Keep in mind here that Jesus is referring to the prophet Daniel's prophecy of Daniel 9:27. This is important to retain as it will go along way to helping understand the part covering the "70 Weeks" time line that we will study in lesson 2.
" When" you see the "abomination of desolation", " Then" (verse 16), not before, "then" it says to flee from wherever you are. Ok, first the abomination then flee. 1 and 2. Why flee ? Why take off and not look back ? What's the urgency ? " For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (verse 21) " Then " shall be Great Tribulation, that's why . Guess that puts to rest all the pre-trib doctrines huh? Those who claim that the "rapture", or second coming will occur before the tribulation, and blah blah blah. Sorry folks, it just ain't so !
" And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (verse 22) This will be a time that if it weren't for a pre-determined end to it that, "no flesh would be saved", so great will the tribulational persecution be. Hold that thought as all this will become abundantly clear as we get more and more into this study.
At this time (of Great tribulation) there will be many false christs and false prophets claiming that Jesus is here or there (verses 23-26), but Jesus Himself says, " believe it not." (verse 26) And why shouldn't we believe it ? Isn't it possible that Jesus will be in a particular place upon His return, like, say, the mount of Olives, or something ? No ! " For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (verse 27) Not exactly a hidden event. Lets read on.
" For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." (verse 28) This is a metaphore. Jesus is the carcass, the lamb of God sacrificed on the cross. We are the eagles. Therefore where the carcass is ( in His heavenly kingdom ) there will the eagles be. (we will be joining Him)
" Immediately after the tribulation of those days ." (verse 29) Did you catch it ? When ? " Immediately after". After what ? After the tribulation. Not before or during, but after. What's going to happen after ? " shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (verse 29) Nothing secretive about this event. Ok, and now what ?
" And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." ( verse 30-31)
" Then " shall appear the sign and " then" the world will see Jesus returning, and " then " He will gather together His elect . Not before, "then", after the wars, the hatred, the abomination of desolation, the Great Tribulation. After all those things, not before ! Where these guys get off preaching about the second coming happening before the tribulation I will never understand, when the Bible, in Jesus' own words, clearly states otherwise. Don't be deceived, He said, understand.
Then He goes on with the parable of the fig tree and says that when we see these things happening that the time is very very close and that the generation witnessing it wouldn't pass until it all came to be reality. In case anybody is wondering, that generation is ours. Our generation will not end until we see these things be.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (verse 36) I just love the way organized religion has muddled the waters on this. It clearly says that we don't know the day or hour, and that is true, but it says nothing about the week or month. And you will clearly see in further studies how that it is more than a little possible to determine the week or month using the very numbers provided by the Scriptures themselves to determine the relative time that Jesus will return. We don't know that time right at the moment, but it won't be long before we have a really good idea of when it will be.
" But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." ( verse 37-39)
In other words, things are pretty much going to just putt along, with wordliness being just what it is today, with it's wars and hatred for one another, right on up to the moment of Christ's return. The spiritually blind will continue to be the spiritually blind and won't notice a thing until it is way too late.
" Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." ( verse 40-41) This demonstrates that there will be of God's children mingled amongst others right up to the moment of "rapture". Given the conditions of the time, this will be an extremely dangerous and difficult ministry for those still "underground" in the world.
*** That concludes our first lesson on, " The EndTime" . More will be to come in
" The 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel " . It is important that these studies be done in chronological order so that a clear and concise understanding can be established of The EndTime. As the Lord told Daniel, " But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Daniel 12:4) Knowledge certainly has been increased, but how many truly "understand" ? ***