Welcome to Part 3 of a 5 Part Series
In part 1 of this series (Intro) we looked at the various views of the Rapture, and introduced The Day of the Lord as our focal point to determine the pertinence of the church in the last days. In part 2 of this series (The Day of the Lord) we took a somewhat in-depth look at what the Bible has to say about the Day of the Lord.
Today, we will turn our attention to Matthew 24; commonly referred to as The Olivet Discourse; to see what the world’s foremost Expert on the end-times has to say about these things!
In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus is asked by His disciples about the end of age and the time of His return to earth. To see His answer, let’s look at Matthew 24:1-14.
1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.Matthew 24:1-14
In the verses above Jesus gives a condensed, chronological narrative of what is believed to be the first half (and more, but not all) of the 7 Year Tribulation period. Or more accurately the 70th Week of Daniel, as noted in Daniel 9:24-27. In Matthew 24:15-41, Jesus expands upon His earlier narrative by providing additional details; some of which are being revealed for the first time.
A More Detailed Narrative
In order to keep this post as readable as possible, I will only be sharing the most relevant verses. But I would strongly encourage you to read the entire chapter on your own, as more details are given as the chapter progresses.
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.Matthew 24:15-16,21-22,29-31
What is The Abomination of Desolation and Why is it Significant?
The abomination of desolation is twofold. First, it is an actual historical event involving a ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who reigned over Israel between 175-64 B.C. Sometime around 167 B.C. he and his troops entered Jerusalem in order to squelch a rebellion. This evil king forcibly put an end to their sacrifices and reportedly set up an altar to his god Zeus over the temple altar, then sacrificed a pig on it; thus defiling the temple.
Daniel 9:27, 11:31, & 12:11 foretell the coming of another ruler, the antichrist, who will make or confirm a covenant with Israel for seven years. The initiation of this covenant is also said to mark the commencement of the 70th week of Daniel. After 3-1/2 years, he will violate his covenant with Israel and, in like manner to Antiochus Epiphanes IV, will forcibly stop the daily sacrifice, defile the temple by taking his seat inside of it, and declare himself to be God; demanding to be worshiped by all.
We see that directly after the abomination of desolation (the mid-point of this 7 year period) Jesus says there will be a great tribulation. Worse than at any other time in history. These will be terrible days of suffering and martyrdom for those who refuse to worship the antichrist. But as Jesus promises, these days will be cut short for the sake of the elect. And it is immediately after this period of tribulation that the foretold cosmic disturbances begin; culminating in what appears to be a very public appearance of the risen Christ and the gathering together of his elect!
Revelation 24:30-31 – And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Amen and Amen!
Based solely on the totality of the above scripture passages, we can now form a loose order of events for the time period discussed. I say loose, because there are some things that aren’t completely clear as to when exactly they happen in the overall view of things, based on Matthew 24 alone.
- False Christs, Religious deception (vs. 4)
- Wars, Civil unrest (vs. 7)
- Famine (vs. 7)
- Earthquakes (natural disasters) (vs. 7)
- Pestilence (Mark 13)
- Abomination of Desolation – 3-1/2 year point (vs. 15)
- Great Tribulation and Martyrdom (vss. 7 & 21)
- Gospel preached in all the world – likely during, and due to the mass martyrdom (vs 14)
- Supernatural cosmic disturbances (vs. 29)
- Gathering of the Elect (vs. 30-31)
Note: In part 2 of this series, we learned that The Great Tribulation is not, and does not include, The Day of the Lord; though many refer to it as such. This misinterpretation has caused much confusion when it comes to understanding the passages that cover these final years of earth’s history.
There is so much more I could point out about this chapter. But I will save that for another day. In the meantime, you can read it for yourselves (hopefully with all this in mind) and be as equally astounded as I am!
Most astonishing to me of all about Matthew 24, is how strikingly similar it is to Revelation 6. Have you ever noticed that? In our next segment, we’ll take a look at that and see what else we can glean; and whether or not our above sequence of events holds any water.
Until then, may God bless you and keep you!
Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series: The Seven Seals