MATTHEW 24: 1-28, PART 1
Man is naturally curious about the future and the disciples of Jesus were no exception. The words in Matthew 24 and 25 are an explanation given by Jesus as to the world events that would bring about the end of this present age.
The key verse to chapters 24 and 25 is verse 3 of chapter 24. The Lord spoke those words on the Mount of Olives in answer to these questions by His disciples, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and the end of the age?"
There are many subjects addressed here and I won't attempt to cover them in one message. This will be a series of messages not confined to biblical chapter divisions.
Chapter 24 tells what the world will be like during the Great Tribulation just before our Lord returns to set up His Kingdom on this earth. This will occur shortly after the Rapture of the church and will contain all the horrors described in the book of Revelation. At the Rapture, all non-believers will be left on this earth so this is a preview of the terrible conditions they will encounter when Satan is free to exert his will on this world. Again, this will not occur until after the Rapture when the Lord will have met His blood bought Bride, the church, in the air. The church is made up of those who believe in Him for the remission of their sins. He will return to heaven with her. He will later return to earth and cleanse the earth of all unrighteousness and establish His Kingdom.
Jesus had finished teaching near the Temple in Jerusalem. He and His disciples crossed the brook Kedron to the Mount of Olives and that's where this conversation begins.
Verses 1-2. "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them 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."
When Jesus spoke this prophecy those buildings looked substantial enough to stand for many centuries. The stones of the Temple were huge stones, cut to fit precisely, and weighed several tons each. There seemed to be no force on earth at that time that could destroy the Temple and the surrounding structure. Within forty years, the Roman army burned the Temple and the gold and silver fittings within it melted down between these huge stones. The Roman soldiers pried these stones apart to retrieve the precious metal. Not one stone was left upon another.
Verse 3. "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" The disciples linked the prediction of verse two to what Jesus had said on former occasions concerning His second coming. They sat down on the Mount of Olives that overlooked Jerusalem and the Temple, and asked these three questions.
"When shall these things be?" That is, when shall Jerusalem be destroyed? Luke 21:20-24 answers this question.
"What shall be the sign of Thy coming?" Matthew gives the answer in this chapter.
"What shall be the sign of the end of the age ?" This is not the end of the world they were asking about, but the end of the present age. This chapter answers this question.
Verses 4 to 8 deal with the characteristics of the present age until Christ returns.
Verses. 4-8. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
In every century since the Lord returned to heaven, these conditions have been evident. He even states that would be so, but, while they do not in themselves tell us of the nearness of His return, they show us how badly all creation groans as it waits for His advent.
"Take heed that no man deceive you." Satan is the great imitator. He fools people by imitating everything that God does. We need to be on guard constantly against his deceptions, to test everything by what the Scriptures tell us. This applies to today as well as the time of the Tribulation.
"Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ." The Moslem religion is one example of this today. Mohammed is dead and still in the grave. Their god, Allah, and their bible, the Koran, were invented in the sixth century after Christ. Other impostors and antichrists have been without number. All these have come to earth by way of natural human birth. When the real Christ returns to earth again, it won't be as a baby. No one should be led astray. He will come as the Lord from heaven with power and glory.
"The end is not yet." Man rejected the Prince of Peace when He came to earth the first time. Ever since He went back to heaven, wars and rumors of wars have been constant reminders that there can be no peace until the Prince of Peace returns to earth. These are the results of man's rejection of Christ, not evidence of the end of the age.
Verse seven depicts wars in which many nations and kingdoms will be engaged. There have been many wars during the past nineteen hundred plus years and they have increased dramatically during the last century.
War always brings on famines and diseases. There are earthquakes in many places today that may imply an increase in natural convulsions of the earth as the end draws closer.
"All these are the beginning of sorrows." There is nothing for the unsaved one to be cheered up about. The Lord warns the unsaved that there will be far worse conditions for man on this earth before the Lord appears in person to establish His kingdom. These will be the previously mentioned events of the Book of Revelation. Christ was rejected when He came as the Prince of Peace. He will come in power and glory this time and destroy those who refuse to accept Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The secret of the rapture of the Church, prior to the end-time isn't mentioned here in this prophecy. There is no time set for it, nor are there any signs indicated. The offer of the Kingdom and the King was still there at the time Jesus spoke these words written in the book of Matthew. The signs given here all have to do with the fact that He is the King from heaven Who will return with great power and reign over the whole earth. The coming of the Son of Man refers to this event, never the Rapture.
Next, in verses 9 to 14, Jesus emphasizes the signs that indicate what the first half of the Tribulation will be like. The Rapture of the church will have occurred. No one knows when He will return to establish His Kingdom.
The everyday world will go on just as it had for centuries until Christ suddenly returns to earth. Each one must be ready to meet God at any time since similar signs and conditions have taken place again and again during the last twenty centuries, but they will accelerate near the end time.
Verses 9-14. "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
“Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.” At that time, the Lord will call out a new testimony. Many of His witnesses will be from Israel and will be called on to lay down their lives for Christ during the reign of the Beast and the Antichrist. Believers in the Middle East and elsewhere are being martyred today for preaching the Gospel. These predictions will have a double fulfillment, first during the present age of grace and then in the Tribulation. Apostasy will be common and many will be mislead. Faithful servants of God will be betrayed by their closest relatives. History repeats itself in the professing church and in the world.
The closer we come to the end the more active Satan will be because he knows his time is short. So “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
The complete rejection of morals will be encouraged by Satan and any who profess to trust in Christ will be actively persecuted. Where love of God or man is only superficial it will become cold, and apostasy will prevail.
The test of reality in any age is endurance. "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." When a person has been born of God, he has received eternal life and he will endure. That one is saved eternally, regardless of what may come in this world. In order to fit these solemn words into the truth revealed elsewhere of the believer’s eternal security, it's not necessary to say that they apply solely to the tribulation period. It is true always that only those who endure shall be finally saved.
1 John 5:4 "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." All who profess faith in Christ and then recant it when trouble threatens give evidence that they were never truly born again.
Verse 15 brings in the beginning of the great tribulation, "the abomination that maketh desolate," as predicted in Daniel 12:11.
Verses 15 to 28 give the details of that time.
"Verses 15-28. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whosoever readeth, let him understand:) 16. then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. 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. 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. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
This world is going to see a time of trouble, "such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" [Daniel 12:1].
I realize some people don't believe Daniel's prophecy, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, believed it and even quoted from it. That is proof, beyond any doubt, of it's truth.
Again we have a double fulfillment of this prophecy. Around 400 B.C. an image was set up by the King of Syria in the Temple at Jerusalem after he had defiled the sanctuary by offering a sow on the altar and sprinkling its blood in the holy places. The abomination of desolation during the Tribulation will be some outward recognition of the antichrist. This will be a signal for the Believers in those days to flee from Jerusalem and Palestine to "the wilderness of the people" mentioned in Ezekiel 20:35. There God will hide them from the wrath of the Beast and his followers, "until the indignation be overpast." [Isaiah 26:20]. These will be believing Jews, "the brethren" of the Lord, spoken of in the next chapter, who will be living on the earth when the Son of Man comes in His glory and in judgment of the Gentile nations. The faithful Jewish remnant who are often spoken of in the prophets will have to flee from the antichrist, leaving everything behind.
They're told to pray that their flight won't be in the winter or on the Sabbath day. This indicates a different condition from what prevails today. The Jewish remnant will be waiting for the manifestation of Messiah, but living under the law, because they have refused to enter the liberty of grace by rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.
“Then shall be great tribulation:" The world has never know anything like the terrible times coming in the Tribulation. Conditions will be so awful that unless God in mercy shortens the days there would be nobody left alive. But, for the sake of the elect, those of Israel who are faithful to God, He will shorten the days. The length of time is actually given in Revelations, 1260 days. During this time, everyone who has trusted God will be looking for the Son of Man to return and deliver them from this awful time. Satan will be doing his best to deceive them by offering false christs and presenting his antichrist as the awaited Messiah. "The very elect," those who trust in God and rely upon His Word, will be able to tell the difference and will refuse all these deceptions.
They are warned to reject it if they're told that the Messiah has come already and is meeting people out in the desert. If they're told He's in some secret place they are not to believe it.
When He comes, His glory will be seen all over the world. It can't be mistaken. It will be "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."
When Christ returns in power and glory, apostate Judaism, centered in Jerusalem, will be like a dead carcass that vultures [eagles] will be gathering on. This pictures the scene of the armies of the world gathering to fight against the Jews as foretold in Zechariah 14.
When it seems that Satan’s triumph is going to be complete, Christ will return and secure the victory for Himself.
I will leave this message at this point
with a warning to any who might read this.
The horrors to come on this earth that are described
here in Matthew and in the Book of Revelation will come.
If you don't know Christ as your Savior now,
you may well be subject to those things and without any excuse.
The believers who are living when Christ comes to meet them in the air
will all be gone to heaven and are safe for all eternity.
Those who have neglected to accept His offer of salvation,
or rejected it, will not be given a second chance
and will spend eternity in hell. God's Word.
Christ died on the cross to pay for your sins.
All He asks [and all that God will accept]
is that you confess to Him that you are a sinner
and can do nothing to save yourself,
and that you accept His offer of complete forgiveness
for all your sins, past, present, and future.
He will come into your heart and enable you,
through the Holy Spirit,
to live a life honoring to Him.