Matthew 24 (No Rapture!) (last update to this study was made on 07/11/2004. This lesson had also been taught by TDC in 1998 @ Sunshine Cathedral Church in Plant City, FL)
You can not understand Matthew 24 without looking at the preceding chapter in some degree. Matthew 23:36 reads "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." Jesus plainly makes the statement it is to that generation in his day. Yet for some odd reason Bible teachers try to explain that part of what Jesus was talking about in these chapters took place in his day while a remaining part was prophesy for our day. Yet, in his own words he stated it would ALL come to ONE GENERATION. To make it simple and clear, what we are about to teach pertained to his generation and does not pertain to our day from a dispensational viewpoint or historical perspective. However, it does benefit us for all scripture is given for our edification.
Again, we read Matthew 23:36-39 "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." And Daniel 9:27 reads "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
We read that Daniel speaks of the sacrifice made to cease and the overspreading of abominations as being the cause of desolation (Moffatt calls them appalling and sacrilegious abominations. It literally means EXTREMITY OF FILTH). Daniel speaks of a pouring upon the desolate. Jesus also tells of their house left desolate. Jesus signified an end of all other sacrifices, yet the Jews didn't accept it and went ahead with animal sacrifices until the city was finally destroyed in year 70 A.D. (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus). The sacrifices were an abomination and stench in the nostrils of God, they were an extremity of filth. It is for this reason that harsh judgment fell upon the city of Jerusalem (note: this occurred in 70 A.D. and is in direct contradiction with those that teach no judgment after the cross). Jesus would have gathered them as a hen under her wings but they WOULD NOT! This abomination or extremity of filth is another reason why another temple will never be built in Jerusalem, contrary to what some Bible teachers try to convince us. Jesus says that Jerusalem is left desolate with no promise of restoration.
In verse 39, Jesus stated "BLESSED IS HE that cometh in the name of the Lord." He was not referring to himself and some sort of second coming two thousand years later. If that were the case, the Holy Spirit was proved himself accurate each and every time when choosing the correct word to use in holy script. In other words, Jesus did not say -- BLESSED IS ME. Rather, the verse speaks of a revelation of Jesus Christ IN THOSE WHO COMETH or are sent in the name of the Lord. In fact, I think I would be correct to say that Jerusalem would not have to look to somebody else such as the Gentiles and the apostles sent by God (as he sent prophets of old).
Matthew 24:1-2 reads "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." The disciples wanted to show Jesus the wonderful temples. They were interested in the natural temples made by the hands of men. Yet when the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., so was everything that Israel counted dear to them for centuries. It was destroyed and so was their Jewish traditions (law), their temple worship and sacrifice and their ordinances. In actuality, the entire nation became DESOLATE. God destroyed their symbol in order to eliminate the meaning of it. In 70 A.D., history bears that such an event was fulfilled.
So what does scripture say to certain things ending at this time? Matthew 24:3 reads "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 world"? The disciples asked him in private these three questions. WHEN? WHAT is the SIGN of thy PRESENCE? and WHAT is the sign of the END of the AGE? The age is that of the Jewish law and religious practice of things.
Verse 4 states that Jesus answered them. I for one do not believe that Jesus avoided or dodged the question as a practiced politician may do in our day. If we would stop and think for just one minute the importance of this dialogue and what Jesus was conveying to them, should it surprise us that he gave his disciples explicit instructions regarding such a terrible event that would soon take place upon their nation? Veres 4 and 5 read "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.". Jesus warns them that many will come in his name and try to make them believe they are ANOINTED, yet his first words to his followers are BE NOT DECEIVED. And though it is very true that we have many today parading around (especially on television) boasting how they are the anointed all the while making merchandise of God's people, it was also true 2,000 years ago that many came with the claim that they come in the name of the Lord and are anointed.
Verse 6 reads "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." Jesus is explaining weighty matters to these people and what is about to happen in their time. He says YE shall hear. Who are YE? It is those to whom he was speaking, his followers. Back then it would be "rumors" of wars as news traveled by word of mouth and without the help of our telecommunications technology today. Today, it would rarely be a rumor. CNN and the like would provide us timely news of a war. You see, there is no way Jesus would forget to tell them about their great city of religion and its soon coming destruction and fast forward them 2,000 years with all manner of tragedies and tribulation, as modern false teachers predict. My friend, don't waste your time listening to these who claim to be anointed and teach such nonsense. Jesus did not teach it and it just isn't in the book!
He was telling them at the time of hearing rumors of wars, do not be troubled for this is not the conclusion. He tells them that the END is not yet. The word END means conclusion of an act or a result. The END of what? He is answering their question. They asked him what shall be the sign or indication of the end of the age (see verse 3). You see my friend, the cross and crucifixion did not mark the end of an age as far as the actual timetable is concerned, though it clearly was the catalyst. When Jesus said "it is finished", what did he mean? He meant his work was finished. The Jewish age would go on for another some 27 years or so, up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Jesus stated the end of that age would not be until certain things occurred. The conclusion end of the Jewish age resulted in 70 A.D. and fulfilled the words of Jesus.
Verses 7 and 8 reads "For a 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." To the best of my knowledge, there has been no indication that there are more famines, pestilences and earthquakes then 2,000 years ago though we now know how to measure these things compared to then. And if there has been more, so what. This verse does not say, it shall be a time when you will have the most of these things. It states that there shall be these things and history bears there had been such things back then. Jesus then states that all these shall be the beginning of sorrows. The beginning is the first, the start, the beginning! In Revelation 3:14, it says that Christ (the Amen) is the beginning of creation. Jesus is talking about the beginning or chiefest of sorrows for Jerusalem. He says that nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Please note it is in singular and not plural use of the words. One kingdom and nation against another kingdom and nation. The fact is, he was talking about the nation or kingdom of Rome against the nation or kingdom of Israel. Yet the false teachers of today try to tell people that it is all the nations of the earth.
"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." (V9). Again, Jesus is using the pronouns of YOU and YE. It is to those whom he is speaking, his disciples, not someone else and especially not 2,000 years later. It is also commonly known that many customs and nations were in this great religious capital of Jerusalem and they hated the Christians. They were afflicted and killed for his name's sake.
Verse 10 reads "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." The word offended means snared, entrapped, stumble, enticed to sin, etc. This often leads to apostasy. Because of the the affliction from others, many would desert the ranks of Christianity. The Jews vented anger upon the Christians until finally Rome poured her wrath upon Jerusalem.
"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." (V11-13). These verses are always applied to our day and though the same can be said of our day, Jesus was speaking of that day or time in which he lived. The one who endured unto the end would be saved or delivered. The one who would endure through the time of tribulation and affliction would be saved in the end. They would be the ones who would find a deliverance from the destruction of the city. Flavious Josephus (37 - 100 A.D.) is the author of what has become for Christians perhaps the most significant extra-biblical writings of the first century and his works are a principle source for the history of the Jews from 175 B.C. to 73 A.D. He wrote that when the Romans made their first advance towards Jerusalem, they suddenly withdrew which was unexpected and very non-political in manner. Josephus said the city could have easily been taken, yet they withdrew. The suggestion has been that it was a sign to Christians to escape.
Verse 14 reads "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." This verse is often taught that the great sign before the coming of the Lord is that the gospel is now being preached unto all nations. Yet, this verse as already been fulfilled near 2,000 years ago. Paul states in Colossians 1:23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;". Now, this statement was made 1,942 years ago (from the year 2004), it is clearly past tense. Paul's letter to the saints at Colosse was written about 62 A.D. which was before the destruction of Jerusalem. In other words, the preaching in all the world was fulfilled before 70 A.D. The world was considered around the Mediterranean Sea. This preaching was a sign or witness to all nations that the end of the age had arrived.
Verse 15 "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)" Again we see YE in this verse. Jesus was saying when YOU see the the abomination of desolation, the extremity of filth, the sacrifices still be given to God after his own son was sacrificed for our sins, stand in the holy place. The preaching unto the world and the abomination or extreme works of the flesh would serve as signs of the time to the believer. And while the believer could prepare himself, the Jew was blind and died in their city. Josephus states that the Roman soldier killed or slaughtered so many that they could not even pick up their sword to kill any more people.
Verses 16 - 18 "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." First, Jesus speaks of a definite geographical location, Judea. He tells those there to FLEE. Luke 21:21 tells them to flee and let them which are in the midst of it depart out and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. This is not a world wide statement, it is location specific. Jesus warned those who inside to depart, to exit fast, to get out. He also warned those outside to not come in! One should not waste any time in their exit and try to hold on to material possessions. And yet, there was perhaps a deeper significance to his warning. It is a known fact that many Christians had brought their Jewish customs and traditions with them into their newly acquired faith. They kept the law and practiced circumcision. Many also continued with the passover and some even with the water baptism of John. However, the word to these were to take nothing out of their house. Don't return back to take the religious clothing which made them appear holy (reminds me of the Bishop collars and the Bishop movement in our day, in which the Spirit is saying to let those in the religious house and flee from those things, come out!). Jesus was saying, don't take the Jewish traditions and practices. That age is now over, it has met its end. Everything of old Jerusalem was to go and a new Jerusalem was arriving upon the scene. This was God dealing with a stubborn and blind Israel, not the entire globe. Those who would cling to the past Jerusalem and all she was about would perish by the hand of Titus and his Roman army. Lot's wife looked about and perished. It is a lesson for us today that we can not look back to a prior order of doing things which God has said is over. Those who put their hands to the plow and look back are not worthy or fit for the kingdom for their heart has not been fully circumcised. They have one foot and one foot out of the kingdom and are not hot or cold, but lukewarm and God will spew these out of his mouth.
Verses 19 - 20 "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:" Once again, Jesus says "but pray YE". He is telling them to pray. There is no doubt that the woman with small child would have more difficulty moving speedily to escape. More so, to those that had birthed in their minds legalistic ideas mixed with the gospel of Christ, Jewish practices and rites, mixing law and grace, having started in the Spirit and ending in the flesh, WOE to those people. And when any mother experiences a separation from her child, it is truly a WOE. When the mind conceives something, it is hard to let it go. It is preached at every opportunity and becomes a pet doctrine!
"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." (V21 - 22). THEN great tribulation. The destruction of the great city of Jerusalem. The place or location? Read verse 21, Judea, Jerusalem. What does Luke say? "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh". He also states in verse 24 that they would be scattered into other nations, which is now past tense. And the YE to whom he had been speaking to would only save their lives or flesh if they are to escape. I have to ask, especially after reading the words of Luke, can it not be any more obvious? Yet, today we have the blind leading the blind and teaching something entirely opposite then what Jesus taught his disciples. I think the words of Jeremiah are appropriate and apply to many teachers today "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not."
Verses 23 - 26 reads "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or, there: believe it not. For there shall false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch 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." There is that pronoun again, YOU. He was speaking to the disciples what will be said to them in that day. It also has application to our lives today that we needn't run here or there to hear the word as the Lord would have us learn to drink out of our own cisterns and have a personal relationship with the living Christ within for our spiritual growth and edification. And don't we see all sorts of great signs and wonders in our day, many showing themselves to be anointed while taking advantage of people for their own material gains and also putting them into mental bondage? Jesus said of those in that day (and it is true today), people will be deceived, except for the very elect. He said, GO NOT FORTH, BELIEVE IT NOT. The desert and chambers speak of two contrasting locations. The desert is a large, open space. The secret chamber is a private place and limited to a few. Both have limitations! Both suggest that the believer were to go somewhere and to someone for their anointing. Now I personally do fellowship with several local brethren and I am often blessed in what I hear when I am among them but I do not go to get spiritually connected nor to be feed! I needn't go forth outwardly to find or strengthen my belief.
Verses 27 - 28 "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 carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Here we find that the Lord begins to answer the question posed to him earlier (see verse 3) about the sign of his coming or PRESENCE. The word 'lightning' is a poor translation and should read LIGHT. Jesus was referring to the SUN. It comes out of the east and shines unto the west. Lightning does not always do that, especially in the lightning capital of U.S.A - Tampa (city nearby where I currently reside), it does not come from the east unto the west. It zigs and it zags. It's origin could be the east, west, north or south or somewhere in between. But the SUN progresses from the East to the West. The path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto a perfect day. The sun is also global and shines this way, while lightning is local. This understanding is important because many have tried to use this verse to support their idea of an instant flash in the sky with Jesus riding on the wings of heaven. However, Jesus was saying here that his presence is a progressive thing, like the SUN, getting brighter and brighter unto a perfect day. And where death is, so are birds of the carrion. Birds that feed on death.
Verses 29 - 31 read "Immediately after the tribulation of those days 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: 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." Many try to interpret this from a natural standpoint and therein is part of the problem. Now that is not to say that the sun and moon can not be darkened by an eclipse. But it is my understanding (I stand to be corrected) that stars do not fall from heaven. It seems unrealistic for where do they go? We do see a shooting star yet they continue on their path in the heavens. Likewise, what would be the sense in God casting down great stars and destroying his creation?
Jesus says IMMEDIATELY. This all took place right after the tribulation or fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The sun and moon represents heads of authority in the heavens. The heavens is a picture of the place where things are governed or where authority stems. When the heavens are shaken, the powers therein are shakened. The ruling religious government of that day was Jerusalem. The stars are lesser members of it (remember the dream of Joseph?). Jesus was saying that the government power of Israel would be completely shaken (and even the Roman government, which would eventually fall). THEN shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. The Son of man in heaven, Jesus Christ ruling and the government upon his shoulders (Isa 9:7). The EARTH is that which is to be governed. The angels are messengers or ministry going forth with a great sound or a message, the gospel of the kingdom! A greater work shall you do than this! His elect has been going forth with this great to the four corners or entire span of the word ever since.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (V32-33). We should now be clear on our pronouns, Jesus says I say unto YOU (those to whom he is addressing while speaking). He says, THIS GENERATION shall not pass till ALL THESE THINGS BE FULFILLED. And it was!
In closing, we hope to add more in the future to this particular teaching.