Three times in this sermon alone, Jesus mentions false teachers will deceive “many.” Also, the utter destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was a prophecy, not a “sign,” it was a judgment of God on the Jewish people for rejecting the Messiah. Persecution often reveals traitors within the Church as well as enemies outside, and the test of any age is endurance. Those who endure to the end will be saved and the gospel must first be preached as a witness to the nations, then comes the end.
(*I realize there are various views on the timing of the rapture and end times events however, these differences should not cause brothers and sisters in Christ to break fellowship or harshly criticize others. Respectful disagreements are healthy.)
In the pre-tribulation view of the rapture, the “catching-up” of believers in Christ, the timeline (see below) many of us believe has the rapture occurring prior to what we’re about to read in Matthew 24. So, here’s a quick reminder of the good news!
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
During the rapture, the saints, living and dead, will be changed physically and either raised from the grave or for those still alive, taken up to meet the Lord in the air. Paul also warns believers: it could happen at any time!
If you believe Jesus is returning tomorrow, then live like He’s coming back today.
Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Messiah during His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. At the second coming of Christ, He will return to fulfill the remaining prophecies. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King.
- The Old Testament prophets did not make a clear distinction between the two. This can be seen in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, and Zechariah 14:4. As a result of the prophecies seeming to speak of two individuals, many Jewish scholars believed there would be both a suffering Messiah and a conquering Messiah. With the benefit of the New Testament and hindsight, we know Jesus fulfills both roles.
Titus 2:13 describes His return as a “glorious appearing.” But tribulation comes first.
MATTHEW 24:14-31 The Coming Tribulation, “Abomination of Desolation,” & Return of Christ
Jesus now describes the sign of His coming and the end of the age. [For context: read from Matt. 24:11-14…]
Matthew 24:15 – “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),”
The exhortation let the reader understand reinforces the fact Jesus was not only instructing the disciples or their generation, but believers in the end time, as well as those who will read this in Scripture and be able to understand the trials they are enduring.
…The abomination of desolation, translated, “the abomination which makes desolate, or lays waste.” In other words, the abomination brings or causes the desolation.
- Essentially, the abomination of desolation speaks of the ultimate desecration of a Jewish temple, the establishment of an idolatrous image in the holy place itself;
- In the vocabulary of Judaism of that time, an abomination was an especially offensive form of idolatry. Jesus described a gross form of idolatry, standing in the holy place, the temple, that brings with it great destruction (desolation).
- A literal Greek rendering of the phrase is “The desolating sacrilege”(disgusting)
As spoken of by Daniel the prophet: The abomination of desolation is mentioned in the book of Daniel three times. Here it states:
They shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31).
Jesus warns the Israelites what should be done when the abomination of desolation appears: flee immediately.
Matt. 24:16-20 – “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”
- According to ancient sources, as Roman Emperor, Vespasian was approaching with his army, those who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled beyond the river Jordan; and so they escaped! They were forewarned by this prophecy of Jesus – even though it applies specifically to the end times. They recognized the sign of coming distress, and fled!
- Sadly, that was not what the Jewish people did. Jesus’ advice was when that day came, men ought to flee to the mountains. Instead, they crammed themselves into the city within the walls of Jerusalem, making casualties & the famine worse.
We believe from this warning and earlier passages that God will remove His church before the fury of the Great Tribulation. But this will hopefully give believers a sense of urgency.