Matthew 24:1– This section is known as the Olivet discourse because it was given to His disciples on the Mt. of Olives. It describes the sign of the Messiah’s coming and the discourse was precipitated by Jesus’ remarks concerning the destruction of Herod’s Temple. The Apostles had just spoken in complementary words of the beauty of the Temple.
Not only was the Temple itself an archetectural wonder, but the mount that it sat on. The courtyard and porticoes surrounding the Temple were magnificent. Some of the stones that Herod used in its construction weighed as much as 700 tons.
The engineering required to work with such stones is still marveled today. Their was no mortar that was needed, the immense weight held the stones in place. In fact it is this kind of construction that allowed many of the walls to remain intact in numerous earthquakes that have occured throughout the centuries.
When Jesus said that not one stone of the Temple would remain, the thought was inconceivable in the minds of the Apostles. Such events they assumed spoke of the end of the age, and so they then asked Jesus what would be the sign of Jesus coming to herald the end of the age. Their thoughts were that the Jesus would in their lifetime bring to a conclusion these end time events and usher in the millennial kingdom rule of the Messiah.
This is seen in their continual fighting over who would sit at His right and left hand in the coming Kingdom. When Jesus told the Pharisee and Scribes that they would not see Him again until they said “Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord”, they were even more convinced in the immanency of His coming. Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection they asked Him if now He was going to bring the Kingdom (Acts 1:6).
The expression “coming” is the Greek word parousia, which basically means presence. In essence their thoughts had to do with the assumption of His role as King of Israel. The end of the age was an expression used by Jesus in Matthew 13:39-40,49 in the parable of the weeds and tares, and also in the last chapter of Matthew 28:20. The expression refers to a day yet in the future.
Since we will be studying last things we will begin to consider some of the terms used in the study of future events, the theological word for these studies is eschatology. This comes from the Greek word eschatos, which means “last” or “final.” The main focus of eschatology concern the return of Jesus, the millennium, the last judgment, the final resurrection, and heaven and hell. Matthew touches on all of these areas. Let’s define some of the terms that we will be considering in our study before us.
Millennium – (from the Latin mille, meaning “a thousand”) refers to the 1,000 year reign of Christ and His saints described in Revelation 20:4-6. There are three basic perspectives concerning the millennium. Pre-millenialism, Post-millenialism, and Amillenialism.
Pre-millennialists believe that Jesus will return before (“pre‑”) He establishes a millennial kingdom on this earth. This return will be necessary because forces hostile to God will be governing the world, and Christ must conquer them before He can rule. Towards the end of the millennium evil will again arise, and it will have to be defeated once more before God’s cosmic rule is perfected.
Until the fourth century, the early church was generally pre-millennial. This perspective declined after Constantine made Christianity the Empire’s favored religion.
Post-millennialism maintains that Jesus will return after (“post‑”) an earthly kingdom is established. This means that the millennium will be simultaneous with an era of ordinary human history. This viewpoint was first comprehensively articulated by Augustine (354‑430), who regarded the establishment of the church from Constantine’s time as the rule of Christ with His saints. Post-millennialism has often been the general perspective of Roman Catholic, Reformed, and other socially established churches.
Today some socially‑minded evangelicals are reviving it. In a general sense, post-millennialism describes an eschatology which expects religious and social activity to play a large role in establishing God’s kingdom. That man by his works through the church will accomplish this. While they believe that the church must significantly influence the social and political world, they usually place evangelism at the heart of the kingdom’s advance.
Matthew 24:4-5 -Jesus describes signs or “Labor pains” that will occur before the Messiah comes with His Kingdom. First there would be a plethora of false messiah’s and those living in those days are warned not to be deceived. For there will be men and spirits performing all kinds of wonders and signs. The believers will be few and far between, suffering and being martyred.
The legitimate church will have been removed at the rapture, and in its place will be a corrupted heretical church that will condone persecution of genuine believers. If that isn’t bad enough the Holy Spirit’s restraining power will be removed (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The ultimate false messiah will come to power, the Anti-Christ who is the devil incarnate. He is described in Daniel 8:23;11:36, Paul call him the man of lawlessness and the son of destruction. In the book of Revelation he is described as the beast in Revelation 13.
Matthew 24:6-7 A second labor pain Jesus describes has to do with wars and rumors of wars – We live in such a day don’t we? These events will increase if that can be imagined. Jesus calls His followers not to be frightened by this, because these are indications that the last days are approaching. These wars and rumors of wars are necessary for the Anti-Christ to facilitate the making of a covenant with Israel that Daniel speaks about (Daniel 9:27). This will set the stage for the Battle of Armageddon spoken of in Zechariah 12-14, and also the Seal judgments of Revelation 6.
Matthew 24:7b-8 A third labor pain that Jesus describes about the end of the age concerns famines and earthquakes; in essence great natural disasters. This too corresponds with some of the seal judgments in Revelation 8 which will destroy the crops of the earth through poisoned water and sunlight, which will be altered. The bowl judgment of (Revelation 16:17-21).
Matthew 24:9 The fourth labor pain that Jesus describes is the persecution that many believers will suffer during that time many believers who come to faith during the tribulation will handed over to the governing authorities for persecution and martyrdom. That they will be hated by all nations is an indication that the nations will be in agreement concerning their opinions of followers of Jesus. The reason for their persecution will be because they will be haters of the Name. We see this in the Fifth Seal of Revelation (Revelation 6:9-11).
Matthew 24:10-13 The fifth labor pain will be manifold and will include the nominal believers to fall away. When Satan could not destroy the Church in the first two centuries of its existence, he joined it. This was accomplished by the conversion of Constantine. No longer was Christianity an outlawed faith but now the religion of the Emperor. Many people became Christian in name and religion but not in reality. Another aspect of this fifth labor pain will be the betrayal of genuine believers by the nominal believers.
During the tribulation many who have claimed to be believers will because of persecution deny the faith. Not only will they deny but they will begin to betray genuine believers Matthew 24:10. This will likely be caused by the increased pressure by the state/religion to persecute those that are not part of their sanctioned religion. The state will enact laws that will make it possible to exclude from commerce any who do not have the mark of the beast. Still another aspect of this labor pain is found in Matthew 24:11 which tells us that there will be false prophets who will mislead many.
Because of the lukewarm nature of professing believers not only will they fall away, and betray genuine believers to the authorities but religious teachers will arise with a false message. There will be false prophets proclaiming a false messiah, and subtle lies to deceive people. Even now Satan and his minions disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Revelation 17 describes the false religion of that day and describes it as the “great prostitute”.
Still another aspect of this birth pang is that because of “lawlessness” most people’s love will grow cold. This is not only a forsaking of man’s laws but foundationally a forsaking of God’s laws. (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Jesus concludes his remark on this fifth birth pang with the comment that “the one who stands firm will be saved”. It is not a persons endurance that brings salvation but rather endurance is an indication that one is saved. All of us will experience trials and persecutions but God will give grace and strength to His children to endure until the end. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Matthew 24:14 The final birth pang is the proclamation of the Gospel of the Messianic Kingdom to the entire world. In Revelation 7 God seals 144,000 Jewish witnesses to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Many will be martyred for their faith but the results of their witness was incredibly successful. (Revelation 7:9-10).
In Matthew 24:15 we have an example of a prophecy with multiple fulfillment:
(1) The first reference is to Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes, who reigned in Syria from 175 to 164 B.C. Antiochus halted the sacrifices in the temple and defiled the temple by raising up an idol, a pagan altar to Zeus.This is the events that led to Hanukah.
(2) Jesus seems also has in view here, destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 by the Roman general Titus. Believers of that understood this prediction and followed the command of Matthew 24:16-18 and fled to the mountains during the Roman invasion and siege.
(3) Daniel and Jesus, Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:2-4) and John (Revelation 13:14,15), saw a future fulfillment in the actions of the Antichrist during the Tribulation. In Daniel 9:26,27 it becomes apparent that a reenactment of Antiochus’ treacherous desecration will occur when “the prince who is to come” (Matthew 24:26) makes a seven‑year covenant with Israel (Matthew 24:27).
The “prince” is the Antichrist. Paul described as the “man of sin” and John describes him as the beast from the sea. He will break his covenant with Israel after three and one‑half years. Then will follow the desecration of the temple, the great persecution of Israel, and the judgments of the Tribulation. The expression “let the reader understand” is an allusion that the words of Jesus should not be understood as referring to the time of the disciples and the early church but rather to the events of the last days or the seventieth week of Daniel, which the readers of those days understood.
Matthew 24:16-20 – There are many who study prophecy and seem to make it an end in itself. Scripture tells us the purpose of prophecy is to call us to a holy life (1 John 3:2-3). The abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15) is the harbinger for the first series of ‘birth pangs’ that Jesus spoke of. When the Antichrist desecrates the Temple and asks Israel to worship him, Israel’s refusal will spark the second half of the tribulation. It is at that point that Jesus tells all His believers in Judea to flee to the mountains.
The main thrust of his anger will be against Israel who will have refused his call to worship. Jewish people always have been the particular focus of Satan in his plans to thwart God’s plan on earth. If he could destroy the Jewish people he could remove the promised Seed of Abraham who would ultimately crush him (Genesis 3:15).
Satan also knows that Jews still will figure in the final redemption of the world in the last days through the 144,000 and in the millennial kingdom they will teach the nations about God and his ways. (Isaiah 2:3), (Zechariah 8:23).
Zechariah tells us that as these Jewish believers flee many of them will be killed. Two thirds of the Jewish people will be killed here and during the tribulation. (Zechariah 13:8-9).
The holocaust of Germany wiped out one third of the Jewish population, while this holocaust will wipe away two thirds of the Jewish people.
Many who have come to faith that are not Jewish after the rapture of the church will also be martyred for their faith during this time (Revelation 6:9-10). All out war will be declared against God’s saints (Revelation 13:7) and it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. In Revelation 12 we see that God gives grace to Israel to flee the wrath of the Antichrist (Revelation 12:6,13-14).
The area she will flee to is to the south and east, probably the region of Moab or Edom. It is for that reason that at the turn of the century W.E. Blackstone a believer in prophecy and lover of the Jewish people, raised funds so that Bibles might be place in some of the caves of Petra, which is in the area of Edom. The urgency to flee is so strong that Jesus warns His followers not to go into there homes to get clothing but to run at once.
The warning was given so that those with children would not hesitate, and be warned to get as quick a head start as possible. The cruelty of that day will cause men to tear babies from the womb, and to smash children to death before the eyes of a mother. The allusion to winter is such that inclement weather might slow them down. That they should pray that it not be on a Sabbath was an allusion that they could not move as quickly without breaking the law of be subject to those ultra orthodox who would persecute those who do break the law.
Matthew 24:21-22 – The Great tribulation is described as unique from all other tribulation by the description that it will be greater than all tribulation from the beginning of the world until now. This would place it as more horrific than the flood in the days of Noah. It would pale in comparison to the Holocaust of Germany. In Revelation 6-16 we have an escalation of judgments beginning with the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments. Both the books of Revelation and Daniel describe this period as 3½ years in length (Daniel 7:25;12:7;Revelation 11:2;13:5;12:14).
In Matthew 24:22 we are told that if God would not have cut short the destruction for the elect nobody would have survived. This is not a reference to time but of detestation. This world, bent on self‑destruction, would finally succeed in destroying itself if God did not intervene. Some have suggested that when Jesus speak of the days being cut short he is referring to a supernatural shortening of the daylight hours in order to give those who are fleeing more darkness to cover their escape. There are three times in the tribulation when the earth will be darkened (Revelation 6:12-14;8:12;16:10).
The elect could be a reference to the Jewish people referred to as the chosen ones in Isaiah, or it could refer to both Jews and Gentiles who come to faith during the tribulation (Revelation 17:14) They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings‑‑and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Both ways could be correct for ultimately at the end of the tribulation all Israel shall be saved who have survived.
Matthew 24:23-27 – Among those that flee will be those who will try to influence the elect into returning to the clutches of the Antichrist. They will suggest that the Messiah has come and that they should leave their hiding place and go to greet Him. These false prophets and messiahs will do many incredible things to try and mislead and convince the elect to follow them. They will have very compelling proofs and arguments , but because they are elect they will not be deceived. (John 10:27-28).
Jesus tells those who are wondering how they will recognize who the real Messiah is when he finally does come. His coming will be visible to all men even as lightning is seen across the face of the sky (Acts 1:9-11), (Revelation 1:7,6:15-16).
Matthew 24:28 – He shall come to execute judgment (Isaiah 30:30;Revelation 19:17-21). The word in the Greek is translated eagles in the King James and vultures in other translations, in either case they are unclean birds of prey, who will gather where the carcasses are. There are at least two meanings to this verse. In the Tribulation battles the aftermath will bring birds of prey as well as animals that feed on carcasses. The point of this passage is that the coming of Messiah shall be to execute judgment.
Matthew 24:29– Yeshua tells his talmudim that the sign of His return will occur immediately after the tribulation of those days, at the end of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). They are the final days of the great judgment and wrath of the Lamb on the Gentiles who have rejected all the opportunities to turn and surrender to Messiah during the seal, trumpet and vial judgments. Satan the Antichrist and the false prophet will have been allowed almost unrestricted freedom in the unholy trinity’s futile attempt to gain rule of the earth.
The Lord’s coming to reign will take place at the end of this time. During this time two thirds of the Jewish population will perish in that battles and judgments with one third coming to faith and repentance.
Matthew 24:30 – Now Yeshua answers the ultimate question of what the sign of His coming will be; it will be His appearing in such a manner that all the world will see Him. He will come in His glory, in much the same way that His glory appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, only it will be worldwide. Men will either mourn in repentance (Matthew 5:4), and come to faith as (Revelation 14:6-7).
Or they will curse God in unrepentant (Revelation 16:9). Among those who will repent at His appearing will be the nation of Israel (Zechariah 12). His appearing will be in the clouds as was prophesied in (Acts 1:11). Like the ascension, His coming will be personal, visible, and to the Mount of Olives (Revelation 1:7;19:11-16;Zechariah 14:4).
Contrasted with the darkness that God will bring over the face of the earth will be the glorious light of the Lord. (Zechariah 14:6-7). Power to judge and bind Satan and his minions (Revelation 19:20). The beast and his false prophet will be the first occupants of the lake of fire; other unbelievers, now in hades, will join them at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:14).
Power to fulfill (Daniel 9:24). This is accomplished by His establishment of the millennial kingdom of Messiah (Jeremiah 23:5-6). He will have the power to set God’s seal of fulfillment on all the prophecies concerning the Jewish people and Jerusalem. Anoint the most holy place, refers to the inauguration of the Holy of Holies in the millennial Temple.
He will have manifest His power further by changing the nature of the animal kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9). This will fulfill the words spoken by Paul concerning the groaning of creation longing for the sons of God to be glorified. (Romans 8:18-22). He will have power to revive the earth that was struck (Joel 2:25), (Matthew 25:31).
Matthew 24:31 – Angels are literally “messengers” of God. After the judgment of the unrighteous upon the earth at the end of the great tribulation they will gather the righteous who are alive as well as all the righteous throughout the ages. The call to them will be a special blast upon the trumpet of God. Though angels are spirits (Hebrews 1:14).
The word for angel is always used in the masculine gender, though sex, in the human sense, is never ascribed to angels. (Matthew 22:30;Mark 12:25). They are exceedingly numerous (Hebrews 12:22). But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, They have great power (2 Kings 19:35). Their dwell before the throne of God (Revelation 5:11; 7:11).
Their relation to believers is that of “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation,” and this ministry has reference largely to the physical safety and well‑being of children of God (Psalm 91:11), (Daniel 6:22), (Acts 5:19).
Matthew 24:32-34 Jesus taught in parables. A parable is a means of teaching by putting by relating stories for the purposes of comparison and new understanding. Jesus uses the picture of a fig tree to describe the timing of His second coming to the earth. There is a difference between a parable and an allegory. Holman’s Bible Dictionary describes allegory in this way: “An allegory makes many comparisons through a kind of coded message. It correlates two areas of discourse, providing a series of pictures symbolizing a series of truths in another sphere.
Each detail is a separate metaphor or what some call a cryptogram. If you are an insider who knows, you receive the second or intended message. Otherwise, you can follow only the surface story. Jonathan Swift’s Guilliver’s Travels is an allegory as is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.” In general, however, parables are to be distinguished from allegories because of their simplicity, sharp focus, and direct imagery.
When the twigs of fig trees begin to get tender and put forth leaves, it is a sign that the sap is running through it, and it is a sign that the growing season of spring and summer is present. Just as these signs point to summer so the signs of Matthew 24:4-28 are signs of Jesus’ second coming to the earth. While it is true that some of these events have happened throughout history, all of these events have not occurred in the same period.
When all the events of Matthew 24:4-28 occur including the Great Tribulation, Jesus’ second coming will occur. The generation that goes through those events will not pass until his coming. He was not referring to the generation of the disciples but to the generation of the last days.
(1) the firmament (Genesis 1:8), referring to the earth’s atmosphere;
(2) the universe of the stars and planets (Psalm 19:1); and
(3) the unique dwelling place of God (Hebrews 4:14).
The third heaven is an actual location prepared for God’s people, it is a real place uniquely prepared for believers. It is the place where God will always be with His people. Heaven is a place of unending activity and meaningful responsibility, without the limitations of the time, space, and death. According to Revelation 22:5 Christians will reign forever involved in all kinds of activity and responsibility.
(1) When is the destruction of Jerusalem prophesied by Yeshua to take place?
(2) What will be the sign of Christ’s coming?
(3) What signs will foreshadow the “end of the age”?
He has responded by describing the birth pangs, that would precede His coming including the “abomination who causes desolation”, and the sign of His appearing with power and great glory. Now Yeshua addresses the question of the timing of His coming. Yeshua declares that no one but the Father knows the day and the hour of the time of the Lord’s return.
One might ask if Yeshua is God, how could He not know what the Father knows? The answer is that part of His mission was His submission and surrender of certain attributes while He lived a life of faith and dependence upon the Father. Not even the angels who serve before the Lord day and night know the timing of the second coming.
Matthew 24:37-39 The reason we are prevented from knowing the timing of the second coming is to be stimulated to be alert and ready. Yeshua goes on to say that the people of the earth will be like those who were alive at the time of Noah. Their attitude was one of selfish disregard for God and His will for their lives. The world carried on as if there was no God who would hold them accountable when suddenly judgment came.
Because men’s hearts are cold and insensitive to spiritual things they miss God’s work among them. This was the case at the time of the flood, and it was the case it the day of Yeshua’s first coming. Yeshua rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for this very thing (Matthew 16:1-3). During the time of the tribulation men will be even more advanced in their understanding of the physical signs of the universe and will just the same miss the signs of the sudden return of the Lord.
(2 Peter 2:5) and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; In much the same way God is building an ark today. The ark of today is the Body of Messiah, the Church. When we come to faith in Him we by His Spirit are led, like the animals of Noah’s day to the safety of the Ark of the New Covenant.
As Noah built the ark he also preached for 120 years but they reasoned that nothing seemed any different over the years. In fact it had never rained before the Flood. During the tribulation 144, 000 Jewish men will preach the Gospel and many Jewish people and multitudes of Gentiles will come to faith, but the majority will ignore the message of these prophets calling all men to repentance and life.
Matthew 24:40-42 Yeshua now draws a parallel to those who were taken away in a flood of judgment while Noah and his family was preserved. The two men and women that are taken are taken to judgment while those who are believers will remain and enter the millenium. This is the same judgment that is described in Matthew 25 where the sheep and goats will be separated.
The goats will be taken to judgment while the sheep will remain to enter the kingdom (Matthew 25:32-46). Since judgment is imminent we should be ready. This readiness means living in the presence of God, living in a way that demonstrates we are His children. (1 Thessalonians 5:6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. We need to be attentive to the things of God.
Matthew 24:43-44 – Our Messiah warns us not only to be alert but to be prepared for His coming. The words of this chapter are directed to those who will be living during the tribulation but they apply to us as well. No self respecting thief would let the people he was going to rob know when he was going to burgle them. In the same way no family would leave their house unguarded if they knew what time a thief was coming.
The Lord is giving those who hear His words the understanding that they will not know when the Messiah will be coming but that they should be prepared for His coming is imminent. Jesus is not comparing himself to a thief but correlating the manner of His coming with the same manner as that of thieves, we need to be prepared. The Lord is going to come at an hour we are not even expecting. Being ready means having the Messiah as our Lord and Savior.
Matthew 24:45-51 – Jesus uses another analogy to call His children to readiness. He likens those who are waiting His coming to a servant who is left to care for his masters home while he is away. The servant is a steward over his estate providing for the household as the masters representative. Blessed is the slave who serves His master and is found to be faithful when the master arrives.
In much the same way we are servants of the master. We are called to be bond servants. Slaves are the property of their owners and could be bought and sold by their owners. In much the same way we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20,7:23), (John 13:5 ff).
The great example is that He laid down His life for us as a ransom for many. The word translated ransom (Lutron) was a term used for the redemption price of a slave to buy his freedom. We were slaves to sin and with his death he purchased us out from bondage setting us free to serve Him whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
(Titus 2:14), (1 Peter 1:18-19). The ransom was paid to God to satisfy His justice, in that sin must be dealt with. The price is sufficient for all mankind, but it is only valid to those who by faith receive it. It is His steadfast love that serves as an example for us. We have been entrusted with the business of the master and he has given us ample resources to serve Him. Blessed is the servant who is found doing the work that God has called him to when He appears.
Unbelievers are compared to the slave who said in his heart my master is not coming for a long time. This servant lives like he has no master, or worse, in a manner that mocks his master. He is cruel to the other servants and self centered and cavorting with other selfish people. The slave analogy was easily understood in the time of Jesus, but not so understood today.
Slavery was a common and accepted practice, in fact it was endorsed Biblically. Joseph served as a slave in Egypt, the entire nation of Israel was born in slavery in Egypt. The law had numerous laws regarding the treatment of slaves, including their beating (Exodus 21:21-22). The expression torn in pieces comes from the Greek word dichotomeo, which means to “cut in two” and was understood to mean that the slave was killed and then sent with the hypocrites for eternal punishment.
This gives us the idea that the unfaithful servant was not a hypocrite, that he was open and honest about his unbelief and disobedience. Honest unbelievers are under condemnation just as much as the religious hypocrites whose fate will be the same. All who are not ready to receive the Lord when He comes will receive final and everlasting conscious torment and suffering in hell.
God has given mankind ample time and evidence to respond to His love and grace. There will be final and irreversible judgment for those who reject God as their Lord and King. The description of weeping and gnashing of teeth denotes a conscious awareness of torment and grief.