END-TIME SIGNS IN THE WORDS OF JESUS
The Signs of the End Time in the Words of Jesus
The Signs of the End Time in the Words of Jesus (“Olivet Discourse”) is found primarily in Matthew 24 [and 25]. The parallel passages (the same prophecy) are in Mark 13 & Luke 21.
All Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16). But still there is something particularly authoritative in reading these words straight from the mouth of Jesus. Use a good literal translation of the Bible and take time to read through all 3 accounts. Then take note of the points made in this newsletter, and do a re-read. An interesting study!
Two (2) Admonitions
When the disciples asked Jesus “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”, Jesus’ first and foremost response came in the form of two admonitions (v.4-6). Obviously these were of primary importance.
1. “Do not be mislead”— is a warning that many will be misled (v.11). Deception will be a hallmark of this Church age, and particularly so as the end nears.
2. “See that you are not frightened”—is a warning that fearful things will accrue as the end nears. Yet the same verse (v.6) tells Christians WHY they need not fear when it says “for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” The phrase affirms the Sovereign Hand of the All-knowing God over all events, including when Jesus will return (“the end”).
Two (2) Dominant Features Of This Age
Jesus said two dominant features would characterize world history from the time of His ascension to heaven until His return from heaven (the Church age). I have in my library a 15-foot long Chart Of World History. It depicts, in graphic form, a “birds-eye” view of world history. The dominant feature of this Church age has been the prominence of wars and religious movements—and the combination of the two...religious wars! Again, Matthew 24:4-6...
1. False Christ—”For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” Notice the word “many” used twice here. Anyone who rises up and claims to be God’s “anointed one” (“Christ”) fulfills this prediction. Every false religion splintering out of the Judaeo-Christian root fulfills this prediction. The founder of Islam (the last and the greatest, or the "seal" of the prophets, Quran sura 33:40), and Islam, in sheer numbers, has been the greatest of these.
2. Wars & Rumors—”And you will be hearing of wars and rumors (reports) of wars.” Turn on the TV.
LEFT: There is only ONE (1) true "CHRIST" who saves from sin--Jesus Christ. All others (and there are many such imposters) are those whom Jesus calls "false Christs". (Mat 24:5)
RIGHT: "Wars and rumors of wars" will at the End Time merge into "nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom", i.e., Global War.
Two (2) Generations
Jesus spoke of 2 generations which would experience tribulation. But only one would see The GREAT Tribulation.
In Matthew 24:1-3, when Jesus told the disciples that the Temple would be destroyed, with not one stone remaining upon another, they asked Him two questions: 1) "Tell us, when will these things be? 2) and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
1. THE 70AD GENERATION—Jesus answers the first question about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in Luke 21, parallel account to Matthew 24 . In Luke’s account (21:12-24, i.e., “But before all these [end-time events take place]”) Jesus gives specifics on the prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which occurred precisely so in 70 AD. The destruction of Jerusalem and it’s Temple, then, involved the generation of Jesus’ disciples—the 70 AD GENERATION JEWS.
2. THE END-TIME GENERATION—Although Luke 21 devotes space to both the 70 AD and End-Time events, both Matthew 24 and its corollary passage in Mark 13 devote the entire narrative to the second question: “and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" This involves a future, END-TIME GENERATION OF JEWS—AND THE WHOLE WORLD—in the GREAT Tribulation.
Error of Preterism
Preterism is a system that mixes a literal with non-literal reading of the text, arriving at a pre-text: Preterism says, namely,
1. there are no end-time prophecies.
2. Since Jesus said "when YOU see", and since he was speaking to His disciples, then the prophecies of Matthew 24 must be referring to 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and have already been fulfilled. (for a refutation, see "The You of Mat 24" below)
3. Literal tribulation happened at that time, 70 AD was the Great Tibulation, but the coming of Jesus was not a literal event.
4. Rather, despite what the plain reading says, Preterism teaches that Jesus returned in 70 AD in an invisible, “spiritual” event!
This is, literally,
Two (2) Peoples
Matthew 24 speaks of 2 peoples.
1. At the center of its prophecy are the JEWS. This is obvious for several reasons. First, the Gospel of Matthew itself is directed to the Jewish people. Second, the prophecy is Jewish, focusing on the land of Israel (“the holy place [Temple], v.15; “Judea”, v.16; “Sabbath”, v.20; “false prophets”, v. 11 & 24, which relates to Israel—false teachers relate to the Church).
2. But by implication (“nation against nation”, v. 7), and confirmed by the statement in Luke 21:34-35 that “that day...will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth”, the GENTILES of the whole world will also be involved.
The ‘Cyclical’ Structure Of Revelation & Matthew 24
Revelation shows the events surrounding the 2nd Coming of Christ at the end of each of these chapters: 6, 11, 14, 16 & 19 (see right). For instance, 6:12-17 shows the signs in the sky which introduce the Return of Jesus (6:12-17, "Preview", right).
Then chapters 7-11 recycle back to describe certain aspects of the Tribulation, until at the end of chapter 11 the 7th Trumpet again shows events associated with the 2nd Coming.
This pattern is repeated to the end of 19. Then, in chapter 20, the Millennial Kingdom is described.
This same pattern exists in the structure of Matthew 24 (with the Millennial Kingdom described in chapter 25) as shown on the bottom of the graph at right.
When this pattern is seen it adds light-years to the understanding of both books.
Four (4) “Birth Pangs”
Matthew 24 uses a term prominent in the Old Testament, “birth pangs” (v. 8) to describe the beginning events leading to the Tribulation. Jesus said, just as the travail of a woman giving birth is signaled by birth pangs, so will the Tribulation be signaled by the onset of certain events. There are 4 “beginning birth pangs” listed by Matthew. Remarkably, Revelation chapter 6 confirms these in the famous ‘Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse’ passage.
Four (4) “Birth Pangs” of Matthew 24
1. False Christ-Peace, v.5; “rise” from peace, v.7
2. War, v.7
3. Famine-Earthquake, v.7
4. Plague (Luke 21:11; Death)
Four (4) Horsemen of Revelation 6
1. False Christ-Peace, v.2
2. War, v.4
3. Famine-Earthquake, v.5-6
4. Death (Plague, v.8)
The Explosion of End-Time Signs
Have wars, earthquakes & famines increased to the extent that we can classify them as the Matthew 24 ’birth pangs” of the End Days? To even have to ask the question is to answer it. When the birth pangs begin, no one will be debating the question.
The Birth Pang-parallel passage in Rev. 6 states (the 4th Horse, v.8) that the war, famine & plague will kill one-fourth of the world’s population. This is not a creeping onset, but rather an “EXPLOSION” of BIRTH PANGS at the End Time. Luke 21:34 says “that day [will] come...suddenly like a trap!
The Signs of the End...3 Things...
Three (3) Things must be simultaneously present to signal that the End Time is near.
1. ALL Signs Must Increase (happening now)...& then EXPLODE (not yet).
2. ALL Signs MUST Converge at one time in history (not yet).
3. Israel Must Be In The Land (now).
The “You” of Matthew 24...Who is it?
When Jesus gave the prophecy of Matthew 24, He was talking to his disciples about events to come in the future. Yet, as Jesus looked directly into the eyes of His disciples He said “YOU” will experience these things. Look below at the bold-highlighted word “you,” used over and over .
"See to it that no one misleads you...And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened...Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. Matthew 24:7-9
Does the “you” mean that the disciples would experience all of these events and see the Return of Jesus? No. We see this same rhetorical method used by Moses in his far-reaching prophecy of the Jews, where he makes it clear that he is referring to a future generation.
"Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today ... and with those who are not with us here today... the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you...” (Deut. 29:14-15, 22)
Then Moses begins looking into the eyes of his contemporary Jews and speaking of events yet far into the future— "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you ...and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you... then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.
If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back... into the land which your fathers possessed...” (Deut. 30:1-5)
Jesus used this same “you” terminology in a very clear instance in Matthew 10:23 where He said to his disciples, "But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.”
The third “you” refers to a far distant generation of Jews—the 144000.
Moses speaking to contemporary Jews
(Exodus generation) about a Future "you"
Jesus speaking to contemporary Jews
(His disciples) about a Future "you"
How Do You Make Sense Of Prophecy?
READ IT LITERALLY!
If you want your doctor to accurately diagnose your complaint, wouldn’t you expect him to take your words seriously and literally? Why would we hold God’s Word to a lower standard?
If we want to accurately understand Bible Prophecy, we must take it seriously and literally. An excellent example of the importance of reading the Bible literally comes from those Bible teachers who in past times, before there was even a hint in the headlines, read the prophecies that the Jews would one day return to their ancient homeland —as literal prophecies. The liberals said otherwise, citing the 1900-year-old dispersal of the Jews throughout the world, and “spiritualizing” the words of the prophecies beyond recognition, making them say what man wanted them to say—namely, that the Church was the new Israel, and the history of the Jews was over. The LITERAL reading proved to be true with the 1948 miraculous — & LITERAL — formation of the state of Israel in the land of Israel.