Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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Here in Part 2 of this study of Matthew chapters 24 and 25, we will continue the discussion under the heading, "We Need to Consider Why the Scenario Pictured under Matt. 24:9-13 Is So Negative" under Matt. 24:13.
Antichrist's prime supporter will be the false prophet of Rev. 13:11-18. Matthew 24:11 mentions false prophets, and 24:24 speaks of false Christs and false prophets showing great signs. These prophetic words of Matt. 24:11, 24 will receive their primary fulfilment in the activities of Antichrist and the false prophet during the last three and one-half years. On the "great signs and wonders" of Matt. 24:24, see Rev. 13:13-15; 19:20 (referring to things that will take place during the three and one-half year reign of Antichrist, after the rapture); also, 2 Thess. 2:9 speaks of Antichrist coming "with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" I believe that at least most of the fulfillment of these things will take place after the rapture.
I assume the apparent misunderstanding regarding Matt. 24:9-13 comes mostly from the fact that at the time of the Olivet discourse (probably AD 30) the early (mid-week) rapture had not yet been revealed by God. It is quite possible that even the Lord Jesus Christ didn't know of the early rapture at the time of the Olivet discourse (cf., e.g., Matt. 24:36; Rev. 1:1). I don't believe we can clearly see the early (mid-week) rapture before the revelation given in the book of Revelation. Once we learn of the mid-week rapture from the book of Revelation, we can see it quite a few other places, as discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." See, for example, the section titled "The Time of the Sounding of the Seventh and Last Trumpet," starting on page 293.
I don't believe that the Scriptures (and I'm especially concerned with the book of Revelation) confirm that the last month, or the last few years, before the rapture will be especially negative for true Christians. I don't expect anything like the extremely negative scenario pictured in Matt. 24:9-13. See, for example, Chapter 3 in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," which is titled "Christians Will Be Saved from the Day of Wrath." One of the most important verses discussed in that chapter is Rev. 3:10, which is a very important verse for this study. It speaks of the fact that those who are faithful to Christ now will be kept from/out of the "hour of testing" that will test those dwelling on the earth. This being kept from that three and one-half year period of testing, which is confirmed by many verses in the book of Revelation and by many other verses, is clearly to be understood as a great blessing/reward. We will be spared this time of very extreme testing that will take place throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, during the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist. People will have to choose between God and Antichrist at a time when it will be very difficult to not submit to Antichrist.
We will be living on the earth during the sounding of the first six trumpets, during the first half the seven-year period, but I believe it is clear that the judgments associated with these trumpets are not coming against God's people, including the sixth trumpet, which involves the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation. The warning judgments of the first five trumpets will be relatively mild anyway; apparently no lives will be lost during the sounding of the fourth and fifth trumpets, and the demonic locusts of the firth trumpet will not be able to touch God's elect. On the first six trumpets, see #s 6 and 8 on pages 13, 14 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" for a start, and see my paper on Revelation chapters 8 and 9 (where the first six trumpets sound) that is available on this Christian article site.
The reign of Antichrist is a substantial feature of God's end-time judgment of the world, part of His day of wrath; God raises up Antichrist (and He won't lose control of what is happening in His universe), even as He raised up Pharaoh at the time of the exodus from Egypt, but Antichrist will play a much larger role that Pharaoh did (cf., e.g., Dan.11:36 (referring to God's "indignation"; Dan. 11:36-45 are discussed in chapter 9 of my book) and Zechariah chapter 11, especially the last three verses (Zechariah chapter 11 is discussed in chapter 14 of my book). See, for example, the section titled "God Will Use Antichrist" on page 70 of my book, and see the next four sections on pages 71, 72. We'll still be here for a month after Antichrist is manifested at the abomination of desolation, but Satan won't give Antichrist "his power and his throne and great authority" (Rev. 13:2) until after the rapture, after Satan has been cast down to the earth essentially at the same time as the rapture (Rev. 12:7-9; 12:13-13:7); furthermore, Antichrist will be preoccupied with warfare throughout most, if not all, of this one month period.
A major point I want to make here is that Matt. 24:9-13 seem to sound about as negative as you could possibly get, even during the second half of Daniel's 70th week; and if this is what we Christians are headed for in the last month, or last few years before the rapture, I don't see that we would be kept from all that much by the (early) mid-week rapture (cf., e.g., Rev. 3:10; Luke 21:24-36). I don't believe Matt. 24:9-13 have much application for most true Christians who will be living on the earth during the first half of Daniel's 70th week.
Some may accuse me of wishful thinking. Well it is certainly true that I wouldn't look forward to the scenario pictured in Matt. 24:9-13 to conclude my days on the earth (at least not until I was convinced that this truly is the will of God for us), but I can honestly say before God that my goal here is, as it must be, to accurately interpret, and teach, the Scriptures. Wishful thinking can cause us to misinterpret the Scriptures, and that is a very serious problem. Furthermore, we have no right to modify what God's Word says to make our teaching more popular. We must make it our top priority to faithfully serve God in His truth, righteousness, and holiness.
I'm not at all denying the clear message of the New Testament that there will he trials, testings, persecution, martyrs, apostasy, lawlessness, and such throughout this age, and that we are to expect an intensification of these things in the last days. I'm reminded of something I heard at an IVCF mission's conference at the University of Illinois in 1964 (the year God saved me), something that I've heard confirmed several times since then: There have been more martyrs for Christ (mostly through atheistic communistic regimes) in this century (the 20th) than in all the previous centuries of the Christian church combined. It is victory, not defeat, for Christians to die as martyrs for Christ (by His sufficient grace), when God wills it so.
Before closing this section, I should make one last point. I said what I did in this section because I believe it is true, not because I was forced into it by holding the mid-week-rapture viewpoint. You can hold the mid-week viewpoint and believe (as some who hold the mid-week rapture viewpoint do) that the days preceding the rapture will be extremely difficult. Some who hold the mid-week rapture teach that Dan. 7:25, 27; Rev. 13:5, 7 refer to Antichrist's intense persecution of Christians before the rapture. I don't think there is any possibility they're right in this interpretation.
Discussion on The Words "The End" in Matthew 24:13. This discussion (and the discussion following on Matt. 24:14 [which also uses the words "the end"], and the discussions on the following verses) will help explain, and confirm, what I have said regarding the interpretation of 24:9-13. At the time the Olivet discourse was given, and at the subsequent time that Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their Gospels, it wasn't yet recognized that, in a very real sense, there are two different "ends" for God's saints in the last days, three and one-half years apart. The first "end" comes for those saints who are ready and waiting for Christ's coming in the clouds; it comes in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, when they are raptured to meet Him in the air. They (we) must endure/persevere until that "end" comes, as much Scripture shows.
The second "end" applies to those saints who are saved and live for Christ during the very difficult days after the rapture, which centers in the end-time remnant of the nation Israel; they must endure/persevere until the "end," that is, to the end of Daniel's 70th week, or to the time of their deaths (many will die as martyrs [e.g., Rev. 20:4]). Revelation 13:10 and 14:12, 13 speak of the need for endurance on the part of those saints living on the earth during the second half of Daniel's 70th week. Much of the book of Revelation from Rev. 12:13 on describes the difficulty of living for God on the earth during those days. I'm sure those saints will, nevertheless, be very thankful to be saved, even at the last minute, in one sense even after the last minute (in that Christ will have already come, and the rapture will have already taken place, before they are saved). Many (if not all) of them will be very thankful for an opportunity to suffer for the name of Christ, and God's grace will be sufficient for them.]] (14) And this gospel of the kingdom [The gospel of the kingdom prepares those who submit to it in faith to enter the coming kingdom. (Born-again Christians have already entered the kingdom in a preliminary, partial sense.)] shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. [[Under Matt. 24:13 we discussed the fact that once we factor in the early (mid-week) rapture, that we learn of from the book of Revelation, we see that, in a very real sense, there are two ends, one for the raptured saints (mid-week) and one for those saved after the rapture. Revelation 14:6, 7 show that the gospel will also be proclaimed after the rapture, during the second half of Daniel's 70th week. We should expect an intensification of the proclamation of the gospel in the last days. For one thing, the ministry of the two prophets throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week (along with the sounding of the first six trumpets) will undoubtedly enhance the proclamation of the gospel. The two prophets may announce the sounding of the trumpets of the book of Revelation before they sound (even as Moses announced the plagues in Egypt before they happened), which will make those events more powerful attention-getters.
I should mention that it is very dangerous to put off submitting to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If God is dealing with us today, we shouldn't put it off. The more we reject light, the more we tend to go into darkness. Most of the people who submit to Christ after the rapture will probably be people who God didn't deal with much, if at all, before the rapture.]] (15) Therefore [As I mentioned, this word helps demonstrate that the abomination of desolation is pictured as the time of transition beyond the beginning of birth pangs of 24:8.] when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place [[The "holy place" is the temple at Jerusalem, yet to be rebuilt. ((On the abomination of desolation, see Dan. 9:27; 12:11; and 8:11-14; all these verses are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," in the chapters dealing with Daniel chapters 9, 12, and 8. The first two references are the most important and are the easiest to understand. On the abomination also see articles 2 and 3 in "The Mid-Week Rapture" series on this Christian article site. Click on my name beside any of my articles on this site, and it will list all of my articles on this site.)) I believe that Antichrist himself, as he enters the temple to stop the sacrifices and demands he be worshiped, etc., constitutes the abomination that will lead to great desolation. (See the section titled "The Likely Content of the Abomination of Desolation" on pages 182, 183 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." Second Thess. 2:3, 4 are also discussed there.)
As I mentioned, I believe the abomination of desolation will be initiated about a month before the mid-week rapture. This important point is discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," starting on the bottom of page 129, on into page 131. While there I suggest also reading the section titled "A Brief Overview - The 'Abomination of Desolation,' the Short 'Great Tribulation,' and the Mid-Week Return of the Lord Jesus Christ," which starts on page 131.]] (let the reader understand) [[Apparently the primary purpose of these words is to exhort the readers living in Israel at the time of the abomination of desolation with the serious need to flee immediately, as mentioned in the following verses. (I assume that it will be mostly Christians who take these words seriously and flee.) This fits the idea discussed above regarding events progressing beyond the beginning of birth pangs at the time of the abomination. There is no specific information given here for Christians living other places across the world, but I'm confident that God will reveal to us everything we need to know, if we're living for Him, and looking to Him.]], (16) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; (17) let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; (18) and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. [These verses strongly emphasize the need to flee immediately, with absolutely no delay.] (19) But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! (20) But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a sabbath [These things would make flight more difficult.]; (21) for then there will be a [I would skip this "a" with the KJV, NKJV, and NIV.] great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. [[It is very important for us to understand the short great tribulation; however, from my point of view, very few do understand it at the present time. We often hear that the final seven-year period is the great tribulation, but that is clearly wrong: Matthew chapter 24 shows that it doesn't start until the time of the abomination of desolation. ("Then" at the beginning of 24:21 [and 24:16] refers to the time of the abomination.) Much more reasonable is the widespread viewpoint that the great tribulation refers to the second half of the seven-year period; however, I believe this view is also wrong. For one thing, as discussed above, the abomination of desolation will he initiated a month before the middle of the seven-year period. Furthermore, I believe Matt. 24:29 shows that the great tribulation (spoken of in 24:21, 22) will be over before the mid-week return of Christ and the rapture, which is pictured in Matt. 24:30, 31. (The content of Revelation chapters 11-13 is the primary reason I believe the Lord will return and the rapture will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.) Note that 24:29 starts with the words "immediately after the tribulation of those days," referring back to the great tribulation.
I consider Rev. 9:13-21 to be the most important of the three most important cross-references that enable us to understand the short great tribulation. (On these three cross-references, see "The Mid-Week Rapture" #s 3, 4 on this Christian article site. On Rev. 9:13-21 see under these verses in my paper dealing with Revelation chapters 8 and 9.) These verses describe what will happen when the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation sounds; they speak of very intense warfare, undoubtedly nuclear (and perhaps chemical and/or biological), that will center in the general region that includes Israel. This trumpet will sound about the time of the abomination of desolation, about a month before the rapture.
The warfare described in Rev. 9:13-21, which constitutes at least the major part of the warfare of the short great tribulation, is a war between nations (not an attack against Christians); this warfare (described in Rev. 9:13-21) seems to start with an attack against Antichrist and his armies by a gigantic army (it could be as large as two-hundred million soldiers) coming against him. This invasion of troops and intense warfare will certainly include staking out various claims for control of the land of Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple mount. We'll talk more about this warfare as we continue.
The nation Israel will suffer greatly during the one-month period between the abomination of desolation and the mid-week return of Christ. During this period they will apparently be reduced to a repentant remnant, ready (for the most part at least) to receive Christ Jesus when He comes. (See on Zech. 13:7-14:2 [pages 225-229 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"]; see on Dan. 12:1 [pages 149-159], and see on Zech. 12:1-14 [pages 221-224].)
Daniel 11:40-12:1 is one of the three most important cross-references for the short great tribulation. Daniel 11:40-43 apparently deal with the preliminary warfare that leads up to the warfare of Rev. 9:13-21, and Dan. 11:44 apparently deals with the warfare of Rev. 9:13-21, in very brief form. The abomination of desolation will apparently take place at the time of the events of Dan. 11:41. Chapter 9 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," deals with Daniel 11:36-45. I recommend that, at a minimum, you read what is said under Dan. 11:40-44 on pages 137-143. Daniel 11:40-12:2 is discussed in "The Mid-Week Rapture #4" on this Christian article site.
Daniel 12:1 is a very significant verse for the great tribulation. For one thing, there is widespread agreement that the very words of Matt. 24:21 regarding a time of unequaled great tribulation/distress, though not a word-for-word quotation, derive from the words of Dan. 12:1. I recommend reading what is written on Dan. 12:1 in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," on pages 149-151, 155, 156. Daniel 12:1 is also discussed in some detail in "The Mid-Week Rapture #14" on this Christian article site.
Daniel chapter 12 with Dan. 11:36-45 serves as a very strong confirmation of the fact that the rapture will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. (As I mentioned, these passages are discussed in significant detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." They are also discussed in articles 4 and 14-16 of "The Mid-Week Rapture" series on this Christian article site.) The time of short great tribulation/distress mentioned in Dan. 12:1 will be over by the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Daniel 12:7 shows that three and one-half very difficult years still remain (after the time of great tribulation) for these end-time saints (cf. Dan. 7:21, 25; Rev. 13:5, 7). Daniel 12:2 speaks of the mid-week resurrection of God's people (not that you could tell that it was mid-week based on Dan. 12:2 by itself).
Further rather strong confirmation that the time of great tribulation is over and the resurrection (and rapture) takes place in the middle of the seven-year period is provided by Dan. 12:6, 7, which speak of "the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river." This apparently refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (the Angel/Messenger of the Lord who often appears in the Old Testament, who is deity, God the Son, not a created angel), seen in an exalted position above the earth (apparently relating to His coming in the clouds at the time of the rapture), at a time corresponding with the middle of Daniel's 70th week (in that He says that there are still three and one-half years to go). And last, I'll mention that Dan. 12:11 helps us see that the abomination of desolation will take place a month before the middle of Daniel's 70th week. To say the least, Daniel chapter 12 is a very important prophetic chapter. (These important points are all discussed in the two chapters of my book dealing with Daniel chapter 12 and in my series titled "The Mid-Week Rapture" on this Christian article site.)
Revelation 7:14 must also be considered here since this verse speaks of "the great tribulation." These words undoubtedly build on Matt. 24:21. This verse is discussed as part of a brief discussion of Rev. 7:9-17, which is a rather glorious passage, on pages 154, 155 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." These verses are also discussed in my articles on this Christian article site titled "Revelation Chapter 7."
Joel 2:30-32, which we'll discuss further below, is one of the three most important cross-references that help us understand the short great tribulation. This verse is doubly significant in that it mentions "columns of smoke." This smoke (and the dust) generated during the warfare of the short great tribulation will undoubtedly cause the darkening of the sun and moon pictured in Matt. 24:29. It is significant that Rev. 9:17, 18 mention smoke too. (As mentioned above, Rev. 9:13-21 are the most important cross-reference for the warfare of the short great tribulation.) It is significant that Joel 2:30, 31 specifically mention the darkening of the sun and moon, and that they show that this darkening will take place (just) before the day of the Lord begins. The day of the Lord will officially begin when God the Father sends His Son back to the earth.]] (22) And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. [[The "elect" are God's people, the true Christians, but the elect here undoubtedly include those who will eventually become Christians (after the rapture), including the often-mentioned end-time remnant of the nation Israel. Because of the intensity of the warfare of the short great tribulation (Revelation 9:15, 18 show that a third of mankind will be killed, which is overwhelming, even if this third probably deals with a third of a population substantially less than the total population of the earth), there wouldn't be any people left alive on the earth if these days weren't cut short in God's end-time plans.]] (23) Then if anyone says to you, "Behold, here is the Christ," or "There He is," do not believe him. (24) For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance. (26) If therefore they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," do not go forth, or, "Behold, He is in the inner rooms," do not believe them. (27) For just as the lightning comes from the east [cf. Ezek. 43:2], and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. [[There will be no basis for confusion whatsoever regarding who the real Christ it, because these verses, along with Matt. 24:29-31, make it very clear that Christ's coming will be in the clouds with great glory, not in any other way, no matter what some false Christs or false prophets may say, or do. Antichrist will fit the role of a false Christ in some ways, including his coming back from the dead and the miracles that will take place [cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-12; Rev. 13:13-15]), and the false prophet of Rev. 13:11-18; 19:20 is the prime example of a false prophet. It is also clear that there are false Christs and false prophets in the days before the rapture. Some are here now.]] (28) Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. [[It seems that Luke 17:37, in context with 17:22-36, helps us understand these words. In Luke 17:22-36 Jesus speaks of His end-time return. There is quite a bit of emphasis in these verses (and in many other verses) on the fact that one major purpose for His coming will be the pouring out of intense judgment on the those who persist in their unbelief and rebellion, without repentance. In response to what Jesus said, His disciples asked in Luke 17:37, "Where Lord?" And He answered, "Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered." The "corpse/body" apparently represents that unrepentant part of mankind totally given over to spiritual death (and sin and Satan), ripe for judgment. The "vultures" apparently represent God's agents of judgment. (Cf., e.g., Matt. 13:40-42.)
Where will judgment fall? Everywhere it is appropriate, worldwide. This fits the picture of Matt. 24:26, 27, and 30 that His coming in judgment (and to save) will be a worldwide event, not limited to any one place. (It is clear though that He will end up on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem [cf. Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:9-12].) Matthew 24:30 mentions, "then all the tribes of the earth [worldwide] will mourn"; they will mourn because judgment day will have fully come.]] (29) But immediately after the tribulation of those days [This refers back to the days of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22. The warfare of the great tribulation will have ended. Mark 13:24 has, "But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED...."] THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT [[As I mentioned, it is significant that the smoke and dust generated during the warfare of the short great tribulation will undoubtedly block out (most of) the light coming from the sun and moon. (Revelation 9:2 confirms that it is Biblical to speak of the sun being darkened by smoke.) I also mentioned that Joel 2:30, 31 are a very important cross-reference. Joel 2:30b refers to the warfare of the great tribulation, and even mentions "columns of smoke." (Smoke is also mentioned in Rev. 9:17, 18, verses that also speak of the warfare of the great tribulation.) Then Joel 2:31 says, "The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD [Yahweh] comes." I believe Joel 2:31 speaks of the same darkening of the sun and moon as Matt. 24:29. What little light from the moon that is visible on the earth will apparently have an ominous red coloration, like blood. (On the moon becoming like blood, cf. Rev. 6:12, which is discussed next.) Note that Joel 2:31 shows that the darkening of the sun and moon serve as a sign of the coming of the Lord to judge the world. For further discussion on Joel 2:30, 31, see pages 151-153 and 156-158 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." Also see "The Mid-Week Rapture #4" on this Christian article site.
Another important cross-reference for this same darkening of the sun and moon is Rev. 6:12, with 6:12-17. Revelation 6:12 says, "...the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood." And the following verses show that these things will happen in conjunction with the coming of the day of judgment, which will officially start when the Lord Jesus returns. (On Rev. 6:12-17, see pages 23, 24, 153, and 301-303 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." See "Revelation Chapter 6" and "The Mid-Week Rapture #4" on this Christian article site.) Quite a few other verses include darkness in conjunction with the day of the Lord (cf., e.g., Isa. 13:6-16; Joel 2:10, 11; 3:12-17; Amos 5:18-20; 8:7-10; Zeph. 1:14-18; and Acts 2:19, 20, which quote Joel 2:30, 31.)]], AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken [[Revelation 6:12-17, just discussed, are relevant here too. Revelation 6:13 says, "and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind." Falling stars (e.g., showers of meteors) may be visible, but the most important reality spoken of here is the casting down to the earth of Satan and his angels (from their privileged position in heavenly places [cf., e.g., Eph. 6:12]) right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the time Christ returns and judgment day begins. Revelation 12:4, 7-10 are the most important cross-reference for the casting down of (Satan and) the stars/angels. (On these verses, see pages 15 [number 10]; 313, 314 [on Rev. 12:4]; and 317-319 [on Rev. 12:7-9] of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"; see "Mid-Week Rapture #10" on this Christian article site.) Also see Isa. 13:13 with 13:6-13; 24:21; 34:4 with 34:1-17; Hag. 2:6, 21; and Heb. 12:26-29.]],
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 in Part 3, starting with Matt. 24:30.
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