(link to Olivet, Part One)

The Second 3 1/2 Years

The Man of Sin Appears in the Temple

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel he prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (Matthew 24:15)

  1. The “abomination of desolation” appears in the temple (verse 15).
  2. Jesus refers to the prophet Daniel (Daniel, chapter 9, verse 27) to identify who this “abomination” is. Christians usually refer to him as the Antichrist.
  3. Antichrist has a number of different descriptors.
    • Antichrist
    • The Man of Sin
    • The Prince That Shall Come
    • The Lawless One
    • The Assyrian
    • The Little Horn
  4. Earlier, Antichrist will have confirmed a covenant with the Jewish nation. It’s likely this will be a confirmation and guarantee of the Mosaic Covenant. Jews will be able to resume temple worship, have animal sacrifices, and see the restoration of the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood (Daniel 9:27).
  5. At this point however, Antichrist’s wickedness and deceit is revealed. He will stand in the temple’s Holy Place and announce that he is God. This detail is provided in 2 Thessalonians, chapter two, verses 3 and 4.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

7. This is why Matthew says, “whoso readeth, let him understand”(verse 15). There’s critical background to assimilate.

The Great Tribulation

Warnings and Instructions

Then let them which be in Judaea 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. 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: (Matthew 24:16-20)

  1. If you’re living in Judea, get to the mountains as fast as you can. Some might like to say that this means the warning is only for Jews. No, but rather any believer in the True God and Jesus Christ now has his very life on the line. Saving his life may depend entirely on getting away from Judea (Jerusalem), and retreating to a mountain hideout (verse 16).
  2. If you’re on the housetop, get down and flee. Don’t go back for your things. Leave your cellphone, your clothes, your belongings. The persecution is hot, and it is happening now (verse 17).
  3. If you’re in the field, head for the mountains. Don’t go home. There’s no time (verse 18).
  4. If you’re pregnant, or nursing, it’s going to be especially tough. There is no option. You must flee immediately (verse 19).
  5. Pray. Ask God to help you that you won’t be in this condition during the wintertime. Why? You won’t have time to gather your winter things. This must all be done in advance. Godly wisdom and preparation will be key (verse 20).
  6. Also pray that (especially for those in Israel) you don’t get caught unprepared if this occurs on the Sabbath. Your flight will be all the more noticeable (verse 20).

Great Tribulation

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. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise 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. 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. (Matthew 24:21-28)

  1. Whatever trouble, persecution or testing may have happened before, this is greater. From the beginning of the world, and for all time in the future, this is the worst it’s ever going to be for believers in Christ (verse 21).
  2. The Great Tribulation, if left to continue, would eventually mean the physical death of every living thing. This is the time of Satan’s wrath against God’s creation. For the sake of the living Christians (both Jew and Gentile), God will shorten it, not allowing it to run the allotted 3 1/2 years (verse 22).
  3. Believers, looking for relief, will be tempted to fall for false Christs. Jesus warns, saying “Don’t believe it” (verse 23).
  4. In the meantime, phony prophets and phony “christs” will proliferate. The purpose is to deceive the elect, the believers in Christ (verse 24). They won’t be deceived, however.
  5. “I have told you before!” Jesus tells us all this so we’ll know what’s going on, and what to expect (verse 25).
  6. Many others will chase after “Jesus in the desert,” or “Jesus in a building,” or “Jesus in a cave.” That’s not Him in those places. Don’t believe it (verse 26).
  7. Have you stood outside during a lightning storm? Were you amazed as you saw the bolts of electricity flash across the sky? That’s how Jesus’ coming will be. Unmistakable, as it lights up the very sky (verse 27).
  8. Carrion birds go after corpses. Everything now begins to coalesce around Jerusalem, because the day is at hand when God’s wrath will be poured out on this world, a world guilty of death (verse 28).

After The Tribulation of Those Days

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: (Matthew 24:29)

  1. Immediately after God cuts the Great Tribulation short, amazing celestial signs take place (verse 29).
  2. These signs are unmistakable. They are global. They are real. Every living person on earth will see them.
    • The sun is darkened.
    • The moon gives no light.
    • Stars fall from heaven.
    • Heavenly powers are shaken.

The Sign of the Son of Man

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. (Matthew 24:30)

  1. The disciples’ question had been, “What will be the sign of your coming?” This is the direct answer to that question (verse 30).
  2. The sign appears in heaven.
  3. The sign is that all men will physically see “the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
  4. When they do, every ethnic group on earth will mourn.

The Gathering of God’s People

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. (Matthew 24:31)

  1. A great trumpet is blown, and Jesus sends out His angels (verse 31).
  2. The elect (those Jews and Gentiles who have trusted in Jesus Christ), will be gathered by the angels. The angels will literally pick believers off the earth from every point on the globe (the four winds), from one end of the sky to the other.
  3. As the apostle Paul describes it,

    “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel,
    and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
    Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
    to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

  4. This wicked earth is now emptied of God’s people, leaving only those who have rejected God.
  5. All that’s left is for God to pour out His wrath upon His enemies.

Knowing What’s Coming

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. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:32-36)

  1. Jesus uses a fig tree for an example (a parable).
  2. He says we know that summer is near when the branches become supple, and leaves start appearing (verse 32).
  3. In the same way, when you see “all these things, the gathering of God’s people is at your door (verse 33)”
  4. “All these things,” of course, refers to all the things He has just disclosed.
    • The deceit,
    • the false prophets,
    • the appearance of Antichrist in the temple,
    • and all the celestial signs.
  5. The generation living at that time will see everything occur (verse 34).
  6. His promise is so sure, that even if the earth and heavens were to disappear, His words would still come true (verse 35).
  7. We won’t know the exact day or hour when this will all occur. Angels don’t know either, even though they’ll play a big part. Everyone awaits the shout of command, which will come at a time that only God the Father knows (verse 36).

Just like Noah’s Time

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)

  1. The coming of the Son of Man will be much like the days of Noah (verse 37).
  2. The world will go on as usual, right up until the gathering out of God’s people. Eating, drinking, marrying.
  3. It all comes to an end on one day. For Noah’s world, it was when he went into the safety of the ark. For this world, it will be when God’s people are safely taken out (verse 38).
  4. Noah’s world was clueless about their impending judgment until the flood took them all away. It will be just like that when Jesus pulls His people out to safety with Him (verse 39). On the same day judgment began, God gathered out his people.

What It Will Look Like

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24:40-42)

  1. Two people will be working in a farm field. One will be taken by the angels, and one will be left (verse 40).
  2. Two women will be working in a mill. One will be carried up to Jesus, and the other one left behind (verse 41).
  3. Watch! He tells us again, we don’t know the hour He’s coming (verse 42).
  4. Humanity is now divided into two groups, as different as black and white. The servants of God are with Jesus, away from this world. The ones that remain are going to see the full wrath of God fall on the earth. They will still be able to choose, but there is no longer any escaping the calamity about to strike the planet.
  5. There is a popular idea that says these people were “taken in judgment,” as if a sheriff had come and arrested them. I see absolutely zero support for that in the text.

The Best Possible Advice

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:43-44)

  1. If a man knows a thief is coming to break into his house, he stays awake and watches for the attack. When the thief comes, he’s ready for him, and his house is not violated (verse 43).
  2. The word “Therefore” is another way of saying, “Because of that…” Jesus has told us what is coming. He said He’d tell us in advance, and now we know (verse 44).
  3. Be ready. The soldier in the front of the battle line knows to be ready. When the bugle blows Charge, he has to hit the ground running. The enemy is already before him. He needs to be locked and loaded, helmet on, eyes forward, mind set and determined.
  4. The soldier doesn’t know when the bugle will sound. Believers don’t know the exact hour Jesus will send His angels for us, but when He does, our job is to be ready.

The Faithful Servant’s Rewards

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. (Matthew 24:45-47)

  1. The faithful servant is the one who is always diligent. He works, he’s aware, and he has food on the table at the right time (verse 45).
  2. That servant will be blessed by his master when the master arrives (verse 46).
  3. He will inherit the use of all that his master has (verse 47).

The Unfaithful Servant’s Final End

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:48-51)

  1. The evil servant says, “I’ve got what I like. The boss isn’t going to be back for a long time” (verse 48).
  2. He abuses his authority, despises his coworkers, and starts partying with drunkards (verse 49).
  3. His master returns unexpectedly and discovers his unfaithfulness.
  4. He is cut into pieces, then buried with the hypocrites (verse 50).
  5. He winds up in a place filled with weeping and gnashing (grinding) of teeth. A place of continual pain (verse 51).

Concluding Thoughts

I hope that you will agree with me, that by focusing directly on the text, Matthew 24 becomes quite clear!

Anyone that’s been a Christian for a while has picked up intellectual “baggage” along the way. That’s certainly been true for me. It’s important sometimes to set all that baggage aside and simply read and believe.

Some Bible students will recognize this reading of Matthew 24 as both pre-millennial and pre-wrath.  That is, the Scripture indicates that the wrath of God falls during the second half of the Seventieth Week of Daniel, but not until the angels gather out God’s people. If the idea of believers being present during the Great Tribulation bothers you, then consider whether or not we’ve simply read God’s Word as it was written. Or have we allowed movies, books and prophecy teachers to inform what we are supposed to believe, and ignored the way God actually revealed it to us?

May God bless you mightily as you study His Word.