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CHAPTER 6 – THE OLIVET DISCOURSE CLARIFIED THE TRIBULATION

6
THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
CLARIFIED THE TRIBULATION

 

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you” (Mat 24:3-4).

 

“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. 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: 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. 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 24:27-31). [Key words in bold]

 

Now as we open this study we do so by calling attention to the fact that . . .

 

 

The Setting for the
Olivet Discourse Concerns Jews

 

We are now at the Lord’s description of the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) as recorded in the Olivet Discourse. [1] The Olivet Discourse was delivered under the Old Covenant and given to Israel for the “ages to come”. It provides us with the narrative for the end times just prior to the Lord’s return to set up His Kingdom. Jesus summarized this period as the days of vengeance in fulfillment of prophecy for Israel (Luke 21:22). Thus far, we have determined that the tribulation trilogy is a comprehensive three-part, end time’s message for Israel that began with Moses, unfolding the goals of prophecy through a Progressive Revelation introduced in Daniel’s prophecy of Seventy Weeks that he revealed.

 

The setting for the Olivet Discourse is Old Testament. It advances the Jewish narrative and further demonstrates that prophecy is for Israel and concerns God’s overarching plan for the earth in the “ages to come”. It contains in summary form God’s plans for earth, Israel, and her coming Kingdom. It is very much in keeping with the entire theme of Matthew’s gospel which is the gospel of the Kingdom. It begins with the birth of the King (Matt. 1-2) followed by preaching the gospel of the kingdom to the lost sheep of Israel to which He came (Matt. 4, 9, 10, 15). The Sermon on the Mount was given stressing Kingdom principles (Matt. 5-7), and the mysteries of the kingdom demonstrated the parabolic secret importance of the kingdom to Jews with ears to hear (Matt. 13 see vs. 9, 15, 16, 43). Lastly, we have the presentation and rejection of the Kingdom and the public excoriation of the King by the religious elite (Matt 21-23) closely followed by the Olivet Discourse where the rejected King outlined signs leading to a future inauguration of the Kingdom at the conclusion of a very troubling time in Israel (Matt. 24-25). This discourse is one of the most important pieces of inspired literature in eschatology. It bridges prophecy between Daniel – which provides a calendar for the tribulation – and Revelation, which illustrates the conclusion of it. Nevertheless, if you can quote the entire discourse verbatim and yet fail to see it in its Jewish setting, you’ll conjure conclusions the Lord never intended.

 

The discourse originates from a private briefing from the Messiah whose Kingdom offer to Israel had recently been rejected (Matt. 21-23). Four of His closest disciples – Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3) – knowing the certainty of the Davidic Covenant privately approached Him with questions concerning when He would return to initiate it (Matt. 24:3). What followed was the clearest delineation of “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) found anywhere in Scripture. In that discussion the Lord Jesus not only described Daniel’s seventieth week, but assured these four patriots He would return to Jerusalem to set up the Kingdom “immediately after” (Matt. 24:29). [2]

 

The following chart suggests the dates written and the sequence of the Book by date. It also reveals that . . .

 

The Subjects Chart in
the Olivet Discourse Concern Jews

 

Date BC Chapter Subject Synopsis
33 AD 24 Jews and Jerusalem are the main subjects in this discourse. Destruction of the temple foretold. The course of the present age outlined; its culmination in the great tribulation and followed by the return of Christ in power and glory. Parable of the fig tree and exhortation to watchfulness. The course of the present age is to be marked by wars, famines, pestilences, persecutions, false Christs, and religious systems, increasing in intensity as the age nears its end, and culminating in tribulation such as the world has never seen, nor ever shall see again. Jesus Christ shall suddenly, unexpectedly and gloriously appear, coming in the clouds of heaven with His hosts. Blessed are they who cherish the “blessed hope” (Tit_2:13) and live in hourly expectation of His coming.
25 Parables of the wise and foolish virgins. Testing of the servants in the Lord’s absence. Future testing of the Gentile nations at the Lord’s return. The hour of our Lord’s second coming is very uncertain which is good reason why we should live not only in a state of habitual preparation but actual diligence in present service for Him, and engaged in works of charity for men. Those who have so lived will in that day receive the grandest degree in the universe, the “well-done” of Jesus Christ.

 

Prophecy has the goal of producing Israel’s kingdom (Dan. 2:44) under a King from the lineage of David in the city of Jerusalem (Isa. 24:23; Mic. 4:7) in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (1 Sam. 7:16) following the tribulation or time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24-25; Rev. 19-20). In our opening chapter, we determined that the Olivet Discourse is a continuation of the Old Covenant and Testament, and that it follows Daniel in our trilogy as the next in line of God’s Progressive Revelation regarding the tribulation and prophecy regarding its fulfillment.

 

Christ’s earthly appearance was the fulfillment of the prophetic Word (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:70). Confirming what Samuel (2 Sam. 7:16) [3] and Daniel (Dan. 9:24) [4] had predicted concerning the Kingdom, Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7- my bold for emphasis).

 

So, in a concerted effort to offer Himself and His kingdom during His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus (along with John the Baptist and His twelve disciples) preached a message heralding the covenant Kingdom. “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Moreover, He taught Kingdom principles to Israel in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), taught them to pray for the Kingdom using “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), and further taught them parables to explain the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13).

 

 

 

The Olivet Audience – Peter, James, John, Andrew (Jewish Patriots)

 

In order for anti-PreTrib advocates to make their scheme work, they have to wedge the Body of Christ into the time of Jacob’s trouble. This requires that they fudge many elements of the Olivet Discourse beginning with the limited audience that received it, which was Jewish. Dr. Missler said about this setting: “He’s not talking to you and me, He’s talking to Jewish disciples.” If you understand this main underlying premise, the entire Discourse takes on fresh meaning because it will begin with the proper perspective.

 

The Lord Jesus delivered the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21) to four of his closest disciples who were not only looking for the Messiah and the Davidic Kingdom, but also were Jewish patriots all – Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3). These men knew nothing about the coming church age, so why would their questions be church related? They weren’t! These men were concerned about Christ’s final return to Israel to establish the Davidic Covenant Kingdom (Matt. 24:3; see Acts 1:3-6) – they’d all been preaching (Matt. 10:7) – and Israel had just rejected. Arno Gaebelein agrees:

 

“… it is to be said that the disciples knew absolutely nothing of a Christian age. Such an age could not even begin, when they asked the question about the end of the age. They did not mean a Christian age, but their Jewish age. All through these forty verses everything is of Jewish character.” (Arno C Gaebelein, 1919)

 

Remember our premise that prophecy is for Israel and concerns God’s overarching plan for the earth. The Olivet Discourse is a clarion call for Israel concerning “the time of Jacob’s trouble” followed by the Revelation of Jesus Christ to inaugurate the Davidic Kingdom. It provides signs that Jews require, centers around Jerusalem, contains language affecting Jews alone (ie synagogue, Judea, Sabbath, abomination of desolation, etc), and will be immediately followed (Matt. 24:29) by the glorious return – Revelation – of Israel’s Messiah King to earth where He will rescue Israel, destroy Antichrist and his kingdom, hold a sheep and goat judgment, and inaugurate the prophesied Jewish Davidic Covenant Kingdom for one thousand years (Matt. 24:27-31; 25: 31-34; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21).

 

As I mentioned earlier, the tribulation was predicted by the prophets for Israel specifically. In lieu of that, Luke 21:22 tells us: “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Fulfilled for whom? Israel! There was nothing prophesied for the Body of Christ, so nothing has to be fulfilled through her; the tribulation is clearly for Israel.

 

Consider this:

 

  1. It was delivered to converted Jewish patriots (Peter, James, John, Andrew) who were concerned about fulfillment of the recently rejected Davidic CovenantKingdom (Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:3-4; Luke 21:7).

 

  1. It is concerned specifically with events in Judaea and Jerusalem(Matt. 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20-24), location of the Second Coming [5](Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11) and home of the coming Jewish kingdom (Isa. 2; 52; Zech. 8; 14).

 

  1. It features subjects of special concern to Jews alone (the Temple, synagogues, anti-Semitism, the Sabbath, Judea, abomination of desolation, her national election, and more).

 

  1. It fulfills prophecy which is specifically for Israel(Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Lamentations 2:22; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,8,14,18; 2:2,3; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5; Dan. 9:24-27; 12:1; Jer. 30:7; and more).

 

  1. It concludes with the visible Revelation (Second Coming) of Christ to Mount Olivet outside Jerusalem(see Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11) where He separates the sheep (Israel and her supporters) into the Messianic Jewish kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:31-34), and the goats (enemies of God and Israel) into everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:41-46).

 

  1. It describes signs which Jews required (John 2:18; 1 Cor. 1:22) and were convinced by, surrounding the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) and pointed to the Second Coming (Revelation) of JesusChrist to Jerusalem.

 

  1. It is part of the Old Covenantnarrative (see Heb. 9:16-17) for Israel; and while profitable for study, it is not personally for the church.

 

The following study from the Bible will reveal that . . .

 

The Scriptures in
the Olivet Discourse Concern Jews

 

Scholars have for years taught that the inspired Gospel writers presented four pictures of Christ with information pertinent to the groups the Holy Spirit targeted:

 

  • Matthew’s Gospel presents Christ as the King of Israeland was written to Jews – The Olivet Discourse is recorded in Matthew 24-25. The phrase “that it might be fulfilled” appears nine times (Mat. 1:22; 2:15,23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35) and only in Matthew.

 

  • Mark’s Gospel portrays Christ as the servant of men and was written to Romans (also the final empire) – The Olivet Discourse is recorded in Mark 13.

 

  • Luke’s Gospel presents Christ as the wisest man and was written to Greeks or Gentiles – The Olivet Discourse is recorded in Luke 21 with a foreshadow in Luke 17.

 

  • John’s Gospel portrays Christ as God the Son and was written to the church. The Olivet Discourse is NOT recorded because the churchis NOT here!

 

In his video series on the Book of Daniel, Dr. Chuck Missler alluded many times to the Olivet Discourse lamenting the reason people don’t understand it is because they don’t understand its Jewishness.

 

The fact is, when the Olivet Discourse is studied alongside Daniel 7-12 and Revelation 6-19, it provides the most revealing preview of the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble (Jer. 30:7) [aka the tribulation] found anywhere in Scripture. However, studying this epoch of evil outside of its Jewish context breeds the kind of untoward confusion constantly transmitted by anti-PreTrib dogmatists who have materialized under the titles Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath, and Post-Trib and who become unreasonably untoward with all who “dare” to disagree with them. This is yet another in a long list of reasons why studying the Bible in context is so vitally important to those of us who favor truth above triumph.

 

We will now overview the Olivet Discourse bearing in mind key words that call attention to its Jewish setting while bearing in mind its conclusion: the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom in Jerusalem. Bold words emphasize the Jewish setting.

 

Matthew 24:1-2 – Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

 

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the Temple.  (2)  And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

 

The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was the visible testimony of Israel’s spiritual life and her connection to and communion with YHWH God. It represented her worship of Him, and devotion to Him. It will reappear in the tribulation (Rev. 11:1-2) and 1000 year reign of Christ on earth (Isa 2:3; 60:13; Ezek. 40-48). However, here we find Jesus predicting its destruction in 70 AD meaning it would require rebuilding sometime in the future. Jews believe Messiah will return to rebuild it for the Davidic Kingdom.

 

 

 

Matthew 24:3 – Mount Olivet East of Jerusalem

 

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives [east of Jerusalem- from where He ascended and will one day return] [6], the disciples [Peter, James, John, and Andrew- Mark 13:3] came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [to set up the Kingdom in Jerusalem – see Acts 1:6], and of the end of the world [system as they knew it]?”

 

By this time, these first disciples had been saved about three and one half years. Still, they were patriots that held fast to their Jewish roots, and a deep religious connection to the Law, customs, the Temple, and the prophets (read Acts 1-15). Moreover, they knew the Covenants and were awaiting fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16) as evidenced in their focused preaching (Matt 10:7; Acts 1:6; 3:19; 11:19). The first chapters of Acts are concerned with Jewish customs, laws, and the coming Covenant Kingdom. From Acts 10 we see the transition from prophecy for Israel and mystery for the church as Paul replaces Peter as the central character in the “but now” dispensational narrative.

 

The Tribulation in
the Olivet Discourse Concerns Jews

 

Let me remind the reader of the conundrum previously discussed. We can easily find Israel and the Gentile nations in the tribulation, but not the Body of Christ. If the Body of Christ is in the tribulation, the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it and only adversarial necessity finds any reason to place us there. Consider this. We have several verses clearly telling us we will not be here during this time (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) and yet there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly placing us here for even one moment of this future Holocaust without pulling from context the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation refer to Israel.

 

“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22). Fulfilled for whom? Israel! There was nothing prophesied for the Body of Christ, so nothing has to be fulfilled through her; the tribulation is clearly for Israel.

 

What follows perfectly aligns with the Six Seals in Revelation 6.

Matthew 24:4-5 – Deception from False Messiahs

 

The First Seal: (Revelation 6:1-2).

 

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  (5)  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  (see Dan. 11:23)

 

Dispensational scholars teach that the tribulation is the time of Jacob’s [Israel’s] trouble. The Old Scofield Study Bible offers additional insights on the elements of the tribulation period:

 

(1) The cruel reign of the “beast out of the sea” (Rev_13:1) who at the beginning of the three and a half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the temple worship, (Dan_9:27) and show himself in the temple, demanding that he be worshipped as God. (Mat_24:15); (2Th_2:4).

 

(2) The active interposition of Satan “having great wrath” (Rev_12:12) who gives his power to the Beast. (Rev_13:4); (Rev_13:5).

 

(3) The unprecedented activity of demons (Rev_9:2); (Rev_9:11), and

 

(4) the terrible “bowl” judgments of Revelation 16.

 

The great tribulation will be, however, a period of salvation. An election out of Israel is seen as sealed for God (Rev_7:4-8) and, with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles (Rev_7:9) are said to have come “out of the great tribulation” (Rev_7:14). They are not of the priesthood, the church, to which they seem to stand somewhat in the relation of the Levites to the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. The great tribulation is immediately followed by the return of Christ in glory, and the events associated therewith. (Mat_24:29); (Mat_24:30).

 

Since Satan knows the Messiah is coming to Israel, he has many false messiahs masquerading as Christ in an effort to influence a spiritually blind Israel with signs and wonders designed to deceive the elect- Israel (see Dan. 11:23; Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 2 Tim. 3:13; see also 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 John 1:7; Rev. 12:9; 13:14; 16:14). This is another reason Antichrist will be concerned with conquering God’s holy city, Jerusalem (see warnings in Zech 12).

 

Matthew 24:6-8 – Wars and Sorrows

 

The Second and Third Seals: (Revelation 6:5-8).

 

“And ye [remember, He was giving signs to Jews requiring signs – 1 Cor. 1:22 about the much anticipated kingdom to four converted Jewish patriots] shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  (7)  For nation [ethnics] shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes [all used as tools of judgment in the OT] [7] in divers places.  (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows [birth pangs].”

Preterists believe these things happened in the first century and thus hold no relevance to us today. For a great refutation of this, I would like to point you to Dr. Thomas Ice’s Olivet Discourse dissertation at pre-trib.org, or request Todd Strandberg’s tract, Preterism, I Can’t Believe It from PMI.

 

The fact is, ISIS has turned savagery into an industry of international conquest, one that is now on the minds of billions of people as the Islamic Beast is rising across the Middle East and around the world (Psa. 83; Dan. 7-12; Rev. 11-19). Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse not only mentions wars but commotions [instability and disorder], which in context speaks of terrorism (Luke 21:9). To date, there have been over fifty admitted acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamists against Americans alone – just since the toppling of the twin towers. Who can forget the Boston Marathon, where two radicalized [8] jihadi’s loaded pressure cookers to explode killing at least 3 while injuring and destroying the lives of hundreds more. Sadly, things like this are becoming common occurrences. This past week two Pakistani ISIS members – a husband and wife – shot up a Christmas party killing fourteen and injuring twenty one others before their just execution by San Bernardino police. Add to this the fact that countries are crumbling, children are starving, economies are failing, diseases are escalating, and earth is quaking like a woman in travail before childbirth. While Barack Obama – a Muslim from all indications – has done little to combat this threat, other countries are fighting these savages head on. After ISIS threatened Russia, Putin moved aircraft into the skies of the Middle Eastern theater dropping bombs on key Islamic targets. More recently, terrorist attacks in a concert hall and restaurant in Paris quickly sent French planes soaring over Syria where they dropped bombs on jihadi training camps. Ironically, while US intelligence revealed their strategic location, Obama has stubbornly refused to order our military to put an end to their barbarism. You can use your imagination as to why this overt act of ineptness has consistently been exercised the man occupying the Oval Office. All in all, few would dare argue against these being some of the signs Christ alluded to.

 

Matthew 24:9-10 – Affliction, Anti-Semitism, Mass Murders, and Betrayal

 

The Fourth and Fifth Seals: (Revelation 6:7-10).

 

“Then shall they deliver you [Jews] up to be afflicted [to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten- Mark 13:9; see Luke 21:12], and shall kill you: and ye [Jews] shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake [Jews are blamed today for all the problems with Islam in the Middle East. It will escalate unto Armageddon (Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:1-3; Rev. 14:20; 16:16; 19:11-21)  – the final battle outside Jerusalem, Israel].  (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

 

Matthew 24:29-30 – Ecological Upheaval affecting the sun, moon and stars

 

The Sixth Seal: (Revelation 6:12-17).

 

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: 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 24:29-30)

 

The following occur collaterally during the time the 6 seals are opened in the tribulation. Once again, the setting is Jerusalem and the warning is for Jews.

 

Matthew 24:11 – False Prophets

 

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”  (Deception is the platform of the Antichrist- see Dan. 11:23)

 

Israel exists from prophecy and as such, she will be extremely vulnerable to false prophets in her spiritual blindness. The Lord Jesus is warning the Jews that there will be a vast influx of strange seductive voices attempting to lure them into the final deception featuring the Antichrist (see Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 16:13-14). In light of this, it will require great discernment as the end draws near. I believe that many Jews will begin to study the Old and New Testament for the first time.

 

Matthew 24:12 – Increasing Iniquity and Decreasing Love

 

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

 

Millions of innocent babies slaughtered in abortuaries in America and around the world including a baby butcher from Philly named Kermit Gosnell who exemplifies our worst fears and warnings? Politicians favoring this slaughter are in no small number, nor are egregious voters who twice elected the most ghoulish pro-abortion president in the history of America? [9] Daniel 8:23 certainly predicts this: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.”

 

 

 

Matthew 24:13 – Endurance Produces Deliverance

 

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

 

The tribulation is a time when God will judge the world and bring Israel to Christ. This is a most inappropriate verse to apply to the church that is already saved by faith in Christ alone (Rom. 3:22-28; Phil. 3:9; Titus 3:5). When studying the Book of Revelation (Rev. 6-19) which describes the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) – we find that almost two-thirds of the world’s population will die. The Lord Jesus is telling the Jews that survive this unprecedented period will enter His Kingdom at the sheep and goat judgment (see Matt. 25:31-34).

 

Matthew 24:14 – Gospel of the Kingdom Shall be Preached – again

 

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

 

The gospel preached here is not the same gospel preached in this dispensation. Dr. Thomas Ice makes clarification:

 

“Simply put, some believe that “gospel of the kingdom” is the gospel or the message about forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, as preached in the New Testament epistles. Others, like myself, believe that it is more of a technical term that describes the coming of Christ’s kingdom, which we know as the millennium. The Greek word “gospel” is a compound word made up of “good” and “message.” “It meant originally the reward given to the messenger, but came to be used for the good news he brought.”  The word by itself simply means “good news.” Good news about what? Well that depends upon what is being talked about. Here the phrase would mean good news about the kingdom. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost explains:

 

During the time that the politico-religious system of the beast is in absolute control, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world (Matt. 24:14). The gospel of the kingdom was preached by both Jesus and John (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This was the announcement of the good news that the kingdom was near. This message had both a soteriological and an eschatological emphasis. . . . The gospel of the kingdom as preached in Tribulation will have two emphases. On the one hand it will announce the good news that Messiah’s advent is near, at which time He will introduce the messianic age of blessing. On the other hand it will also offer men salvation by grace through faith based upon the blood of Christ.” (An Interpretation of Matthew 24-25)

 

The certainty of the King and kingdom has been locked into Israel’s Covenantal relationship with Almighty God via prophesies given by choice messengers   like Moses (Psalm 96:13); David (Psalm 102:16); Isaiah (Isaiah 66:15-18); Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14); and Zechariah (Zechariah 14:4-5). Although Israel is blind during this period of mystery, one day God will restart the prophecy time clock – Daniel’s seventieth week – and the most catastrophic time in the history of the world. Needless to say, Israel has been awaiting the earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem since God promised it to King David in 1042 BC (2 Sam. 7:16).

 

Christ came 2000  years ago as the promised Messiah King for the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 15:24), and He offered it to Israel with the message: repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 4:17). This same kingdom message was passed on to His disciples for their ministry (Matt. 10:6) and final great commission (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20). Sometime after the mystery church (Eph. 3:3) disappears in the mystery rapture [10] (1 Cor. 15:51), there will be 144,000 Jews- not Gentiles- that will be sealed by an angel of God for service (Rev. 7:4-8). These specially selected Jews will be spared from harm and commissioned to preach the same gospel of the kingdom that John the Baptist, Christ the Messiah King, and the disciples of Christ all preached early on (Matt. 3:2;  4:17; 10:17). Please understand. The Body of Christ- the church- does NOT preach a kingdom gospel; we preach the gospel of the dispensation of the grace of God through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as He revealed to Paul (Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 3:2), and that Paul referred to as my gospel (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; etc).

 

Matthew 24:15 – The abomination of desolation is prophecy for Israel, not the Church

 

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

 

Again, this is a reference to Jewish prophecy in Daniel. The abomination of desolation that Christ mentions constitutes an act the Old Scofield Study Bible   calls “the blasphemous assumption of deity by the Beast (Dan. 12:11; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).” Sadly, Jews that rejected Christ as Messiah may well fall for an imposter (John 5:43). Making sense of this is only possible by first understanding that Jesus was referencing Daniel’s 490 year prophecy we looked at earlier which begins: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people [Israel] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem]. . . (Daniel 9:24;). When He spoke this, Christ had been recently cut off at the 70th week, leaving one 7 year period scholars teach will be fulfilled during the time of Jacob’s trouble, aka the tribulation and great tribulation so called. This period will likely be fully facilitated through universal deception (2 Thess. 2:8-11) aimed particularly at the Jews (Matt. 24:4, 5, 11, 24) who in their blindness rejected Christ’s offer of the Kingdom of peace and New Covenant blessings, but who will in the future gleefully accept a seven year peace covenant brokered by the Antichrist who will violate this treaty in the midst of the week (Dan. 9:27) by entering the holy place of the temple he perhaps championed where he puts a halt to animal sacrifices, then enters the holy of holies (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11) from which he will declare himself god and force worship of himself through the acceptance of a specific mark: 666 (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13-14).

 

Matthew 24:16-19 – Warning to the Inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem – Jews

 

“Then let them which be in Judaea [southern Israel mostly occupied by Islamic squatters] flee into the mountains:  (17)  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  (18)  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.  (19)  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!”

Read this warning carefully. You can’t make this applicable to the church, this is a local issue for Jews in Judea, the southern most part of Israel’s land which includes Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus warned that when Antichrist enters the Jewish Temple declaring that he’s god (2 Thess. 2:4), it is a sign that the Jews are to flee as quickly as possible. Luke writes: And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh (Luke 21:20) . . . and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

 

Matthew 24:20 – Reinstitution of the Sabbath for Israel

 

“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:”

 

Sometime after the mystery Body of Christ is removed from earth, God’s focus will once again be upon prophecy for the Jews who will have reinstituted Temple worship with the sacrificial system (Dan. 9:27) and the Mosaic Law including Sabbath worship. Here is the patience of the saints [saints are God’s set apart people; in this setting they are clearly orthodox Jews]: they that keep the commandments of God [the Law is for Israel, not the church], and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12) [these are Jewish converts to Christ who follow the OT Law]. May I reiterate, the Olivet Discourse is not for Christians (the Body of Christ). This is strictly Jewish.

 

Dr. Gaebelein agrees: The words which the Lord utters concerning those who will be then on the earth show clearly that they are not church saints. They are in Judea and are asked to flee to the mountains; a foreshadowing of this was seen at the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus. They are asked to pray that their flight should not take place on the Sabbath; they are called the “elect,” a term which in this chapter as well as throughout the Gospels always means His earthly people; in the Epistles the word “elect” always means the church.” (Annotated Bible, 1919)

 

The Revelation of Christ in
the Olivet Discourse Concerns Jews

 

Matthew 24:21, 29 – The Revelation of Jesus Christ after the Tribulation

 

The Revelation of the Messiah to Israel was a well-known teaching among in the OT and appeared in the writings of Samuel, Job, David, Isaiah, and Daniel to name a few. Now the Lord Jesus – who has been the unseen subject of the return – personally reveals more of the details hidden in the historical writings.

 

Matthew 24:21  “For then shall be great tribulation [first prophesied by Moses- Deut. 4:30], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:29-30  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:  (30)  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.”

 

When the Lord returns immediately following the time of Jacob’s trouble Israel will rejoice in her Messiah while God hating anti-Semites will mourn. John concurs in Revelation 1:7  “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

 

And why do they mourn? The reality that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation, and Israel is God’s elect, meaning judgment awaits them. In the Believer’s Bible Dictionary, Dr. MacDonald makes a great comparative observation: If we compare this passage with Mat_13:39-43 and Mat_25:31-46, we learn that the harvest of the earth takes place at the Second Advent of our Lord. Here He is said to do the reaping; in Mat_13:39 the angels are the reapers. Both are true; Christ does it through the agency of angels. Christ is here seen descending on a white cloud, … having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. (Believer’s Bible Commentary, 1995)

 

Matthew’s record of the Revelation of Christ compliments God’s prophetic Word describing how King Jesus will visibly arrive on earth seen by all, then conduct the sheep and goat judgment which determines who enters the Jewish Davidic Kingdom. Here are a few verses describing this magnificent event:

Revelation 19:11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” [see 2 Thess. 2:8).

 

Zechariah 14:4 “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

 

Matthew 25:31-34 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  (32)  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  (33)  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: [The Millennial (Davidic) Covenant Kingdom is in Jerusalem. If you study Matthew 25 carefully, you’ll discover that during the sheep and goat judgment, Gentiles are welcomed into the Kingdom based upon their treatment of Christ’s brethren- Jews. See Gen. 12:1-3; Num. 24:9; Gen. 26:2-4; Obad. 1:15; etc].

 

Before moving to the next verse, this insight from Dr. Gaebelein puts it all into perspective: “What is the sign of the Son of Man? We believe it will be the Shekinah cloud. It was a cloud which enshrouded His form when He tarried with Israel of old. A cloud it was which received Him out of the sight of His disciples; a cloud must bring Him back. At the bitter end of the great tribulation, when His faithful remnant is hard pressed on all sides, when they cry to God for the heavens to open and to come down, there will be seen, we believe, in the heavens a bright and shining cloud, a cloud from which fire shines out. Well may the believing Jewish remnant then cry out, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, this is the Lord, He will save us.” His elect earthly people, those which have not been swept away during the great tribulation, the “all Israel “ of Rom_11:26 will know what that cloud means. Jehovah is coming to be manifested. What their prophets saw and predicted is at last to come true. The Day of Jehovah is about to dawn, the Lord their King is coming.” (Annotated Bible, 1919)

Matthew 24:22 – Days are shortened for elect – Israel

 

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s [these are the same elect Jews see discussion[11]] sake those days shall be shortened.”

 

The elect in the Olivet Discourse are Jews

 

As inconvenient as it is for anti-PreTrib advocates our opponents to accept, Israel is God’s elect [12] (Isaiah 45:4). And while they desperately need elect to mean the church, several things rebut their supposition including rules governing hermeneutics such as the Principles of First Mention, Context, and Progressive Mention.

 

Commenting on this Olivet context, Dr. Gaebelein writes: “Our Lord gives us a most important hint on what He means by these words, by mentioning the Prophet Daniel. Then furthermore, the Holy Spirit adds through Matthew a word of exhortation, which calls special attention to the Lord’s reference to Daniel, the prophet. The Holy Spirit saith, “He that reads let him understand”; or, as it might be put, “Consider so as to understand.” It will, therefore, not do for us to hurry over this word of our Lord, to which the Holy Spirit calls our special attention, which He the great interpreter of the Word of God wants us to consider and to understand fully … The result of this abomination, the revelation of Satan’s power upon the earth, will be the great tribulation. This is fully borne out by the thirteenth chapter in Revelation. Of this our Lord speaks, when he said, “for then shall there be great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world, until now, nor ever shall be.” And in Daniel we likewise read of this tribulation. “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (12:1). The context shows that it will be at this very time of which the Lord speaks, immediately before His personal, visible and glorious Coming.

 

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer adds this: “Throughout the Olivet Discourse Christ refers to Israel as the elect. The most casual contemplation of this discourse (Mat. 24:1-25:46) will disclose the truth that only Israel is in view as the elect of God. Similarly, a revealing Scripture from Paul (Rom. 9:1-10:4) sets forth the truth respecting Israel’s election. Too often this portion of Scripture has been applied to believers today who comprise the Church. The salient facts in the case which make it impossible, however, are that in Israel’s election there is a national objective and that an individual Jew, though belonging to the elect nation, did not have any personal election assured him.” (Systematic Theology, 1948)

Matthew 24:23-26 – Further warnings about false Messiahs, false prophets, and miracle workers

 

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  (24)  For there shall arise false Christs [since Israel is looking for the real Messiah, these will deceive some], and false prophets [Israel exists from the prophetic word], and shall shew great signs and wonders [Israel’s history is replete with signs and wonders by God real messengers]; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect [Israel].  (25)  Behold, I have told you before.  (26)  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. (Deception is the platform of the Antichrist- see Dan. 11:23)

 

The signs and wonders crowd are mentioned here and can be found actively recruiting souls: Revelation 16:14 “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

 

The Kingdom in
the Olivet Discourse Concerns Jews

 

Matthew 25:31-34 The Revelation of Jesus Christ and the Sheep and Goat Judgment

 

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  (32)  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  (33)  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand [Jews and their supporters], but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

 

In closing, Israel exists from prophecy and the Body of Christ (church) from the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25; see Gal. 1:12). The Second Coming (aka the Revelation) of Jesus Christ to earth is in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant Kingdom that will be inaugurated on earth (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa 11; 14; 35; 52; 62; Hos 3). This kingdom is a major topic of OT prophecy, and the Olivet Discourse provides signs for Israel to know when it is about to happen. It begins immediately after the tribulation (the time of Jacob’s [Israel’s] trouble- Jer. 30:7). Christ returns in visible glory to Jerusalem to destroy the Antichrist and his army with the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8). He sets His feet on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4); and sits upon a throne of judgment separating the sheep- comprised of Israel and her supporters- into the Davidic kingdom (Matt. 25:40), from the goats- comprised of surviving unsaved, anti-Semites – who will be cast into everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:41-46). This is the Tribulation, the Revelation of Christ, and the Jewish Kingdom all in their Jewish Setting according to the Olivet Discourse. Be sure to get your King James Bible and read Revelation 1-19 which is the focus of our next study.

 

 

[1] You can read this account in Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; and Luke 21.

[2] It’s no secret that Anti-PreTrib rapturists often cite Matthew 24:29 as one of their “gotcha” texts for a post-trib rapture. However, one problem generally ignored by them – and there are many others discussed or inferred in this book – is how the church can be on earth at the same time she returns with the Lord? “The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints . . .” (Jude 1:14, see also Matthew 24:27-31; 1 Thess. 3:13; Revelation 19:11-21). “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming” (1 Thessalonians 2:19)? Clearly, the coming of the Messiah spoken of in Matthew 24 is the revelation of Christ with His church, not the rapture for His church! The time of Jacob’s trouble is for Israel, NOT for the Body of Christ. There isn’t a verse anywhere in Scripture that clearly assigns the church to this dreadful time on earth and Anti-PreTrib rapturists do no justice to truth to suggest there is.

[3] “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16)

[4] “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24)

[5] This is also called the Revelation. Anti-PreTrib advocates link with prejudice the Body of Christ to the Second Coming of Christ without understanding the purpose of His final return. Many of the OT prophets spoke of the Messiah both as a sovereign Lion who would reign over all the lost sheep of Israel (2 Sam. 7:16; Psa. 44:11,22; 74.1; 89:3-4; Isa. 7, 9; etc), and as a suffering Lamb who would give His life for the sheep (Psa. 16; 22; Isa. 52-53, etc). This confused some of the old Rabbis into thinking there may well be two separate Messiahs. Daniel, however, prophesied two separate comings of Christ to earth for Israel: the first occurred about 2000 years ago leading to His rejection and crucifixion (Dan.9:24-27); the other is the Revelation which occurs after the tribulation    (Matt. 24:29) and leads to His reception and coronation (Dan. 7:13-14).

[6] “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:4)

[7] History repeats itself. Ecclesiastes 1:9 “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Throughout the OT Israel traveled through cycles of rebellion to repentance to restoration to rebellion etc. Among other things, God used the sword (war), famine, pestilence, and earthquakes to Get Israel’s attention and bring her back to Him. While it may take several years, Israel will ultimately understand and will turn their full heart over to God (Rom. 11:26).

[8] By radicalized, I mean obedient to the koran and thus demon possessed.

[9] As Illinois Senator, Barack Hussein Obama voted at least three times against the Born Alive Infant Protection’s Act that would have provided medical assistance to babies who miraculously survive abortion savagery. God help us as Americans to repent and return to the values set forth in the King James Bible!

[10] There are far more Bible scholars who believe in a pre-trib rapture than oppose it. Just compare the names.

[11] Please see Key Word Definitions is Section 1

[12] Douglas Hamp teaching that the elect refers to Jews in both Old and New Testaments writes:

While election is made by God and men of people and places, there is a usage that stands out uniquely in Scripture: God’s chosen people, the elect, are the Israelites. The title “chosen/elect” is in many verses in Scripture. The use of the title “elect” to describe Israel becomes very important when we venture into the New Testament because it clears up many theological, soteriological, and eschatological issues including the identity of the elect in Matthew 24.

God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself. (Deut 7:6).

The LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself. (Deut 14:2)

ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (1 Chr 16:13)

The people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Ps 33:12)

ye Seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. (Ps 105:6)

He brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness. (Ps 105:43)

For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. (Ps 135:4)

For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect… (Isa 45:4)

I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob… mine elect shall inherit it. (Isa 65:9)

… the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (Isa 65:22)

The verses above demonstrate how God has specifically called Israel, Jacob, the Seed of Abraham His chosen. Thus “the chosen” or “my chosen” and “the elect” (in the plural) refer to ethnic Israel.  This point is proven by Paul who, in a synagogue on the Sabbath day in Antioch, read from the Law and Prophets and then spoke to his fellow Jews: “Men of Israel… give audience: ‘The God of this people Israel chose our fathers…’” (Acts 13:16, 17). Thus, the election of Israel is corroborated by Paul in the New Testament as well.

Contents for the Tribulation Trilogy

Dr. Mike Johnston

1 THE PREMISE OF  THE TRIBULATION TRILOGY. 6

2 THE SETTING FOR THE TRIBULATION.. 10

3 THE SUBJECT IN THE TRIBULATION.. 30

4 THE SUBSTANCE OF THE TRIBULATION.. 44

5 DANIEL CODIFIED THE TRIBULATION.. 54

6 THE OLIVET DISCOURSE CLARIFIED THE TRIBULATION.. 70

7 REVELATION CONCLUDES THE TRIBULATION.. 87

BIBLIOGRAPHY. 119

INDEX.. 120

APPENDICES. 121

For those who would like to obtain a hard copy of THE TRIBULATION TRILOGY: http://pmiministries.com/Tribulation_Trilogy_excerpts.htm

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