Matthew 24:1-31

 

Matthew 24:1-31 can be categorized into four simple groupings, verses 1-8: the age of the end-times, what they will be like.  Verses 9-14: the opening of the First Seal---the White Horse of the Four Horsemen.  Verses 15-26: the actual Tribulation---World War III, the next Five Seals.  Verses 27-31: the Seventh Trumpet---the resurrection of the saints to immortality.

 

Markers that identify we’re in the age of the “end-times”

 

Verses 1-8, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:  and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.  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.  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 [Greek, eon, age]?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars:  see ye be not troubled:  for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:  and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.”  What Jesus has said here in verses 1-8 identify what type of age we would be living in at the end-times, just before his coming.  False Christianity would be rife.  It would be a period of time when both World Wars and national wars would be abounding, a time of famines occurring in various places around the world, as well as a period of time marked by earthquakes.  When he mentions earthquakes, he means big ones, and a slew of them occurring.  These events are markers identifying the period of time just before the start of events in Revelation 6 which ultimately lead to his 2nd coming, and it pretty well identifies the age we live in.  The 20th Century has had two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, multiple wars in Africa, Afghanistan, the two Persian Gulf Wars, and all the Arab-Israeli wars.  Lately, since 1978, earthquakes have  increased by over a factor of 10.  More and more earthquakes are occurring with regularity, and since the year 2000, they’ve been increasing with even greater magnitude and frequency.  The Tsunami off Borneo, big quakes in Chile, China, Haiti, and now a huge one in Japan that caused a tsunami, that killed about 10,000 and caused the meltdown or damage to 6 nuclear reactors.  Now, naturally, all these “signs” have occurred down through the ages, empire against empire, nation against nation.  But in the 20th Century, for the first time, we have developed the weaponry to destroy all life from off the planet, starting when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and then went on to develop, build and stockpile multiple thousands of huge hydrogen bombs.  One U.S. Ohio class Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine or one Russian Typhoon class FBM can literally fry a continent with their nuclear missiles.  So verses 4-8 are identity markers for the age of the “end time.”  Jesus then says in verse 8, that when you see all these things starting to happen, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”  Like a woman going into labour, these are the opening labour pains, saying the child-birth process has started.  So these first 8 verses show that Jesus said his message would be fulfilled during an age, period of time, when the total annihilation of mankind was possible (cf. Matthew 24:21-22).  Only since the 1950s has this been possible.  These first 8 verses, coupled to verses 21-22 and the Four Horsemen represent an intensity of the conditions they each portray far beyond normal “false christ’s and religions, wars, famines and disease epidemics that have periodically occurred on earth.  I think any intelligent human being can honestly admit we live in those times right now. 

 

Opening of the First Seal of Revelation 6---

A Time of Massive Evangelism for Real Christians---coupled to serious persecution

 

Matthew 24:9-14, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you:  and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love [Greek, agapeo] of many shall wax cold. [Because that word for love is agapeo in the Greek, this is talking about the love of Christians growing cold.] But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” These verses correspond to the opening of the First Seal of Revelation 6.  Let’s take a look and see why I say that.  That last verse, verse 14, explains why the increased persecution.  They’re preaching up a storm, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God to the entire world.  This verse, in context with verses 9-13 imply a massive preaching of the Gospel to the world.  What happens when you witness to people who don’t want to hear it, they become hostile, don’t they?  Now multiply that factor billions of times over, and that explains verses 9-13, a time of great persecution.  Now let’s see why I say verses 9-14 represent the time period of the 1st Seal of Revelation 6.  What does the First Seal of Revelation 6 represent?  Revelation 6:1-2 is where the beast person and false prophet make their first appearance and broker a 7-year peace treaty in Jerusalem between the Jews and the Arab nations.  For the past 20 years U.S. Presidents have been trying to do that, without much success.  But a European will do this, and succeed!  But how do we know this?  And how do we know that verses 9-14 of Matthew 24 represent the 1st Seal of Revelation 6, the White Horse in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?  I hope to conclusively show you that now.

 

The First Seal---The First Horseman:  Revelation 6:1-2, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.  And I saw, and behold a white horse:  and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him:  and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”  Jesus identifies this horseman in Matthew 24:4-5, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  Jesus in Revelation 19 is on a white horse, but he is pictured as having a sword, not as having a bow.  In cross-referencing Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:4-5 Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear with me…For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”  The Bible identifies Satan’s ministers as being professing Christians.  They don’t look Satanic, but the fruit of their actions prove otherwise (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm).  The First Horseman of Revelation 6:1-2 is no more than a clever counterfeit of the horseman pictured in Revelation 19:11-15, which is Christ.  Christ brandishes a sword out of his mouth, not a bow held in his hand as in Revelation 6:1-2.  The sword represents the true Word of God, which is Christ (cf. John 1:1-14; Hebrews 4:12).  Also the time-setting of Revelation 6:1-2 is totally different from that of Revelation 19:11-15.  The white horse of Revelation 6:1-2 is the First Seal Jesus Christ opens.  The white horse with Christ on it in Revelation 19 is at the other end of the Great Tribulation.  One horse opens the events depicted in Revelation chapters 6-19, the other white horse and rider, mentioned in Revelation 19, brings those events to their final conclusion at the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ.  So what the First Seal and white horse of Revelation 6:1-2 reveal is a great false “Christian” religious leader who comes on the scene to initiate the events depicted in Revelation chapters 6 through 19.  Next, we need to see when this false counterfeit christ, religious leader, comes on the scene, in Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24.  As we’ll see, it fits right into a block of verses sequentially between what I have termed “the end-time age” identifier block of verses, verses 4-8, and the World War III-Great Tribulation verses, verses 15-26 (which represent the other three horses and 5th Seal).

 

When the First Seal is opened---begins a 7 year peace treaty

 

Daniel 9:27, “And he shall confirm the [margin: a] covenant with many for one week:  and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and upon the battlements shall be the idols of the desolator [marginal rendering], even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolator.”  We have a prophetic day for a year principle operating here, where one week = 7 prophetic days, or 7 actual years.  This “prince” that confirms the covenant with many for one week---7 years---is the last major ruler-king of a restored end-time Roman Empire (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm).  In the middle of this 7-year span of time, after three and a half years from the making of this peace treaty, this “prince” shall cause the sacrifice to cease in this restored temple in Jerusalem (just as Antiochus Epiphanes did).  For the next three and a half years World War III (what I call the Great Tribulation) rages.  So what is happening during the first three and a half years of this 7-year peace treaty?  The world, and especially the Arabs and Israelis are at peace.  Probably shortly after this treaty is ratified and signed, the Jews build their temple and start the sacrifices, which by the way, haven’t been sacrificed since 70AD.  The world will wonder, and think “This is great!  Peace at last in the Middle East and world!”  The world’s economy may even be doing great.  But wise and godly Christians will all know they only have about three years to get the Lord’s work finished, that of getting the Gospel to the whole world, verse 14, before all hell breaks loose.  [Are you wondering what the Gospel is?  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm]  This period of time, as we see in verse 14, is marked by an intense preaching of the Gospel around the world, which brings on, results in intense hatred and persecution of Christians (verses 9-13).  Why would Christians go so nuts about preaching the Gospel around the world?  Because when this beast-false prophet combo make this “7-Year Peace Treaty”, the first thing the Jews do is build themselves a temple in Jerusalem.  At this point in time the Christians know they only have about three years to finish preaching the Gospel around the world, until Matthew 24:15, the start of World War III occurs (cf. Daniel 9:27).  All Pre-Tribulation Rapturists will know at this point in time, if they haven’t been “Raptured” by the time this  7-year peace treaty is brokered and the temple built, that their Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine is in serious error, just plain wrong.  My guess, at this point they’ll put their collective shoulders to the grindstone of getting the Gospel out to the world with the rest of us.  If we’re all part of this evangelistic group getting the Gospel to the world, we know that Jesus in Revelation 3:10 promised us protection of some sort, that we wouldn’t go through the Tribulation (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html).  So now it’s either what they term “a Mid-Trib Rapture” that occurs to fulfill Revelation 3:10 (which is highly unlikely), or the Church, Body of Christ, goes into hiding somewhere, into “a place of safety.” 

 

The Second Seal through the Fifth Seal---starting with the Red Horse of Revelation 6---World War III begins!

 

Matthew 24:15-26, “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:) then let them which be in Judea 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:  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 [the idea here is “limited” in the sense of devastation, not shortened in the actual 3.5 year timing of events], there should no flesh be saved:  but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened [i.e. limited].  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.”  The next four Seals of Revelation 6, World War III, intense famines, disease and death, and the martyrdom of unprotected Christians “left behind” are dealt with in Matthew 24:15-26.   Daniel 8 and Revelation 11:1-4 help put Matthew 24:15-26 in greater focus.  Revelation 11:1-4, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod:  and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.  [Don’t forget, Revelation 6-19 is in context with the 3.5 year tribulation.  3.5 years of this 7-year peace treaty have already gone by at this point in Revelation 11:1-4.  So this is the temple that has been rebuilt in Jerusalem, sometime in the near future.  It is not any temple in heaven, because you have human worshippers in it, “them that worship therein.”]  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles:  and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months [3.5 years].  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”  As Jesus said in verse 15 of Matthew 24, this “abomination of desolation” steps into the holy place.  Matthew 24:15-16, 21, “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:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”  Jesus in referring to Daniel was referring to Daniel chapter 8, where this person referred to as the “abomination of desolation” cuts off the daily sacrifice.  For a good study on Daniel 8 log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/Daniel/daniel3.htm and scroll to the bolded paragraph titled “Daniel 8.”  The article will explain in greater detail about the abomination stepping into the temple of God and the sacrifices being cut off.  Daniel 9:27 shows us this takes place three and a half years into this 7-year peace treaty this beast-false prophet combo have made between the Arabs and Israelis over the city of Jerusalem.  Now all hell breaks loose, World War III starts in earnest.  To view another prophecy in Daniel that covers this period of time, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/Daniel/daniel3.htm and read that last portion dealing with the end of Daniel 11:41-45.  Antiochus Epiphanes was a forerunner for a future end-time dictator-king.  Temple sacrifices were halted by Antiochus and the temple was desecrated for 1150 days.  Revelation 11:1-4 and Revelation 13 both show Jerusalem will be “trod under foot” for 1260 days or 3.5 years and the image of the beast (Revelation 13:5) set up in the end-time temple in Jerusalem.  So the “little horn” of Daniel 8 has two fulfillments, then (Antiochus Epiphanes) and in the future.  The same thing is shown in Daniel 11:29-45, whose description of Antiochus Epiphanes transitions directly into the future end-time “abomination of desolation” Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15.

 

6th Seal & the 7th Trumpet all rolled into one in the Matthew 24:27-31 account

 

Matthew 24:27-31, “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 [vultures] 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 [the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation 11:15-19], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  And now we have the 6th Seal, the Heavenly Signs given in Revelation 6:12-17.  The 6th Seal, heavenly signs is made reference to by Jesus in verse 27 of Matthew 24.  The word “lightning” could be better rendered “lightening” and can be translated that way.  The book of Revelation reveals that these “heavenly signs” occur twice, once at the opening of the 6th Seal in Revelation 6:12-17 and then again at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet in Revelation 11:15-19.  Verse 19 indicates people can actually see the temple of God in the 3rd heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem, from earth.  Notice, Jesus in Matthew 24:27-31 only mentions the last appearance of the “heavenly signs,” at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet (although verse 27 could also and probably does represent both appearances).  This is the time of the resurrection of the righteous dead to immortality (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm).

 

What exactly are these “heavenly signs”?

 

This will amaze you, if you’ve never heard this before.  These “heavenly signs” of the 6th Seal are identified in Revelation 6:12-17, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”  Verse 16 reveals those on earth can see Jesus and God the Father sitting on their thrones.  Where is the throne of God?  Let’s let the Bible tell us.  This gets interesting.  Hebrews 12:18-24, “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words [i.e. Mount Sinai where Moses was]; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:  (for they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:  and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:).  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”  This is the heavenly Jerusalem, the exact same one that God brings down to earth in Revelation 21:1-23!  So if humans on earth can see God and the Lamb of God (Jesus) glowing brilliantly (cf. Revelation 1:13-16) on their respective thrones in the heavenly Jerusalem---the heavenly Jerusalem must have been brought by God close enough to earth for people to see it, close enough for people to see God on his throne, glowing, shining brilliantly!  How do the people of the world react when they see this?  Revelation 6:15-16, “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”  So we see, because a great trumpet is blown, the Seventh Trumpet, and God’s elect are gathered up in the first resurrection to immortality, that Matthew 24:27-31 is referring to this New Jerusalem having become visible again, and probably hovering over Jerusalem.  The living saints are now being transformed to immortality almost simultaneously as the righteous dead are being raised to immortality (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm for a full treatment of this important resurrection of the dead.)  So we’ve seen in Revelation 6:12-17, the 6th Seal, and Revelation 11:15-19, coupled to Matthew 24:27-31, that “the sign of the coming of the Son of man” appears in the skies, heavens.  These “heavenly signs,” as they’ve been called for centuries by Bible scholars, not understanding what they were, amount to being the appearance of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem from above (cf. Hebrews 12:18-24).  God the Father and Jesus Christ can be seen sitting on their respective thrones, glowing like the very sun in brilliance.  But after the sealing of the 144,000, as we’ll see, the combined armed forces of the Beast Empire and an eastern alliance of nations (Russia and the C.I.S. nations?) get involved in a massive attack and counter-attack (the first two woes of Revelation 9).  So it would stand to reason God has made this approaching New Jerusalem become invisible to human eyesight right after the 144,000 have been sealed.  Why?  Because when the New Jerusalem becomes visible again, the Beast Empire successfully unites forces with this Eastern Alliance and the world to fight “these invaders from outerspace” (ever seen Independence Day?), the returning Jesus Christ and resurrected saints.  Matthew 24:27-31 lump both the first appearance of these “heavenly signs,” and the 2nd and final appearance of them just prior to Jesus’ 2nd coming, all into one event.  Remember, Matthew 24 is a “quick & dirty” synopsis of the events described in Revelation chapters 6-19, where Jesus is squeezing in all the events covered in Revelation into a short dissertation he’s giving the disciples before his crucifixion.  Verse 31 of Matthew 24  gives us the resurrection of the saints to immortality spoken of by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15, “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.”  

 

Understand this…

 

Understand this, all who are Christians, all those believers in Jesus Christ who fit Paul’s simple definition of a Christian in Romans 8, whoever and wherever you are---When the period of the opening of the 1st Seal of Revelation 6 comes upon us, when that 7-year peace treaty is made between the Israelis and Arab nations by some European leader(s), those of you who understand the signs of the times, ie, these prophecies, will start an intense period of worldwide evangelism at all levels.  Knowing you only have about three years to finish the job Jesus has given you will kind of put the heat on those of you who are really with it spiritually and understand these things.  This intense period of worldwide evangelism will bring on an intense period of persecution which will occur simultaneously along with your evangelistic efforts.  The two go hand-in-hand.  This period of persecution and evangelistic efforts by those of you who have God’s Holy Spirit is going to drive many believers together who hold diverse secondary doctrinal beliefs.  God may indeed force Sunday observing, Sabbath observing and Messianic Jewish groups into one amalgamated group of believers before it’s all said and done.  Intense persecution will do that, and that may be the only way God can force all of us in our diverse spiritual groups to recognize the Holy Spirit indwelling all of us, making us all genuine brothers in Christ.  So, in the end, Unity in the Body of Christ may and probably will have to be forged by Jesus in the hot fires of persecution.  The great false church, of course, will be luring many of the nominal Christian denominations into a type of ecumenical unity.  You who are real believers in Jesus, don’t get sucked into this.  You must separate yourselves out from any such group or denomination that is going in for ecumenical unity.  This is not the unity Jesus seeks to have in his body of believers, who already have spiritual unity by the very Holy Spirit which indwells those who are really a part of the Body of Christ.  As Pastor Joe Focht said in a sermon once, that in a way it’s going to be great when persecution comes, all the worthless chaff that’s been in our midst will suddenly disappear, get blown away, all those fair-weather Christians won’t be around anymore.

 

The Three Major Pre-Millennial Interpretations, What are they, and whose right?

 

So in the general group of Pre-Millennial Christians there are three major sub-groups each having three distinct interpretations for how God is going to fulfill his promise of protecting his saints through the nasty events which occur during World War III, the Great Tribulation, and covering the 2nd Coming.  Whose right?  Only in time, as the events are fulfilled, will we come to know which scenario is correct.  I’m not taking sides, even though I sincerely believe the third scenario may end up being the correct one.  Time will tell, and I’m no longer dogmatic on such things, even though I have my own sincere set of beliefs concerning this.

 

1.  Pre-Millennialism, Historic or Classical, which means non-dispensational:  They believe the tribulation will last for three and one half years, as depicted in Revelation 12:14 and chapters 13 & 17, and that all the saints that have lived and died before will be resurrected to immortality at the actual literal 2nd Coming of Christ, rising up in the air during their resurrection to meet with Christ as he is descending back to earth (both events almost being simultaneous).  They believe in the literal 1000 year reign on earth of Jesus Christ and the resurrected saints over mankind.  They accurately focus on the Scriptures that prove their interpretation, while totally ignoring the Scriptural passages the Pre-Trib and Post-Trib Rapturists focus on. This was the dominant understanding of prophecy during the first three centuries of the Christian Church.  Some early fathers who held this view were Papias, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Lactantius.  Many modern Baptists, some Presbyterians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and almost all fundamentalists (across denominational lines) and almost all of the various Seventh-day Sabbatarian Churches of God hold this view.  Numerically, the largest number of people on the pre-millennial side hold this view, denominationally speaking.

 

2.  Dispensational Premillennialism, The Pre-Tribulation Rapturists:  The Pre-Trib Rapturists, just like the Classic Pre-Millennialists, believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ.  They differ on the details of what will precede Christ’s return and what role the church will play in the end times.  Dispensationalists hold that Christ’s coming will take place in two stages.  He will come for his church (the Rapture) and then will return with his Church as they and he touch down on the Mount of Olives literally.  They say that Christ will come for his saints, and that they will disappear from the earth and be with Christ in heaven until the literal 2nd coming to stop World War III and rule over the earth.  Thus the saints will be protected during the seven years of the tribulation because they will be in heaven while all hell breaks loose on earth.  Mid-Tribulation Rapturists:  A small sub-division of this interpretative group is the Mid-Trib Rapturists.  They are less common, not many believing this.  They believe the Church will go through the less severe part (usually the first half, or three-and-a-half years) of the tribulation [i.e. as we saw, the First Seal], but then will be miraculously removed (translated, Raptured) from the world. They believe that during this first three-and-a-half year period the Church will suffer persecution, but will be removed during the second part of  it (2nd through 6th Seals).  This interpretation differs only slightly from the next one, amazingly.

 

3. Post-Tribulation Rapturists:  This group believes the Church remains on the earth for the whole seven years of the Tribulation.  They go through the first three-and-a-half years of this 7-year peace treaty (the First Seal), but not the second part of it, being protected from World War III (what I like to call the real tribulation).  They suffer great persecution, and some martyrdoms take place, as Matthew 24:9-14 indicate.  During this 3.5 year period of time they succeed in taking the Gospel to the entire world in one final push of the Gospel message (cf. Matthew 24:14), which is one reason they go through such persecution.  At the end of this 3.5 year period, they are taken into “a place of safety” somewhere on earth by God, where they remain until they are Raptured to the heavenly Mount Sion, the New Jerusalem, at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet, which marks the end of the Tribulation and beginning of the Seven Last Plagues.  They remain in the New Jerusalem on the Sea of Glass for about 5 months, during the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and then return with Jesus Christ to earth at his literal 2nd Coming.  Their rapture to the New Jerusalem at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet is none other than the First Resurrection to Immortality spoken of by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:49-56 and 1st Thessalonians 4:13-17.  This interpretation, which of late has been honed and tuned up by a Sabbatarian Church of God which will remain unnamed at this point (because this interpretation is bound to stir some real controversy), is the one I have presented in this section on Matthew 24:1-31.  No matter which interpretation you choose to believe, understand this, Jesus does promise protection for his Church in the end-times, in Revelation 3:10, but not his entire Church (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html).  This post-tribulation rapture interpretation incorporates all the Scriptural passages embraced by the Pre-Tribulation Rapturists (Dispensationists), and the Classic Pre-Millennialist believers, and perfectly harmonizes both sets of Scriptural passages embraced by these two doctrinally opposing groups within the Body of Christ.  To view a more complete study of this subject, going through the Book of Revelation, log onto:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm

 

when will the Pre-Trib people know they’ve been wrong?

 

So, when will the Pre-Trib Rapturists, the Dispensationalists, know that their interpretation has been wrong (if indeed they are) and that they need to look at other Biblical scenarios?  They will know the very minute the 1st Seal is opened and they’re still on earth and haven’t been Raptured to heaven (or as we’ve seen, to the New Jerusalem).  Will they have been totally wrong in their interpretation?  No, they will not have been.  Have the Classic Pre-Millennialists been totally right in their interpretation, then?  No, they haven’t.  Each major doctrinal group has willingly and at times intentionally ignored the Scriptural passages the other group has embraced.  That is why both groups have failed to see what the actual Biblical scenario may actually be.  And now this tiny, grace oriented Sabbatarian Church of God has come along, and seen how things may actually shake out.  All I can say, with a little bit of humor, is “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

 

R

Prophecy Interpretation Is A Rubik's Cube

 

Being totally intellectually honest here (and I always try to be that on this website, which could get me in trouble with the denomination I attend, just kidding J), I have to admit that each major doctrinal interpretation about the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ's 2nd coming, which I have tried to honestly document on this website (there may have been a few I missed), has merit, and each has its own set of fatal flaws.  What is the answer?  Which doctrinal interpretation by which denomination or theologian is correct?  I don't know, and I suspect that none of them are totally correct.  But I am not a theologian.  I try to accurately record on this website what some theologians and denominational leaders have taught on the subject, often in my own words.  And make no mistake, I have striven to figure out the truth on the matter myself.  But taking an honest look at what all the differing theologians and denominations have said on the subject, I find some truth and some fatal flaws in all of their interpretations.  I honestly believe all the prophecies in the Bible are true and inspired to be written in the Bible by God himself, sometimes directly spoken to a prophet, sometimes inspired by God's Holy Spirit.  It is our human interpretations, often influenced by our own worldview, which has proven to be flawed, each and every one of them.  But the problem with theologians and denominational leaders alike is that most of them are or were (the deceased ones) part of a particular denomination, and thus feel compelled to favour or back up their own denomination's version for end-time/2nd coming prophecy, often to the exclusion of all others, thus objectivity is lost.  Prophecy, if I might be allowed to make an analogy, is like that terribly frustrating (for most of us) Rubik's Cube (for those of you who don't know what it is, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubik's_Cube).  So I am throwing the gauntlet down in front of all you theologians and denominational leaders to drop your biases and pride, come together in prayer, and solve this Rubik's Cube of a problem on what the proper interpretation of end-time prophecies and the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ are exactly.  What I see from the interpretations and difficult Scriptures I'll list below is that the differing theologians and denominations have tended to be like some of us who couldn't solve the Rubik's Cube once it had been scrambled, and so we'd peel off the coloured sticker that we couldn't get to match, and swap it for another that didn't match, thus aligning all the colours alike for each face of the six-sided cube.  I don't know what God thinks of those who do this, but we must stop doing that, and find the proper solution, otherwise we as Christians in our various denominations look like idiots to the unbelieving world around us that we are attempting to witness to.  Why, because the unbelieving world lumps us all together, for the most part, simply as being ׂChristians׃, without putting the various denominational tags on us.  Our central message, regardless of our individual denominational prophetic interpretational beliefs, should be the promotion of the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ. We all should be agreed on what that Gospel is.  What is it?  I think I've pretty well defined it in an article I wrote, based on the Scriptures [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm].  But if we could stop looking so much like idiots to the unbelieving world in our prophetic warning message to them, that would be a real plus, and help us to fulfill the job Jesus gave all of us to do (cf. Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:18-20). 

 

Scriptures That Conflict With Various Interpretations

 

1.  The pre-trib Rapture/1st Resurrection to Immortality doesn't take into account the hundreds of thousands to millions of tribulation-saints who will die, and thus have to have their own separate װRapture/Resurrection' to immortality during of after the tribulation (post-tribulation).

 

2.  Those that teach the pre-trib Rapture/1st Resurrection to immortality say that the trumpet blown in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 is not the 7th Trumpet or Last Trumpet of Revelation 11:15-18, but is a separate trumpet that has nothing to do with being ׂthe last Trump׃ or 7th Trumpet.  But the companion Scripture passage, even used as a companion Scripture by those promoting a pre-trib Rapture of the Church, is found in 1st Corinthians 15:49-56, where in verse 52 it states, ׂIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:  for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.׃  This doesn't square with a pre-trib Rapture/1st Resurrection to immortality interpretation. And Revelation 11:15-18 indicates the 1st Resurrection to immortality takes place at the time of the blowing of the 7th Trumpet (just before the 7 Last Plagues), backing up 1st Corinthians 15:52.

 

3.  There are a number of Scriptures that indicate that the Church (or a part of the Church) will be taken to a place of Safety during the tribulation period, somewhere on earth. 

 

4. Matthew 24 could indicate or point to a mid-trib Rapture or Place of Safety preservation of the Church.

 

5. Revelation 3 (if taken to represent the successive era's of the Church from 100AD to present) indicates that two era's of the Church exist side-by-side, and that one goes into the tribulation whilst the other is afforded protection (without specifying how, cf. Revelation 3:10).

 

6. Revelation 5:9-10 (taken in proper context with Revelation chapters 4 through 6) clearly points to the Church being in heaven singing a hymn to God before his throne, before the scroll with Seven Seals (with the four horsemen) is opened, initiating the great tribulation.

 

7.  Revelation 12 points to the Church (or part of it, fitting Revelation 3, the last two era's) being taken to a place of safety on earth.

 

This is the tip of the iceberg, but I think it proves my point.  As to what I personally believe, I don't know anymore, your guess is as good as mine (actually, I hope we all stop guessing and ask for God's inspiration through his Holy Spirit on the matter). We'll all have the solution to this Rubik's Cube problem after we have attended the Wedding Feast on the Sea of Glass and returned with Christ to rule the world.  But for the sake of the unbelieving world we're supposed to witness to, we need the solution now. I'm making this challenge directly to the various theologians and denominational leaders.  The best some of us local members of the various denominations can do is to pass this challenge on to them. They may not like you for doing so, but they, as well as all of us, answer ultimately to Jesus Christ and no man.  And hey look, I'm just a local member of a denomination myself, and I don't even pretend to have the answers.  If you're tired of the mess, pass the challenge on. Below are some links going to some of the various interpretations, as I've tried to accurately as possible convey them.

 

1.  Pre-Tribulation Rapture explanation (a good one, has merit):

http://www.unityinchrist.com/1thes/1stThessalonians4-16-18.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/prophchart.htm

 

2. Commentary study on Revelation, pertinent sections:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation3-1-22.html

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation4-10.html

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%2018-20.htm

 

3. Historic Pre-Millennial interpretation of the 2nd coming:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/Biblical%20Prophecy.htm

 

4. Place of Safety Scriptures:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/print/Petra-ThePlaceofSafetyprt.htm

 

5. A recent Post-Tribulation Rapture/1st Resurrection interpretation:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm

 

A Command From Jesus Christ To The Body of Christ

 

Is there a good reason Jesus Christ wants us to be more unified in our presentation of this part of the Gospel?  You bet there is.  Jesus gave the entire Body of Christ that would be living in the end-times a direct and powerful command.  If I were some of you theologians and/or leaders of the various denominations or parts of the Body of Christ, I'd take this command of Jesus Christ very seriously.  Ignore it at your own peril.  This direct command of Jesus to the Body of Christ is given in Zephaniah 2:1-3, and you can read about it at:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm

 

For all the rest of us ordinary believer guys and gals, here's a very good sermon transcript showing a proper perspective on how to apply end-time prophecy, see:

http://www.ucg.org/sermon/prophecy-prepare-end-time/