In Matt. 24 Jesus leaves the temple and the disciples point out the buildings. Then Jesus gives the great prophecy: "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."
After they arrive at the Mount of Olives, the disciples (Mark 13:3 tells us it was Peter, James, John and Andrew) come to him privately and ask Jesus three questions:
1. When shall these things - the destruction of the temple - be (answer: vs. 15 when you see the abomination of desolation)
2. What shall be the sign of your coming (answer: vs. 29 the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars is the sign of his coming, and is immediately followed by the sign of the Son of man, which is not described
3. (What shall be the sign) of the end of the world - in Greek, the end of the age (answer: vs. 32 the shooting forth of the fig tree is the sign that the endtimes are soon to begin).
The prophecy that follows (Matt. 24 and 25) is an overview of the tribulation with special attention give to several key events: vs. 4-8 are the spiritual, political and nature signs that mark the beginning of the tribulation; vs. 9-14 is a general overview of the entire tribulation as it relates to individuals; vs. 15-26 cover a major event that occurs at the middle of the tribulation and gives instructions about what the believer’s response should be for the last half; vs. 27-31 describe the second advent; vs. 32-36 give the sign of the fig tree; vs. 37-44 describe the removal of the damned at the second advent; vs. 45 - 25:30 give three teachings regarding the judgment at the second advent of those who neither served antichrist nor Jesus; and vs. 31-46 describe the sheep and goats judgment.
In his response, the very first thing Jesus does is warn against deception: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Notice Jesus says many shall come "in my name". His name is Jesus. While all kinds of claims to godhood are being made in New Age and other circles, this warning regards this claim being made by professing Christians. It is Christians who come "in my name". Now, if someone stood up on TBN or in your local pulpit and claimed to be Christ, most Christians would immediately judge this person to be self deceived and would disregard his or her teaching.
But the fact of the matter is that today we are being inundated with a variety of folks who are making this very claim in the name of Jesus. The word ‘Christ’ is translated from the Greek word Christos, which is defined as "anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus", and has as its root chrio; through the idea of contact; to smear or rub with oil, i.e. (by implication) to consecrate to an office or religious service. The Bible always interprets this word, which is used just five times, as "anoint", four times in reference to Jesus, and once in reference to all believers (II Co. 1:21). The Greek word chrisma , an unguent or smearing, i.e. (figuratively) the special endowment ("chrism") of the Holy Spirit, is used three times regarding believers, all in I John 2, and is translated as "anointing or unction".
1 John 2:27 "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." From this verse we see that the anointing lives in us (ALL believers), teaches us of all things, is truth and is no lie. This Biblical anointing can only be the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers. Yet we see and hear folks on TV and elsewhere who are claiming a special anointing of one kind or another to perform this, that or the other miracle or teaching or ‘ministry’ in God’s name because of the so-called special anointing, which does not, in fact, exist.
They will say things like, "It’s the anointing that breaks the yoke." This is supposed to be a quote from the Bible, but here is the actual verse: Isa. 10:27 "And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." The context of the passage is the deliverance of Israel from the Assyrian at the end of the tribulation, not the TBN "faith" teachers in modern America. The yoke of the Assyrian shall be destroyed, not BY, but BECAUSE OF, the anointing on God’s people at that time. The anointing does not break the yoke, God destroys the yoke, which is a burden on his people caused by an unholy ruler, not sickness or poverty as is taught by the Word of Faith teachers.
They often say, "Touch not the Lord’s anointed and do his prophets no harm." The expression is used twice in scripture: 1 Chron. 16:22 and Psa. 105:15 "Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Both passages describe in detail the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and their entry into Canaan. Neither has to do with a TV preacher claiming a false anointing and then making threats against those who would expose his false doctrine.
As Jesus said, they are coming in His name making deceiving claims that are not true. This business about the ‘anointing’ is only a small part of the false Christianity being proclaimed by the Word of Faith movement, but it is very telling when compared with Matt. 24:5 because it is an exact fulfillment of that verse.
The rider of the first horse in Revelation 6 is antichrist, and while I do not expect him to come claiming the name of Jesus, some "Christian" groups are unknowingly helping to set the stage for him through their non-Biblical teaching.
In Matt 24:6-7 Jesus said, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors 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 shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."
According to GlobalSecurity.com there are currently thirty-nine conflicts occurring in the world. They are classified in various terms including war, insurgencies, civil actions, and uprisings. In addition, the entire world, including Moslem countries in the middle east, is threatened by terrorist attacks. We have seen 9/11; the Madrid train bombings, the London subway bombings, the Jordanian hotel bombings, the Egyptian resort bombings, and several bombings in Saudi Arabia (the primary financial supporter of terrorists). No one is safe. The word ‘nation’ (nation against nation) is the Greek word ethnos and we get our word ‘ethnic’ from it. So we see that not only were wars prophesied, but also ethnic conflicts which can occur internally in a given country: Sudan, Iraq’s Kurds, etc. The second horseman of Revelation 6 is war.
Jesus said there would be famine. According to World Vision and UNICEF there are fourteen million people facing starvation in the seven South African countries of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The famine began with the onset of drought in 1992 and has been complicated by HIV, with one of four people between the productive ages of 15 and 45 being infected. No country is safe from drought. The developed countries seem to be able to compensate for drought by using different agricultural methods to produce crops or by obtaining food from other locations, but this will not always be the case. The third horseman of Revelation 6 is worldwide famine.
Jesus also said there would be pestilences. We know about HIV/AIDS, the various killer diseases out of Africa such as Hanta Virus and Ebola, and the news media is currently full of reports regarding the coming bird flu pandemic. There is enough pestilence occurring in the world right now to say this sign is occurring. The fourth horseman of Revelation 6 is death followed by hell, and they will kill humans with the sword, hunger, death and the beasts of the earth. I believe these ‘beasts of the earth’ include viruses: deadly living things.
The last sign given by Jesus in this account is earthquakes in divers places. On December 26, 2003 Iran was devastated by an earthquake, on December 26, 2004 an undersea earthquake caused an earthquake so massive it registered worldwide and resulted in a tsunami that killed 230 thousand people in twelve countries in a matter of minutes. On October 8, 2005 a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan resulting in 88,000 deaths. As I write this, there have been sixteen earthquakes of a magnitude of 6.0 or greater within the past thirty days. This is not unusual for these days, but it is unusual historically. For earthquake information visit this website www.iris.edu.
In addition to these signs, Luke 21 includes the phrase, "the sea and the waves roaring". This past two years the U.S. gulf coast has been repeatedly battered with major hurricanes. In 2005, for the first time ever, the Greek alphabet had to be used to name the storms because all the English letters were used. This past summer saw the largest, strongest and fastest growing storms ever and leaves us wondering what will happen in 2006.
Jesus said (Matt. 24:8) "All these are the beginning of sorrows." The word ‘sorrows’ is the Greek odin and is defined as: birth pangs. In other words, at a certain point the occurrence of these things would grow in frequency and intensity, just as the pains and contractions of a woman in labor. In several references scripture compares the endtimes to labor.
I Thessalonians gives a chronology of the endtimes as follows: 4:16 - resurrection of the righteous dead; 4:17 - catching up of the resurrected and living believers to meet the Lord in the air (rapture); 5:2 - coming of the day of the Lord. 5:3 "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." II Thess. 2:1-8 is the definitive passage on the timing of the rapture in relation to the Tribulation, and it is pre-tribulation. (Click here for more information on the timing of the rapture.)
If the rapture was taught in Matt. 24 it should be placed either right before verse 4 or between verses 7 and 8. Because these verses contain no statements regarding the resurrection or the departure, I conclude that the rapture simply is not taught in this passage.
Matt. 24: 9-14 gives a summary of the seven years of the tribulation as it relates to individual believers. "9 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. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 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."
Verse 9 begins with the word ‘then’, which indicates a specific time, in this case, when the birth pangs have begun. Of particular interest is the word ‘afflicted’, which in the Greek is thlipsis and is defined as: pressure; and is also translated as afflicted, anguished, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble. In vs. 9 the word stands alone, while in vs. 21 we see the same Greek word again, this time translated as ‘tribulation’, and further defined with the word ‘great’. So we do see the word ‘tribulation’ applied to the entire seven-year period in Matthew 24, and that the last half will be more severe than the first.
Vs. 9 is addressed to a specific group of people who will be delivered up to be afflicted and killed because they are hated of all nations for His name’s sake. They must be believers, people born again after the rapture, because they are hated because of the name of Jesus. The affliction will be at the hands of government because the people to be afflicted are "delivered up". This is not speaking of private murder, although that will most likely also be approved. Vs. 10 says many shall be offended, shall betray one another and shall hate one another. These two verses paint a picture of severe persecution of the people of God, and this begins prior to the requirement of the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-18).
At the middle of the tribulation the authorities will require a physical mark to easily identify the ‘loyal’ followers of the antichrist. The murder described in Matt. 24:9-10 may begin prior to that time, and it will be sanctioned by the world government that will come to full power after the rapture. (Click here for the Rev. 13 main page.) For many years various New Age books have complained that those pesky Christians are holding back the quantum leap in evolution, the one where humans become god, and because of this the Christians need to be removed. Various ideas have been put forth regarding just how that might be accomplished, including the earth itself cleansing itself, abduction by UFOs, and wholesale murder (which is coming soon to a neighborhood near you). These writings are fully documented in Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow; Constance Cumbey, Huntington House, Inc., 1983. (The book is available on Amazon.)
Vs. 11 says many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. Notice that the many false christs of vs. 5 will be followed by many false prophets. Jesus doesn’t specifically address THE antichrist or THE false prophet in this discourse, he states that there will be MANY of each. We have our share of false prophets today (pre-tribulation), but according to this verse there will be a great increase in their numbers. I anticipate they will be prophesying that the antichrist (who will have been publically revealed between vs. 8 and 9) is the true christ who will bring in a golden age on earth. They will be speaking about what ‘really’ happened to all the Christians who will have disappeared. It will be one big songfest for the Age of Aquarius and John Lennon’s Imagine, while encouraging the active murder of those who refuse to go along.
Vs. 12 tells us that because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall grow cold. Iniquity is defined as: illegality, violation of the law, wickedness. Because the wickedness being described is approved by government, the law that is being violated is the law of God. In Matt 22:36-40 Jesus reduced the law to the lowest common denominator. "36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." These are the specific laws that are being broken in Matt. 24.
In vs. 13 Jesus reassures the people who will become born again during the tribulation: "But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved." The believer that endures to the end of the tribulation or to the end of his life, whichever comes first, will be saved.
In vs. 14 he gives a major sign of the end of the tribulation. "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." This preaching of the gospel will be done by an angel (not a satellite television production). Rev 14:6-7 "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." It will be very hard to miss this sermon.