The rapture part 3


Today marks our 3rd lesson on the rapture. In our first 2 lesson we looked at what the dispensational premillennialist teach such as Hal Lindsey and Billy Graham. I examined their 2 major proof texts where they get their rapture theory from and I showed that rapture as they teach does not exist as the teach it. We also examined how they believe that Jesus will set up a physical kingdom on the earth in the near future and once again I showed many scriptures that showed that the kingdom is spiritual in nature and that it began on the day of Pentecost.


So, my goal for today is to examine Mat. 24 and Mat. 25. Mat. 24 is a chapter that has been misunderstood by many and those who teach the rapture theory believe that there are signs by which we can known the Jesus is about to return and of course they believe that those signs are happening now and that Jesus will come very soon within our generation.


Before we begin looking at Mat. 24. I would like to lay down some basic guidelines that you should follow in order to figure what going on in any given chapter within the Bible. One of the most important things you must do is to look at the context so you can know what is going on. This means you need to look at the previous chapter as it may give you great insight on what going on. Also, it important to examine any other verses or parallel accounts of the contents of the chapter you want to examine. Finally when you are examining a more difficult chapter try and find verses within that chapter that might help you to unlock the true meaning of that chapter. I will be using these basic guidelines to show what Mat. 24 really teaches.


So, the first thing we need to do is to find out what is going on in Mat. 23. In this chapter Jesus is in Jerusalem at the temple and He begins to speak the people there and starts talking about the Pharisees and the scribes and the sins they are guilty of. Let’s read last part of this chapter.


Matthew 23:32 "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.  33 "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,  35 "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.  37 " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  38 "See! Your house is left to you desolate;  


Jesus is making very clear that these Jews had rejected Him and the blood of the prophets would be on their head. Here Jesus is pronouncing a judgment upon these Jews and He tells them that this judgment will come upon this generation and that God has left their house desolate. In other words God’s presence was no longer in the temple. This judgment that Jesus is talking about  here was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Which happened 40 years after He made this statement and certainly falls inline with the timeline of a generation because a generation is considered to be 30 to 40 years in length.


Now with this in mind I want to show what I believe to be a key verse in understanding Mat. 24.


Matthew 24:34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.


No matter how you decided to explain Mat. 24 Jesus makes it easy for us to see that the verse preceding verse 34 were to happen in that generation. Just as we saw at the end of Mat 23 we can see that those events in those verse were to occur sometime with in a 30 to 40 year span.


Now what the premillennialist try to do is to change the meaning of generation in our key verse to simply denote the Jewish race. In other words they have Jesus saying that the Jewish race will not pass away until all these things take place. This is how they justify stretching out the time span of when these things are to occur. But even they will admit that the word Generation is rarely used to mean race. Instead the word generation is almost always defined as,


“the sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time”


In fact out of the 37 times this word is used in the NT I could not find where it was ever used to refer to a race. Let me give you example of what I am talking about.


Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;


It very obvious that generation here is talking about a time span and not a race because this verse wouldn’t make any sense if you substituted the word generation with the word race. Please keep this in mind as we begin to examine Mat. 24. My goal is to show you that Mat. 24 talk about 2 different events. Verses 1 – 34 talk about the destruction of Jerusalem and verse 36 – 51 talk about Jesus second coming when the end of world will occur.


Matthew 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.  2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."


We learn from verse 3 that when Jesus departed from the temple that He went to Mount of Olives opposite of the temple. This was a mountain that had many olive trees on it and it gave you good look at the city of Jerusalem over their walls. Now I want to point out that the events that take place in this chapter are also recorded in Mark 13 and Luke 21. Each of the accounts have additional information that the others don’t and so I will be referring to these other accounts to give us a complete picture. We learn that Jesus’ disciples began to show Jesus the marvelous buildings of temple of Jerusalem and how beautiful they were. But, then Jesus tells them something that no doubt shocks them because He lets them know that all these glorious buildings they are looking at are going to be destroyed and not one stone will remain on top of another.


Now this was truly an amazing statement because at this point they were still building on the temple area which by they way they didn’t finish until 64 A.D and Jerusalem was at a time of peace at this moment yet Jesus said it would be destroyed just as he had said in Mat. 23 that that generation would see this happen in their generation. So, immediately His disciples ask Him some question about what he just said. I want to show the questions asked in each account.


In Matthew’s account we see 3 questions.


Matthew 24:3  "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 


Luke account shows 2 questions.


Luke 21:7 So they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?"


Mark’s account also shows 2 questions


Mark 13:4 "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"


This is why its very important that we look at the parallel accounts in the gospels. Because when we look at just one we don’t get the complete picture however when we look at all them then together then we will get the complete picture. For example in Both Luke’s and Mark’s account we only see recorded for 2 question that only deal with destruction of Jerusalem. They want to know when will this destruction of Jerusalem happen and what will be the signs that show it going to happen?


But, then we learn in Mat 24 that the also want to know what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? Now another end time view which we are not studying today would suggest this question also refers to the destruction of Jerusalem as well. However, that cannot be the case because the question about his coming in linked with  the question about the end of the age which tells me that this question they were asking about his second coming because this word “age” or ‘world” in the KJV version shows that they were wanting to know what are the signs of the end of the world. Now the reason why I say this is because every time this word is used in the NT it either refers to the world itself or to time. Now the reason I point this out is because some try to say they were wanting to know when would the end of the Jewish age instead of the end of the world. Again, as far I could find this word is never used to refer to the Jewish nation.


So basically we have 2 topics that asked about. When would the destruction of Jerusalem occur and what be the signs. When will Jesus come and bring about the end of the world and what will be the signs of this.


Now  some have suggest that maybe His disciples thought that the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world would occur at the same time and that is plausible because throughout Jesus ministry they had been confused on many matters. Jesus taught them multiple times about his death and resurrection but yet in John 20: 9 after Jesus death on the cross they still didn’t understand that he must be raised from the dead. In Mat 13 Jesus spoke several parable about the condition of person heart, the importance and strength of God’s kingdom and He even gave the 2 different parable about the end of the world or the end of the age and Jesus even ask them if they understood what he was talking about  and they all say yes we understand in verse 51. Yet, when we come Acts 1:6 just before Jesus is about to ascend into heaven his disciples want to know when will he restore the kingdom to Israel? Once again we can see that they were still looking for a physical kingdom instead of spiritual one. So, this is why I say it is certainly possible that they thought the destruction of Jerusalem and the end would occur at the same time.


But, as far I can tell it doesn’t really matter what they thought at this point because Jesus is going to make it very clear that the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of time are 2 different events that happen at 2 different times.


In verse 4 – 14 Jesus warns His disciples not to be fooled by the false signs they would experience before the destruction of Jerusalem would occur.


Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.  5 "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.


Here Jesus says that there will be many people who come his name trying to say that they are the Messiah. The Bible records for us in Acts 5:35-37 that some men had claimed to be something great and led some people away to slaughter and historians like Josephus also commented on how false Messiah’s were stepping up during those days.


Matthew 24:6 "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows.   


Again these are things are going to take place before the destruction of Jerusalem and these are not signs the mark the end of Jerusalem but instead the event beginning of sorrows. Those who teach the rapture view try to say that these are signs that show that the rapture is about to occur but again these are simply things that will happen before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jesus disciples are not troubled or bothered by these things because they are not signs that show that the destruction of Jerusalem is about to happen.


Now think about this if Jesus was going to give us some sort of signs to look for when the end of time was going to occur don’t you think he would have given us something better than the vague descriptions? When do we not have these type of things occurring throughout history. I also want to point out that the text does not say that these signs will increase during this time but they will simply be happening.  Please note the following,


Vincent notes that between this prophecy by Jesus in 30 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem there was an earthquake in Crete in 46-47 A.D. at Rome in 51 A.D. at Apamaia in Phrygia in 60 A.D and at Campania in 41 -54 A.D. He also note 4 famines during the reign of Claudius in 41 – 54 A.D. One of these famines are taught in Acts 11:28. Also an early writer named Tacitus (Annals xvi. 10-13) describes hurricanes and storms in Campania in A.D. 65.


There are more events I could list but these are sufficient enough to show that they had those things happening before the destruction of Jerusalem.


Matthew 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 


The Book of Acts clearly reveals the fulfillment of this prediction. The apostles were beaten and put in prison (Acts 4--5), Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 6--7), there was a great persecution against the church (Acts 8--9), and James was beheaded (Acts 12:1-2) just to name a few.


Now Mark adds this in his account,


Mark 13:11 "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.


This certainly limits these events that were going to happen to the first century because when they were arrested the Holy Spirit would give them the words by which to speak. Now this would be a study all with in itself but we know that 1 Cor. 13 and Eph. 4 and other passages make it clear the miraculous speaking of tongues and the like were limited to the 1st century because only the apostles had the ability to impart miraculous gifts by the laying on of their hands and so this cannot happen today even though there some who claim that they can speak by means of the Holy Spirit or perform miracles today.


Matthew 24:10 "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.  11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.


 Again, these are things that will happen before the destruction of Jerusalem and we can see these event taken place in scripture such as 2 Tim 2:15,  4:10, 16.


"Tacitus, the Roman historian, records, `that several Christians at first were apprehended, and then by their discovery, a multitude of others were convicted, and cruelly put to death, with derision and insult!'"


Now when a person get to verse 13 they might want to apply that to salvation in heaven and it certainly is true that if we endure as Christians to the of end of lives we will be saved. But, based on context I do not believe this verse is talking about salvation of the soul. Luke adds that not one hair of their head would be lost. Since Jesus goes on from this verse and tells His disciples what they can do to escape the destruction that is going to take place I believe he saying that those who endure and don’t allow themselves to be tricked by the false signs will not lose their physical life at the destruction of Jerusalem.


Josephus and others back this historical fact up because not 1 Christians was recorded of losing their life during the destruction of Jerusalem. In fact many of the Christians of that time went to Pella when the 70 A.D. was starting to occur according Eusebius.


Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.


This is another important verse because whatever the end is that these verses have been talking about cannot occur until the gospel is preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations. Those who teach the rapture theory would say that this has not happened yet watch what the Bible says,


Colossians 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,  6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world,


Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.


Also Rom 10:18 and 16:26 all show that the gospel had indeed been preached to all the world. The Book of Colossians was written around 61 -63 A.D and the book of Romans was written around 57-58 A.D. which clearly shows that the gospel had be preached to all the world before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. So, clear we can see that end Jesus is talking about here it the destruction of Jerusalem. All things would happen before the destruction of Jerusalem but now Jesus is going to tell his disciples the real signs that they could look for to know without a doubt that the destruction of Jerusalem was about to happen.

Matthew 24:15 " Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),  


The word abomination means detestable things having to do with idolatry and the word desolation means destruction. We also note the Jesus says that Daniel spoke of this event. Now talks about abomination of desolation in chapter 9, 11 and 12. In all 3 chapters this is used to describe the defilement of the temple. But the specific prophecy Jesus is talking about has to do with 70 weeks of Daniel in Chapter 9: 24- 27. Now I wish I had the time today to take a look at that prophecy but I simply do not have time. But, don’t worry because next week we look at closer. When you read those in Daniel it will I think its pretty easy to see Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem in those prophecies.


Luke version shows exactly what Jesus has in mind about the abomination of desolation that they could see and know the Jerusalem was going to be destroyed.


Luke 21:20  But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.


Also earlier in the book of Luke Jesus makes the same prediction.


Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,  42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,  44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."


So without a doubt the abomination of desolation was Roman army lead by Titus who did this very thing in 70 A.D which lead to the destruction of Jerusalem where they did not leave one stone on top of another. Even some of the Jews of that day understood that the destruction of 70 A.D. was that which Daniel prophesied of. Please note what Josephus who was an eyewitnesses of the events said,


In the very same manner Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman Government, and that our country should be made desolate by them. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 10:11:7)


And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious (sah-dish-us) into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings lying round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator. (imp-ar-tor) (Josephus, War of the Jews, 6:6:1)


It should be easy for everyone to see that Jesus is without doubt taking about the destruction of Jerusalem and some future event that is suppose to place sometime in our life time. The next verse that follow will continue to show that Jesus is talking about local event that would only apply the people at Jerusalem.


Matthew 24:15 Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),  16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  17 "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.  18 "And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  


Jesus is telling when we see the army on it way to surround Jerusalem don’t waste anytime get out of there. He tells them flee to mountains. Now think about it obvious this is not talking about the end of time because it wouldn’t matter where ran you cannot escape the finally punishment. According the premillennialist this is suppose to be the time when nuclear bombs are suppose to be going off and modern warfare is going on why in the world he tell his people to flee to the mountains under these circumstances? It just doesn’t make any sense.


Verse 17 shows us that he is talking about those living then in Jerusalem because the houses in the city were side by side and they had flat roofs. This was common place that people spent time praying, sleeping or socializing and so it would be possible for them to run from roof top to roof top to make their way to the gate to get out of the city. Also those in the field were abandon their possession  and run when these armies came.


Matthew 24:19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!  20 "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.     


Again this gives us more proof the Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. It would be very difficult for those who were nursing to get out in time having to care for their babies. It would also be difficult to escape in the winter because of the cold and they would be big trouble if the siege happened on the Sabbath because on the Sabbath the gates would be shut. This had been done since the days of Nehemiah as recorded Nehemiah 13:19. This problem could only be relevant the city of Jerusalem and cannot applied to any other city or to any other time period which once again shows that these verse are talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.


Matthew 24:21 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.


Now at this point I want to point out little bit of history. Starting in 66 A.D. the Jews and Romans began to fight one another. Most believe the Zealots were the instigators of this struggle. Josephus in book war of Jews Book 2 chapter 19 tells about how the roman General Cestius surrounded Jerusalem in 66 A.D. but for no apparent reason left his siege of Jerusalem. This certainly would have been a wake up call for the Christians of that day remembering what Jesus had said. From 66 A. D. not only were the Roman fighting the Jews and the Jews themselves were undergoing civil war and I would recommend you read about these things that occurred during this time in book Josephus. You will see just how great the tribulation was during that time. When Titus came in 70 A.D. he came during the time of the Passover and the city was full to capacity of Jews who had traveled from afar to partake in the Passover. They locked up the city when he came but someone  burned their food source in the city which they could have survived on for a very long time but now a  great famine begins within the walls. Because of the civil war inside the city dead bodies had begun to pile up within the temple area which was abomination within itself. In a similar instances as found in 2 Kings 6:24 -30 a women  got so hungry that she did the unthinkable. She killed her baby and ate it. The Romans were crucifying around 500 Jews a day. After all was said in done 1,100,000 Jews were  reported killed and 97,000 were captured.


This is an ugly scene but was just as Jesus said it would be. Now it is also interesting to note that not 1 Christian is recorded as be put to death by the Romans during this siege in 70 A.D. In fact early writers say that many Christians fled from Jerusalem and many of them went to place called Pella.  Josephus also tells us that the temple was destroyed on the same day and month as Solomon’s temple was earlier in history. One more interesting point is that when the temple caught fire the gold ran down through the stones of the temple and this is one reason why the soldiers did not leave one stone unturned because they wanted to get all the gold they could. Here where we see history and the Bible in perfect harmony.


Matthew 24:23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.  24 "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  25 "See, I have told you beforehand.  26 "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.  27 "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.


Here Jesus is re-emphasizing his point from earlier. Don’t be fooled by false Christ or false prophets because when Jesus comes it will be like lighting that flashes across the sky. This shows that when Jesus comes everyone will know about it and it also show that it will happen suddenly.


 28 "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.


This a proverb the Jesus says here. I believe the carcass is speaking the Jewish nation which was dead immorally and spiritually just as Jesus told them they were in Mat. 23. Now we all know birds of prey will be attracted by a dead carcass and they come in and devour it. This word eagle or vulture in some translation was used in the OT to describe a foreign nation coming upon the Jewish nation for punishment."  (cf.  Deut. 28:49; Hos. 8:1; Hab. 1:8). So, This is talking about the Romans coming to devour the Jewish nation by destroying their city in 70 A.D.