Olivet Discourse – Matthew 24:23-28 – Tribulations

View form the Mount of Olives

Matthew 24:23-26 (KJV)Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. 24 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. 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

It is hard for us to accept that Jesus is addressing…not the Church…His disciples, Jews of the first century.  He has just revealed to them the tribulation Israel is going to endure at the hands of the Romans – which spills over into the persecution they will endure throughout the earth. 

The key in verse 23 is the word “then,” meaning after that, next, what is going to happen after that “great tribulation” of verses 21 & 22.

Jesus says to his disciples “Then,” after that time…after the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the Jews throughout the world…“do not believe anyone who tells you that Christ has come, or that He is here or there.”  When He returns (second Advent) there will be no doubt nor any need to go searching for Him.  Jesus says that AFTER those earlier tribulations, there will arise false Christs and false prophets performing signs and wonders so great that they could almost deceive the “very elect.  Israel is God’s elect—Isaiah 45:4 “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect….” *  Reasonably, contextually, the very elect would be believing, faithful, Christ-following Jews.      

*This is something hard for the Church to accept.  There are only two “elect” entities in the Bible, Israel – Isaiah 45:4, and Jesus Christ – Isa 42:1, 1 Pet 2:6.  The Church is persecuted, not because we are the elect but because we are the Body of Christ who, in Himself, is the elect of God.  When the Church is persecuted, it is Jesus who is being persecuted.

Deceit is why it’s so very important for professing Christians to stay grounded in the Bible – being good little Bereans.  Scripture is our protection and our shield.   How else can we know truth except through the Word of God, our foundation?  Otherwise, we could be swept away by whims of abhorrent doctrines as many in Christendom have been.  Obviously, as we will see, verse 21 CANNOT be the same period of tribulation Jesus refers to in verse 29.  The events that follow each are quite different.

After the tribulation of verse 21, if it were possible, which it isn’t, even the “very elect” could almost be deceived.  This revelation comes directly from the mouth of our Lord.  He is not saying that He is coming immediately after the tribulation of those days, verse 21.  He is saying that there will be plenty of time after that tribulation for people to be deceived.  Time enough for people to recover from the devastation of the Romans and to have plenty of opportunity to be conned by a chain of false Christs and false prophets deceiving people, leading many away from truth and into perdition.

*Although not specifically mentioned, the Church age follows the persecutions of verses 21 & 22.  However, the persecution of Jews persists till they finally repent and come to Christ, Zechariah 12 through 14.  The text in the Gospels focuses on Israel.

He Comes Quickly

Matthew 24:27 (KJV) “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

There will not be any mistake or doubt.  Christ’s coming in judgment of the world will be an observable event obvious to all who “dwell on the earth.”  Jesus is coming to rescue and redeem Israel, restore the Kingdom, and bring judgment and peace to the earth [the Church is not here-it was taken in the rapture sometime before this event].   His coming will be as quick as lightning flashing across the sky.  There will not be any wondering about it or need to go searching for Him or hiding from Him.  Everyone on earth beneath and in heaven above will know exactly what is happening, who has come, and why.

“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.” Revelation 1:7 (KJV).

* “… and they also which pierced him” that is, not the Jews, not the Gentiles, but all unrepentant sinners on the earth at His return.

Can you imagine the extreme fear and terror when unbelievers see Jesus coming in the clouds? 

“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; 13 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.  14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  15 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; 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: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?Revelation 6:12-17 (KJV)

There will be great weeping (sadness) and gnashing of teeth (anger), for as is said in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Note that the people are not repentant.  They are angry and still will not repent.  Romans says, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

The Day of the Lord

Mathew 24:28 (KJV) “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

Countless men have tortured the interpretation of this verse.  Many wrongly insist that the eagles represent Rome’s army pouncing upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D., however that does not come close to fitting the context.  It is difficult for us to keep in mind that Jesus is talking to first century Jews about Jewish things.  He had come specifically, “…unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Matthew 15:24 (KJV).  It is also important for us to understand the context of the word “tribulation” when we read it in the text.  It appears three times in Matthew: 13:21; 24:21 and 29.  The first is a reference to men cowering when persecution comes, and they turn from Christ.  The second, verse 21, is the “Great Tribulation” upon Israel of 70 A.D.  The third, verse 29, is the “Great Tribulation” of Daniel’s 70th week “which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” Revelation 3:10 (KJV), including Israel as their final purging.

The 17th chapter of Luke, verses 20 through 37, provides insight (Referenced below).  First, the Kingdom of Israel is a subset of the Kingdom of God.  God’s Kingdom is His universal dominion and lives (or dies) in our hearts, And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20-21 (KJV).  The remainder of the chapter explains the judgment of God and Christ coming upon an unfaithful world at the end of Daniel’s 70th week—as in the days of Noah and as in the days of Lot.  It comes suddenly.  And then the admonition in 31, 32, and 33, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” If you are still here when Christ is revealed, do not go back for your stuff.  Go with Him into His Kingdom where He will sit on His father David’s throne.  The chapter ends in the verse under consideration, “And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together” Luke 17:37 (KJV).

In Scripture God’s avengers are often portrayed as eagles, sometimes bringing retribution on the nations and other times on Israel.  Luke 17:20-37, as with Matthew 24, is about Israel.  Then the body (carcass) is all the spiritually dead, particularly of Israel.  The Eagles are God’s avenging angels and possibly the armies of heaven including the raptured saints, Revelation 19.  The focus here is on Israel.  “And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect(Israel) from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven” Mark 13:27; Matthew 24:31 (KJV).

Exploring Scripture~because it matters-it really does!

For ReferenceLuke 17:20-37 (KJV):
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see [it]. 23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after [them], nor follow [them]. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one [part] under heaven, shineth unto the other [part] under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day (second Advent). 25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation (G1085 geneá-nation – Israel). 26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.

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