What an exciting series of events follows the final sign that Jesus has given for His coming.
Matthew 24:16-20. Those listening, and especially those reading , are told to get out of town when they see the signal. Yes, there is still some unfinished business to take place in the Jewish community. The fact that A.D. 70 was a "false alarm" does not cancel out the ultimate judgment coming to that part of the world. The Word of God still stands, and it is unfulfilled. Thanks to Him for the many who have gone to Israel to call out a remnant of the Jewish people to salvation. But the great majority of Israelites will not accept Israel's God until forced to do so.
Yes, Israel will run again on that day. In the midst of the prophecy of this destruction given in Zechariah 12, God says to Israel (v. 12) that they will be asked to look on the One Who was pierced for them. A spirit of supplication will come upon them as they look and are grieved at what they see. While fire rains from Heaven all around them, they will be taken to a place of refuge and exposed to the truth about Messiah. 144,000 such believing Jews are enumerated in Revelation 7:1-8. The "woman" of Revelation 12, whom we know to be Israel, is taken to a hiding place for three and one half years and "nourished" miraculously. Here is where they meet Messiah, in my opinion. This would explain why there is still going to be some "running" in Israel's future. They will run right into Jesus' arms.
Needless to say, none of this happened in A.D. 70. The prophecy is not fulfilled.
Matthew 24:21 should have been the "give-away" thought to all of us who lived through the turbulence of the 20th and early 21st centuries. We should have seen that a temporary destruction of Jerusalem by an ancient Roman army was not what Jesus was talking about when he mentioned unprecedented trouble. Never before, never since, says verse 21. No world catastrophe that comes near this one. And yet we can all think of or read of times when the peoples of our world, or even the Jews alone, were in greater trouble than those days of history following Jesus' stay here. How many people perished in the World Wars? How many Jews in the Holocaust? What about atomic bombs and nuclear warheads?
Jesus saw the chaotic drama of all time taking place. So horrifying, so universal, so devastating that our Sovereign God will step in and shut it all down (v. 23) before every living thing on the planet, including those chosen to enter into Kingdom life, is snuffed out. That was not A.D. 70. Our thinking must change. The sign of Matthew 24:15 points to the end, not to A.D. 70.
Verses 23-25. During the course of this destructive period, which we have not yet entered, more false prophets and Christ's arise. Great signs and wonders will occur, orchestrated in part by the religious assistant of the man of sin described in Revelation 13, and alluded to in II Thessalonians 2. People love signs and wonders. Not content with what the Word says, they will have itching ears and listen to anyone who can back up his message with a miracle. In antichrist's reign there will be miracles a-plenty, and this is how he will keep the world in his grasp.
Verses 26-28. Many will try to say that Jesus has already come, as they did as early as the first century, in Thessalonica. It was this perversion of the truth, an early attempt at a rapture theory, that occasioned the book of II Thessalonians... and thank God for it! Jesus asserts in Matthew that He is not coming back gradually, slowly, casually, or spookily. When He is here, you will know immediately!
Verse 29, coming here as it does, following a lengthy response to his beloved and very curious disciples, ought to stop forever the thought of a pre-tribulation catching away. Is it conceivable to you that Jesus, having been asked what He was asked by disciples, not Jewish rabble, not enemies, would fail to tell His closest friends and allies about a secret coming seven long years before His arrival again to the planet? When they wanted to know about His coming, would He have deliberately passed over the fact that they would not have to run when the others did, that they should not fear false prophets as the others feared, that they should not be bothered about looking up to the heavens as the others when signs in the heavens occur, because they would already be with Him?
Two key words appear in this verse. First, "immediately". After the trouble caused by the abomination of desolation, the "sign" the disciples asked for, no years, months, weeks or days intervene. When that time period, defined by Daniel and John in their visions, is over, immediately it is the end of the age!
And need I say it, secondly, the word "after". Jesus comes for His own after the tribulation, the world's great trouble, Jacob's trouble. What more can Jesus say to our confused church generation than what He already said? No hint of a previous coming seven years earlier. But a clear statement of this one. All the powers of the heavens shaken. Jesus appears. He sends His angels. They sound the last trumpet. They gather His chosen from the four winds. They are caught up! They are raptured! They are spared the judgment that now falls on the planet. But they are not spared the great tribulation.
So there is Matthew 24, and the outline of the last days. How clear it is. How muddled has been our thinking. Oh how much better to take what Jesus says as He says it.
http://chosunhouse.com is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.