The End of the Age According to Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Matthew 24 / Luke 21 / Luke 17 / Mark 13 / My Commentary

I find it exceedingly helpful in understanding end times prophecy to piece together related passages of scripture.  Not just plucked out verses, but entire passages and sections.  I strongly believe that Jesus spoke chronologically in his Olivet Discourse without jumping around in time (unless clearly indicated).  Here is a combination of Jesus’ teaching on the end times, color coded as above. Interestingly, John does not have a parallel passage recorded of the Olivet Discourse.  Instead, Jesus gets him to write a whole book about it later!  

I understand that in tackling this, I can introduce my biases.  Thus, I encourage you to search the Scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so.

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, [Jesus] said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” [And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”V1-2]

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” [“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”]And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”

To clarify, there are 3 questions:

  1. When will these things be?  – This refers to the destruction of the temple (all the stones thrown down)
  2. What will be the sign of your coming?  – This refers to the 2nd coming at the end of the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will usher in the Millennial Kingdom
  3. What will be the sign of the end of the age? – This question asks what indications there will be that the end of the age is approaching (including the Day of the Lord and the 70th week of Daniel).

It is entirely probable that the disciples did not foresee that these were 3 separate events.  Even at the ascension, they were confused and wondering when Jesus was going to set up His Kingdom.

To answer their questions, Jesus first describes the Church Age in one broad sweep:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. [“See that you are not led astray” v8] [“See that no one leads you astray” v5] For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ [“the time is at hand” v8] and will deceive many. {23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.} [Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. v6-7] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

The Church Age will be marked by false messiahs, false doctrine, wars and rumors of wars.  However, the end is not yet.  How we mark the “not yet” to “has come” is through a specific collection of signs, which indicate:

  • Jesus’ coming
  • all these things are about to be accomplished (Jesus setting up His earthly kingdom – the one the disciples were still asking about at His ascension, all the things the Jews expected the Messiah to fulfill)
  • the end of the age (the age of grace/church age) and start of the millennial kingdom

Jesus begins to describe the collection of signs marking when “all these things are about to be accomplished” in Luke 21:11:

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

At this point in Luke’s version, Jesus introduces a “but” and backs up to answer their first question – when will the temple be thrown down until not one stone is left standing upon another?  

12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake.13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people.24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The clause “But before all this” places this section before all the rest in Jesus’ answer.   Jesus then prophesies that a period of intense persecution will be followed by the destruction of the Temple. 

This exact same type of persecution is mentioned again later, almost word for word, so I want to spend some time clarifying its’ correct placement.  We definitely know from history that the temple is thrown down “before all this” – all this being the collective church age signs and the collection of signs marking the end of the age.  We also know that the temple destruction comes after the persecution predicted by Jesus.  Therefore this persecution must come after Jesus told them about it, but before the Temple destruction.  (so, between 32-70AD).

The persecution Jesus describes is likely representative of the early severe persecution of the apostles and early believers – starting with Stephen, the first church martyr. Most of the disciples did indeed end up dying as martyrs before then (you can read about their deaths here – gotquestions).  Persecution of Christians certainly didn’t end with the destruction of the Temple, but Jesus doesn’t describe the church age or its persecution in any specifics.

Next Jesus answers when “this” will happen – “this” meaning the temple thrown down until not one stone is left standing upon another.

The desolation of Jerusalem was decreed because they didn’t know the time of Jesus’ coming to them, and didn’t recognize Him as their Messiah (Luke 19:42).  This is Jesus’ warning to the believers in 70AD of the imminent destruction of the Temple.  Jerusalem is surrounded by the Romans, but a message comes to the army to turn back.  There is some confusion over whether the Roman army is to attack or withdraw, and those Christians who recalled the Lord’s warnings took the opportunity to flee.  It is said that no believers perished in this taking of Jerusalem – Eusebius writes in 325 AD – “Now this sect of Nazarenes exists in Beroea in Coele-Syria, and in Decapolis in the district of Pella, and in Kochaba of Basanitis– called Kohoraba in Hebrew. For thence it originated after the migration from Jerusalem of all the disciples who resided at Pella, Christ having instructed them to leave Jerusalem and retire from it on account of the impending siege. It was owing to this counsel that they went away, as I have said, to reside for a while at Pella” (Haer 29:7).”  

Orders then came to the Roman army for the siege to continue, and Jerusalem was captured.  Normally, the temple would have been kept (mostly) intact and looted at the time of conquest.  However, when Jerusalem was conquered, a torch got thrown in the temple.  A large fire ensued, which melted all the gold from the ceiling and walls.  This liquid gold dripped between the cracks of the bricks.  When it had cooled, the temple was taken apart brick by brick to recover the gold between the layers.  Not one stone was left unturned as the gold was sought in the spoils – just as Jesus said.  

In verse 24, “this people” (the Jews) are led captive among all nations.  This is describing their scattering that occurred from 70AD and started to be reversed in 1948.  The scattering and regathering of Israel is the subject of many OT prophecies.  The full regathering of Israel will take place at the Second Coming of Christ, at the conclusion of the Day of the Lord – when the times of the gentiles will be complete (verified by Revelation 11:2).

Ok, with the “before all these things” clause finished, we continue back to our collection of signs – the birth pains, that will mark the start of the end of the age:

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  [For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.V8] 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

These are markers of the end arriving, described as the beginning of the birth pains.  When the end DOES arrive, it will be marked all at once by the arrival of widespread war (Seal 2, possibly Ezekiel 38-39, possibly Isaiah 17 & Psalm 83), earthquakes (Seal 6), famines and pestilences (Seal 3-4), terrors and great signs from heaven (Seal 6).  The only other place a “great sign in heaven” is mentioned is in Revelation 12:1-2, which is an interesting connection.  [This sign is set to occur in September 2017, see HERE].  The end will come like a flood, or a trap, indeed, and it will be obvious to all.

There is a tendency for people to read current events into these signs, which I believe is an improper practice – “crying wolf”, if you will.  While we arguably do have increasing frequency of earthquakes and pestilences, and possibly war and famine, these are nondescript.  When the signs truly come, it will be all at once – like a flood, and there will be no escape.  Think of what we are seeing in the last few decades as “Braxton Hick’s” – warmups for the real thing.  The world wars were horrible, yes, but they occurred before the “fig tree sign” we will discuss below.  Our season of watching for this collection of signs cannot begin until after the birth of Israel in 1948.  Another hint – the true body of Christ will likely only feel the faintest of rumblings in That Day before we are whisked away from the rest!

8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

The beginning of birth pains starts at the onset of the Day of the Lord and includes all the above, which is all included in Seals 1-6.  The rapture will act as a “birth pain” to those left behind (the transformation from physical to eternal bodies likely is the trigger for the earthquakes, which in turn cause volcanic eruptions and tsunamis).  “All these” groups the birth pains together as they act collectively, suggesting the seals are opened simultaneously.  Another clue is that the apostles ask for a “sign”, and Jesus gives a description of a bunch of terrible things as the “sign”.  He doesn’t break them up in the timeline, so it seems they come all at once.

Continuing on in the prophecy, we see the effects of the 5th Seal described:

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

This persecution and its’ connection to Seal 5 is critical to understand.  When we read through Seal 5 (Revelation 6), we see that the Seal 5 martyrs are given white robes and told to rest.  Then, in Seal 6 the sky rolls back as a scroll to reveal the Lamb and the throne of God and a vast collection of people from all tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples.  I have come to the understanding that the 5th Seal represents the resurrection of the dead (the dead in Christ will rise first), and Seal 6 the rapture of the resurrected dead and the living.  While the Seal 5 martyrs, now resurrected and robed, “rest” in heaven (Isaiah 26), martyrs will continue to accumulate throughout the Day of the Lord.  There will be many martyrs added until “the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Rev 6:11/5th Seal). The full number of the martyrs won’t be complete until the Antichrist’s rule is ended.  The souls of these martyrs don’t accumulate under the altar, as seen in Seal 5, but before the throne of God on the “sea of glass” (Revelation 15:2; ref Revelation 4:2).

Both the beginning of the Church age and the end of the Church age will be marked by intense persecution.  Although persecution and martyrdom persists off and on throughout the church age (see Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs), it will be particularly difficult during the entire Day of the Lord with many more believers martyred for their faith.  Believers will have to stubbornly persist in the faith, even unto death.  The Holy Spirit will guide the words of those standing in the faith, just as He did for the apostles and early Christians.  

11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Satan will be empowering the False Prophet and the Antichrist to perform many signs and wonders.  God will send a deluding influence for people to believe satan’s lies (2 Thessalonians 2).  The indwelling Holy Spirit is not a part of this short “age of wrath”, so it will be very difficult to cling to faith in Jesus at this time.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Yes, it is the church’s job to spread the gospel.  But this preaching of the gospel continues in our absence through the 2 witnesses (Revelation 11), the sealed 144,000 Jews (Revelation 7), and an angel –  “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.  And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7)  Everyone will hear the gospel before the final wrath of God is poured out.  God, even in His wrath, calls people to repentance.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.

Here Jesus refers to Daniel’s revelation, and specifically about the abomination of desolation.  “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Daniel 9:27)  Observant Jews will recall this prophecy when the antichrist desecrates the sacrificial altar in the Temple.  They are to immediately flee to a place prepared for them in the wilderness (see Revelation 12) for “half the week” – “1260 days” – “time, times, and half a time”.  This last half of Daniel’s 70th week is commonly called the “Great Tribulation” because it will be the worst distress humanity has ever seen.

This passage tells us several things.  First, we know there will be a Third Temple built in Jerusalem.  This will become operational in the daily sacrifices at some point before 1260 days into the 7-year covenant.  (At the 1260 day mark, the leader – antichrist – will set himself up to be god in the Temple).  Secondly, we know there will be observant Jews who are in old covenant relationship with God after the rapture.  They will be observing the Sabbath and making daily sacrifices in the temple.  God specifically warns these Jews, who are in Judea (Israel), to flee when the covenant is broken.  He has a place prepared for them, to shelter them under His wings.

Just an observance here, for Jesus to include the suggestion to pray that their flight is not in winter or on a Sabbath is very interesting.  Think of how many prayers have gone up from Christians throughout the church age to pray as Jesus directed on behalf of those who will need to flee!  The appointed times are predetermined.  I am quite confident that it will not be in winter or on a Sabbath as we are told that the Antichrist’s rule is 1260 days long and from studying the Feasts of God, the Second Coming of Jesus will likely be on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  In subtracting 1260 days from Yom Kippur, we arrive approximately in April (not winter).

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.

What is meant by Jesus cutting short the days?  Well, we are told in Daniel that the antichrist will seek to change the times and days.  Satan will try to make his rule eternal.  But God has allotted him 1260 days only.  Our current calendar year is 365.25 days, but the prophetic calendar runs on 360 days.  Over a 7 year (“one week”) time period, this results in time being cut short by 36.75 days – is that what Jesus means here?  It is possible that original creation had earth years as 360 days, which may have been altered at the time of the global flood.  The events in Seal 6 may bring earth back to a 360-day/year orbit.  I don’t believe we can know exactly what is meant here, other than that God has allotted a certain amount of time for satan to rule and not a moment more.  He will watch over His elect.

23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you ahead of time.21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Jesus again warns about false messiahs and false prophets performing deceptive signs and wonders.  This is Satan’s last chance to deceive humanity.  You can bet that he has been planning this for thousands of years and that it is going to be very cunning.  It is extremely likely that the deception of Satan is that the antichrist is a messiah figure.  The Jewish messiah?  Likely.  The Muslim El Mahdi?  Maybe.  The New Age enlightened redeemer?  Maybe.  All the above?  Maybe.  We know there will be an “antichrist” (literally, a mock christ), who is supported by a “false prophet”, and empowered by “the dragon” (satan).  Satan is given permission by God to do signs and wonders to support this, including an apparent resurrection from the dead (Revelation 13:3).

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 

As with the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord, Jesus appearing will be unmistakable at the END of the Day of the Lord.  No one will miss Him.  

28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

This is the battle of Armageddon.  Revelation 19:17 – Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God”.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

This is immediately AFTER the distress of those days (the beginning of the birth pains with the seals, the judgments of the trumpets, the wrath of the bowls), not BEFORE it.   Here we have a picture of the END of the Day of the Lord:

  • the sun will be darkened (sign) – Bowl 5
  • the moon will be darkened (sign) – Bowl 5
  • the stars will “fall from the sky” (sign)
  •         nations in perplexity with the roaring of the sea and the waves – (Bowl 7)
  • the heavenly bodies will be shaken
  • people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world, because of the powers of the heavens being shaken (Bowl 7)
  •         The Son of Man comes in a cloud with power and great glory

Yes, this is similar to Seal 6, where the sun is darkened and the stars appear to fall from the sky.  However, instead of a BLOOD moon at the Second Coming of Christ at Armageddon, the moon will be DARK.  This is a critical distinction.  The BLOOD moon specifically only occurs at the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:30-31, Acts 2:17-21, Revelation 6/Seal 6). The DARK moon happens a few times throughout the day of the Lord as well as at the END of the Day of the Lord.  Zechariah 14:6-7 describes the END asOn that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.  It’s possible that in the evening on this day of darkness is when the Son of Man will light up the sky in all His glory, when He comes on His white horse.

The passage in Luke’s version really caused me a lot of confusion, as it appears initially to be jumping back and describing the events of Seal 6.  There is roaring of the sea and waves and foreboding of what is coming on [happening to] the world.   First, let’s look at the little key here that tells us the “powers of the heavens will be shaken”.  This definitively connects it to the other verses describing the powers of the heavens being shaken in Matthew and Mark.  In Matthew and Mark we find out the “powers of the heavens are shaken” AFTER the tribulation of those days. Mark describes it as the “powers that [are] in the heavens will be shaken” – which is more accurately stating what will happen.  Remember that in Ephesians we are told that there is a “ruler of the authority of the air” (2:2), and that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12).  When Jesus comes, the evil forces that currently run rampant in our realm will literally be shaken out of their abode.

The writer of Hebrews explains that on Mount Sinai when God gave the Law, His voice shook the earth.  He goes on to say “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:26-29.  God will only once shake the heavens, and He will do so to remove the things that have been made (satan and his followers).  This will complete the preparations necessary for His kingdom that cannot be shaken, which will begin in the Millennial Kingdom and never end.  

So, back to the foreboding, the distress of nations, and the roaring of the sea and the waves?  Well, in the 5th bowl judgment, the world was plunged into darkness.  How long this darkness lasts, we are not told.  It could still be dark at the time the heavens are shaken.  In the 6th bowl, lying spirits assemble people for Armageddon. Then, in Bowl 7 – “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”  And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.  And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.”  Revelation 16:17-20  The greatest earthquake ever, which flattens all mountains completely and buries all islands, occurs.  This could definitely explain the foreboding, distress, and tsunamis (roaring seas and waves).  Bowl 7 is the arrival of the End of the Day of the Lord – It is Finished.

The earth is utterly broken,
    the earth is split apart,
    the earth is violently shaken.
The earth staggers like a drunken man;
    it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
    and it falls, and will not rise again.

On that day the Lord will punish
    the host of heaven, in heaven,
    and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together
    as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
    and after many days they will be punished.
Then the moon will be confounded
    and the sun ashamed,
for the Lord of hosts reigns
    on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.

Isaiah 24:19-24

 

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 

What is the sign of the Son of Man in heaven?  We are told in Revelation 19.  “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven,arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”  Revelation 19:11-16  Power and great glory indeed!

31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

 

The four winds represent the four compass points, meaning the entire globe.  The elect in view here are the believing remnant of Israel.  One of the main purposes of the Day of the Lord and the 70th Week of Daniel is to draw Israel back to God.  Over and over again the Old Testament proclaims Israel’s regathering.  This reminds us of Zechariah 2:6, where God states that “I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord.”  Where He once spread the Israelites abroad via the four winds, He will now gather them via the four winds.  “And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

I find that this also gives people a lot of difficulty.  Note that at the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the Lord Himself will give a shout of command (likely “Come Up Here!) along with the trumpet sound of God (“last trump”) and we will obey.  Angels will not be involved in collecting the dead in Christ or the alive in Christ at the time of the rapture.

The remainder of humanity, both believers and unbelievers, will be collected at some point after this to enter the Sheep and Goats Judgment that Jesus discusses in Matthew chapter 25.  They are not in view here, however.  Neither are the deceased elect from time of the “tribulation”, commonly called the “tribulation martyrs”, who won’t be resurrected until after the Sheep and Goats Judgment. (Revelation 20:4)

In Luke, there is a change in the narrative with the word “Now”:

28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Our redemption draws near when all these things BEGIN to take place, not AFTER they have all taken place.  Our redemption is our salvation – the completion of God’s work in us.  This is when we will sing about salvation before God’s throne (Revelation 7 and parallel in Revelation 12).  When these things (the beginning of the birth pains) BEGIN to take place, we will be harpazo’d (raptured) away from the time and place of the birth pains.  We will come immediately out of the great tribulations/afflictions/trials that are just beginning on the earth.

In Matthew, there is also a change in the narrative with the word “Now”, as Jesus tells a parable to further explain how to discern the season.  In Mark’s version, there is no break in the narrative and it continues uninterrupted.

32 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.  29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

The fig tree most likely represents Israel, which has been represented in scripture before as a fig tree when discussing its’ political nature.  This tree that had been barren, showed signs of life in the late “spring” when it budded in May 1948.  The connection is made to Israel coming together in bones and sinews but still lacking the Breath (spirit) – relating it to what we see in the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37.  Thus, when we see the bones and sinews (structure and strength, becoming a nation politically) come together, the fig tree is budding.  Israel continues to leaf out, as Jews return in Aliyah, but it has yet to bear fruit (spiritual rebirth).  The inclusion of “all the trees” in Luke’s version, would represent the other nations.  The other nations will also exhibit signs that “he is near, at the very gates”!  For this we turn our attention to all the other signs pointing to the end of the age given by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse.  This includes the collection of signs indicating the “beginning of birth pains” [at the start of which, believers are whisked away in the rapture] as well as the subsequent birth pains of the Day of the Lord.

34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The most common interpretation of “this generation” is the one that sees all the signs Jesus mentioned in the Olivet Discourse being fulfilled.  I agree, because of the little word “until”. Jesus is suggesting that this generation will pass away, but not until all these things have taken place.  Thus, it must refer to an actual generation, and not the Jewish race (God’s covenant with them is ETERNAL, so as a race they will NEVER pass away).  This is reinforced by Jesus stating that His words will not pass away, even past the destruction of this present world and creation of the next.

The next question, is how long is a generation?  We need to look at a generation’s lifespan.  In Psalm 90, we are told the human life is 70 years, or 80 if we have strength.  Looking at length of life statistics for Jews since 1948, the average lifespan was around 70 in 1948 and is around 82 presently (2017).  Lifespan in other countries and nationalities varies.  However, the length of a generation, from birth until passing away, is approximately between 70-80 years – just as it states in the Psalms.

There will be a generation of Jews that will witness the fig tree come alive and put forth its leaves.  This specific generation will be a transitional generation (much like the generation that saw Jesus born, His ministry, His death and resurrection, and the Second Temple destroyed; encompassing approximately 71-73 years).  They will live to see all the signs Jesus mentioned in the Olivet Discourse, from the budding of Israel in spring 1948, through the Day of the Lord and 70th week of Daniel, all the way to the fruition of the Messianic Kingdom.  Interestingly, we are on the brink of entering this 70-80 year window (69-79 years using 360 day prophetic years in our calculations).  (for a more complete discussion on the Fig Tree and Generation signs, click HERE).

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 

This sounds very much like the “weedy soil” in the parable of the soils.  Our hearts may spring up in faith initially, but if we don’t water and tend the seedling in our heart, it may become parched and die (rocky soil, those who fall away when trials or persecution come), or may be choked out by weeds and die (weedy soil, those who fall away when the cares and pleasures of this life pull them off the narrow road that leads to life and onto the broad road that leads to destruction).  In Luke’s version of the parable, we see the weedy soil bearing fruit, but it never comes to maturity.  We see this in Jesus’ warning letter to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3 – their works are incomplete in His sight (the weedy soil).  They have a reputation for being alive, but are spiritually dead (only the fruit-bearing soil is alive).  In order to truly be saved (born again), we must continue in the faith until the end.  Our roots must go deep, and we must bear mature fruit (faith without works is dead – not because the works save us, but because they display our faith).  This can only be accomplished through ABIDING in Christ.  In Him we live, and move, and have our being.  Examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith!

That Day (the Day of the Lord) will spring upon the earth as a trap.  As discussed above, it will be sudden, and it will be severe.  It will come upon ALL who dwell on the face of the whole earth (Seal 6).  EXCEPT….

36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

How does one have the strength (become worthy) to escape all these things?  We stay awake (spiritually).  The church is repeatedly warned to WATCH and STAY AWAKE in the letters to the churches (Revelation 2&3).  The truly saved, the invisible true body of Christ, will escape all these things that are going to take place.  And we literally will stand before the Son of Man (Revelation 7).

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

There are four possible interpretations of this phrase:

  1. While Jesus was on earth, He laid down His deity to become as one of us.  I’m not entirely sure, but this may have included his omniscience.  When He ascended to heaven, He would have become fully omniscient again and would certainly now  know the day and the hour.  
  2. When Jesus was instructing the disciples in these things the offer for Israel to accept Him as Messiah was legitimately on the table.  If they had accepted, the “day” and the “hour” could have come much sooner.  In essence, the 70th week of Daniel could have carried on uninterrupted after Palm Sunday.  Thus, the Day and the Hour could have been approximately only 7 years down the road!  Clearly, Jesus knew they wouldn’t accept His offer, but it had to be a real option.
  3. “About that Day or Hour No One Knows” is a common Hebrew idiom for the Feast of Trumpets.  This was a feast that could not be predicted with accuracy, because it relied on the confirmation of 2 witnesses sighting the first sliver of light after the New Moon.  Thus, it could vary by a day or two.  It is the only feast of God’s appointed times that no one could predetermine the day or hour of, and it is the only feast on God’s timetable where the fulfillment is somewhat enigmatic.  Thus, when Jesus announces that “about that day and hour no one knows”, He is declaring it to occur on the Feast of Trumpets.  And as such, until that day, we would not know whether or not it was the day.  (If we could somehow discern the year).
  4. We truly may not know the time of Jesus’ coming within a range of dates.

Regardless of the exact meaning of the phrase, we will definitely know the season if we watch for the signs.  Jesus tells us to WATCH, be AWAKE, and Paul adds in that we are not of the darkness that we should be overtaken as by a thief in the night.  On the day, we may know the day.  At the hour, we may know the hour.  Always be prepared for Jesus to return!

33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Being spiritually awake is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit.  We have been given good works to do, which the Father prepared in advance for us.  Let us be caught doing these when He appears!

25 But first [the Son of Man] must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Another BUT and a reflection back in time (which was still future to Jesus telling them this).  The generation that “saw all those things” surrounding His first coming and earthly ministry – the first round of prophecies Jesus fulfilled.  Jesus is about to suffer many things and be rejected by His people.  This “But” is a quick parenthesis and Jesus continues in the narration about the days of the Son of Man.

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

The Son of Man will be revealed at the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord.  The people on earth know nothing about what is going to happen – they will be continuing on with life as normal – until WHAM the Day of the Lord will start (the Son of Man appears).  Noah and Lot were pulled out of the path of destruction, and the end to the rest comes on “like a flood” – severe and sudden (Daniel 9:26).

This passage emphasizes the unexpected nature of the beginning of the Day of the Lord.  Elsewhere it is referred to as a “trap” and “birth pains” – both of which have no escape.  

This stands in stark contrast to the End of the Day of the Lord when the Son of Man returns.  At the battle of Armageddon (the END of the Day of the Lord), life will not have been continuing on as usual.  The “flood” will be almost over – well over half the human population will have died by that point.  Everyone will know about what has been happening on the earth.  It won’t be a surprise that Jesus is coming, because people have gathered deliberately in expectation to fight Him.

31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back.32 Remember Lot’s wife.

The “remember Lot’s wife” part terrified me for awhile – at the rapture would I turn back????  I prayed about it a lot.  What this is referring to Jesus also teaches in Luke 9:62 – Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Lot’s wife wasn’t looking back for family, for her kids – they were with her.  She was looking back longingly, because her heart was in Sodom.  Those who hold back and don’t give their hearts to Him completely are not worthy.  We would do well to examine our hearts – are we holding back from following God?  

We know this isn’t the same as Matthew’s mention of the abomination of desolation fleeing (v15).  There is no mention of fleeing here – instead, one will be taken (other uses of the word include “received”, as in received unto the Lamb and God’s throne) and one will be left.

33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Luke 21:36 Jesus admonishes us to pray that we are “worthy to escape all these things.” How can we be worthy to enter the kingdom of God?  Jesus teaches over and over again that we must love Him more than life itself (Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:25).  How do we enter the kingdom of Heaven?  We must turn and become like children (Matthew 18:2-4) – literally, we must be “born again”.  For it is by grace we are saved, through faith.  We confess with our mouths Jesus is Lord (we don’t deny Him, we yield Lordship of our lives to Him, believing that He is right and we are sinful), and we believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead (believing that His death and resurrection paid the price for our sins, and asking for that payment to be applied to our “account”).  We triumph over sin and death and satan by the blood of the Lamb [believing God raised Him from the dead] and by the word of their testimony [confessing with our mouths Jesus is Lord]; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. [holding fast / persevering in the faith even unto death]”  (Rev 12:11)

40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”

Jesus is clearly talking about the rapture here.  He just mentioned His revealing and how it will WHAM! come unexpectedly.  This emphasizes the sudden nature of the rapture – it will happen in the twinkling of an eye – we will be changed, and then snatched.  There won’t be time to actually turn back at that point (don’t worry!).  But nor will there be time to repent and join in.  Men and women, the body of Christ, will be taken to heaven.  (Interestingly, the word used, paralambanetai, is used elsewhere to represent “received” – as in, the ones taken will be received unto the Lamb).  The ones who are taken will STAND before the throne of God and the Lamb (Luke 21:36 & Revelation 7).  The ones who are left behind will suffer the wrath of God.

37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

At first this seems like a strange reference, out of the blue.  We dig in scripture to find the key.  There are two instances in prophetic verses where God prepares a banquet for the birds of prey and wild animals.  There is one at Armageddon, yes – at the END of the Day of the Lord.  However, there is also one at the Gog/Magog war at the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord.  This passage, among other keys, connects Ezekiel 38-39 with the BEGINNING of the Day of the Lord, as well as the rapture. Ezekiel 39:17 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood.”  (Notably, this also brings in the death by “wild beasts” of seal 4).

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

This is explained very well by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (bolding mine): 

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

A Disclaimer:    The Bible is infallible.  I am not.  Be a Berean – examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!

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