Questions from His Disciples, 24:1-3;
The parallels between Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and The Seven Seals of Revelations are striking. Shouldn’t be, I guess, since Jesus is the author of both, but it does lead to a unique way of interpreting the Seals and Trumpets that I believe makes Revelation understandable.
As Jesus exited the Temple, his disciples called his attention to the marvelous structure, and its beautiful stones. (Luke 21:5)
Jesus responded that the time would come when not one stone would be left upon another.
As they sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him and asked:
- When will this happen? (that one stone will not be upon another)
- What will be the sign of your coming? (emphasis mine)
- What will be the sign of the end of the age?
He doesn’t proceed immediately to answer the questions, but begins with an overview of time from then until the end of the age. Notice he says, “it will be like this… a lot has to happen… but the end is not yet. (vs. 4-6) He’s generalizing the whole period of time. Also notice, it’s not ‘the end of the world’, it is correctly translated ‘the end of the age’. This, according to scripture, is a ‘world without end’. There will in fact be a new Heaven and a new Earth one day, by and by, but that will follow a ‘thousand year’ reign of Christ upon this terra firma.
Note: This description parallels the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in Revelation Chapter 6.
Vs.4,5: Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.” White Horse…
Vs.6,7a: 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. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Red Horse…
Vs.7b: There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Black Horse…
Vs.9: Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Pale Horse…
(That’s 4 of the 7 seals of Revelation 6:1 – 8:1)
From the parallels between these words of Christ and the breaking of the seals in Revelation 6, some have concluded that since Jesus is here, obviously describing the whole period of time until the end of the age, then He is doing the same thing in Revelation. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is not a series of events yet to come during a 7 year period of time called the Great Tribulation, but is in fact a synopsis of what life will be like on Earth for the followers of Christ during time until the end of the age. I say for ‘the followers of Christ’ for here in Matt 24 and 25 He is speaking to His Disciples and telling them (and us) what signs to expect.
Let’s define some terms. What can we call the period of time between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming? In your studies you may encounter several terms:
- Age of Grace – this is the time from Jesus’ Crucifixion / Resurrection until His Second Coming. This is ‘Grace’ or ‘Salvation’ extended to the nations, i.e. Gentiles.
- The Parenthesis – this is the time between the 69th and 70th week of Jewish history as recorded in Daniel 9. Begins with crucifixion of Messiah and ends with Rapture of the Church.
- Age of the Gentiles – this begins with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (this occurred in AD 70) and ends with the Jewish people retaking Jerusalem. (this occurred in 1967) In Luke 21:20 ff, we see Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Many assume this to be future and will take place during the final seven years; however, as verse 24 indicates, this has already happened. It says the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the Jews) “will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.” No one teaches that the dispersion of the Jewish people is yet to happen. That began in AD 70 when the Roman General Titus besieged Jerusalem. It was also then that the temple was destroyed with literally not one stone remaining upon another. That is Luke 21:24a. Part b says that “Jerusalem will be trampled by the gentiles until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Israel retook Jerusalem in the 6 day war in 1967 fulfilling that prophecy.
- Church Age – almost synonymous with Age of Grace, this begins with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and concludes with the ‘catching up’ of the Bride of Christ, commonly called ‘the rapture’.
- Last Days – We hear a lot about ‘the last days’ and people tend to get alarmed when a teacher says we are living in the last days; however, scripturally “the last days’ is the entire period of time from the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost until the Bride of Christ is raptured and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of every believer ends. Acts 2:14-17; (16,17a) “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…” also see Joel 2:28-32. Peter said, ‘This is it!’ Happening before your eyes!
In my opinion, the Holy Spirit’s withdrawal from indwelling all believers, (something we take for granted) is depicted in 2 Thess. 2:7; “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till HE is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed,”
Some have objected to the above statement saying that Jesus promised ‘never to leave us nor forsake us’. That is Hebrews 13:5 where God promises never to leave us nor forsake us. Jesus actually says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20b) This is the ‘end of the age’ that we are talking about! So, i.m.o., there will come a time when the indwelling Holy Spirit will cease indwelling all believers as He now does and will revert to an Old Testament type relationship.
Also, my opinion, this bespeaks the rapture; for when the Holy Spirit leaves the scene, i.e. indwelling each and every believer, then the believers who have prepared for and are ready for this event will exit with Him. Luke 21:36 says, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” As I have written in other places, ‘to stand before the Son of Man’ has two possible meanings. One has to do with judgment and the other has to do with a wedding. I personally do not think this refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ which comes after His return to Earth to rule and reign; rather I believe this reference is the second meaning and is a picture of the Bride of Christ presenting herself to the Groom. It’s a picture of the Bride of Christ being escorted from this abode to stand before the Bridegroom and she is in fact presented to the Groom for marriage.
If you’ve followed in Matthew 24, you realized that I left out verse 8. “All these are the beginning of birth pains.” This continues the progression suggesting that Jesus is giving us an overview of the entire age. Earlier He says, paraphrasing, “it will be like this… a lot has to happen… but the end is not yet. (vs. 4-6) Then in verse 8 He compares the whole period of time to birth pains. What’s the significance? He is saying these are signs that typify the age to come, but as we get closer to the end, the signs grow in intensity and frequency right up until the big event. As a mothers’ birth pains grow in frequency and intensity until delivery so Jesus is teaching that all these signs typify the age in which we live and YET, they grow in intensity and frequency until DELIVERY!
Question 3: What will be the sign of the end of the age? – Matt. 24:10-14
“At that time many will turn away from and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 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.