The Olivet Discourse
Part 2: Matthew 24:12–51
The love of many will grow cold – Matthew 24:12
“12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold”.
Once again, just as with the list of catastrophes covered in part 1, there will always be lawlessness. However, the last days will see an increase in lawlessness and a moral decline, so the followers of Jesus should expect to see society become worse and worse under the spirit of the Antichrist. The New Century version translates the verse as “there will be more and more evil in the world,” which best sums it up! Not only will crime increase, but society will be governed by man’s sinful desires, and the commandments of God will not only be ignored, but ridiculed and despised. An example of moral collapse that has already infected Western society, is radical liberalism.
The modern liberal movement must not be taken as just a philosophy, it is a religious movement, with fanatics to back it up. It is a religion that does not tolerate Christianity and will do everything in its power to undermine and destroy faith in the God of Truth.
Liberals are convinced that they are superior, their philosophy is right and they must take the lead, and consequently all others must obey. To attain this level of controlling authority they will do whatever they believe is necessary – the ends justify the means. This extends to violent protests, destruction of property, looting and murder, which was evident in the Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in America in 2020. The liberal logic is that you cannot commit a sin if your intensions are, pure – and, liberal humanists are the most virtuous of all (also the greatest hypocrites).
What is important to remember about liberal humanism is that it has no moral foundations, their morals are arbitrary, forever shifting to adapt to the new “woke” agenda. Ultimately the only moral standard a humanist is required to follow is survival of the fittest. Any humanist claiming to have high moral standards, is taking a moral stance that their philosophy does not require. Liberals ignore the great truth that personal freedoms can only be protected within a structure of rules and laws.
The Moral Corruption of the Liberal Left
The moral decline in Western society can best be identified in Liberal Humanism, which ironically, claims to be morally superior to Christianity. Using Christian apologetics and logical reasoning therefore seldom works with them, they will respond to any argument that they cannot defend with slurs such as bigot, racist, sexist, fascist, homophobe, xenophobe, etc. Their logic being, that if you don’t agree with their philosophy, you must be filled with hate against other people groups. The idiotic extremes of this logic can be seen when they even attack black conservatives, saying that their mouth is black, but their voice is white, and accuse them of speaking from a platform of “white privilege”; their argument does not need to be logical, they attack to discredit any dissent against their ideology.
The liberal left has a number of problems with their philosophy, which they blindly ignore:
The differences between men and women psychologically are largely determined by biological factors, but liberals insist that gender is a social construct. Boys become male because parents dress them in blue and give them balls to play with, while girls become female because they are dressed in pink and given dolls. Some liberal celebrities like Kate Hudson have made the decision to bring up their children “gender neutral,” allowing their children to make the decision of what sex they are for themselves. The liberals also inform society that there are more than two genders, because sexual identity is based on more than anatomy. They believe that biological sex, gender expression, gender identity and sexual preference has absolutely no relationship to each other, which is ludicrous and holds no scientific basis. The liberals become stuck in the mire of their ideology when they allow transgender men in ladies toilets, with young girls, allow transgender-identified male state prison inmates to transfer into women’s prisons, based on “individual preference”, and let transgender men dominate women’s sports. The gender issue becomes even more complicated with the belief in “gender fluidity”, which holds that a person changes sex according to their emotions during their day’s activities.
Freedom of speech:
Liberals say they fully support freedom of speech, but will censor “hate speech”, which when it is defined by them, turns out to be anything that goes against their ideology. One has to only observe the censorship by liberal companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube of conservative platforms, to see ample evidence of this. An example of the extremes of censorship by these liberal “Big Tech” companies, is that Facebook famously censored a post which had the American Declaration of Independence, as “’hate speech”.
Equality of outcome
Largely initiated by the feminist movement, “equity of outcomes” means that any organisation in a society must represent the demographics of that society. It should not be confused with “equity of opportunity”, which seeks to ensure all people have the opportunity to succeed in life. So, according to “equity of outcome”, every career should have equal number of men and women, an equal representation of the LGTB group, and an equal representation of all races in their community. All these numbers are determined by demographic statistics that are designed by the liberal movement.
What these “Social Justice Warriors” do not understand, is that you cannot police society in this way. In Sweden a country of equal opportunity, 80% of all nurses are female, and 80% of engineers are male, forcing a change in these number because of an unequal sexual representation would cause massive problems. Professional golf is targeted as being unfairly represented by white males, but no mention is made of sports such as professional basketball in America, with the NBA in America (2015) being composed of 74.4% black players, and only 23.3% percent white players. Whilst the equality of outcomes has the intention of reducing the influence of white males in society, it creates more problems than it solves. What about equal representation for intelligence, surely those of an IQ below 90 should also have equal representation in careers, such as the surgical fields in hospitals? The intelligent logic is that the focus should be on equality of opportunity, not on outcome, but liberal fanaticism is not logical.
“Do as I say, not as I do”
Hypocrisy is the heart of modern liberalism:
- They claim to protect children, yet support abortion.
- They are against the death penalty, but morally fine with the mass murder of innocents.
- Liberal movie stars who use their popularity to lecture others on climate change and ensure that they are seen driving a Toyota Prius, will jet around the world in private planes – this includes the very woke Prince Harry who took a two-hour flight home to California on a private jet from Aspen, Colorado, after playing in a charity polo match.
- The feminist movement stress that women must not be treated as sex objects, yet support prostitution and pornography because woman cannot be told what to do with their bodies! They also protest against the Hollywood film moguls who use power and influence to sexually abuse woman, yet they cannot stop a woman from using her body to fast track her career without being accused of “slut shaming”.
- Black Lives Matter protesters riot because of racism in the American police force, yet kill blacks and loot black owned stores during the riots.
- The liberal feminist movement demands equality for women in the work place, but protest when Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the American Supreme Court. Why? Because she did not represent their ideology.
- The #MeToo movement stressed that any accusation by a woman against a man must be believed. When Christine Blasey Ford accused conservative Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with no evidence, the liberals passionately insisted that victims cannot be dismissed. Yet when the Democrat presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden was accused by Tara Reade of sexual assault, their moral stance was forgotten. Apparently the #MeToo movement only matters when it doesn’t affect the Democrat Party in America.
- When President Trump took office in 2016, he started signing executive orders to start implementing his policies, as all Presidents do, but he was labled a dictator by the left and the media. The record by an American President for signing executive orders was Franklin Roosevelt who signed 30 in his first month. On taking office in January of 2021, Biden matched that number in just two weeks, yet the left and the media were silent. Why? Because he was a liberal undoing the efforts of a conservative President.
The words “do as I say, not as I do” could be the catchphrase for the entire liberal order, and if you point this out to them, you will be called a racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc.
Stand firm – Matthew 24:13
“13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved”.
This statement by Jesus is connected to the Gospel of the Kingdom, and must not be interpreted as implying that salvation in not from the work of the cross, but something that is attained at the end of a life of good works. Nor should it be interpreted as that you must die with a pure heart, or you will lose your salvation. Jesus, here, is not referring to spiritual salvation, but rather to deliverance from persecution. This Scripture is indicating that despite the extreme persecution of the Antichrist, there will be a remnant that will be delivered through to the return of Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation. It will be this group of believers that will go on to populate the Millennial Kingdom.
Proclaiming the Gospel – Matthew 24:14
“14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.
The Gospel of the Kingdom should not be confused with the Gospel of Salvation. The Gospel of Salvation relates to the work of the cross and the resurrection. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the eternal hope believers have of the return of Jesus, who will put an end to the depravity and sin of this world. The Gospel of the Kingdom requires an eternal mindset, a giving up of self in service, knowing that whatever sacrifices made here and now, will be rewarded in eternity. This prediction by Jesus clarifies for us that He is not directing His warning only to the Jews, for it is the role of the Church to ensures that all nations receive the Gospel message. The implications of this Scripture are therefore great for the Church – Jesus will not return to establish His Kingdom until all the nations of the world have received the Gospel. Note that Jesus is pointing to the end of an era, not the end of the world.
When interpreting verse 14, it is important to understand that the Greek word translated as “nations” in Scripture is ethnos, which also means cultural groups. Ethnos, is the Greek word from which the term ethic is derived from, which means a group of people from the same cultural background. So then, how are we to ensure that the Gospel is proclaimed to all cultural groups? Some Christians believe that missionaries need to be sent to every cultural group that have not heard the Gospel preached. In the 1990s the 10/40 Window organisation was formed to send missionaries to the unreached groups living between the lines of longitude of 10 degrees North, and 40 degrees North. This formed a rectangular block which included the countries of the Middle East and Asia. While other Christians believed that the Scripture meant that the Bible – God’s Word – must be translated into the language of every culture. A country like North Korea is closed to missionaries, but Bibles are able to be smuggled in for the population to have access to Salvation scriptures. The various groups involved in the translation of the world’s 6,909 spoken languages, give different dates for the attainment of their goal to have a Bible in every language. The Wycliffe Bible Translators organisation believe that it could be as soon as 2025.
The apostle John was shown that during the Tribulation, God will ensure that the “everlasting gospel (is) preach(ed) to those who dwell on the earth – to every nation, tribe, tongue and people,” with an angel proclaiming to all the world in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come’.” (Revelation 14:6-7). God wants all to have an opportunity for salvation. This proclamation by the angel is the true fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy, and it occurs during the Tribulation.
The Abomination of Desolation – Matthew 24:15
“15 So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)”
With the start of verse 15 the focus now changes to the Great Tribulation, the last 3½ years before the return of Jesus to earth. With the Church raptured into heaven before the start of the Tribulation, the attention of Jesus will be fully on the nation of Israel. The Tribulation is “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), it is a time of God dealing with the Jews, a time of purging and judgement, with the ultimate goal of restoring Israel back in relationship with their True Messiah.
At the start of Daniel 12, an angel reveals “a time of trouble” for Israel, in which the archangel Michael, the defender of Israel is prominent. The Scripture is referring to the Great Tribulation and the time that the satanically empowered Antichrist will turn on the people of Israel, that is why Michael is required to come to their aid. Satan has continually through their history, tried to destroy the Jews, and during the Great Tribulation he is going to make one more attempt.
Isaiah prophecies the return of the Jews to the Lord after the treachery of the Antichrist, writing:
“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth” (Isaiah 10:20).
The nation of Israel because of their rejection of the suffering Messiah, will accept the Antichrist, – the counterfeit messiah – who will institute a false peace. Half way through the Tribulation, the Antichrist will call himself god, and place a statue (abomination) of himself in the Temple (Holy Place), and demand that people worship his idol. Scripture warns of this dramatic occurrence multiple times:
- Daniel writes, “and he (the Antichrist) will confirm a covenant with the many (Jews) for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.” (Daniel 9:27).
- Daniel 11:31a, also refers to this desecration: “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate“.
- There is a third reference to “the abomination” in Daniel Chapter 12: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days” (12:11).
- Jesus repeats the Daniel 9:27 abominations of desolation prophecy (Matthew 24:15), and in doing so is confirming that the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy was still in the future for the disciples.
- In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul calls the Antichrist, “the son of perdition,” meaning that he will be indwelt by Satan, Paul then goes on to explain that, “He (Antichrist) opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, declaring himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is a confirmation of the purpose of the abomination of desolation – the idol of the Antichrist that is to be worshipped.
- John, as part of his detailed explanation of the Antichrist in Revelation 13, explains that the worship of the Antichrist’s idol (Abomination) is going to be connected to buying and selling with a coded mark.
The question asked by the disciples at the start of Matthew 24 was “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”, they were looking for one event that indicated the soon return of the Lord. All the signs provided by Jesus prior to verse 15 were general signs. The sign that the Jews are to look out for is the “abomination of desolation,” which will signal the start of the greatest time of tribulation the world has ever seen. The abomination of the image of the Antichrist that is to be worshipped, causes the “desolation” to come. “Desolation” means a state of complete destruction, not only will mankind suffer the troubles that the rule of the Antichrist will bring – wars, economic woes, famine and pestilence, but also the Trumpet and Bowl judgements from God. Jesus makes it very clear, “let the reader understand,” that all who heed this warning will know that there is exactly 1260 days before Jesus returns to put an end to man’s rebellion and establish His Kingdom.
The “abomination of desolation” speaks of the ultimate desecration of a Jewish temple, the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, desecrated the Temple on his return from Egypt in 168 BC, erecting a statue of Zeus in the Temple confines and sacrificing a pig on the bronze altar, which was a shadow of the reality of the abomination that will be the Antichrist’s statue. Both the sacrificing of a pig and the erecting of a statue are especially offensive to Jews, it is an outrages affront to their worship of Yahweh. Both acts result in God’s judgement, so too will God’s judgement fall upon mankind, after the Antichrist erects his statue in the Temple confines. The Judgement upon Antiochus Epiphanes IV was his death and the end of the Seleucid Dynasty; the consequences for the Antichrist will be the Great Tribulation with the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements, and his being thrown into the Lake of Fire at the return of Jesus.
So, the establishment of an idolatrous image in the Holy Place, will inevitably result in the judgment of God. The idol then is the “abomination that brings desolation” and is the SIGN that the disciples were looking for regarding the soon return of Jesus. Therefore, the sign of the “abomination of desolation” will be of no help for the Church, as the Church will be in heaven celebrating the marriage supper.
Preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning that something is “past”. Preterists believe that the prophesies in the Bible that relate to end times, such as Matthew 24 have already been fulfilled. The book of Revelation for example, which would include the “abomination of desolation”, they believe, was fulfilled during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Preterists have a problem however in explaining how the Romans established the “abomination of desolation” in the Holy Place of the temple. The Temple was set alight and destroyed by the Romans during their conquest of Jerusalem. The Romans did offer the traditional sacrifice of an ox, a sheep and a pig on the Temple Mount, but there was no statue of the Emperor erected. There is also a problem with timing, the Romans had established a siege before they broke through onto the Temple Mount. It would have been impossible for the Jews to heed Jesus’ warning to flee, had the Romans set up an “abomination of desolation” in the Temple.
As was recorded earlier, the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (2:3-4), warns that the Antichrist will exalt himself above God, sit on a throne in the Temple and demand to be worshipped as god. This information also defeats Preterism, as this did not occur during the Roman conquest of Jerusalem.
The repetition of “abomination of desolation” warnings in Scripture should be an alarm for the Church to wake up and sound the warning, to provide the unsaved with the warning sign that could be their eternal salvation.
Flee! – Matthew 24:16-20
“…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”.
Having described the sign that is responsible for the start of the Great Tribulation and His soon return, Jesus then emphatically informs the Jews what should be done when the “abomination of desolation” appears – Flee! Don’t pack your bags, don’t even go to find your hat and coat, flee immediately. Note that the language Jesus uses is aimed at the Jews – they will be the ones living in Judea – closest to the action, and observing the sabbath.
The warning Yeshua gives is for the Jews to understand, firstly the urgency of the moment, and secondly that they are going to be refugees. The life of a refugee is difficult enough with the loss of homes and the burdensome loads to carry, without also having to have to deal with cold winter temperatures. Further hinderances to their flight would be the restrictions of a sabbath day’s journey, and the impediment that a pregnancy would have on travel. Bringing a child into the world during the last days will also increase the difficulties of daily living for the refugee parents.
When reading the parallel account of Matthew 24:16-20 in the Gospel of Luke, it must be borne in mind the two authors of Scripture were writing for two different groups. The Gospel of Matthew is focused on the Jews, whilst the warning Luke sounds is for the Church in Jerusalem (consisting of Jew and Gentile), just prior to the Roman siege:
“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”.
Luke in this passage of Scripture, is warning of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the eventual destruction of the city and the Temple. The prophetic warning by Jesus was amazingly accurate, and the church in Jerusalem heeded the warning and left the city before the arrival of the Romans. As was mentioned in Part 1, this action caused a schism between the Church and Jews in later years, as the Jews felt betrayed by the Christians. The Christians however, were obeying the warning by Jesus.
The prophecy by Jesus of Jerusalem being “trampled underfoot” by Gentiles, started in 605 BC with Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The list of Gentiles that have had control of Jerusalem is long, starting with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of an image, indicating the early sequential rule of the Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and Romans, to the 1900s with the Turks, then the English having control up to 1948. Since 1948 only West Jerusalem has been governed by Jews, East Jerusalem is Palestinian, and the Temple Mount is controlled by the Islamic Waqf under Jordanian custodianship, although Israeli maintains security control. Only when Jesus returns will “the time of the Gentiles” be fulfilled.
“The time of the Gentiles” must not be confused with the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:35), which is the number of Gentiles that must come to salvation before Jesus returns at the rapture.
A Post-Tribulation Rapture?
In the debate as to when the rapture will occur, Matthew 24:16-20 is used by post-Tribulation rapture adherents, as they believe that Jesus gave His disciples this information as a warning to believers who would be present on earth during the Tribulation. However, this is not consistent with other passages of Scripture on the topic – which indicate a Pre-tribulation rapture. So, what was Jesus’ motivation in supplying this information? The answer is twofold:
- To give believers a revelation of the events as they unfold in the last days, so that we have a detailed understanding of God’s plan for the future.
- A duty of the Church as watchmen is to warn others of End Times events. Thus, the knowledge provided us by Jesus, when passed on to non-believers, will lead to the salvation of many during the Tribulation. The information provided will be especially valuable to the Jews who will then reject the Antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation, when he proclaims himself to be god.
The Great Tribulation – Matthew 24:21-22
“21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be”
This Scripture gives the title for the last 3½ years of the Tribulation – the Great Tribulation. To comprehend this period of time, we need to understand the whole seven-year Tribulation, Daniel’s last week of years. God institutes the Tribulation for three very important reasons:
- With the Church in heaven after the rapture, God turns His attention to restoring the nation of Israel back in relationship with Him. Jeremiah makes the point very clear when he refers to the Tribulation as the “time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7 [KJV]),” that the focus of the Tribulation is on the 12 tribes of Israel, the descendants of Jacob: “Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7). An interesting point to note is that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, however, when Israel is out of step with God, and his relationship is flagging, Scripture calls him Jacob. To put the Jeremiah 30:7 into context, at the start of Jeremiah chapter 30 the Lord promises that at a time in the future, He will restore both Judah and Israel back to the Promised Land. The Lord then goes on to describe a time of trembling, where people will be experiencing agony similar to intense birth pains. This “time of Jacob’s trouble” will be necessary for the Lord to fulfill His promise, and to restore the children of Jacob back in relationship with Him. The Lord makes it very clear through the prophet, that the Tribulation is a time of discipline for the children of Jacob, but the end result will be a time of peace and security – The Millennial Kingdom.
- The Tribulation is a judgement on mankind. The offer of Jesus as the saviour of mankind has been largely rejected for two thousand years. So, God is going to give mankind what they want, the opposite to Jesus, the counterfeit messiah – the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:11). God hands mankind over to a reprobate mind. The world will suffer the consequences of rejecting God’s love, and falling for Satan’s deception. The judgements of the Tribulation therefore fit into two categories: 2.1. The consequences of a world under the rule of the Antichrist: war, economic hardship, famine and disease. 2.2. God’s Great Tribulation wrath: The Trumpet and Bowl judgements.
- The third reason for the Tribulation, is that God in His grace will be giving mankind one last, seven-year, opportunity to repent. This is where the Church is failing, since the Bride of Christ will not be present during the Tribulation, the Church has a duty to provide non-believers with the knowledge of prophecy that will be sufficient to bring the unrepentant to salvation during the Tribulation. The last seven years will see a multitude of prophecies being fulfilled, and providing the knowledge about just one of these prophecies could be the difference between eternity in heaven, or a never-ending torment in hell for those whose hearts remain hard up to the Tribulation.
We have seen that Daniel 9:27 informs us that the Antichrist determines the beginning of the “Great Tribulation,” when He erects the statue of Himself in the temple in “the midst of the week”, which will then continue for 3½ years – 42 months – or 1260 days. Jesus warns that this will be the most horrendous time in history. Not only will mankind have to live with the consequences of the rule of the Antichrist, which will bring war, economic hardship, famine and plague, but also the horrific judgements of God.
The Preterist’s also have trouble explaining how Matthew 24:21 was fulfilled in A.D. 70. The reason being that, although the siege of Jerusalem was harsh and the cities destruction comprehensive, there have been worse sieges and destruction of cities in the world since AD 70. One need only to look at the examples of the Allies carpet bombing cities during WWII, or the consequences of America dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, with many more thousands dying of radiation poisoning in later years. The warning that the Great Tribulation will be worse should put the fear of God into people.
“For the Sake of the Elect” – Matthew 24:22:
“22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short”.
The devastation of God’s Trumpet and Bowl judgements will have a massive effect on the world’s population, but what we must consider with regards to this Scripture is the destructive intent of Satan. With the appearance of the Antichrist after the rapture, Satan will attain one of His goals, being worship by God’s beloved creation, the children of Adam and Eve will now be his, not Gods. The destruction of mankind would be next on Satan’s list. Success in this venture will give Satan a triple victory:
- Being worshiped by God’s much-loved creation – mankind.
- The total annihilation of mankind, the consequences of which will mean an end to the prospect of the Kingdom rule by Jesus.
- With no Kingdom rule by Jesus, there is no banishment for Satan to the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3), or an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:7-10). The collapse of God’s plans will result in a stay of execution for Satan. Satan will therefore do all in his power to use the Antichrist as a tool for the suffering and destruction of all mankind.
Jesus therefore, in His warning of the “Great Tribulation,” also gives hope that He will return at Armageddon and put an end to Satan’s destructive plans. The “elect” Jesus refers to, are those that survive the Great Tribulation, and will then go on to populate the Millennial Kingdom. They are the sheep in the parable of the sheep and goat judgement (Matthew 25:31–46 [covered in Joel Part 6]).
Matthew 24:23-26 was covered in part 1, under the repeated warning by Jesus of apostacy as a key sign of the Last Days.
The Parousia – Matthew 24:27-28
“27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming (Parousia -used for official visits by high-ranking persons) of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”.
We have already covered the repeated warning by Jesus of the apostacy that will exist in the Last Days. There will be many who proclaim themselves to be a messiah (anointed figure), so Jesus explains to His disciples that His return to earth will not be as with His first advent, a man living on earth. His return will be from heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords, to defeat the armies of the Antichrist at the battle of Armageddon, where He will reap a harvest and tread the winepress of His wrath. The reference to corpses and vultures has a duel meaning:
- When the corruption of man is ripe, then judgement will come.
- The multitudes that die during that battle of Armageddon will be food for the birds of the air.
There is to be no mistaking the return of Jesus at the end of the age, every eye (Rev. 1:7) will see Him coming in His glory, all powerful, all mighty. Satan cannot counterfeit that, so instead he deceives Christians into believing that it is allegory for the spiritual battle for mankind, and not a literal reality.
Astronomical Wonders – Matthew 24:29
“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”.
Many well-respected theologians will state that the language Jesus uses here is essentially apocalyptic, and that the very nature of such language precludes a literal interpretation. This is inconsistent exegesis, as all the prophecies of Matthew 24 have been literal, yet suddenly, we must interpret this Scripture symbolically. The problem stems from the Western mind interpreting Scripture from an either/or understanding, while the Hebrew mind is quite comfortable with both a literal and a symbolic interpretation: It will be a dark time for those on earth (symbolic), and the sun and moon will lose their light (literal).
The judgements of God in Revelation are literal and a number match the general description given by Jesus:
- The Trumpet Judgements include hail and fire that destroy much of the plant life in the world (Revelation 8:7), a great mountain, burning with fire, being thrown into the sea (Revelation 8:8–9), a great star falls from heaven (Revelation 8:10-11) and the darkening of the sun and moon (Revelation 8:12).
- The Bowl Judgements include great darkness (Revelation 16:10–11), which would affect both the sun and the moon.
So, the statement made by Jesus regarding the Great Tribulation have both literal – darkness over the land – and symbolic significance – a dark time for humanity.
“…and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt. 24:29b).
In 2 Corinthians 12:2 the apostle Paul refers to a man who was caught up in the third heaven. So, logically there has to be a heaven one and two. Scripture also refers to the sky as heaven (Gen. 1:20), and also the universe as heaven (Psalm 19:1). Jesus in verse 29, is referring to the second heaven, the universe. All three Gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26), use the same phrase. The idea then that the words “powers of the heavens” relates to either angels or demons is very unlikely, as this term is used nowhere else in Scripture and therefore is specific to this event. With Jesus focusing on the sun, moon and stars in His description of the events within the Great Tribulation, the logical assumption is that they are the “powers of the heavens” that are shaken, as a focus of God’s judgement. The verb “shaken” is repeatedly used in Scripture as a physical shaking, so Jesus is therefore saying that the stability of the solar system, and even the universe will be affected by the Last Days’ events. All creation is subject to the power and authority of God, and will in some way be affected by the King of kings opening heaven for His return to earth.
In this verse, Jesus is speaking kesher to His disciples. He is linking his words to Haggai 2:6 which says, “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.’” Hebrews 12:26-28 explains that what can be shaken will be replaced by “a kingdom which cannot be shaken,” when Jesus returns.
The Sign of the Son of Man – Matthew 24:30
“30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Theologians postulate what the sign in the sky could possibly be, some theorise that like the Roman Emperor Constantine it will be a cross in the sky. This theory is terribly naïve, as a study of Constantine will reveal that he was a pragmatist, and his “sign” was a means to an end. He used Christianity as a means to bring stability to a fractured empire. Constantine’s “cross” was a chi rho cross which is a pagan sun symbol, a useful symbol for his plan to combine his worship of the sun God Sol, with the Son of God. “The sign” refers to the appearance of Christ himself in the clouds of heaven with power and glory, proving that He is the true Christ (or Messiah) and Judge of the whole world.
This understanding of “the sign” being Jesus, is confirmed by the reaction of “all the tribes of the earth,” upon recognizing the true Messiah, they mourn, not only for their folly, but also for the consequences that will result. Notice that this Scripture links to the requirement that all nations receive the Gospel, for all nations must recognise the returning King for who He truly is, the Lamb of God, who offered His life for their salvation, and who is now the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The apostle John describes this event in dramatic detail in Revelation 19:
“11 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. 12 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. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 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. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation (19:11-16).
Gather His elect – Matthew 24:31
“31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”.
There is a distinct contrast between the mourning of the condemned in verse 30, and the gathering of the elect to the Messiah. Many interpret this Scripture as strong evidence of a Post-tribulation rapture. A study of Paul’s detailed description of the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Thessalonians 4 contradicts this belief. There are no angels involved in the rapture of the saints to be with Jesus in the clouds. What Jesus is describing, is the collection of believers who have survived the persecution of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation, and will live on to become part of the population of the Millennial Kingdom. These individuals do not take part in the sheep and goat judgement held by Jesus in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Matthew 25:31-46), as that judgement is to determine which Gentiles were a blessing to the “Brethren” of Jesus (the Jews), during the Tribulation. These Gentiles fall under the covenant promise to Abraham, where God would bless those who blessed the Jews (Gen. 12:3), so they also continue on to live in the Millennial Kingdom.
Sign of the Fig Tree – Matthew 24:32-35
“32 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. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.
A fruitful fig tree was considered to be a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel, which has relevance in understanding the “fig tree… lesson”. Also, understanding this symbolism helps to interpret the narrative in Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14, where Jesus cursed the barren fig tree. The event occurred just prior to the Olivet discourse, so was fresh in the disciple’s mind. The Scripture explains that Jesus was drawn to a fig tree with leaves, and upon seeing that the fig tree was barren He cursed the tree. Two days later the disciples were shocked to see the tree had withered and died. Through this action, Jesus was symbolically denouncing Israel as a barren nation – they had also not recognized “the hour of (their) visitation” (Lk. 19:44). The time of their blessing had come with the triumphant entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem, but they did not recognise Him as they were spiritually barren. In Jesus using the fig tree as a sign of the times, we are encouraged to also watch for, not only the formation of the nation of Israel, but also the prosperity of the nation. That will indicate the time is ripe for the return of Jesus.
To determine the meaning of “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” this Scripture must be understood in context with the prophecies of the chapter. Jesus has been giving an answer to the question “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” As many aspects of Jesus’ prophecy did not occur in AD 70, the generation referred to is therefore the people living at the time of the Great Tribulation, when all the prophecies will be fulfilled, they will be the generation that sees the return of Jesus.
It is very important to understand that Jesus is not speaking of the rapture, He is referring to His return to establish His Kingdom. Remember that the trigger sign, the one event, that will be the key to the soon return of Jesus, is the “abomination of desolation,” the statue of the Antichrist. Those that are living at the time of the Antichrist declaring that he is god, will be the generation that sees the return of Jesus. Remember what was covered in Part 1, that Jesus warned against jumping to conclusions and premature excitement about His return. Jesus gives a list of catastrophes that greatly and tragically effect mankind: Wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilence (Lk. 21:11). They must not be taken on their own as signs of the end of days, rather that the last days of the Great Tribulation will show an intense increase in these prophesied events. The book of Revelation is clear on the increase in wars (red horse), plagues, famine (pale horse), and earthquakes (bowl judgements), during the last 3½ years before the return of Jesus to earth to establish His Kingdom. So, although the prophesied events will have a presence, and even an increase in intensity towards the last days, the focus of Matthew 24:6-8 is the cataclysm of the Great Tribulation.
Therefore, the sign of the fig tree includes “all these things,” all the prophecies occurring together with an increased intensity, and that will only take place during the Great Tribulation. So, those who are living during this horrendous time, are being assured that the return of the King is at hand, and they have but a short time to endure – Jesus “is near, at the very gates”.
The prosperity of Israel
The economy of Israel is a highly advanced free-market, primarily knowledge-based economy. With a modern infrastructure, and a high-technology sector competitively on par with Silicon Valley. Without this technology you would not have a cell phone!
- Israel ranks 23rd worldwide in its total number of millionaires, and by 2024 is expected to have 173,000 millionaires.
- The first discovery of gas in Israel was in 1999, with more than 30 trillion cubic feet of gas off the country’s coast over the last decade. Some experts say new discoveries could double that.
- A small discovery of oil was found near the Dead Sea that produced approximately 250,000 barrels of oil.
- Israel is a highly advance agricultural nation, a world leader in desert agriculture. A large percentage of Europe’s agricultural imports come from Israel.
- Israel is a world leader in the building of desalination plants.
- Israel is on the “trade route” from Europe to India and Asia.
- Israel is a world leader in military technology, especially in the High-tech sectors such as radar.
- The Israeli diamond industry is one of the world’s centres for diamond cutting and polishing, amounting to 23.2% of all exports.
- Tourism in Israel is one of Israel’s major sources of income, with a record 3.6 million tourist arrivals in 2017, contributed NIS 20 billion to the Israeli economy.
Who is this Generation?
“33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 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” (Matt. 24:33-35).
The statement by Jesus when speaking to the disciples that “this generation will certainly not pass away,” is one of the main reasons people hold to Preterism. As the temple was destroyed by the Romans approximately 40 years later, they believe the disciples were “(that) generation.” Yet as previously argued, there are clear prophecies that did not take place before AD 70:
- The “abomination of desolation”.
- The severity of the Great Tribulation.
- The cosmic signs.
- The coming of the Son of Man.
Each one of these prophecies has a clear meaning, and with this understanding it is obvious that Jesus was not implying that the disciples were the generation to see the fulfilment of His prophecies. It will be the generation that witnesses the first three points that will see the fourth point, the return of Jesus.
So, for clarity it is necessary to define what Jesus meant by “all these things”:
The apostacy in the “Church” will grow in intensity until the rapture of the Bride of Christ. The Antichrist will then be able to establish himself as the world ruler using the apostate religion. Then there are the catastrophes in the world, but they are not indicators of the end, but warnings of what is still to come. After the start of the Great Tribulation, because of the commencement of the judgements, the intensity and severity of the catastrophes will increase and occur at the same time, thus indicating nearness of the end. The Daniel 9 prophecy states that 1 260 days after the appearance of the admonition of desolation in the Temple, the end will come (Daniel 12:11–12). The warning to the Judeans at this time is to flee into the wilderness. Then, towards the end of the Great Tribulation there will be Great cosmic disturbances.
Jesus assures the Last Days Saints that the agonies of the Great Tribulation will not continue indefinitely; they will have an end. That end will be His glorious return as King of kings, which will cause the heavens to shake. On His return, Jesus defeats the Antichrist and the world’s military at Armageddon. Finally, there will be the sheep and goat judgement in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which helps to determine the Millennial population.
Yom Teruah – Matthew 24:36
“36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only”.
This is possibly the most misinterpreted Scripture in the Bible! Pastors are continually warning their flock of the great error of predicting the time of the return of Jesus, and they stress this by saying “Jesus told us that we will not know the day or the hour of His return”. This is a major error, because the interpretation is being done from the cultural bias of a Gentile perspective. We must remember that Matthew was a Jew, who wrote his Gospel for the Jews, and he is quoting a Jewish Messiah, speaking to His Jewish disciples. The Scripture therefore must be interpreted from a Jewish perspective using Midrash (Jewish hermeneutics).
There are seven feasts that God ordained for the nation of Israel, which are celebrated each year as sacred assemblies for the Jewish people (Leviticus 23). The feast days are not only a historical record of the Jews’ relationship with God, but they also reveal God’s prophetic plan (appointed times [moadim]) for mankind, which would involve God’s redemptive plan through the work of His son Jesus. The feasts are then a shadow of the reality that is Jesus (Colossians 2:17), the first four feasts being prophetically fulfilled by the Suffering Messiah – Yeshua.
The last three feasts will therefore be fulfilled by the Kingly Messiah, when He returns in the Last Days. We know that the first event of the End Times is the rapture of the saints, and the first feast is Yom Teruah (Day of the Alarm Sound). Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets) is the only festival that no-one knows when exactly it will occur, the reason being, that it is the only festival starting on the first day of the Hebrew Lunar month. The feast therefore begins at the time of the new moon, which is 29,5 days after the last new moon, so the new moon may occur on the 29th or the 30th day of the month. So, Yom Teruah is always celebrated for two days because no one can be sure of the exact timing of the feast. These two days are then celebrated as though they are just one long day of 48 hours. Jesus, when asked by the disciples about the timing of the End Time events answers, “no one knows about that day or hour” (Matt. 24:36). Yom Teruah was well known by the Jews as the feast where “no man knows the day or the hour,” so the answer Jesus gave to the disciples, directly indicates the Feast of Trumpets as the day of His return.
The second part of the verse, “but the Father only,” again needs to be understood from a Jewish context. The Jewish bridegroom would only be able to go and collect his bride when all was ready at his father’s house. This meant that not only would all the wedding preparation have to be complete, but most importantly, the room that the couple were going to live in had to be built by the groom, and ready for occupation, which was all determined by the father. This meant that the bridegroom could only travel to collect his bride when his father was satisfied that everything was ready. Thus, if the bridegroom was ever asked when his wedding would be, his reply would be “don’t ask me, ask my father!”.
As in the Days of Noah – Matthew 24:37-39
“37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”.
Jesus makes it very clear that at His return, life for mankind will be much the same as it has always been. The only difference would be the continued moral degradation of man. So, there is a comparison to be made with Noah, there was no change in the daily occurrences for the people that would warn of the impending judgement before the flood, besides Noah building a ship a great distance from the sea! What was very relevant, was that “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11, that mankind at the end of the age will also become corrupt, they will “refuse to love the truth,” (God’s Word) and for that reason God will hand them over to a reprobate mind and give them what they want – the Antichrist.
It is important to understand that Noah and his family knew that the judgement was at hand, it was the ungodly that were surprised. The rapture of the Bride of Christ will be without warning to the world, but not for His saints; after the rapture, mankind will enter into the Tribulation, the judgement of God. The righteous who know their prophecy, will see the signs of the times, and know the rapture is near. The key sign for the Bride of Christ, being the increase of apostacy in the Church. The apostacy will prepare the way for the Antichrist, whom, because of the weight of prophecy describing the man, the True Church will recognise during his rise to power. When the Antichrist announces that he is brokering a peace deal between Israel and Islamic nations of the Middle East, the Church will know that the rapture in close at hand, at the very door – the angel will be raising the trumpet to his lips.
For those that hold to a Post-tribulation rapture it is difficult to explain a “business-as-usual” world, as it was at the time of Noah before the flood. Scripture describes the end of the Great Tribulation as a world experiencing the worst calamities ever seen.
Further evidence that the Church will experience a Pre-tribulation rapture, is that God does not judge those that believe in Him. Not only is the Great Tribulation a judgement from God, with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements being released onto the earth, but the first 3½ years of the Tribulation are also a judgement from God. At the start of the Tribulation there is the rise of the Antichrist, and those that follow him will experience eternal judgement. The wrath of God hands mankind over to a reprobate mind, they will become so morally corrupted that they will celebrate the coming of the counterfeit messiah, a deception from Satan – the Antichrist. Those pre-wrath rapture exponents, who believe that the rapture will occur only after the abomination of desolation is revealed at the start of the Great Tribulation, forget that the Antichrist is a judgement of wrath, which results in eternal damnation. So, as in the days of Noah, those who are righteous will be spared the judgement of God, which in the Last Days will be the Tribulation.
The Rapture – Matthew 24:40-41
“40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left”.
There is some contention as to what event this Scripture is pointing to, for example, Amillennialists believe that it is at the return of Jesus at the end of the age, and that a separation that takes place is between those who will remain to live in the New Jerusalem that will come down from heaven, and those that are taken away for judgement. However, the evidence points to the fact that Jesus is describing the rapture:
- This Scripture relates to the statement made by Jesus regarding the “coming of the Son of Man,” being as in the days of Noah. So, Jesus is referring to the time before the judgement – which is the rapture – not His coming in glory at the end of the of the age/Tribulation, which is after the judgement.
- The linking of this text with the narrative on Noah then implies that the people taken are being rescued, as Noah was, from a forthcoming judgement. Those left behind will be judged. The Gospel of Luke includes the narrative of Lot escaping the judgement of fire and brimstone upon Sodom. Lot being considered righteous is depicted as leaving, while those that remain (or look back) are judged. Further, Luke talks about the wicked being “destroyed” rather than being “took”. The key to both analogies that are used, is that there is a separation of the righteous from those being judged, with the righteous being “taken” away.
- The end of the age collection is done by angels, and Jesus makes no mention of them here. The Scripture describes a sudden disappearance taking place, as in the events of the rapture (described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The saved being removed to be with Jesus, the unsaved being left behind to face the Tribulation. This is a very important message for the world, it is a last opportunity to repent. They have been left behind, but they still have an opportunity to become Tribulation saints.
- The verb “taken” is used to imply taking someone to be with you, as in the rapture, where the Bride is taken to be with Jesus. At the end of the age people are taken to judgement not to be with anyone.
Expectantly Watching – Matthew 24:42-44
“42 Therefore, stay awake (keep watch), for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”.
The analogy of the house-owner being on the watch for the thief in the night (Matt. 24:42-44; 1 Thess. 5:2-4) and the servants expectantly waiting for their master (Mark 13:33-37) both relate to Yom Teruah, where the Jews are required to expectantly watch and wait for the crescent moon to signal the new month and the commencement of the celebration. The Church is also required to be expectantly watching and waiting for the rapture. Just as the Jews would pray “next year in Jerusalem” at every Passover feast during their dispersion, so too should the Church have the same hope and longing for the return of Jesus, and be praying that the next Feast of Trumpets will be the rapture. Jesus wants His Church to be like the Jewish Bride, longing for the call of the bridegroom to join Him and travel to the wedding feast. The “blessed hope” of the Church is “the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The analogy of the “thief in the night,” is clarified when one understands that thieves steal that which is valuable and there is a true sense of loss. Jesus, by using this symbolism, is underlying the loss the world will experience when that which is valuable, the Church, is raptured.
The Faithful Wise Servant – Matthew 24:45-47
“45 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions”.
The Parable of the Faithful Servant is also found in, Mark 13:34-37, and Luke 12:35-48, and stresses the importance for the faithful to keep watch for the return of Jesus. To be ever vigilant requires the believer to be eternally minded, and Jesus wants an eternally minded Bride. He expects us to be focused on fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for our lives, and continuing to do so until He returns for us. Being eternally minded is true wisdom as it acquires eternal rewards, while temporal labour is limited to the here and now.
With regards to the soon coming of Jesus, Matthew 24 seems to contradict itself: Firstly, Jesus describes several events that will precede His return for the Church. This reveals that there are prerequisite events that must occur before His return, and must mean that the rapture could not then be imminent. Then we are told to be awake as the return of Jesus can be at any moment! How do we explain this apparent contradiction?
The idea that Jesus is coming soon cannot be literally interpreted. James 5:8, which is used by the supporters of the doctrine of imminence that “the coming of the Lord is at hand,” actually starts with an admonition in verse 7 for believers to be patient regarding “the Lord’s coming,” saying that they should follow the example of the famer who “waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains”. James uses the analogy of the farmer waiting for the rains, as the rains match the Jewish feast days. The KJV refers to the rains as “the early and latter rain.” Just as the Jews had to wait patiently for their Messiah, who fulfilled the feast day prophecies of the spring rain, so will the Church have to wait for the return of Jesus who will fulfil the feast day prophecies of the autumn rain.
The nearness of the Lord’s return must, therefore, be in relation to the whole period of prophecy. Genesis 3:15 holds the first prophecy that God gives, which predicts that Satan will be defeated by Jesus. The Scripture prophesies that Satan will inflict a mortal wound, but his power will be broken by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Ultimately the serpent, Satan, will only be totally defeated at the end of the Millennial period, after he is released for a short while just before the end of the thousand years. When Daniel interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (2:31-45), he reveals that Jesus (the Rock) will return to destroy all the nations of the earth and establish His Kingdom. So, what was distant to Adam and Daniel is now near. In comparison, the return of the Lord is soon and is in the process of being fulfilled.
The Wicked Servant – Matthew 24:48-51
“48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
The last four verses of Matthew 24 also have prophetic significance. The parable of the unfaithful servant is played out in Church history. The early Church greeted each other by saying “Maranatha,” which means the ‘Lord is coming’. They were expectant of an imminent return. With the conversion of Constantine (311 AD), and Christianity becoming the dominant religion of the Roman empire, this hope was lost. Constantine being anti-Semitic sought to separate the Church from its Jewish roots. Aspects of Pre-millennialism therefore became unpalatable, such as the Tribulation being a time of God restoring the Jews in relationship with Him. Also, the idea that Jesus was returning to destroy an evil emperor did not fit in well with a Church that owed their deliverance from persecution to their Emperor. The Roman Church therefore changed eschatology – according to them there would be no secret rapture, Tribulation, or Millennium Kingdom – the Church itself became the kingdom of God, and Amillennialism was born. The result was a moral collapse into the Dark Ages, where Popes held orgies in the Vatican, and true believers were persecuted by the Roman Church. These men were the unfaithful servants who believed that their master was delayed, and will be found wanting at the return of Jesus.
In Matthew 7 Jesus confirms this severe warning, when He states that He will refuse these wicked servants entrance into His kingdom on the Day of Judgment, because they did not know Him and were disobedient to His Father’s will. Despite their claims of service and their performing mighty works in His name, they followed their man-made laws, and held to a doctrine of works:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
This confrontation with Jesus will occur at the Sheep and Goat Judgement, when these wicked servants will try to justify their place in the Millennial Kingdom. Most of these protesting servants would have missed the rapture and would be part of the apostate church in the Last Days. They will have a rude awakening when confronted by the Lamb of God, whose salvation they had rejected with their religion being constructed around the will of mankind – they will hear the words “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”.