A Radical Suggestion

Lately I’ve come to rely on the WordPress.com Reader, which has left me sifting through large amounts of blog posts daily as I try to engage in conversation with other bloggers. Having a special interest in Bible Prophecy as can be seen by what I’ve been posting on my own blog lately, I’ve found myself upon occasion searching up terms like “End Times”, “Matthew 24”, or “Second Coming.” A vast sea of ideas and beliefs about these subjects can be found on Word Press alone.

The concept of the Rapture, the seven years of tribulation, and the debate as to when the Rapture will take place have stuck out prominently to me as I’ve searched through the various posts on Word Press. Reading some of this material, at times it feels as if my heart sinks. I have a burden for my Christian brethren who hold to these beliefs about the final events of this earth’s history. In fact, this is why I’ve put as much emphasis on it as I have in my commentary on Matthew 24.

There is a very real danger to these ideas, especially the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture, which is not sensed by those who hold them. It is based on the idea that they will be extracted from this earth by God, and therefore will not have to endure the persecutions and deceptions of the last days. This would leave them unprepared to engage in conflict with these things, which would hit them in such a manner that it would be as if these things had never been revealed in Scripture. Some have been burdened, worried that they might be “left behind” when the Lord returns, while others would be raptured away to heaven.

The debate as to whether or not the Rapture will occur prior to the tribulation, in the middle of the tribulation, or after the tribulation at times has caused much confusion to honest Bible Students seeking to understand Prophecy for themselves. Combined with the cryptic nature of some of these Prophecies found in the books of Daniel & Revelation, as well as the gospels and other books of the Scriptures, the task of attempting to understand final events can often seem daunting.

I want to propose some radical suggestions. If the Rapture of the faithful prior to the tribulation, and this concept of seven years of tribulation are apart of your belief system than you might be upset by what I’m about to say. Unfortunately sometimes toes need to be stepped on when the truth is spoken. This would be therefore your official disclaimer. Otherwise you might be blessed by my suggestions, especially if you’ve been confused about these issues.

For those that are confused, I would first counsel you to abandon the Rapture entirely. Lay aside all of your preconceived ideas about it, and anything you may have heard from the pulpit with regards to this subject. Just the same, I would suggest that you set aside any ideas about a seven-year period of tribulation, a future one-man hitler antichrist, a rebuilt Jewish temple, and the entire chronology of events you’ve always heard about. [Whether or not it will be pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post tribulation.] Ask yourself some questions, “is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” My counsel to you essentially boils right down to the request that you stop approaching the Bible with the assumption these things are taught in Scripture.

Afterwards, I want you to lay aside all Bible commentaries and books you may have purchased about last day events. This includes novels, especially the left behind series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins. But any novels or movies about the end of time need to be set aside. Your next task from here will be to set aside all sermons on this topic, YouTube videos, audio recordings, and even presentations you have attended in person at your own church. You do not want to study your Bible through the eyes of your Pastor, Theologians, or ‘teachers’ that you may have heard. Otherwise you will end up simply accepting their views as ‘truth’ whether it is or is not, and may not be able to see things in Scripture as they actually are.

From there your task is to sit down with your Bible and a Concordance. The search engine E-sword comes equipped with is also a good option. Begin with earnest prayer for light on the matter and commence a deep dive into your Bible. Use the Concordance or Bible search engine to find everything you possibly can in the Scriptures that has any bearing on the subject of last day events or the second coming of Christ. Then I want you to line up every single passage before you form your conclusions, and watch how each text adds details to and complements the other. Research everything you can possibly find in the Bible on the matter. Especially view proof-texts which are used in Support of these teachings with a degree of skepticism. Ask yourself, “is this really what the verse is saying?” Check to see if such passages have been studied in context, read with Eisegesis [reading something into a text which isn’t there], or studied in view of other passages.

Once you finish, ask yourself the same questions as you did at the beginning. “Is any of this really true? Is this what the Bible really teaches about the end of the world?” When you come to the Lord in prayer over the matter ask him repeatedly and persistently if these views are true and found in the Scriptures. These prayers should be combined with your in-depth Biblical research project on the matter.

If you struggle to understand prophecy because of its cryptic nature, than focus on the plain passages of the Bible first. Not every prophetic text in the Scriptures is highly symbolic. A good place to start would be the gospels, going over Christ’s teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the second coming and the end of time. When you come across a passage of Scripture which seems to support these views, compare it with other passages to see if an alternative explanation can be found. This would not be to get around it’ but instead to determine if the text has been interpreted properly.

It all boils down to this. If you’re confused about it, stop being so reliant on teachers in your church or particular denomination and research it for yourself. Do your own thinking, and stop reading the Bible through the lens of what others say about it. For those that have held a strong belief in this school of prophetic interpretation my only suggestion for you is take a look at the evidences which will be posted on this blog countering those viewpoints and study them prayerfully.

This has been addressed already through these two pages, and this article. In addition, my commentary on Matthew 24 presents some limited evidence against this thinking in parts 1 and 2. If this is your traditional thinking about Prophecy, if you’ve long-held this belief and look at it as gospel truth, than I only ask that you take a candid look at the evidence which I do and will present on this blog, and reconsider your position.

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Matthew 24 – Part 3

“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” – Matthew 24:15-18

“Then let them which be in Judaea” the word ‘Judaea’ in this sense is key. It helps to pinpoint the original context of the instruction that follows, that being the statements regarding the housetop and clothes. The word ‘Judaea’ according to Strong’s concordance Greek Lexicon, as shown below, is in reference to a region of Palestine. Christ was suggesting that once the recognized sign was seen, that being the armies which were to surround Jerusalem as shown in the previous post, then his followers were to flee.

It is interesting to note that Jerusalem was attacked and sieged twice in the years after Christ’s death on the cross. The first was conducted by a Roman general named Cestius, who attacked and surrounded the city. When everything was favorable for him to take it, he and his armies retreated without explanation. The Christians who were living in the areas surrounding Jerusalem and inside the city itself at this time recognized this as the sign Jesus warned about [Luke 21:20-21, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14] and fled the region into the mountains just as Christ had given instruction. Flavius Josephus, in his book “Wars of Jews” writes of this occurrence regarding Cestius’ retreat. The translators of his book, who are apparently Christian, seemed to also recognize a fulfilment of this particular prophecy in question when it comes to Josephus’ descriptions of the event.

In addition, Josephus also describes soldiers led by Titus planting their ensigns and worshipping them outside of the temple gate. Roman ensigns were known to have an eagle on them, which had some connection to idolatrous worship. The translators of Josephus’ book evidently also recognized in this a fulfilment of the words of Christ found in Matthew 24:15. It is important to keep these historical fulfilments of prophecy in mind, as they help to add context to the phrase “Judaea” found in verse 15.

G2449
Ἰουδαία
Ioudaia
ee-oo-dah’-yah
Feminine of G2453 (with G1093 implied); the Judaean land (that is, judaea), a region of Palestine: – Juda.

“7. It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world. But when the robbers perceived this unexpected retreat of his, they resumed their courage, and ran after the hinder parts of his army, and destroyed a considerable number of both their horsemen and footmen; and now Cestius lay all night at the camp which was at Scopus; and as he went off farther next day, he thereby invited the enemy to follow him, who still fell upon the hindmost, and destroyed them; they also fell upon the flank on each side of the army, and threw darts upon them obliquely, nor durst those that were hindmost turn back upon those who wounded them behind, as imagining that the multitude of those that pursued them was immense; nor did they venture to drive away those that pressed upon them on each side, because they were heavy with their arms, and were afraid of breaking their ranks to pieces, and because they saw the Jews were light, and ready for making incursions upon them. And this was the reason why the Romans suffered greatly, without being able to revenge themselves upon their enemies; so they were galled all the way, and their ranks were put into disorder, and those that were thus put out of their ranks were slain; among whom were Priscus, the commander of the sixth legion, and Longinus, the tribune, and Emilius Secundus, the commander of a troop of horsemen. So it was not without difficulty that they got to Gabao, their former camp, and that not without the loss of a great part of their baggage. There it was that Cestius staid two days, and was in great distress to know what he should do in these circumstances; but when on the third day he saw a still much greater number of enemies, and all the parts round about him full of Jews, he understood that his delay was to his own detriment, and that if he staid any longer there, he should have still more enemies upon him.

End notes

(30) There may another very important, and very providential, reason be here assigned for this strange and foolish retreat of Cestius; which, if Josephus had been now a Christian, he might probably have taken notice of also; and that is, the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction and caution given them by Christ about thirty-three years and a half before, that “when they should see the abomination of desolation” [the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns, ready to lay Jerusalem desolate] “stand where it ought not;” or, “in the holy place;” or, “when they should see Jerusalem any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential, compassed with armies;” they should then “flee to the mound conduct than this retreat of Cestius visible during this whole rains.” By complying with which those Jewish Christians fled I siege of Jerusalem; which yet was providentially such a “great to the mountains of Perea, and escaped this destruction. See tribulation, as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time; no, Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 69, 70. Nor was there, perhaps, nor ever should be.”–Ibid. p. 70, 71.” – Flavius Josephus, Wars of The Jews, book 2, Ch 19 [with translator’s note] 

“1. AND now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple (24) and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator (25) with the greatest acclamations of joy. And now all the soldiers had such vast quantities of the spoils which they had gotten by plunder, that in Syria a pound weight of gold was sold for half its former value. But as for those priests that kept themselves still upon the wall of the holy house, (26) there was a boy that, out of the thirst he was in, desired some of the Roman guards to give him their right hands as a security for his life, and confessed he was very thirsty. These guards commiserated his age, and the distress he was in, and gave him their right hands accordingly. So he came down himself, and drank some water, and filled the vessel he had with him when he came to them with water, and then went off, and fled away to his own friends; nor could any of those guards overtake him; but still they reproached him for his perfidiousness. To which he made this answer: “I have not broken the agreement; for the security I had given me was not in order to my staying with you, but only in order to my coming down safely, and taking up some water; both which things I have performed, and thereupon think myself to have been faithful to my engagement.” Hereupon those whom the child had imposed upon admired at his cunning, and that on account of his age. On the fifth day afterward, the priests that were pined with the famine came down, and when they were brought to Titus by the guards, they begged for their lives; but he replied, that the time of pardon was over as to them, and that this very holy house, on whose account only they could justly hope to be preserved, was destroyed; and that it was agreeable to their office that priests should perish with the house itself to which they belonged. So he ordered them to be put to death.” – Flavius Josephus, Wars Of The Jews, Book 6, Ch 6

The instruction to flee to the mountains, much like the abomination of desolation, has been recognized by some as having a duel application. The 1st being as noted, where Christ’s followers were to flee to the mountains before the destruction of Jerusalem. The second being for us today, that as we see the garbage of the last days occurring we’re to flee into the mountains. This is a possible conclusion, given the overall context of Matthew 24 surrounding the original question of the disciples. It would especially be applicable as one observes the future fulfilment of the abomination of desolation taking place. At that point, it may be time for God’s people as well to flee into the mountains.

The word “Judaea” however places the instruction of Jesus found in Matthew 24 under a more direct context of the destruction of Jerusalem. This was shown from its Greek meaning to be a region of Palestine, which is certainly not a place that most of us live [unless you happen to be reading this blog post from modern-day Israel/Palestine.] Therefore the instructions with regards to clothing and not taking anything out of your house would logically have this context as well. Note especially that you can draw this point by a comparison with similar instructions found in Luke 21:21-22.

It is interesting to note that the word translated as “clothes” in the King James Version has been translated as “coat” in the ISV, “cloak” in the ASV, and “cloke” again in the RV. All three texts in question have been produced below, along with the Greek meaning of the word which offers some explanation of this. The reality is that the word “Clothes” as found in Matthew 24:17 was referring to perhaps specific articles of clothing, in this sense taking time to secure these items rather than fleeing when time was of the essence. Especially the words “return back” stick out, as the suggestion carried by these words is that the Christian was not to return to acquire anything, but to flee immediately.

“Anyone who’s on the housetop must not come down to get what is in his house, and anyone who’s in the field must not turn back to get his coat.” – Matthew 24:17-18 ISV

“let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak.” – Matthew 24:17-18 ASV

“let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloke.” – Matthew 24:17-18 RV

G2440
ἱμάτιον
himation
him-at’-ee-on
Neuter of a presumed derivative of ἕννυμι hennumi (to put on); a dress (inner or outer): – apparel, cloke, clothes, garment, raiment, robe, vesture.

The calamity originally foretold, that being the destruction of Jerusalem, was apparently such a situation that time should not have been spent in attempting to acquire things. But instead their flight was to occur immediately. It is probable that as we approach the final events of this earth’s history, Christians may not have time to gather their things together, but instead should simply flee without delay.

It should be noted that similar instructions appear in Luke 17:31-32. Only aspects involving the retrieval of articles of clothing are missing, with instead a warning to “Remember Lot’s Wife.” In Genesis 19:17-26, there is a brief account of this particular story. Lot and his family were told specifically to not look back at Sodom and Gomorrah, neither were they to remain in the plain, but they were to escape for their lives. Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. It is likely that she was still attached to the city, and looked back with the thought or hope of returning. This attachment logically caused this episode with being turned into a pillar of salt.

It should especially be noted that verses 28-30 of Luke 17 add context stating, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the son of man is revealed.” Verse 30 especially places these Scriptures into an end times/second coming context. These words of Jesus in verses 31-32, and the statements in Matthew 24:15-18 are both essentially saying “do not turn back for anything when you make your flight.” This would perhaps be the best way to summarize the overall point of the instruction.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” – Matthew 24:19-22

Verse 19 targets those who are pregnant or who are nursing children, hence “them that are with child, and to them that give suck.” A “woe” is pronounced on them that are in this state during the destruction of Jerusalem. Given verse 15, which references “Judaea” [a region of Palestine] the destruction of Jerusalem would be the overall context of this woe or warning.

The statement with regards to the Sabbath which follows is especially interesting. The Christians living in Jerusalem were to pray that their flight was neither in winter, nor on the Sabbath day. The majority of Christians today believe that the Sabbath [that being the 7th Day or Saturday] was nailed to the cross. There is of course no harmony whatsoever with this thinking, and the fact that Jesus instructed his followers to pray that their flight from the destruction of Jerusalem was not to take place on the Sabbath. Such instruction clearly implies an assumption on the part of Christ that it would be kept at this time, and therefore the Christians should pray that they would not have to flee on the Sabbath.

The word “For” in verse 21 suggests that the reason for the previous two passages worth of instruction was that there would be “great tribulation.” It should be noted that the wording of this statement from Christ shares some similarities to a passage in the book of Daniel, which references a “time of trouble.” I’ve underlined both texts below in order to make the striking similarities between these verses stick out.

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” – Matthew 24:21

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” – Daniel 12:1

In view of the overall context of Matthew 24 from the disciples’ original question, there are two ways in which I would apply verse 21.

  1. To the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
  2. To the time of trouble foretold in Daniel 12:1.

These applications harmonize with the original context of Matthew 24 found in verses 1-3, and the immediate context found in verses 15-16. The logical deduction also is that when the words “Immediately after the tribulation” are used in Matthew 24:29 later on, Jesus had the same period in view. At this point, it should be noted that some Scholars and Bible students have connected this tribulation foretold in Matthew 24 to the 1260 day prophecy which makes an appearance at various locations across the Scriptures. One of which is of course Daniel 7:25. [Stay tuned, posts on this are forthcoming.]

I have no quarrel with those who hold to these beliefs. If you personally hold to this thinking, and can produce sufficient and convincing Scriptural evidence to make your case, it perhaps can be added to the numbered list above of applications for verse 21. If you connect the 1260 days to the tribulation foretold in Matthew I’m open to you making your case in the comments section of this post. But points 1 & 2 in my mind are quite solid and will probably remain. The shared wording between Daniel 12:1 & Matthew 24:15 coupled with the overall context gives too much support for such a position to be reversed at this point in time.

The point arrived at next is the shortening of the days, which appears in verse 22. It is noted that the time of trouble, or “great tribulation” is predicted to be “shortened.” This is done strictly for the salvation of the elect. Evidently the time of trouble is so bad that if it were allowed to continue going on nobody would have salvation because of the intensity of the ordeal. With salvation obviously in view from the phrase “there should no flesh be saved” [unless this statement is targeting the literal preservation of one’s life] the statement in regards to the shortening of days is not a literal shortening [a day going from 24 hours to 6 hours], but instead a statement targeting the overall length of the ordeal.

“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” – Matthew 24:23-26

Verse 23 clearly mirrors earlier instruction given near the beginning of the chapter, with regards to those who would claim to be Jesus. [Matthew 24:4-5.] In this sense it seems to be applied to those who would claim to have seen him here or there. Christ here tells us not to believe anyone claiming that Christ is to be found at specified locations here on earth, as though he has already come. In the verses that follow, he goes so far as to target some very specific things, such as the desert or secret chambers.

Evidently this wording implies attempts by the powers of darkness to counterfeit the second coming. Their efforts take on the appearance of showing up here or there, and having been seen at this or that location. But in reality this does not come close to matching the direct manner of the second coming. It should be observed that in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we’re told that he shall “descend from heaven with a shout” with the “voice of the archangel” and the “dead in Christ shall rise first.” 

The event which follows is that “then we which are alive and remain are caught up together with them [being the dead in christ] in the clouds.” Therefore it is logical to conclude that Christ will not touch the ground, that we will not have to go out of our way to some place where he has come secretly [hence “secret chambers”], and that there will not have to be a major effort on our part to go find him. The book of Revelation even goes so far as to suggest that “every eye will see him” [Revelation 1:7.]

The statement which follows in Matthew 24 suggests that false Christs and false prophets shall arise, both of which were warned about in previous passages. They’re described as showing “great signs and wonders”. Then the words which follow are, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The word “great” is an obvious statement of size and intensity, indicating the seriousness of the signs and wonders produced by the false Christs and Prophets. The miraculous phenomenon produced by these persons will be so great that the very elect, if not grounded in Scripture, could be endangered by it.

In the book of Deuteronomy, we’re essentially told that miracles alone are no test as to whether or not some one is a true or false prophet. Matthew 7 provides the test of the fruits, and Isaiah 8:20 admonishes us to test everything by our Bibles. We should not accept the messages of anyone professing to be a prophet unless we’re certain that they pass Scriptural tests of the prophetic office. [Deuteronomy 13:1-4.]

Zero back in on the phrase “great signs and wonders” and “the very elect.” For a moment, contemplate these statements. Most Christians regard some one such as Joseph Smith with a high degree of suspicion. In fact, very few ‘modern prophets’ last long before receiving the title of “false prophet.” Their messages tend to not survive debunking by believers. Yet these prophets foretold by Christ are such a threat at the end of time that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The implication is that something much more sinister than old Joe Smith is around the corner, something which Christians of long-standing who’re normally suspicious of anyone professing to be a prophet may be deceived by.

Than it is of the utmost importance that we practice discernment. It starts with us testing those who preach from the pulpit and by us gaining a thorough knowledge of the word. Then when some one comes and tells us something different from the Bible, we may instantly know where they’re in error, when they’ve read a text with Esiegesis, and when something has been taken out of context to support error. Unfortunately, in a previous post I’ve detailed how we as Christians are in trouble in this area.

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” – Matthew 24:26-28

The flash of lightning is bright, visible, and powerful. It comes with the roar of rolling thunder, making it equally audible. During some thunder storms, I personally have witnessed a bright blue flash penetrate the curtains and windows of my home at night as it lights up the sky. This representation of lightning is obviously meant to convey the idea that the second coming is not a secret, it is not some hidden thing in which Jesus will show up in some guy’s secret chambers, or show up here or there.

It will be loud, visible, audible, and so powerful that everyone will see it. [Revelation 1:7.] Lightning is probably one of the most powerful object lessons from nature Christ could have drawn to paint a proper picture of his second coming. The people who every once in a while appear on the scene claiming to be Christ do not in any way come close to the sheer power of the event, which according to other Scriptures as we will see will rock this earth and strike terror into the hearts of those who do not obey the gospel.

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The next statement of Christ seems cryptic, and not easily understood. What did he mean when he said, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together”? The term “eagles” bears some similarities to descriptions found in the book of Revelation, particularly around chapter 19, which is also speaking about the second coming of Christ.

In verses 17-18 specifically, we find statements which help unravel the meaning of Christ’s apparent cryptic language. “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.” – Revelation 19:17-18. 

In these texts the “fowls” [which are birds] are invited to feast on the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, and horses. The language employed here yet again paints a picture of birds feasting on carrion. This is even verified as you scroll down to verse 21 in which you find the statement, “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” – Revelation 19:21

While a sword in the symbolic language of the Scriptures often represents the word of God [Hebrews 4:12], it is clear from other texts of Scripture that the wicked will be slain during the second coming. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Jesus is described as taking vengeance in “flaming fire” on “them that know not God and obey not the gospel.” This mirrors the way that the man of sin is slain by the “brightness of his coming.” [2 Thessalonians 2:8-9]. The reason behind the ‘super of the birds’ in Revelation 19 and Christ’s illustration of birds feasting upon carrion in Matthew 24 is simple. It is because the wicked will be destroyed at this point, slain and then reserved for their final punishment at a later time.

These texts of Scripture make it clear that there is no universal salvation. The entire world will not be converted before the coming of Christ, as some have taught in times past. But instead those who persistently refuse the gift of salvation offered by Jesus and his death on the cross will eventually be slain at the climax of this earth’s history. The choice that we have is one road or the other.


Part 4 will pick up from verse 29.

Matthew 24 – Part 2

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” – Matthew 24:14-16

These statements of Christ have been the subject of much speculation and confusion within Christendom. They’ve been interpreted to reference Antiochus IV Epiphanes who apparently sacrificed a pig in the temple and caused some problems for the Jews during the time period of the seleucid empire. Others believe this statement of Jesus refers to a future antichirst. It seems speculation and confusion abound when cryptic statements and symbolism are used in the Bible. This is most unfortunate as it often makes the task of the Bible Student difficult, especially as people fight tooth and nail for cherished theories and belief systems.

Proper deductions about what Jesus may be speaking about can first be gathered from the original context of Matthew 24, found in his statements about the temple in verses 1-2 and the question asked by the disciples in verse 3. Referring to the temple you may recall that Jesus said, “there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” which prompted the disciples to ask “when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” 

Based on this original context, it stands to reason thus that whatever the abomination is it automatically can be read as 1. A specific sign of the coming of Christ and 2. Something which relates to the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The text which immediately follows directly references “Judaea”, which Strong’s helps us make the deduction of as being “a region of palestine.” The instructions Christ was giving with regards to the abomination of desolation had direct application for Christians who were occupying this area at one particular point in time.

G2449
Ἰουδαία
Ioudaia
ee-oo-dah’-yah
Feminine of G2453 (with G1093 implied); the Judaean land (that is, judaea), a region of Palestine: – Juda.

It should be noted that Antiochus IV Epiphanes as a fulfilment of this text is eliminated for several reasons. First, this is outside of the original context of Matthew 24, which as shown relates to both the end of time and the future destruction of the Jewish temple. Antiochus has nothing to do with either event. At most, he historically sacrificed a pig inside of the temple and stirred up a hornet’s nest among the Jews [in the form of the Maccabees], but his actions would have no significance for Christians living in the time period after Christ, and thus could have no influence on their need to flee. Verse 16 therefore constitutes the second reason why this interpretation doesn’t fit the specifications of the text.

The third reason may be found in the timing of these events. Antiochus IV Epiphanes commited his actions well before Christ was ever on the scene. This can be demonstrated from the fact that some basic research on the man demonstrates that he was a king of the Seleucid Empire. The territory he would’ve been active in during his time was controlled by the Romans during the time of Christ. [Luke 2:1, Luke 3:1.] Since one existed well before the other, and Christ was obviously referring to something which in context had an application for those listening and us today, Antiochus IV Epiphanes has to be ruled out. He should be eliminated also on the grounds that it makes about zero sense that Scripture would put so much emphasis on an event which has of little consequence for us today.

The question of whether or not the abomination of desolation relates to a future antichrist at this point remains to be seen. Perhaps this may also be eliminated by the phrase “Judaea” in the passage which follows, although this statement given the original context of Matthew 24 cannot apply to that area and time period alone. In order to understand the meaning of this phrase, Christ gives us a clue as to where we may find answers. He states, “spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” The book of Daniel therefore logically holds the keys to understanding this symbol. In addition, the synoptic gospels may also hold keys which help unlock these mysterious statements of Christ.

Christians are not to be discouraged by this cryptic statement spoken by our Lord and savior. Christ plainly states in the passage “whoso readeth let him understand.” This implies strongly that we as Christians were meant to have an understanding of this passage. It is almost identical to the blessing pronounced on those who attempt to understand and read the book of Revelation. [Revelation 1:3.] Therefore in spite of it’s cryptic nature it can in fact be understood.

Other versions of this passage from the synoptic gospels do in fact provide more information. Notice especially that Luke 21 uses the same language of “desolation” but connects this terminology directly to armies that surround Jerusalem. A comparison of all three versions of this text shows that they all contain similar instruction, that once the predetermined sign was seen than those who were in Judaea should flee into the mountains.

The connections between Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are quite clear. Beyond the word “desolation” the setting of Jerusalem is mentioned, right before similar instruction is given immediately after Jerusalem is described as being compassed with armies. Other than being one of the synoptic gospels, Luke 21:20-21 is obviously connected to Matthew 24:15. The logical deduction to be drawn from here is that these texts actually help explain the meaning of this confusing passage from Matthew, showing that it would logically relate to the destruction of Jerusalem and ultimately the temple.

This interpretation would fit with the original context found in verses 1-3. But the second question asked by the disciples with regards to the signs of the end should also be considered. By default this would give the abomination of desolation a duel application relating 1. To the destruction of Jerusalem and 2. To the end of the world. Therefore we can expect that there is a past and future fulfilment with regards to this prediction of Christ.

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains; and let them which be in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.” – Luke 21:20-21

“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand), then let them that be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” – Mark 13:14

It should also be acknowledged that Luke 21 alone is not the sole key to understanding these cryptic statements. Jesus plainly pointed directly at the book of Daniel, and stamped on his statement “whoso readeth let him understand.” Therefore this is the second direction in which we may turn our heads to understand this passage. A concordance search reveals that there are several times in the book of Daniel in which the words “abomination” and “desolate” are used. As you can see from all of these texts below, they’re as equally cryptic as the first text.

“And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the Daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” – Daniel 11:31

“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” – Daniel 12:13

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” – Daniel 9:27

All three of these passages come from the book of Daniel, which Christ plainly pointed to as having the key to unlocking his meaning. Given the obvious wording, the logical deduction is that at least one or all of these texts would have some bearing on Christ’s intended meaning. This would be the case since he plainly pointed at the book of Daniel without giving a full explaination as to which passage he was referring. Therefore an understanding of each text would theoretically help unlock these words of Jesus.

The third passage, that being the 27th verse of Daniel 9, is a part of a series of texts known as “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks.” This Prophecy from the book of Daniel is misunderstood by many. One school of prophetic interpretation which is popular in this day and age interprets these texts as referring to a future Antichrist, who will restart the temple services and then cause them to cease. A seven year period of tribulation is also pulled out of these passages, particularly from the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” 

Daniel 9 seems to be a major diversion from Matthew 24, but it’s obvious relation to Christ’s statements gives verse 27 and the surrounding texts [with context considered] bearing on this subject. We will therefore divert from Matthew 24 to examine Daniel 9. Our attention in particular will now be turned to Daniel 9:24-27. The issue of the confusing seven years of tribulation, based largely in part on these texts will be examined, in addition to whether or not the passage references a one man antichrist power who is to come in the future. But especially our focus is on the meaning of the phrases “overspreading of abominations” and “maketh desolate.”


“Seventy Weeks are determined upon thy People and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconcilation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.” – Daniel 9:24

Reading from Daniel 9:1-23, there is enough background information evidently present to make the deduction that “thy people” is meant to address Daniel’s people. In this sense, that would obviously be the Jews or the people of Israel. By default, this would make “thy holy city” a reference to Jerusalem. It should be noted however that the book of Nehemiah directly refers to Jerusalem by the title “holy city”, eliminating any chance at speculation.

“And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of the ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.” – Nehemiah 11:1. 

Seventy Weeks are “determined upon thy people.” A time period encompassing seventy weeks in total is targeted at the Jews, and thus the entire timespan given [seventy weeks] relates to them alone. The rest of the chapter, as can be demonstrated from verses 25-27, divides this time period up into parts, attaching various events which are to take place during the divisions to them. Nevertheless the entire time period of seventy weeks clearly relates to the Jews in context, and has no other application.

Just exactly how long is seventy weeks? There are seven days in a week. Seven times seventy is 490, therefore there are 490 days in the entire seventy week timespan. According to Ezekiel and the book of Numbers, a day in prophetic symbolic language represents a year. Without this understanding, this prophecy cannot be properly understood. Therefore 490 days translates into 490 years, and the prophecy of seventy weeks stretches to that length. We can then see that a timespan of 490 years is “determined” upon the Jews.

“And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for year.” – Ezekiel 4:6

“After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know the breach of promise.” – Numbers 14:34

The entire purpose of this seventy week or 490 year timespan is stated in the same verse. It is given to “finish the transgression”, to “make an end of sins”, “to make reconcilation for iniquity”, and to “bring in everlasting righteousness”, to “seal up the vision and prophecy”, and to “anoint the most holy.” Right away it should be pretty clear from this language that none of this really has anything to do with a future antichrist, or seven years of tribulation. In fact, much of the language actually points to Christ’s mission and sacrifice. As we scroll through the rest of the verses, this will become much more apparent.

Pay close attention however to these facts. The word “iniquity” as noted in part 1 is typically in reference to sin, lawlesssness, law-breaking, or general wickedness. The Greek word where it was used in Matthew 24 reflected this general meaning in it’s definition, and the same is true of the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9:24. As shown below it means “perversity, that is (moral) evil.” The seventy week prophecy has to do with “reconcilation for iniquity.” Where else in Scripture are we told of a similar concept?

H5771
עָווֹן    עָוֹן
‛âvôn    ‛âvôn
aw-vone’, aw-vone’
From H5753; perversity, that is, (moral) evil: – fault, iniquity, mischief, punishment (of iniquity), sin.

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” – Romans 5:10

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given unto us the ministry of reconcilation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their tresspasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconcilation.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Terms like “reconcilation”, “reconciled”, and “reconcile” are words in Scripture which are generally connected to the concept of justification. As shown above, this is generally received through the death of Christ. Romans 5:10 demonstrates this fact rather clearly. It is therefore logical to conclude that the seventy week prophecy found in Daniel 9:24-27 has something to do with the death of Christ. This would be the only reconcilation for iniquity which in this particular case would be worth a prophecy about. Otherwise the system to which Daniel was familiar [that being the ceremonial/sacrificial system of the Jews] normally used sacrifices which pointed to a redeemer to come for this end, and thus no need would exist for there to be a predicted timespan of 490 years in order to bring such a thing in.

In addition, words such as “everlasting righteousness” and “to make an end of sins” point in a similar direction. The mere sound of the phrase “Everlasting righteousness” in and of itself seems to have a gospel flare to it, as does “reconcilation for iniquity”, and the statement “to make an end of sins” paints the same picture. In actual fact, “end of sins” carries a similar thought to a statement which John the Baptist made concerning Christ and his mission. “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29. 

The Seventy week prophecy therefore appears to relate to the mission of Christ. And as noted it is especially targeting Jerusalem, the Jews, and relates to the mission of the coming Messiah [hence “reconcilation for iniquity”, “bring in everlasting righteousness.”] Given the overall context of the 490 year or seventy week prophecy, forcing an interpretation of an antichrist to come into Daniel 9:24-27 is starting to appear much more far-fetched.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” – Daniel 9:25

“The going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” is a statement which theoretically would provide the starting date for the overall 490 year prophecy. The primary decree which fits these descriptions, that being the restoration and construction of Jerusalem, is found preserved in Ezra 7:11-28. In this command from Artaxerxes, there are descriptions given of treasure to beautify the house of God, civil power restored [through magistrates, judges, the ability to execute death-based punishments, the power to make laws], and an unlimited amount of people intent on going up to Jerusalem with Ezra. This decree would best fit the specifications given in the prophecy.

The timespans given from here are seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks. Verse 25 has now begun the breakdown of the overall seventy week prophecy. It should be noted for easier understanding that the word “threescore” is an old english word for “sixty”, and thus the time divided in this text is “62 weeks.” Seven plus sixty-two is sixty-nine, giving us around 483 years, when you apply the day for a year principle. 483 years stretches from the time of the construction and restoration of Jerusalem “unto Messiah the prince.”

The phrase “Messiah the prince” is another connecting link which points the finger straight at Jesus Christ. You could not find a clearer declaration of precisely who this prophecy is ultimately about. This ties in with the language given in verse 24 [“bring in everlasting righteousness” and “reconcilation for iniquity.”] Obviously Daniel 9:24-27 is a Messianic prophecy, which should be clear enough from the word “Messiah.” However, the words “the prince” are another connecting link to Christ. The title of “prince” is attached to Jesus in many locations across the Scriptures. Some might be somewhat surprised, and even think this interpretation of things incorrect, given that he is also referred to as “king of kings, and lord of lords” in 1 Timothy 6:14-16.

In spite of holding that title, he was referred to as a prince in the book of Acts. Isaiah also calls Jesus the “prince of peace”. The book of Revelation calls Jesus the “prince of the kings of the earth.” Jesus was also clearly identified as the Messiah in the new testament [John 1:41], and the word “Christ” even holds the definition of Messiah in Greek according to Strong’s Concordance. Since verses 24-25 unquestionably point to Jesus and his mission, we’re well on our way to putting away ideas of a future antichrist so far as these prophecies are concerned.

“The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” – Acts 5:30-31

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the Government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” – Revelation 1:5

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” – Daniel 9:26

After the passing of sixty-two weeks, “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himsef.” 62 times 7 is 434. There is a stretch of about 49 years or so which has been left out of verse 26 [that being the original seven weeks], which theoretically between verses 25-26 have passed, leaving 434 years. After the 434 year stretch, “shall Messiah be cut off.” The phrase “cut off” suggests that an individual, in this case the Messiah, is to be killed. In the book of Exodus, there are two passages in which God stated he would “cut off” the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Then these very nations are described as being destroyed in the book of Deuteronomy. The term “cut off” thus means to kill or destroy.

Other examples can be produced from multiple locations across the Scriptures in which the phrase “cut off” is used in the same sentence or passage as destroy, slay, or fall by the sword. This appears in the books of Amos, Micah, and Ezekiel. All of the relevant passages on this mysterious phrase “cut off” have been produced below. We can see thus that the Messiah was to be killed “but not for himself” implying that it was on the behalf of others. It is a well-known fact that Christ died so that “whosoever beleiveth in him” shall not perish but have everlasting life [John 3:16.] The death of Jesus on the cross was on behalf of others and in no way “for himself”, just as the prophecy specifies.

“But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.” – Exodus 22:22-23

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.” – Ezekiel 25:12-14

“But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:” – Deuteronomy 20:17

“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:” – Micah 5:7-10

“But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.” – Amos 1:7-8

After the time elements, Daniel 9:26 describes the “people of the prince” who were to come and to destroy the “city and the sanctuary.” What city and sanctuary are here being referred to? The context of Daniel 9:24-27 clearly references Daniel’s people and Jerusalem, and thus by default Jerusalem is the target which verse 26 has in mind. The “people of the prince” were to come and destroy both the city and the sanctuary. You may recall that in Matthew 24:2, Jesus stated clearly that concerning the temple there was not one stone upon another which was not going to be thrown down.

In view of these facts, already Daniel 9:24-27 is starting to connect with Matthew 24. All of the links so far are:

  1. Context. Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 25. When you scroll down to verse 26 you then have a vague reference to the destruction of a city and sanctuary. Context is about the only way that you can make a proper deduction as to what the target is, that being Jerusalem.
  2. The word “Sanctuary” paints an obvious picture of the temple. The sanctuary is here in verse 26 being destroyed by the “people of the prince”, and Jesus stated plainly in Matthew 24:2 that the temple would be completely destroyed.
  3. Since Jerusalem is in fact referenced in the context, it should be noted that Matthew 24:15 is explained by Luke 21:20-21 via the word “desolation”, defining the whole thing as being about the armies which were to compass Jerusalem. Verse 26, especially with it’s context, is describing the same event. [Hence “people of the prince” shall “destroy the city and the sanctuary” implies an army seeking to demolish them.]
  4. Jesus directly pointed to the book of Daniel in and of itself, which as we’ve seen contains at least three references to an abomination of desolation, or places where those two words “abomination” and “desolation/desolate” are used in one form or another. These words appear in verse 27 of Daniel 9, for which verse 26 forms the context, and thus the content of the two texts are connected.

Our attention next turns to the mysterious phrase “people of the prince.” On the surface, it would seem strange that the people of Christ would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary. This would be assuming that the “people of the prince” are indeed interpreted to be Christians, due to the obvious fact that “Messiah the Prince” is in reference to Christ. In a general sense Christians are a non-violent bunch of whom it would seem odd and even an evidence of apostasy that they would in fact attack Jerusalem and burn both it and the Jewish temple to the ground. But this is obviously not the case, especially in view of the fact that Luke 21:20-21 cited armies surrounding Jerusalem as a sign in which God’s people were to flee. They’re obviously not the ones conducting the siege if the siege itself is a sign that they should run for the hills.

In spite of the fact that “Messiah the Prince” is a clear reference to Jesus Christ, the term “people of the prince” is not in any way a reference to Christians. There is a series of passages in the book of Deuteronomy which actually help to unravel the meaning of this statement. In the midst of a series of blessings and curses pronounced on Israel if they would obey or otherwise, there is a statement which says “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth.” 

The “people of the prince” is a reference back to this curse, in which the Lord would use another nation to bring about a scourge ontop of Israel if they were not obedient. It is a statement of ownership over a tool which is being used as punishment. You might observe that these statements from Deuteronomy hold some links back to Daniel 9 and Luke 21:20-21. This is beacuase both clearly reference armies laying siege to Jerusalem, encompassing it, or coming to destroy the city and the sanctuary. Near the end of verse 52 of Deuteronomy 28, it states that “and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates.” It is logical to conclude either that these statements from Deuteronomy prophetically reference the destruction of Jerusalem foretold in Matthew as well, or that the same curse was carried over into New Testament times and fulfilled when the temple was destroyed.

“The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.” – Deuteronomy 28:49-52

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” – Daniel 9:27

The confirmation of the covenant was to take place for one week. “He” in context is a clear reference back to “Messiah the Prince”, which as we saw is a statement talking about Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus was to confirm the covenant with many for one week, which is aproximately a seven year stretch of time when the day/year principle is applied. In the middle of this week or seven year period, he was to cause the “sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” The Hebrew word for “midst” is defined as “the half or middle” by Strong’s. 7 divided by 2 is 3.5. Therefore after about a 3.5 period of time, the Messiah would cause the “sacrifice and the oblation” to cease.

H2677
חֵצִי
chêtsı̂y
khay-tsee’
From H2673; the half or middle: – half, middle, mid [-night], midst, part, two parts.

H4503
מִנְחָה
minchâh
min-khaw’
From an unused root meaning to apportion, that is, bestow; a donation; euphemistically tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering (usually bloodless and voluntary): – gift, oblation, (meat) offering, present, sacrifice.

It should be noted that after the death of Christ, the sacrificial system lost it’s significance and reached it’s end. Colossians 2:14-17 specifically speaks of the end of the sacrifical rites and how Christians no longer need to practice them due to the fact that they were nailed to the cross. In addition, during Christ’s death the veil of the temple was rent in half, signifying the end of the ceremonial system. [Matthew 27:51]. It would be logical thus to conclude that the sacrifice and the oblation ceasing and the Messiah cut off but not for himself are referencing the same event, that being the death of Christ on the cross.

Perhaps at this point it should be clear what the phrase “And he shall confirm the covenant” means, in view of the overall context and the surrounding statements. It would logically fall on the confirmation of the new covenant, which according to Scripture was confirmed via the ministry of Jesus. Note the passages below which help to clarify this fact by their use and answer of the same phrase found in Daniel, or of statements which hold a similar meaning.

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” – Matthew 26:28

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” – Romans 15:8

“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” – Galatians 3:17

Usually it is from the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” that some scholars derive the popular concept of the seven years of tribulation. This is done through inserting a gap of several thousand years inbetween the 69th and the 70th week, the application of the day for a year principle, and ripping the statement “And He” away from it’s original context and applying the words to a future antichrist. Obviously, in context the phrase “and he” is in reference to Messiah the prince, which I’ve conclusively proven is a statement referencing Jesus Christ. Thus the application of these statements to a future antichrist is far-fetched and not Biblical.

It should be noted that the statement “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” doesn’t even remotely sound like a period of tribulation in the slightest. An actual period of persecution foretold in Scripture, around Daniel 7:25, predicts that the little horn power was to “wear out the saints”. This is a statement which on it’s direct surface sounds like tribulation, persecution, and affliction. But to verify all you would have to do is go back to the Hebrew meaning of the word “wear” and see that it in fact references affliction. I’ve produced Strong’s definition of this word below for your perusal. In fact, I would go so far as to say that reading tribulation into “confirm the covenant” is nothing short of Eisegesis, at a level which is worse than taking the bear of Daniel 7 and claiming that it is Russia without scriptural evidence.

In addition, between verses 26-27 there is no indication that the 70th week is to be thrown thousands of years into the future. The non-existant gap is simply not there, and cannot be located even when you use a fine-toothed comb to pick apart the words of all four passages, and allow the Scriptures to explain themselves. Popular interpretations involving a secret rapture, a seven year period of tribulation, or a future Antichrist are not as Biblical as they might seem. To be clear, there is an Antichrist. You will find it plainly revealed in the book of Daniel that there is a little horn power, and two beasts in Revelation 13 whose actions have direct bearing on last day events. But popular notions of the Antichrist being a one-man hitler to come in the future are not as Scriptural as they may seem. Stick with me and you will see precisely how.

We now turn to the phrase “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate.” The words “abominations” and “desolate” are clear links back to Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20-21. As we saw from verse 26 and 25, these prophecies are under the clear context of the destruction of Jerusalem. “Desolations” is a word which is even used in verse 26, the same text which references the people of the prince destroying the city and the sanctuary. Luke 21, Daniel 9, and Matthew 24:15 therefore all-together reference the people of the prince who were to come and to destroy Jerusalem via a siege, as foretold by the curse in Deuteronomy 28.


If the past application of the abomination of desolation has to do with the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem, what is the future fulfilment? It is evident that there is in fact one, based on the overall context of Matthew 24. This is clear from the question asked by the disciples, “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” There are still two passages remaning in the book of Daniel which hold the potential keys to understanding this topic. However, the question remains, how does the abomination of desolation apply to God’s people in the future?

So far as Daniel 9 is concerned, if you’re interested in more information regarding these texts of the Scriptures, click here. The video below also will expand your understanding of Daniel 9, if you prefer to watch rather than read.

That said, part 3 will pick up our examination of Matthew 24.

Matthew 24 – Part 1

Having fixed my mind upon the second coming of Christ, I have found myself drawn to the study of the prophecies. Especially has my attention been absorbed by those which relate to this great event. In view of the fact that many have struggled to understand the cryptic language used in Bible Prophecy, I have felt it my duty to relate to you my findings in the study of this subject. It is my hope that all posts I write along these lines will encourage you in your own study of the Scriptures, as well as help you to come to a better understanding of God’s word.

This post on Matthew 24 is therefore meant as an introduction to a series of posts I am intent on writing, which will be written as my own personal “Bible Commentary” for your perusal on the Prophecies of the Scriptures. They will especially target books and passages which relate to the final events of this earth’s history and the books of Daniel & Revelation. However, there are some things I want you to understand about these commentary posts.

  1. Even though they’re based upon countless hours and even years of Biblical research and study, you cannot within reason rely solely upon them for all of the answers. You must study and research things for yourself.
  2. In order to encourage you to further research and study, I will not always give you all of the answers for a prophecy’s particular meaning and fulfilment in these articles. I will only give the full explanation where I deem it absolutely necessary that you have all of the information available on a topic relating to Bible Prophecy.
  3. I am a very detail oriented person and I have an analytical mind, which means you can expect my commentary posts to reflect those qualities. In other words, this could get very deep and complex at times. Try very hard to stick with me.
  4. It should be known that there have been revisions to my notes as I have grown in my understanding of the prophecies and the rest of the Scriptures. I am not a “know-it-all”, and I am not infallible in my interpretations of the Scriptures. These articles are subject to revision as I continue to grow and learn, just as my notes have been.
  5. Not everything which will appear in these posts is based on the exact content of my notes. Some of it will be studied as I write the post, other portions are strictly from memory.
  6. This is your official disclaimer. I am in writing this post assuming some familiarity with the Bible, and how to properly study it. If you do not know how to study your Bible, than you should read part one and two of my series on this subject. But this post is not necessarily designed for babes in Christ. For those just beginning their Christian walk, I would recommend studying a variety of other subjects before taking on anything to do with final events.

That being said, it is my hope that my commentary on the prophecies based on my notes will be of great benefit to you. Therefore from this point forward I ask that you crack open your Bibles and engage in prayer to the Lord for guidance, as we embark on a study of God’s word.


“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” – Matthew 24:1-2

Some helpful background information for understanding these passages can be drawn from the preceding chapters of the book of Matthew. Around the 21st chapter is recorded an event known as the “triumphal entry”, in which Jesus is depicted as entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The entire account can be read in Matthew 21:1-11. It should be noted that in verses 12-17, Christ entered the temple and from there onto this point had yet to leave. Everything which follows in chapters 22-23 is simply a record of Christ’s teachings and parables while in the temple, and his denunciations of the Pharisees. You then arrive at verse 1 of Matthew 24 and he exits the temple.

Under that context, it should be clear that the temple mentioned in verse 1 of Matthew 24 is the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. This would make Christ’s statement in the second verse a statement of its total destruction. Jesus is here depicted as giving a prophecy indicating that the temple was to be destroyed. These two passages of Matthew 24, as will be shown, actually form the context of a question the disciples were to ask Christ, and events described further into the chapter.

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:3-5

Jesus exits the temple in Matthew 24:1, predicts its destruction, and then sits on the mount of olives. Afterwards his disciples come to him asking, “when shall these things be?” The phrase “these things” is under the clear context of the previously examined texts. The disciples were after information regarding the timing of the destruction of the temple. But their question seemed to embrace more than this subject alone. It encompassed “the end of the world” and “the sign of thy coming.”

Christ had already come the first time. He stood directly before them as they asked him this question. Thus they obviously had some future time in mind. In view of this fact, it is logical to conclude that their question is targeting the signs of the second advent and the end of the world. It also clearly targets the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. As Christ answers their questions, he makes no clear distinction between the events. The most logical deduction is that he has mingled descriptions of both events together. This will become clearer as we examine the rest of the passages of Matthew 24.

Jesus opens his answer to their questions by saying, “take heed that no man deceive you.” He then immediately follows by saying, “for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” The obvious reason for his warning with regards to deception can be derived from his statement that people will come, claiming to be Christ. In recent times, there have been more than a few people who’ve arrived on the scene claiming that they were in fact Jesus. It has been said that some have even gone on talk shows with the claim. Others have apparently gained large followings in times past.

Yet when the comparison is made with other passages, one cannot help but feel that something deeper is targeted here. Perhaps the occasional insane blasphemous narcissist trying to get his fifteen minutes of fame is not all that Christ had in mind when he gave this warning. While these passages undeniably hold equal force and weight when it comes to such persons, simply just the statement “take heed that no man deceive you” should be enough to cause the followers of Christ to pause and contemplate that warning carefully.

What do other Bible passages teach about deception in connection with the final events of Bible Prophecy? This would undeniably relate to the subject in question, as the disciples have clearly asked about the signs of the coming of Christ and the end of the world. Thus other texts which speak of the deceptions of the last days automatically relate to this warning to “take heed that no man deceive you.”

“And then shall that wicked be revealed, Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God almighty.” – Revelation 16:13-14

Notice the descriptions given in 2 Thessalonians by Paul the apostle. The context of chapter 2 [verses 2-6] indicate that the phrase “that wicked” is in reference to the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, and the son of perdition. A separate study would be required to identify this “son of perdition”, but it is noted that as we scroll down to verses 8-9 again this power is to be destroyed by the “brightness of his coming”, that being the second coming of Christ. The word “his” in verse 8 is, by context obviously referencing the statement “whom the Lord shall consume”. Thus as you come to verse 9, “even him” is still in reference to our Lord Jesus.

The passage then states “whose coming is after the working of Satan.” Verse 9 is positioning the second advent chronologically after the working of the devil with signs, power, and ‘lying wonders.’ It should be noted that terms like “signs” and “wonders” are often connected to miraculous phenomenon in Scripture. In Mark 16:17, Jesus said “these signs shall follow them that believe” before listing phenomenon such as casting out devils and the ability to speak with “new tongues”. [The second of which appears in the book of acts, where the holy spirit essentially acted as a universal translator. See Acts 2:4-11]. Thus the word “sign” where it is appropriate with the context can be applied to a miracle. In the book of Acts and Hebrews, the word “wonders” is listed in the same sentence as “miracle” or “miracles.” [Acts 15:12, Hebrews 2:4].

The working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders is in reference to the miracle-working power of the devil. The sequence of the coming of Christ is said to be directly after this deceptive working of Satan. The positioning of these events, which is to take place before the second coming, should be sufficient to add some illumination to Christ’s warning about deception. Before Christ comes back the second time, deceptive miracles will be performed. Are we as Christians at a point in which we’re ready to ignore everything our senses are telling us in order that we may place faith in and follow the word of God alone?

This text from 2 Thessalonians is not the only non-gospel new testament warning about deception. While the new testament abounds with numerous warnings about false teachers and prophets, in Revelation 16 there is a very specific prophetic prediction relating to deceptions of the last days. As shown above, verses 13-14 of Revelation 16 depict three ‘unclean spirits’ coming out of the mouth of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. It is beyond the scope of this article to identify all three of these symbols, but suffice it to say that at least one of them can be unraveled by Revelation 12:9, which identifies the dragon as Satan. Daniel 7:23 seems to suggest that a beast is to be defined as a kingdom in Bible Prophecy, and thus we have some incomplete identification of at least two of these symbols.

Verse 14 automatically associates these “unclean spirits” with devils, in fact it directly identifies them as such. Demons are poured out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of Satan at the end of time, as well as out of the mouth of the false prophet. The very next event is that they go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, gathering them together for the last battle of that great day of God almighty. The kings of the earth are obviously earth’s leadership or rather the rulers of countries, as can be deduced from the plain language employed in the text.

The wording of “and of the whole world” is slightly confusing, and on its surface appears like a redundancy. In actual fact, the whole world and the kings of the earth are two separate things. The devils not only go forth to the rulers of earth, but to the general populace as well. They’re described as “working miracles” and having the purpose of as noted gathering them “to the battle of the great day of God almighty.” Miracles are worked by devils in order to gather the rulers of earth and its general populace into a battle. Precisely what battle might this text be in reference to?

Investigating the key phrases of this text may help us find the answer to this question. The first key is found in the phrase “day of God”, which appears also in 2 Peter 3:12. Another can be derived from the fact that the kings are here clearly gathered together for a battle. Is there another place in Scripture where the kings of the earth are gathered for a battle in which the Lord is involved?

2 Peter 3:12 states, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be disolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” Two verses above, 2 Peter 3:10 gives descriptions of the “day of the Lord” which the passages state is to come as a “thief in the night.” The text then goes on to use similar descriptions as those found in verse 12, that being especially of the elements melting with fervent heat, the heavens passing away with a great noise, and the earth being burned up. The expressions “day of the Lord” and “day of God” are thus obviously connected with the end of the world. The obvious reference to fire is also a link back to the second coming of Christ, in which Jesus is described as taking vengeance on those who obey not the gospel “in flaming fire” [2 Thessalonians 1:7-9].

Another time in which the kings of the earth are gathered to make war against God is found in Revelation 19. In verse 19, they are described as being gathered together to make war “against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” Verses 11-16 provide the context, giving the much-needed background information. Much of the key words in these texts help us to see that the events described in this chapter relate to the second coming of Christ, that the one who sits on the white horse is Jesus, and that the kings of the earth are gathered for war against him. The way in which they’re gathered together for battle against God mirrors the way in which the demons gather them for battle in Revelation 16. Based on this evidence, the logical deduction is that the phrase “the battle of that great day of God almighty” is the final battle of this earth’s history, with its climax at the second coming.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, king of kings, and Lord of Lords.” – Revelation 19:11-16 [See 1 Timothy 6:14-16, Revelation 3:14, Revelation 1:12-17, John 1:1-2 for the proofs that this is in reference to Jesus Christ.]

Miracle working power is used as a means of gathering the world and the kings of the earth for this battle. This strongly implies a deception taking place at the end of time which uses miraculous phenomenon as its primary vehicle. These texts from Revelation 16, 2 Thessalonians, and Matthew 24 all line up with each other. Although Christ mentioned people claiming to be him as the reason for his warning with regards to deception, it is clear from other texts of Scripture that the statement “take heed that no man deceive you” may hold greater significance than perhaps we give it credit for. According to Scripture, the deceptions coming are nothing short of really bad. There is a definite need to be grounded in the word in order to be prepared to stand up to what is coming.

But according to 2 Thessalonians, there is actually more to it than a deep understanding of the word. According to verses 10-12, we need a love of the truth. “And with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

You may understand the reasons of your faith and be well-grounded. But if you do not love the truth, you might willfully accept something you would otherwise have known to be wrong. Some while unacquainted with the evidences pointing to truth, would still rather choose deception, for the truth interferes with the sinful practices that the carnal heart loves. Beyond having a thorough grounding in the word, it all comes down to the motives of the human heart. If you want to do and believe something which you know to be wrong, than Satan is happy to supply deceptions with even miraculous phenomenon to support them. If we love the truth over deception however, than we can be in a position similar to what Christ described: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” – John 7:17. 

At the same time, these facts do not lessen the importance of a thorough understanding of your Bible. Without being well conversant with the Scriptures, you may still be swept up by the powerful delusions of the last days, even if you want to do what is right. You should not only know the reasons of your faith, but be well enough acquainted with Scripture to where you can detect when something is quoted out of context, read esiegetically, or twisted outside of its original meaning.

Another point is the danger of reliance on miraculous phenomenon. Isaiah 8:20 presents a test by which we can be sure that something is true or false, and it is “to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Emotional religion relies on experiences. There is a tendency in Christendom to put too much stock in impressions, dreams, miracles, the supposed hearing of voices, and other apparent signs or wonders. Reliance on these things as a test of what is true or false, as well as in substituting them in the place of Bible study [as has been the case with impressions and the supposed hearing of voices] is dangerous. The warnings about Satan’s miraculous working at the end of time should be sufficient to give the Christian pause about blind acceptance of miracles as a test, and drive them to Bible Study to be sure of the exact source of such phenomenon. I would even be very guarded in how one makes reference to such things, lest you open a door for the devil to ensnare you.

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:5

“And he said, take heed that ye be not deceived, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near, go ye not therefore after them.” – Luke 21:8

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are typically referred to as the synoptic gospels. This is because they go over the same stories and information, but often at times include an expansion of details. Especially as you go over Matthew 24, studying them all together can greatly expand your understanding of the same passages. In this case the chapters of interest are Mark 13 and Luke 21, both closely following the content of Matthew 24, but expanding on the details given. In verse 8 of Luke 21, an identical warning of people claiming to be Christ may be found. It adds the statements, “and the time draweth near” and “go ye not therefore after them.”

The only time of significance related to this subject matter is that of Christ’s second coming. As we begin to see people coming onto the scene claiming to be Jesus, according to Luke 21 this is a sign that the time is drawing near. But perhaps terms like “many” indicate that there will not only be an abundance of people making this claim, but that there will be just as many who will be deceived by their claims. The majority of Christians in this day and age are able to see through attempts at deception, for this reason I would suspect that Christ had something much worse in mind than the occasional weirdo claiming to be him. In view of his command to not go after them, I would suspect that it doesn’t matter whether or not it is the occasional insane blasphemous narcissist or something much more deceptive, we’re not to follow after them.

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – Matthew 24:6-8

We have now transitioned from predictions with regards to deception and people claiming to be Jesus into what is often believed to be the vaguest prophecies in all of the Bible. Everything else is usually very specific, but these passages are very vague and general. Theoretically, because of their vagueness, you could apply them to almost any war, famine, earthquake, or pestilence that arises upon the earth and make the claim that Jesus is soon to return. The question then arises, why so vague? Did Christ have something much more specific in mind?

It is important to note that close attention should be given to the succession of this list. War, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes have been given one after another. All of them are in the plural, indicating that there is to be more than one which will occur. You might observe that in the book of Job, there was a time period in which Satan was given a green light to do his thing by God. In Job 1 and verses 6-22 you can read of this story. Especially it should be noted that the abuse Satan was allowed to heap upon Job occurred in rapid fire succession. Is there any reason to believe that as we approach the final events of this earth’s history the signs thus described by Christ will not occur in the same manner? When Satan is no longer barred from causing mass destruction, perhaps we can be sure of the fact that such movements will be in rapid fire.

Almost everyone who is confronted with these events as signs of the times will state that these things have always been around. I would say that such is a truthful statement, for even the Bible itself acknowledges this. Many Scriptural examples of wars fought may be gathered from the historical books of the Bible, from Genesis on. The same may be said of Famines. A couple of specific examples may be read in Genesis 14, and Genesis 41:48-50. I would suspect that not just any war, famine, or earthquake is targeted by these predictions but instead a rapid fire succession of events. This would add some illumination to Christ’s statement not to be troubled, as I would suspect things might get rather crazy and hair-raising when it comes to these particular problems as we approach the end.

Wars and rumors of wars is a statement which stretches to include not only the conflict itself, but also the rumor of it. There may be many stories of war floating around as we approach the end of time. We may even hear of conflict abroad. As noted previously, both are in the plural implying that there is to be many of these things. Jesus then clearly states that “all these things must come to pass” and “the end is not yet.” The language employed implies that conflict must take place, and though this may be occurring we have yet to hit the climax of things.

He also includes a statement that we’re not to be troubled by these things. By itself, perhaps war is something which can bring great disturbance to the anxious troubled heart. Christ’s words are meant as an encouragement for those who might be distressed as they observe the warfare taking place on this planet at the end of time. No doubt, the extreme nature of the events thus listed as signs would cause any man to be afraid as they are observed. Than it is clear that Jesus here meant to encourage his people by telling them not to be troubled when see these things happening. This also implies that the events described are of such an extreme nature as to cause distress in the first place, otherwise Jesus would have no need of making such a statement.

“But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.” – Luke 21:9

Luke 21 expands on some of the details used in Matthew 24, stating that these things “must first come to pass.” It also adds “commotions” in the place of the rumors of wars. The word “commotions” is vague enough to apply to almost any troublous phenomenon taking place, and is perhaps how Christ meant it to be taken. But paying close attention, the words “these things must first come to pass” would lead one to believe that these events are to occur first before the end comes.

Afterwards Jesus goes on to describe nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom in Matthew 24:7. On the surface this statement bears the appearance of a redundancy. But it should be acknowledged that the term “nation” as used in Scripture does not necessarily reference a country in the sense that we today would picture it doing so. According to the Greek, the term is “a race, that is, a tribe, specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one.” The logical deduction is that one nation rising against another is race or tribal based conflict, whereas kingdom vs kingdom refers to typical conflict between countries. Theoretically “nation against nation” might be applied to ethnic-based warfare, or fighting similar to the tribe of Judah fighting against Manassah, which would be sort of like a civil war in a way.

G1484
ἔθνος
ethnos
eth’-nos
Probably from G1486; a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

Famine and pestilence are the next signs on the list alongside earthquakes in diverse places. Pestilence is obviously disease, whereas famine is a scarcity of food typically coupled with starvation. An earthquake of course needs no explanation. Though it is interesting to note that at the end of earthquakes we find the phrase “in diverse places”, implying that they’re to be widespread across many locations rather than just in one place. Luke 21:10-11 provides a greater expansion of details. Verse 10 adds “great earthquakes” into the equation, implying that we’re not dealing with your typical everyday 1.0 that is barely felt, but that we can probably expect larger earthquakes that cause a great deal of damage and suffering. These also are in ‘diverse places’, again implying that we’ll see very destructive earthquakes widespread across the globe. One can only speculate as to the amount of destruction this would cause.

Luke 21:11 adds several signs to the list, taking things beyond simply just wars, earthquakes, pestilences, and famines. “Fearful sights” and “great signs” from heaven make their way onto the list. This bears the suggestion of fearful miraculous phenomenon, possibly to the level of essentially being crazy, hair-raising, and striking extreme levels of fear into people’s hearts. [Hence “fearful sights.”] Mark 13:8 also adds the word “troubles” alongside famines, which is as equally vague as “commotions.” These terms could be applied to almost any trouble or problems which may appear to be coming down the pike, and so the Christian should be careful not to chase after headlines or speculate and instead attempt to discern whether or not Christ had something specific in mind when he made these statements.

The words for “troubles” and “commotions” have reference to instability and tumult. I would suspect that when Christ used these words, he had something such as what one would normally consider civil unrest in mind. This may be gathered as one pays close attention to the Greek definitions for these two words, as shown below. Although I would caution one not to read our modern definitions of civil unrest into the Bible, the meanings of these words definitely paints a picture of rioting and general chaos. This is pictured alongside war, famine, earthquakes, and other disasters.

G181
ἀκαταστασία
akatastasia
ak-at-as-tah-see’-ah
From G182; instability, that is, disorder: – commotion, confusion, tumult.

G5016
ταραχή
tarachē
tar-akh-ay’
Feminine from G5015; disturbance, that is, (of water) roiling, or (of a mob) sedition: – trouble (-ing).

In both Matthew and Mark, these things are termed “the beginning of sorrows.” The events portrayed up to this point, as disturbing as the picture may seem by itself, is only the beginning. There are perhaps more “sorrows” to come in addition to the picture here painted, but our hearts are still not to be troubled or terrified according to the word of Christ.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” – Matthew 24:9-11

The term “afflicted” is an archaic old english word, which many today probably are not familiar with. For a better unraveling of its meaning, one should note that Isaiah 53, which is a prophecy that relates to Jesus, uses the term in connection with what would happen to him. Around verse 4 of Isaiah 53 it states, “yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Most Christians are familiar with the crucifixion of Christ, in which he was ‘scourged’ before being nailed to the cross. [Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:15.] The term “afflicted” or “affliction” is also used by Paul in connection with persecution at least twice [2 Corinthians 4:7-17, Philippians 1:12-16.]

This would logically imply that God’s people [that being “you”] are being delivered up to be beaten or scourged in some way. The phrase “deliver you up” means you are being given over to and brought forth for the purposes listed, that being to be afflicted and killed. Torture and execution are pictures painted in my mind by these words. “And shall kill you” definitely implies the presence of martyrdom as we approach the end of time. Stephen, who was stoned in the book of Acts [Acts 7:58-60], is an example of martyrdom taking place well before these events described by Jesus. Thus by default not every case of martyrdom and persecution that occurs in the world is a direct sign of the end, theoretically these things have always been present in the world.

The statement “and shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” perhaps sheds some light on the issue. All nations is a phrase which implies all tribes or races of the earth will hate God’s people. In theory, this could be the reason for delivering Christ’s followers up to be afflicted and killed, because they hold a strong hatred for the people of the Lord. This phrase might also point to persecution on a world-wide or perhaps global scale, if it may indeed be looked at as the motivation for the persecution thus described.

It should be noted however that although Martyrdom is a possibility which Christ’s followers will face as they approach the end, not everyone will be martyred. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 plainly describes those of us who are “alive and remain” at the coming of Christ, implying that there will be some of the followers of Jesus who will survive the persecutions of the last days, and will go through until the very second coming of Jesus.

Verse 10 of Matthew 24 follows by saying that “many shall be offended.” Again this is another confusing old english word. To take offense at something in our modern vocabulary is to be insulted. This is not what Christ had in mind when he said “many shall be offended.” Matthew 26 actually explains this confusing and mysterious phrase for us, and illuminates this text of Matthew 24.

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” – Matthew 26:31-34

“But this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.” – Matthew 26:56. 

The term “offended” as used in Matthew 24 appears, as shown above, in Matthew 26. There it is used in the context of a prediction of something Christ’s followers were to do that night. Jesus’ quotation of the smitten shepherd whose flock is scattered abroad is a clue as to what he had in mind, given that Jesus referred to himself as the “good shepherd”. [John 10:11] But as you scroll into the dialog between Peter and Christ, things become much more clear. Peter claims that he would “never be offended” to which Jesus replied that he would deny him three times that night. The reply of Christ is obviously aimed at answering Peter’s statement, which by default connects the word “offended” to a denial of Christ. Later in the chapter, the disciples are described as forsaking Christ and fleeing. Thus to be offended is to deny Jesus and to forsake him in time of persecution.

Matthew 24:10 predicts that “many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” This prediction is implying that a large degree of the followers of Christ are to be offended and to forsake him as time of persecution arises. Those who have not acquired an experience that would enable them to stand in Christ alone during such a time are likely to apostatize as events unfold, for when they’re confronted with martyrdom or possibly torture they may shrink.

It should also be noted that the passage references those who will betray one another. Mark 13:12 and Luke 21:16 expand on this predicted betrayal. In Mark the brother is predicted to betray the brother, the father betrays the son, and the children rise up against the parents and cause them to be put to death. Luke 21 simply states that you’ll be betrayed by brethren, parents, kinsfolk, and friends. The implication is that you cannot trust anyone because parents, friends, and family will betray you in the end. The mutual hatred and betrayal across the board encountered perhaps by both secular people and Christ’s followers [neither are really specified in any of these passages] indicates not only a breakdown of society, but also the possibility that you cannot even trust those with whom you attend Church. You must be prepared to stand in Christ alone, putting your trust in him and letting loose of all reliance on other people.

Scrolling to Matthew 24:11, it should be noted that Christ warned about false prophets twice in the entire chapter. The second warning appears in Matthew 24:24, where Jesus states that they will show “great signs and wonders.” As stated before, miraculous phenomenon is no test as to whether or not something is true or false. Specifically addressing the issue of whether or not some one is a genuine or false prophet, Deuteronomy 13 presents the scenario of such a person arising. They come forward with a sign or wonder, which appears to “come to pass”, and then make the heretical statement “Let us go after other Gods.” Deuteronomy 13 then warns not to follow them. [Deuteronomy 13:1-4.]

Isaiah 8:20 as well as Matthew 7:15-20 present tests by which you can be enabled to see through those claiming to be Prophets. But much like with the deception discussed at the beginning of the chapter, you must be well grounded in your Bible in order to properly apply the tests. If you do not have a thorough understanding of your Bible, you may inadvertently believe that something is true when it is actually false.

Yet again, in the case of Matthew 24:11 it should be noted that the word “many” is used twice. An abundance of false prophets are to arise as we approach the end, who are to deceive many. The 24th verse adds not only the great signs and wonders, but the possibility that they could “if it were possible, deceive the very elect.” Huge amounts of people will be deceived by these false prophets, whose work will be marked with deceptive miracle-working power, and whose deceptions are clearly aimed at God’s people.

It should be acknowledged that the phrase “if it were possible” in Matthew 24:24 should not be read as though it is impossible for God’s people to be deceived. This attitude would bear similarities to a ‘once saved, always saved’ view of salvation, which as will be shown in a later article is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead the phrase should be compared with Romans 12:18, which states “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This text from Paul’s writings is not meant to convey the idea that it is impossible to live peaceably with all men, instead it is suggesting that every effort should be forth for this end. Thus “if it possible” as used in Matthew 24 is more suggesting that every effort is going to be put forth by these false prophets to deceive the very elect, rather than it being impossible for the elect to be deceived by their signs and wonders.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” – Matthew 24:12-14

Iniquity is a generic term in the Bible for sin, lawlessness, or general wickedness. This can be demonstrated from the Greek, as shown below. This is to abound or increase as we approach the end of time, leading to a “love of many” waxing “cold.” The Greek word for Love as shown below in this case is “Agape” which more references benevolence than anything else. Temperatures, as depicted in the Bible by terms like “cold” or “hot”, are sometimes used to signify the intensity of zeal or love that a person has, or to give a description of their spiritual state. One example of this is found in Revelation 3:15-16, in which the Lukewarm state is attributed to Laodicea. With Love said to grow cold as a result of abounding iniquity, this prediction is suggesting that people will start to love and care about each other less and less because of an increasing wickedness and moral depravity in the world.

G458
ἀνομία
anomia
an-om-ee’-ah
From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

G26
ἀγάπη
agapē
ag-ah’-pay
From G25; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.

The next passage that follows states that “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” As we’ve shown in other articles on this blog, we’re expected to endure the trials of the last days. We as Christians will not receive extraction from this earth until after these events foretold in Matthew have transpired. The promise is that if you stand through the trial, you will have salvation. Not that you will receive rescue to pull you out of the mess. This would fit with Biblical pictures seen elsewhere in Scripture, showing that God doesn’t always necessarily extract his people when the going gets rough. See Noah and his family hiding in the ark in the midst of the storm, and observe Daniel’s three companions tossed in the fiery furnace and preserved from harm while inside the flame. [Genesis 7:1-24, Daniel 3:8-30]

Verse 14 then states that “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” This statement plainly declares that once the gospel is preached throughout the world, then the end will come. It should be observed that back in verse 6 it was clearly stated that “the end is not yet.” This was after it was declared that there would be wars and rumors of wars. Everything afterwards is also plainly stated to be the “beginning of sorrows” until you arrive at descriptions of the persecutions. The implication is that these things may be going on, yet the end has not yet arrived. Additionally, the gospel is said to be preached in the entire world and “then” shall the end come. This implies that the disastrous events mentioned earlier in Matthew 24 are not necessarily held back by the gospel not having been preached in all of the world yet. Therefore wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, famines, pestilences, commotions, and troubles may all be going on and yet the gospel has yet to reach every corner of the globe.


You might observe this post is titled “part 1”. This is because I made the accurate deduction that writing a commentary on Matthew 24 would have to be a series of posts due to the length of the posts themselves. Many commentary posts will likely take on this format, as there is no doubt in my mind that they will be quite long. Splitting them up into a multi-part series is the best way to attempt to keep the posts at a decent size, although this one turned out long. My commentary on Matthew 24 will be continued in part 2.

Who Needs Prophecy?

I once overheard an individual state that they could not understand the book of Revelation. In frustration they said that they were unable to sort out whether the rapture would take place before, in the middle of, or after the seven years of tribulation. Confused by the deep symbolism found in the prophetic books of the Bible, especially Revelation as noted, they seemed to be close to giving up. It is unfortunate to stumble across this, especially when I myself have been a close student of prophecy, and have spent a great deal of time studying the particular book in question. It saddens me to see Christians about ready to give up on prophecy due to a struggle to understand the Bible.

But I do understand the problems which lead to that final decision to not bother studying Revelation. It seems there are quite a few cryptic symbols in the pages of holy writ. Bible Prophecy in general tends to be characterized by deep symbolism, as though many of the prophetic books of the Bible were written in code. Perhaps if the book of Revelation were written this way, it would make sense. Deep symbolism used as a form of a code protects the messages of the Bible, which otherwise would not bypass the scrutiny of persecutors, especially if any of them are mentioned in the prophecies of holy writ.

But unfortunately this places Christians in the position of having to decipher the codes of Bible Prophecy, in order to understand the messages that God has given to us. As noted, some seem to struggle with the task, and even give up, especially due to confusion from pre-established viewpoints and where they fit into the scope of final events. Alongside the cryptic nature of prophetic books of the Bible, it would seem there are as many views of prophecy as there are denominations in Christendom. If this is indeed the case, what is the Christian to do?

We need not be discouraged by the cryptic symbols of the Bible. God never intended for deep symbolism to be a hindrance to the faithful Bible student. The book of Revelation itself contains a promise for those who read it, which says: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” – Revelation 1:3. 

There is therefore a blessing pronounced on those who attempt to undertake the study of this specific prophetic book. Other Bible promises are also well suited to the different prophetic chapters, parables, dreams, and visions across the Scriptures. James 1:5, Mark 11:24, and John 16:13 could perhaps bring encouragement to struggling students of Bible Prophecy.

The abundance of views concerning prophecy however are a different matter. An example of this boils down to issues surrounding the rapture, the seven years of tribulation, the sequence of the rapture, and other events connected to prophecy. This is in addition to the fact that while some say all of prophecy will be fulfilled in the future, others teach it was all fulfilled in the past. Prophecies surrounding the antichrist are made to be about one man who will stamp out religion with Hitler-like fury [thus bringing about the seven years of tribulation], or it is claimed that he was Nero during the days of the Roman persecutions.

As stated above, even those who hold to the idea of the rapture cannot agree as to whether it will occur before the tribulation, during the tribulation, or after the tribulation. It creates a quagmire for the Christian to wade through and struggle with as they sit back confused, trying to determine which of the views is correct. This is where I want to make a radical suggestion.

I do not want to be perceived as though I personally hold to disbelief in the second coming of Christ. That would unquestionably be nothing short of heresy. But if any of the multitudes of views regarding prophecy have confused you and made it difficult to study Bible Prophecy and final events, I want to encourage you. I would suggest that you for the moment forget about trying to learn the sequence of the rapture in relation to the tribulation.

If you do not live in a country where there is a lot of persecution, take advantage of your religious freedom. Think and study for yourself freely in spite of what anyone at your church believes, teaches, or preaches. I propose that you conduct an experiment in which you lay aside all pre-determined views of Bible Prophecy. This includes the rapture, its sequence [pre-trib, post-trib, or mid-trib], the idea of a one-man antichrist, whether or not he will come in the future or if he was Nero, and any other views which you know other people personally hold.

After doing this, take every Bible Commentary in your house and put them in a place in which you will not be tempted to use them. You do not want their ideas to become your own. Then get down on your knees and spend some time in prayer. Claim the promises listed here in this post [Revelation 1:3, Mark 11:24, John 16:13, James 1:5]. After that, take a concordance or Bible search engine and dive into the word of God. Use the methods of study outlined on this blog. Then let me know if this helps you to better understand the teachings of Scripture on these points for yourself.

But beyond this, the difficulties of established views and cryptic symbolism may trigger some to ask why Christians should even bother studying prophecy in the first place? Afterall shouldn’t we just focus on evangelism? Would salvation not be a better study for the Christian to dwell on? Perhaps these seem like good questions on the surface, but in reality they convey the idea that prophecy is somehow unimportant, or that other matters should receive more attention from the Christian. Evangelism for instance can be supported and made more effective by a thorough study of the prophecies in connection with history.

The particular school of prophetic interpretation you believe in has an influence on this. However the ability to demonstrate the fulfilment of Bible Prophecy in history is something which has won souls in the past. This is because it in effect proves the inspiration of Scripture, and provides facts and evidence upon which a person may base their faith and make intelligent decisions for the truth. When supported by evidence that the events actually occurred in history, and the books were written before the events took place, than the Christian is equipped with powerful arguments in support of the truth.

Thus abandoning the study of prophecy because it is more important that we “focus on evangelism” is like going into battle without a sword, armor, or a shield. As for Salvation, it is of course important that every Christian, especially those engaged in evangelism, have a thorough understanding of the nuts and bolts of how to be saved. I can agree that everything else should be put on hold until you understand this, but some reach a state in their Christian experience where they do understand these issues. Therefore it is a little ridiculous to use salvation as a means of dismissing the study of the prophecies. The term “excuse” comes to mind.

But effectiveness in evangelism is not the only reason Christians should consider studying prophecy. It constitutes one of the reasons, as when one studies the issue thoroughly enough a powerful argument for apologetics is produced. But note what Peter had to say about the matter.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” – 2 Peter 1:19

It would seem that the “sure word of prophecy” is something that Christians would do well to pay attention to. This is clear from Peter’s words “whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” Other versions render this literally as, “and you will do well to pay attention to it.” Scripture teaches that prophecy is to receive our attention, thus I would suggest that no Christian who is serious about their faith can dismiss the prophecies of Scripture in favor of other concerns. Beyond Peter’s admonition to pay attention to prophecy, consider the following.

The prophecies surrounding the second coming of Christ contain numerous warnings about deception. You can see these warnings in passages such as Matthew 24:4-5, 24:11, 24:23-24, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9. That knowledge would lead us to seek to be thorough Bible students in general and to practice discernment, but you would not have this knowledge unless you had taken the time to study prophecy. It may also leave you without an understanding of what needs to happen in your life in order for you to achieve a readiness for the final events.

If we take also for instance the prophecies surrounding the mark of the beast, a thorough understanding of these issues might also help you to avoid receiving it yourself. You would be capable of discerning precisely what the mark is, and have a decent enough knowledge of how to escape it. But a neglect of attempting to study them would leave you without that knowledge. Thus you would be unable to identify it when it arrives, and could theoretically be deceived into receiving it.

A thorough understanding of the prophecies connected to the final events is undeniably of great benefit to the Christian. In view of this fact, if you’ve ever felt frustrated at the deep symbolism and the varying beliefs regarding the prophecies, take courage. A study of prophecy is not only beneficial but important, and therefore it is worth a little perseverance on your part.

The Importance Of Bible Study

“What have you been studying out of your Bible lately?”

To many within Christendom, this would seem an unanswerable question. It is as though some irrefutable argument was thrown at them, and they’re squirming to respond with solid logic. The reason for this is of course obvious, they haven’t been studying their Bibles. Searching the Scriptures seems to be a neglected and forgotten practice in the Churches of today. A variety of reasons are usually cited, from not having the time to not knowing how.

At one time, I had the opportunity of attending a group Bible study at another Church. It was aimed dominantly at young people, and I was invited to it by a couple of friends. Rather than an interactive study as I was typically used to from my own Church, this seemed more like a sermon with some discussion that followed than anything. One of the people who I met from here remarked, “I don’t need to study the Bible. It’s not like it’s a salvation issue!”

Evidently this individual did not consider Bible study to be important enough to be ranked as something effecting their salvation. To this day such a statement causes me to smack my palm against my face as a reaction to what was said by this person. Bible Study is perhaps more important than we as Christians give it credit for, and it does indeed have an impact on our personal salvation.

Without even addressing the act of searching the Scriptures itself, there is the fact that the Bible teaches precisely how to be saved. Thus if a Christian is neglecting to study the Bible, they will not have a correct knowledge of salvation, which would impact their’s in a negative way. Without an understanding of how salvation works, how is it that you’re supposed to be saved? You could literally wind up attempting to earn it by your own good works in spite of passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 6:23, but you would not know about these texts if you had not studied your Bible.

The Scriptures are also a safeguard against deception. To be clear, deception isn’t given to save you. The entire purpose of it is to lead you away from the true path, to cause you to miss the mark so to speak that would lead to God and salvation. Real world examples can be in the form of other religions, such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Can you believe that the teachings of these groups will save the members of their congregations, and that these religions genuinely do lead to God and salvation? If this is in your thinking, you’re probably heading down the path of subjective truth and universalism. Both beliefs are wrong, but you wouldn’t know this unless you had studied your Bible.

The first great deception provides us an example of how error and false teachings are given to trigger the loss of our salvation. Especially when you consider the source of deceptions, as outlined by the Scriptures, and where the first one came from. In fact, we as Christians are in the mess we’re presently in, in which we’re sinners in need of a saviour, because of the first deception and it’s results causing the fall of man.

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5

Many of us know where this story goes from here. If you don’t, Genesis 3:6-24 will finish it off for you. Eve and Adam both ate from the tree as a result of these statements of the devil, although according to other Scriptures [“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression” – 1 Timothy 2:14] Adam was apparently not deceived during this whole mess. To an extent, the implication here is that he ate from the tree deliberately. I’m not certain we have the full picture as to why he would do this, but I can make a well-educated guess that it has something to do with Eve. Evidence supporting the fact that the serpent is in fact the devil can be derived from the book of Revelation.

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” – Revelation 12:9

A few key points may be gleaned from this incident.

  1. The result of the fall of man, brought on by deception, was the entrance of sin into this world. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, referencing the loss of one’s salvation. [Revelation 21:8]
  2. The fall of man resulted in Adam & Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden and access to the tree of life being barred, in one sense causing them to lose eternal life. [Genesis 3:22-24, 3:19.]
  3. Deception resulted in the first sin ever committed. Is it not logical to conclude that one purpose of deception is to trigger the commission of sin?

In view of these facts, it should make a bit more sense why the Bible is full of strong warnings about deception, false teachers or teachings, and false prophets. [2 Peter 2:1, Matthew 7:15-20, 1 John 4:1, Matthew 24:23-24, Matthew 24:4-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, 2 Timothy 3:13, Revelation 16:13-14, Deuteronomy 13:1-4.] These things are not brought onto the scene to save you, they’re strictly for the purpose of misleading you so that you will miss the mark and ultimately miss out on eternal life.

The only way to defeat deception is a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Think of the Bible as a map and a compass. We use these tools to find our way in order to avoid being lost in the wilderness when we go hiking or on long backpacking trips. They help us find direction and determine our position. Imagine for a moment that these instruments have given you the details of where you need to be and go in order to avoid getting lost, but on your journey you come across many who say you’re heading in the wrong direction. There is nothing wrong with either your compass, and your map is accurate. In all reality, they’re the ones taking the wrong route. But you wouldn’t know this unless you checked your map and compass.

When false teaching, teachers, or prophets arise telling you “this is the way”, a thorough knowledge of your Bible enables you to know the correct path in spite of their deception. If it points one direction, and people point another way, in all reality the Bible is correct and they’re wrong. But without studying your Bible you will not be able to detect these things. This is why the Bible gives us the example of the Bereans, who literally checked their “compasses and maps” when they were introduced to fresh concepts to be sure if they were heading in the right direction.

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming hither went in unto the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11

The Bereans are termed “more noble than those in Thessalonica” due to the fact that they “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” As Paul and Silas preached to them, they had a tendency to check their “map and compass” as I stated above to determine if those two were teaching truth, which I would suggest is a part of the reason why they “received the word with all readiness of mind.” This where the phrase “being a Berean” in Christianity originates from, and it is based on their example of checking things out.

Your Bible cannot function as a spiritual map and compass for you, if you are not well conversant with it. Thus if deceptions particularly relating to salvation were to arise, you wouldn’t be able to pick up on it. In such a case, you could more than likely end up losing your salvation, as Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden. Especially if you’re as accepting of passages quoted out of their context as the last post demonstrated many Christians to be.

You are dealing with a foe who is also a thorough Bible student, and who has often quoted texts outside of their context to support his deceptions. You can especially observe this taking place in Matthew 4:5-7, which are passages from which we get the concept of presumption, or simply “tempting God.” Since Christians have demonstrated due to Jacob Dufour’s experiment that many of them cannot pick up on when some one quotes a verse out of context, unless they obtain a thorough knowledge of their Bibles they’re likely to be swept up by the strong current of the devil’s lies. This is not something that Satan does to save you, neither are his deceptions things that you would want to run around believing if you had their true character unmasked.

At this point the reasons mentioned above are usually cited, such as not having the time. The demands of married life can be somewhat understandable, in addition to work. But at the same time there needs to be some questions asked as to whether or not your time is being used wisely. If you were to calculate the amount of time you have in the day in which you’re not working, spending time with family, or sleeping perhaps you would be shocked to find that maybe you have more time for the Bible than you thought.

For instance, how much time after work is spent in front of the television watching movies or some show? In the case of youth, how much time is spent playing video games? These are buttons that need to be pushed in the Christian world, because I strongly believe that many of us have made idols out of entertainment. Our free time is often all-consumed by amusements whereas very little time is spent in the word or in prayer. We neglect these important practices of the Christian life in favor of amusements and suffer the results in a lack of power and discernment in our walk.

When I worked swing shift at a foundry a few years back, I was still able to find time to pray and study my Bible. I would spend breaks and lunch during my shift praying and memorizing Scriptures, and took the time before work to pray and study the word. Theoretically you should have time both before and after whatever job you work and time off from work. This can be in the form of vacation time, holidays, weekends, or simply just days off that some jobs give. How much of this time is spent in your Bible as opposed to on other things? Most people have a tendency to gravitate towards entertainment/amusement first over the Bible during such days.

Reality boils down to the fact that “I don’t have time” is an excuse. You would probably find that at best you have anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour every day in which you could be studying your Bible, or at least memorizing a passage of Scripture. The real reason probably goes back to the previously mentioned entertainment. Idols in the form of movies and video games have created a situation in which Christians would rather engage in these activities than spend time in the word.

Not knowing how to study the Bible is a little bit more legitimate of a reason. I’ve come across some that are fifty-five years old, have been Christians all their lives, and they still do not know how to study God’s word. Many can find the task a little daunting. But I’ve written two posts here and here which deal with this subject in-depth, and should help to resolve that problem. Even then, much of what I learned was through trial and error, sort of jumping in and learning to swim. I had the advantage of naturally being somewhat of an intellectual individual who is analytical in his thinking, but this still demonstrates that you can figure it out if you’re willing to.

One of the real problems may rest in the fact that there are hordes of people in our age who do not like reading. In all reality, if this is you I would say you’re going to have to overcome this in the case of your Bible. This is because the idea that searching the scriptures has no impact on your salvation is a false teaching, the Bible has a major impact in the transformation of your character, and you more than likely will be swept up with the current of Satan’s deceptions otherwise. You do not need to spend time diving into a reading list which is 144 books long like myself, but I cannot stress enough how important it is than you get into your Bible. It is probably the most important book that you will ever read.

I would go so far as to say that reading the word isn’t enough. Simply studying it isn’t enough either. You need to thoroughly examine it and apply its teachings to your life. You can study the Bible as one studies the sciences, but it will not be of any value unless you’re living up to teaching of the Scriptures. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” – James 1:22

If you catch the importance of Bible study, than my appeal to you is to spend at least one hour every day, whether before or after your job, searching the pages of holy writ. Use the methods outlined in my other posts, and perhaps leave a few comments about the effects on your walk with God.

Contend For The Faith

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” – Jude 1:3

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” – 1 Peter 3:15.

Apologia

This Greek word is the source of our word “apologetics”, which means a defense of the faith. The word here used in the Bible as “Apologia” in the Greek under the term “answer” as it appears in 1 Peter 3:15 means “A verbal defense, speech in defense, a reasoned statement or argument.” This is of course according to Thayer’s Greek dictionary. Being the branch of theology which focuses on a defense of the faith, you would think that Christians might see this to be more important.

An effective defense of the faith requires a person to be studious. I would suspect you would have to read works that have been written answering charges, take the time to research what others have done in this branch of theology, learn what the different logical fallacies are, and spend the time answering attacks on the faith. I’ve run into too many who consider this to be a waste of time. Some of the reasons cited are the idea that you should spend your time studying the truth, and often an illustration of how “they” don’t spend time studying the counterfeit dollar in order to spot the fakes but instead study the genuine.

Comments which imply that people think apologetics is about arguing with others are occasionally made. Then others will still say they don’t have the time to spend in studying into something which isn’t true. We then start to wonder why it is that our youth sometimes leave the churches in droves, and it is so hard to answer the charges of atheists. I know that some in my church have struggled to answer questions which relate to God’s existence. Challenging questions like “who made God” and “why does he allow evil” are the stumps which Christians of different faiths have a tendency to trip over, including the issue of “why Did God command Genocide?”

I’ve had an interesting experience in this area myself. So much so that I would say my encounters with opposition to the Christian faith have been quite insightful. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity for door to door work. Knocking on doors is a very rich experience, in which you gain an intimate understanding of evangelism and what kinds of attitudes exist in the world. A friend of mine once said that, “you’re getting the whole gambit.” I’ve met all kinds of people knocking on doors, and have enough experiences where I could probably write a book chronicling my story.

But I learned something very important when I was beating on doors. Upon occasion, an atheist answered the door. From these people I have been told I’m following a ridiculous path, that my testimony is an example of a coincidence, that there is no God because if he existed he wouldn’t allow evil, that God himself must be evil because of apparently messed up things in the old testament, and that he cannot be real because they’ve found alien skeletons on the moon. I think the attack I’ve heard the most is, “who made God?”

While this was discouraging at first, it drove me to study into apologetics. I have to admit that I have much to learn. But I’ve discovered that the question of “who made God” is a lot like the controversy surrounding Arianism, in which those who’re into false theology claim that Christ is a created being. If God was made than he obviously isn’t God, and thus the question cancels itself out. Alien skeletons on the moon is of course a laughable argument. But this is all beside the point. We as Christians need to know why we believe what we believe.

An argument often used by Atheists is that if you were born in some other country, you would be a part of a different religion. Thus it is claimed that you have been brain washed into accepting your current beliefs, that in applicable cases you’re only following it because your family has, and so on. We need to know why we believe what we believe as Christians, and not find ourselves going to a particular church because our parents always went to it. There is a real need to study into these matters. We often however do not study these things, and thus we’re left defenseless when the arguments of the atheists start pouring in.

We need to be able to respond to some of the attacks on Christianity which exist in our day. We should also understand that it isn’t a denial of faith to be able to explain why you believe in God, as this would be living up to some of the Biblical commands, and the early Christians had apologists in their ranks. Studying into Church History is sufficient to reveal that they had to deal with attacks against Christianity as well. They contended for the faith, responding to these charges at a time when they were also experiencing fierce persecution.

Today we don’t see the importance of this. More likely we don’t want to touch it because it involves the word “study.” If Apologetics requires research and studying, some of the masses who don’t like to read or barely get into their Bibles more than likely wouldn’t touch that branch of theology. Perhaps the thought that enters into their mind is that they should leave it to Ken Ham or Ravi Zacharias. Thus they don’t bother to touch it. This is like leaving evangelism to your pastor.

There are several reasons for why we need to consider the importance of apologetics. One of them is that Christianity is under attack from all directions. There are assaults on the trustworthiness of the Bible, the existence of God, and his character. It comes in a variety of forms from Evolution to the question of why there is an apparent command of Genocide in the Bible. Some of these questions can be very perplexing if you’re confronted with them. While the older people of the Church may be able to dismiss such questions easily, the youth could have their faith completely destroyed. Hence it doesn’t cut it simply to teach Bible stories without providing ample evidence upon which for them to base their faith anymore.

Christianity is also under attack in the form of cults that have arrived upon the scene who wrap themselves in the garments of sheep. The Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are examples of groups which fit this description. In view of so many attacks from external sources, I think it would behoove you study into the matter. A defense of Christianity is a needed thing, especially if you expect the Youth to stay in the Church.

But alongside them we have internal assaults in the form of heresies around almost every corner, and a mass amount of lay people who are not practicing discernment. Without exaggerating the seriousness of the situation, I would say that there is a spiritual war that is raging out there, and we as Christians are often busy posting things on Facebook like “post amen and God will bless you with such and such.” But as the video below demonstrates, some of us can’t even pick up on when something is quoted outside of its context.

Jacob Dufour is honestly some one I know almost nothing about. In the video he claims to be a Christian filmmaker. I’ve never seen any of his movies. This YouTube video is about as close as it gets to me watching something produced by him, and I stumbled across it because a friend of mine on Facebook shared it on their timeline. In turn I shared it on mine, because ultimately the message of this video is something that we as Christians need to see and consider. Thus it wound up in this post, as I thought it was very fitting with the subject in question. But because I do not know if everything he produces is Biblical, I thus will not say that I endorse all of it. If you watch anything of his in the future, do so with the very same critical eye that he admonishes you to have.

This video displays an overall lack of discernment, and perhaps even Bible study, on the part of the majority of Christian laypeople. What is worse is one of the individuals whom he was conversing with claimed to be a pastor, and mistook the quotation cited [which was originally from the devil as you saw], as being “our Lord Jesus.” Apologetics helps with the external assaults, but when the battle involves heresies floating around within the Church, especially in the form of prosperity gospel trash, you will need discernment. In fact, this video would cause me to go so far as to say that we’re in trouble. Why is it that I say this?

  1. A quotation which was taken out of context was accepted as truth because it sounded nice and inspirational.
  2. It stands to reason that if almost 97% of Christians conversed with were duped by a quote taken out of context as a simple experiment to see if they were serious, than they would likely be deceived on a more regular basis. Therefore they may accept all kinds of heresies as truth just because a quote was taken out of context to support it and it sounded “inspirational.”
  3. This was a statement taken straight from the mouth of Satan while Jesus was tempted. If Christians were duped by this, what will they do when the deceptions of the last days are multiplying around them? [2 Thessalonians 2:8-9, Revelation 16:13-14, Matthew 24:4-5.]

Christians really are in trouble, and especially at a time in which the battle for the faith thickens around us. Scanning through the WordPress reader, at times I’ve come across some blogs that have been produced by other Christians who’re an inch away from leaving the faith. Some of the earlier blogs I found when I started this ministry were by people expressing doubts about the truthfulness of the Bible and the existence of God. A friend of mine from the Bible college I went to suggested one of them was taking a bite out of “secular humanism.” They were definitely heading in the direction opposite of belief in God, as the title for their blog gave this suggestion. I battled back and forth with the person over Conditional Immortality in their blog comments for a time, not realizing that there was no way on earth they would listen to me. It was sad, because I was drawn into the fray over the fact that a part of the reasoning behind their doubts about God’s existence was the issue of an eternally burning hell.

Another blog that I found spoke about how there is no evidence to back Christianity up. The writer was going so far as to say that the “faith once delivered to the saints” was entirely fictional, and that learning this was a heart wrenching experience for them. It is saddening to come across something like that, but it can be directly charged to a neglect of study on the part of Christians. We not only do not study our Bibles or neglect to fact check those who quote something out of context, but we neglect an important branch of theology that would have us prepared to deal with such situations!

It is high time for us as Christians to awaken from our slumber. We need to be like the bereans, and we need to know why we believe what we believe. We cannot be the lukewarm pew warmers that some have been. There is a real need right now for us to be awake, especially if we genuinely believe that we’re approaching the final days of this earth’s history.