This morning, our focus is on Matthew 24:9-14, and our timeline turns from the “beginning of sorrows,” the birth pangs that Jesus said would take place prior to the end, and turns to the actual Tribulation period following the Rapture. Up until this point, Jesus was concerned with giving us information to show us what the signs of the last days will be in answer to the question of the disciples about His return. But beginning in v. 9, He moves directly to what this period of time will be like. In my study of these prophecies, I have discovered three great descriptions of this time to come on Planet Earth. First, it will be the worst hour of human history. Second, it is called the Day of the Lord, often the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Third, it is referred to as the Seventieth Week of Daniel as part of the Seventy Weeks for Israel. In light of both Old and New Testament prophecies, I believe this is God’s description of the seven years following the rapture.
Read this carefully. God has not appointed His people to wrath, but for the obtaining of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus promised us in Revelation 3 that there is an hour coming upon the earth, the hour I spoke of previously that is the worst hour of human history, but His promise to the church was this: “I will…keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Rev. 3:10). That is one of the reasons that I believe the Rapture will occur prior to the Tribulation period we are about to look at.
I know you have read this over and over in recent weeks, but the Rapture is the next item on God’s prophetic timetable followed by the Seven years of Tribulation. And again I will tell you that I believe the time is near because at no time in history have we had the setup for prophecy to be fulfilled like it is today. But folks, hear my voice as you read this, just as the apostle Paul believed in the imminence of the Rapture, every generation of believers should live as if it could happen today. We ought to plan as if the Lord will tarry for a long time, but live with an urgency and a passion and a purity that would please Jesus if He came back today.
So understand, the first 8 verses of Mt. 24 tell us the signs to look for so that we will know that the end is near but as Jesus said, “Not yet.” Then in v. 9, Jesus begins to give to us a description of the end. Look at v. 14 for just a second. Jesus goes through a list of events that match the opening of the 6 seals of Revelation 6. In fact, the parallels are exact as Jesus counts down the beginning of the Tribulation, and then He says, “then the end shall come.” In vv. 4-8, we read about the birth pangs, not the Tribulation. He saves that for our passage that we are going to look at this week. But let me give you the big picture for just a second because that is what Jesus does. In fact, it is typical of the way Jewish Rabbis of His day would teach. First, they give you an overview of their topic. That is what we see in vv. 1-14. Then He picks up in v. 15 where He restates the lesson which is a description of the last 3 1/2 years called the Great Tribulation. Then in vv. 29-31, Jesus takes us to His focal point: the Second Coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in power and glory. That is where this passage is headed — the answer to the Disciples’ question. Jesus said, “Now I’m coming again,” and this time, He won’t be a baby born in Bethlehem nor will He be a crucified Christ on Calvary. This time He will be the Conquering King coming in power and in glory to sit on the throne of David for 1000 years.
More on this tomorrow.