John 3:16 is, without question, the most well-known verse in the whole Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Simply stated, John 3:16 is the gospel in a nutshell. In this article we will consider the nutshell of scripture that is contained within Matthew 24: 4-31, which will include the Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ (to Earth), and the Regathering of Israel, with judgments. All verses in this article are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
II. The Nutshell Overview.
A. Consider the Tribulation that is recorded in Revelation Chapters 6-16, which is written in nutshell form in Matt 24:4-28. Notice that each Tribulation judgment is brought on by Christ and angels, e.g., Rev 6:1, 8:1-2, and not by mankind, the antichrist, or “mother nature” (there is no mother nature).
1. The Ryrie Study Bible (Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D.) states that in Matt 24, verses 4-14 list characteristics of the first half of the Tribulation period, whereas verses 15-28 deal with the second half (note from Matt 24:3).
2. The Ryrie Study Bible breaks down the judgments of the Tribulation, as they are noted in his Rev notes, as follows:
a. The Seven Seals (Rev 6:1-8:6). The seals include (1) Antichrist. (2) War. (3) Famine. (4) Death. (5) Martyrs’ prayers. (6) Great earthquakes.
b. The Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:7-9:21). The trumpets include (1) 1/3 of vegetation burned. (2) 1/3 of the sea judged. (3) 1/3 of fresh water-judged. (4) 1/3 of the luminaries darkened. (5) Increased demonic activity. (6) 1/3 of mankind killed.
c. The Seven Bowls (Rev 13:1-16:21). The Seven Bowls Include (1) Malignant sores. (2) Sea burned to blood. (3) Fresh waters to blood. (4) Men scorched with fire. (5) Darkness over the kingdom of the Beast. (6) Invasion from the east. (7) Greatest earthquake and widespread destruction.
B. Consider the Second Coming of Christ to earth that is recorded in Rev Chap 19:11-21, and which is written in nutshell form in Matt 24:29-30.
1. The second coming of Christ (Rev 19:11-16).
2. Armageddon (Rev 19:17-21).
C. Consider the regathering of Israel that is recorded in Amos 9:14, 15, Deuteronomy 30:3, 5, Isaiah 11:11,12, Jeremiah 23:3, and Ezekiel 34:12,13, which is written in nutshell form in Matt 24:31, with corresponding judgment verses identified, as follows:
1. The regathering of unbelieving Jews (Matt 24:40).
2. The regathering of believing Jews (Matt 24:41).
III. The Nutshell Examination.
A. Tribulation. There is teaching today that attempts to relate certain verses of Matt 24 to events of the world today. This article will show a proper application of Tribulation related passages of Scripture. The following verses are often used as a parallel to Matt 24:4-28.
1. 2 Timothy 3:1-5. 1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.
2. Matt 24:4-28 identifies certain events that are used as being a parallel to 2 Tim 3:1-5, as follows: wars and rumors of wars; nations rising against nation, and kingdoms against kingdoms; famines and earthquakes; people being handed over to tribulation, being killed, and being hated by all nations because of the name of Jesus;. many falling away, and betraying and hating one another; lawlessness increasing; peoples’ love becoming cold.
3. Whereas, the verses of 2 Tim 3:1-5 paint a bleak picture of the future, we must understand that the scope of time of that passage relates to the time in which we live now, which is the church age, and does not relate to the tribulation. The Matt 24:4-28 passage shows a much more severe period of time than that of 2 Tim 3. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., Things To Come, pg 129, states: Christ spoke of an unannounced period of time between His two advents, and indicated its distinctive features (Matt 13:1-51), and predicted a yet future time of “great tribulation,” and identified its character (Matt 24:9-31). There are last days for Israel (Isa 2:1-5) and last days for the Church (2 Tim 3:1-5). pg 154 states: Within this present age between the two advents of Christ, God is bringing to fulfillment two distinct programs; that with the Church, which will be completed at the Rapture of the Church, and that with Israel, which will be completed after the Rapture at the second advent of Christ. The Ryrie Study Bible states that, in 2 Pet 3:1-5 is, “the period between the writing of this letter and the Lord’s return.”
a. Consider the Tribulation judgements that will occur in Rev 6-16, and that are capsulized in Matt 24:4-28.
(1) The Seven Seals (Rev 6:1-8:6). The seals include (1) Antichrist. (2) War. (3) Famine. (4) Death. (5) Martyrs’ prayers. (6) Great earthquakes.
(2) The Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:7-9:21). The trumpets include (1) 1/3 of vegetation burned. (2) 1/3 of the sea judged. (3) 1/3 of fresh water-judged. (4) 1/3 of the luminaries darkened. (5) Increased demonic activity. (6) 1/3 of mankind killed.
(3) The Seven Bowls (Rev 13:1-16:21). The Seven Bowls Include (1) Malignant sores. (2) Sea burned to blood. (3) Fresh waters to blood. (4) Men scorched with fire. (5) Darkness over the kingdom of the Beast. (6) Invasion from the east. (7) Greatest earthquake and widespread destruction.
b. Especially consider Matt 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again.”
(1) Nothing in 2 Tim 3:1-5 can match the degree of tribulation and destruction that is shown in Matt 24:15, or of any other condition of Matt 24:4-28
(2) The earthquake and destruction of the Bowl Judgments will greatly exceed the effects of the worldwide flood of Genesis 7.
(3) Context does not allow anyone to pick and choose certain parts of Matt 24, and try to put them into the times in which we are living now.
B. Second Coming Of Christ (to stand on planet Earth). The second coming of Christ, as is shown in Zech 14:1-5, 9 and Rev 19:11-21, is depicted also in Matt 24:29-30. There is erroneous teaching that confuses the Rapture of the Church with the Second Coming of Christ. Consider the following examples.
1. The Rapture of the Church occurs prior to the Tribulation, where Christ takes His born again believers to Heaven with Him. There is no Scripture that states that the Rapture is visible to the unbelievers, who are left behind on earth, and who will come under the Godly Tribulation judgments and the oppression of the antichrist, who is also a Tribulation seal judgment of God. In the Rapture, Christ comes in the air, but does not stand on planet Earth. The Rapture is a joyous event (Titus 2:13).
2. The Second Coming of Christ, occurs at the end of the Tribulation, where He stands on the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem, Israel. At the second coming of Christ, OT and NT believers who are in Heaven, and angels, will come with Christ to Earth (Zech 14:1-5, 9); the event is mournful for the unbelievers who were left behind from the Rapture (Zech 12:10; Matt 24:30; Rev 1:7). Everyone on earth will see Christ coming to earth (Matt 24:30; Rev 1:7). John Walvoord, Th. D., made the following statement in his Matthew Commentary, “Unlike the rapture of the church, which apparently the world will not see or hear, the second coming of Christ will be witnessed both by believers and unbelievers who are on the earth at that time. ” This will be a coming of the Lord to judge and subdue the earth and to bring in His earthly kingdom, and is in contrast to the rapture of the church, which is an entirely different event and with a different purpose. Taken as a whole, the second coming of Christ is a majestic event, not instantaneous like the rapture, but extending over many hours. This perhaps explains why everyone can see it, because in the course of a day, the earth will rotate and the entire world will be able to see the approach of Christ accompanied by the hosts of heaven, which will descend to the earth in the area of the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4).
C. The Regathering Of Israel.
1. This event, which is of prophecy in OT Scriptures, e.g., Amos 9:14, 15, Deuteronomy 30:3, 5, Isaiah 11:11,12, Jeremiah 23:3, and Ezekiel 34:12,13, is found written in Matt 24:31.
2. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D., Things To Come, pg 282, describes “the regathering of Israel,” in Matt 24:31. He states that the next event (after the regathering of Israel) will be the judging of Israel on the earth to determine who will go into the kingdom. This is anticipated in Matt 24:28, where unbelieving Israel is likened unto a lifeless corpse which is consigned to the vultures, a picture picture of judgment.
3. The “elect” of Matt 24:31, being Jews, is the conclusion of Dr. Pentecost in the above statement. Deu 14:2, and Amos 3:2 tell of God’s choosing of Israel.” It is important to keep “elect,” of this verse, in its proper context, as opposed to the NT elect of Romans 8:28-30, 33.
Matt 24:31 “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
4. There is frequent error in the teaching of Matt 24:31, in that the Rapture is taught to be the event of this verse. However, verse 2 above refutes the Rapture teaching. Matt 24:40-41 shows the disposition of “the elect,” who are Jews, as follows: “40 at that time there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.”
a. At the second coming of Christ, the ones “taken” will be taken to judgment and death. The ones “left” will be left to enter the blessings of the millennial kingdom (Ryrie Study Bible).
b. At the time of the Rapture, those who are taken, are taken by Christ to Heaven to avoid the Tribulation (John 17:1-3; 1 Thes 5:9-10); those who are left behind will enter the time of tribulation (Col 3:6; Rev 3:10).
IV. The Mount Of Olives Discourse. The subjects and discussion of Matt 24:4-31 are clearly Jewish. The following events lead up to the teaching of Christ with His disciples on the Mount of Olives.
A. Matt 21:43, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.” [Ryrie Note. “taken away from you and given to a people.” I.e., taken from the Jews and given to the church, which is composed largely of Gentiles (1 Pet 2:9)].
B. Matt 23:37-39, ““37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!’” [Ryrie Note. 23:38, “your house” = the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. 23:39, “from now on you will not see Me. I.e., I will no longer teach publicly, “until you say.” At the second coming of Christ, Israel will recognize and welcome their rejected Messiah (Zech 12:10)]. It is when Jews recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah, they will receive the Kingdom that had been postponed for their possession. The unconditional ownership of the promised land was a result of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 15:18-21;17:6-8).
C. Matt 24:1-3, ” 1 Jesus left the temple area and was going on His way when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 But He responded and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” [Ryrie note. 23:3. “the Mount of Olives, just East of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. “the disciples.” Only Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3). In this discourse Jesus answered two of the three questions the disciples asked. He does not answer, “when will these things happen?” He answers “what will be the sign of Your coming.” In verses 29-31, and He speaks of the signs of the end of the age in verses 4-28. Verses 4-14 list characteristics of the first half of the tribulation period, whereas verses 15-28 deal with the second half. Notice that the disciples came to Jesus “privately,” which is the manner in which the disciples questioned Jesus (Matt 24:3; Mark 13:3).
D. Jesus and His disciples had come from the Jewish leaders, where Jesus had postponed the kingdom that had been offered to Israel, but which it had rejected. Jesus, then, said that He would not return until Jews accepted Him as Messiah. The key element of the discussion of Jesus with the Jewish leaders is that not until Israel accepts Him as Messiah, will he return from Heaven and set up His earthly kingdom. Regardless of the Gentile acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, He will not return to Earth to set up His earthly kingdom, until after Israel accepts Him (Christ) as Messiah (Zech 12:10-14, Ryrie) (Matt 24:30, Pentecost).
V. Conclusion. There are people who will ask someone else, “what does that verse of scripture say to you? Such a question should not even be considered. God’s Word is God’s Word, and should not be made to apply to a particular situation. Other people will take an Old Testament prophetic Scripture, “and claim it for themselves.” A verse that tells of God’s plan for Israel can not be “claimed” for any other purpose. God’s intended purpose that He has laid out in Scripture for Israel has to be respected for such a Godly purpose, and should not be taken out of context. We can learn from prophecies, but we can not divert them in any way to that which we choose.
A. Matt 24:13 has words that are not evangelistic, that is, they are not for the purpose of salvation of the soul and spirit. “But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved.” Per Walvoord’s Matthew Commentary, ” The age in general, climaxing with Christ’s return, has the promise that those who endure to the end. that is, survive the tribulation and are still alive, will be saved, or delivered by Christ at His coming. This is not a reference to salvation from sin, but rather the deliverance of survivors at the end of the age.
B. Matt 24:14 has words that are also incorrectly taught and understood, as they relate to the “Gospel:”
1. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
2. The “gospel of the kingdom” is that which was preached to Jews in first century Israel, by John the Baptist (Matt 3:2), Jesus (Matt 4:17), the disciples (Matt 10:7), and “the Seventy (Luke 10:9).
3. The gospel of the kingdom was to be preached only to Israel, and not to Gentiles or to half-breed Jews of Samaria (Matt 10:5-6).
4. The gospel of the kingdom is not that which we preach today. We preach the “gospel” of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-8). The Gospel of the Kingdom is of no relevance to those of us of the Church age. Individual salvation (Jew or Gentile) is only in the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). The national salvation of Israel will be the result of the Jewish acceptance of Christ as “God’s chosen King” (Deu 17:15).
5. The key aspect of the “gospel of the kingdom teaching” is to recognize Jesus as the King of God’s choosing (Deu 17:15), Who is Jesus (Micah 5:2Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; Matt 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-33).
C. In the context of the Matt 24:1-3 “questions from the disciples” to Jesus, “the disciples came to Him privately” (Matt 24:3). The questions of the disciples were very clear, with the second and third questions being linked together (Walvoord Matthew Commentary, pg 317).
1. When will these things happen?
2. What will be the sign of Your coming?
3. What will be the sign of the end of the age?
D. Jesus answered the disciples with answers that related to Jews, and only Jews. There was nothing in the Mount Olivet conversation, between Jesus and His disciples of Matt 24:4-31, that had anything to do with any people, other than Jews, and at a time that will be other than the Tribulation, the Second Coming Of Christ to Planet Earth, and the Regathering and Judging of Jews who are alive at the end of the Tribulation.
VI. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.
VII. My Websites To Follow.
https://untotheleastofthese.home.blog/ Equipping The Saints Web Site
https://thechurchoftheopendoor.wordpress.com/ Israel Web Site
https://success2693.wordpress.com/ Israel, History And Prophecy