Wednesday Night Bible Survey

March 1, 1995

Matthew 24:1 - 51


We're now in the final week of Jesus' earthly life.

Jesus was teaching in the temple.  He ended with quite a series of rebukes against the Pharisees

I think it's good to remember what we ended with last week, because the two chapters kind of flow into each other.

Matthew 23:37-39 AV O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!  38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Jesus is talking about the troubles that are going to come upon Jerusalem.

It's house would be desolate - maybe the temple?

He is going to come again!

Matthew 24

:1-2  Temple to fall

:2  not be left here one stone upon another

Jesus kind of picks up where He left off at the end of chapter 23, talking about the destruction coming.

This is also an amazing prophecy.

Herod's temple (the one in Jesus' time) was an awesome, imposing structure.

See picture

Some of the stones are 26 feet long, weighing hundreds of tons.

In fact, it was still under construction in Jesus' day.  Herod began construction in 20 b.c., and it wasn't finished until 64 A.D., six years before it's destruction.

For Jesus to claim that not one stone would be left on top of another was quite an amazing thing.

When the Roman Titus took Jerusalem in A.D. 70, he intended that the temple be left in tact.

After getting into the city, the battle headed toward the temple where 6,000 Jews were holed up.

On August 30, in the attack in the inner court, a soldier tossed a firebrand through a window into one of the side chambers.

Titus rushed up shouting commands for the fire to be extinguished, but wasn't obeyed.

Another soldier tossed a burning brand into the Holy Place that set the sanctuary itself on fire.

The 6,000 people in the temple complex died.

The fire was so intense that all the gold in the temple melted, flowing into all the cracks between the stones.

The Roman soldiers pried all the stones apart, tearing down the temple, to get at the gold.

And so Jesus' prophecy came true.

In fact, this statement of Jesus (along with some other similar ones) was twisted by the false witnesses at Jesus' trial to condemn Him.

Matthew 26:61-AV And said, This [fellow] said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

:3-28  Signs of His Coming

:3  when shall these things be?

The disciples wanted to know.  I want to know.  You want to know.

All Jesus is going to do is paint a vague picture for us.

I'm not sure that this chapter is necessarily a detailed, step by step, chronological description of what is going to happen.

Some would see it as a chronological approach to the tribulation.

One possibility that sounds good is: (and there are lots of views)

vs.4-8 precede the tribulation

vs.9-14 refers to the first half of the seven year tribulation

vs.15-28 refer to the last half or the tribulation.

vs.29-51 refer to related subjects to His coming.

:5  saying, "I am Christ"

There will be people trying to tell you that they're Jesus.

They will be deceiving many.

:6  wars and rumours of wars

I'm not sure there's ever been a time in the world's history where there wasn't some sort of war going on someplace in the world.

:7  famines and earthquakes

Just read the newspapers.

:8  the beginning of sorrows


1) the pain of childbirth, travail pain, birth pangs 2) intolerable anguish, in reference to the dire calamities precede the advent of the Messiah

modern translations read "birth pangs"

These things aren't the end in themselves, they're just the beginnings of the labor process.

Paul says that all creation is in labor pains for the coming of the Lord.

Romans 8:22-AV For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Just like real childbirth labor, when the pains start coming, it's not the actual delivery time, but you know now that it's really going to happen.

There's a funny thing that happens when you get into the ninth month of pregnancy, you start to wonder if that baby is ever going to come.

But when the labor pains start, you know it's on it's way!

:9  to be afflicted


:10  offended ... betray ... hate

It's interesting to see that Jesus doesn't seem to relate this specifically to Christians, but almost to the world in general.

Think about the slide our society has gotten into with gangs, schools, hate crimes, drive by shootings, etc.

:11  many false prophets

We get surprised when we hear of some of these false prophets.

Reading in Newsweek today about some guy hired by the FAA to teach stress management, and the bizarre things he was making them do, and he was a follower of "Ramtha", supposedly a 30,000 year old warrior who channels through some lady named J.Z.Knight in the state of Washington.

But Jesus said there would be many of them.

:12  because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold

An increase in sin brings a decrease in love.

Think about the crime statistics and how hardened we can become to them.

Think about the decline of sexual morals.

Along with the increase in divorce and abortion.

:13  endure unto the end

Our goal is to make it to the end of the race, and not quit halfway through.

We saw something of this in the book of Hebrews:

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were facing great persecution for their faith.

Some were even tempted to call it quits with Jesus, and go back to Judaism.

Hebrews 3:12-14 AV Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

We often teach that once we're saved, we're always saved.

And that's true!

John 6:37-AV All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 10:28-AV And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.

John 10:29-AV My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand.

But there is also the other side that I think we ought not be unaware of, that there needs to be a continuing with Jesus, as proof that we're in Jesus' hand.

:14  this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world

This is Billy Graham's motivation for his upcoming Global Mission in March, where he'll preach in Puerto Rico, and the crusade will be broadcast simultaneously around the world.

It's interesting to note that for years those in missions were keeping track of how many languages in which the scriptures were not yet translated.

Yet I read in the newspaper that because of the advanced information age we live in, that even remote tribal peoples are no longer so remote anymore.  And a byproduct of that is that many thousands of languages are dissappearing as these tribal peoples learn to speak the more global languages.

As a result, it will be even easier for those working to reach the world.

Some have seen this verse as being fulfilled by satellite TV transmission.

Some see it being fulfilled in Revelation by an angel:

Revelation 14:6-AV And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

:15  the abomination of desolation

We need to look at the prophet Daniel to understand this:

Daniel 9:24-27 AV 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 reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.  25 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.  26 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.  27 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.

:24  seventy weeks

Seventy groups of sevens.  We find out they're years.  490 years total determined for the Jewish time clock.

:24  upon thy people

Who were Daniel's people?

The Jews!  I believe it's very important in prophecy to keep in mind what the focus of God's attention is on in the this part of history.

I believe a key to understanding the sequence of events lies in understanding who the seventy weeks are intended for.

:25  seven weeks ... threescore and two weeks ...

7 weeks, 49 years for rebuilding the city.

62 weeks until Messiah comes

From Artaxerxes' decree in 444 b.c. until Palm Sunday, using 360 day Babylonian years, it works out to the day!

:26  shall Messiah be cut off

Jesus' death on the cross, the Jewish time clock stops.

:26  the people of the prince that shall come

These are the Romans who destroyed the city in A.D. 70

This gives us an idea that the antichrist will be connected to Rome somehow.

:27  he shall confirm

the "he" is the prince that shall come, otherwise known as "antichrist"

:27  the covenant with many for one week

There will be some kind of treaty with Israel made for a seven year period.

The time clock for the Jews starts ticking again!

This begins what is known as the seven year tribulation period.

It is a period of God's wrath upon the earth.

It is a period where God finishes His business with the Jews, where they again become His chosen people, and the Messiah comes back.

:27  in the midst of the week

In the middle of the tribulation period.

3 1/2 years into the tribulation.

:27  sacrifice and oblation to cease

This prophecy comes with a prerequisite:  There must be a temple!

The Jews are in the planning stages for their temple.

They have to figure out where and how to build it on the temple mount so they won't cause a global war with the Moslems.

The priests are already in preparation, the utensils for service are already made, the garments are already made.

This is why it's exciting when the Jerusalem Post prints an article in September 24, 1994 about Professor Asher Kaufman's theories on the location of the Holy of Holies, and how the temple might actually be rebuilt without disturbing the Dome of the Rock mosque or the Al-Aksa mosque.

There's more than just a stoppage of the sacrifices involved as well.

2Thessalonians 2:3-4 AV Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

See also Rev.13

The antichrist will set himself up as a god, to be worshipped.

:27  the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate

This is what is referred to as the "abomination of desolation"

The act of stopping the sacrifices and also demanding worship of himself will be an abominable act.  It will bring "desolation" on the temple.  It will bring about destruction.

:15  stand in the holy place

The antichrist is standing inside the temple

:16  let them which be in Judaea

There's going to be a uniquely Jewish focus here.

:17  on the housetop

Keep in mind the houses in Jesus' day, where the patio area was often on top of the house.

If you're on the balcony, don't bother to go inside and pack, just leave.

:20  neither on the sabbath day

A Jew was not allowed to walk more than a few miles on the Sabbath day.

:21  great tribulation

This phrase (in the Greek, megas Jlipsis) occurs two other times in Scripture:

Revelation 2:22-AV Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Revelation 7:14-AV And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Actually, in the Greek, in Rev.7:14, it could be better translated, "the great tribulation".  In contrast with the other two references, it contains the definite article.  The other two references could be translated "a great tribulation"

It is thought in the study of eschatology that the last half of the seven year tribulation period should be called "the great tribulation" because it's judgements are so much more severe than those in the first 3 1/2 years.

It is thought by some (and there are no shortage of opinions when it comes to these kinds of things!) that this would be chs.17-19 of Revelation.

:22  should no flesh be saved

It's going to be so bad, that if God didn't cut it short, nobody would be left alive.

Revelation 6:8-AV And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Revelation 8:7-AV The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Revelation 8:9-AV And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:11-AV And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Revelation 9:15-AV And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

Revelation 14:19-20 AV And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast [it] into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand [and] six hundred furlongs. (my note:  the length of Israel)

:22  for the elect's sake

Post-trib view:

This is the believers are still on the earth.


This refers to the Jewish believers, particularly because of the Jewish references in vs.16,20.

The church is already gone.

:23  here is Christ

I think about that full page add in the L.A. Times about six years ago about the Messiah being here, and living in London.

:24  great signs and wonders

Note:  The false Christs and false prophets are going to be able to do great signs and wonders.

I don't mean to sound as if anybody who follows after signs and wonders is of the antichrist.  Not so!

But if an unhealthy emphasis is placed on signs and wonders, it may open a person up to being deceived.

:26  he is in the desert ... in the secret chambers ...

Jesus' second coming is not going to be a secret one.  It's not going to be hidden.

I find it amazing how this verse goes along with the JW teaching that Jesus did come back, but secretly to Brooklyn, where the Watchtower headquarters are.

:27  as the lightning cometh out of the east ...

When Jesus comes again, every body is going to know!

Revelation 1:7-AV Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

:28  carcase ... eagles

The Greek word is actually the word for eagles, but modern translations read "vultures" because it fits the picture a little better.  Eagles don't feed on dead carcasses like vultures do.

This is debated much by commentators, like much of prophecy.  I think this verse helps:

Luke 17:36-AV Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.

I think this is talking about where the believers are going to be in the whole process, with the Lord.

The Lord is "the carcase", and the believers are the "eagles".

:29-31  The Visible Return of Jesus

:29  the sun shall be darkened ...

Great heavenly disturbances, as those in Revelation.

:31  gather together his elect

Post-trib view:  This is the rapture of the believers at the end of the tribulation.

Pre-trib view:  This is the gathering of Jewish believers who survived the tribulation

:32-35  The Fig Tree

:32  Now learn a parable

To me, Jesus has now finished His overview of answering the question of "When shall these things be?"

Now He's going to summarize it all with several thoughts.

:32  a parable of the fig tree

Two possible ways of looking at this:

1.  Jesus may mean nothing more than just saying that when the signs are there, the end is near.

2.  Jesus may intend some significance to the fig tree.

It might be a reference to Israel.

In Jeremiah 24, Jeremiah sees a picture of Israel in two baskets of figs.  There was a basket of good figs and a basket of bad figs.  The good figs were the believing ones in Babylon, the bad ones were the bad folk staying in Israel.


Jeremiah 29:17-AV Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.

You could even draw a point from Jesus cursing the fig tree for not bearing fruit.

Matthew 21:20-AV And when the disciples saw [it], they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

Matthew 21:21-AV Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Then Jesus applies the same principle to the Jews:

Matthew 21:43-AV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

If this is the case, then we could possibly draw a lesson from the nation of Israel coming into existence, and lining up with the things prophesied in the chapter.

:34  this generation shall not pass

It sounds like Jesus is talking about His disciples, and that they won't die until He comes back.

But that can't be the case.

Other suggestions:

1.  "This generation" might refer to the generation that sees the rebirth of Israel and it coming into align with these prophesies.

This is where the idea came about of taking a Biblical generation of 40 years, and adding it to the year 1948 to determine when Jesus would come back again.

On the other hand, our generations are a lot longer than 40 years.

2.  "This generation" (Greek genea) could be translated "family" or "nation".

It might refer to the nationality or family of the Jews.

The Jews won't be exterminated, but will continue until Jesus comes back again.

:35  my words shall not pass away

That's why it's so important to keep our priorities straight.

God's Word should be a high priority, it's going to last.

:36-41  The Suddenness of His Coming

:36  of that day and hour knoweth no man

Some have tried to make out of this that they may not know the day and hour, but they will try to predict the year.


This is why people can come up with books like "90 reasons why Jesus will return in 1990", and, "91 reasons why Jesus will return in 1991", and so on.

I believe this refers to the timing of the Rapture of the church.

Three reasons for a pre-trib. rapture:

1.  It best reconciles a sudden return with a predictable return.

I can predict when Jesus is coming back.

Daniel 12:11-AV 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.

When the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1290 days (3 1/2 years) until Jesus returns.

When the abomination of desolation is set up, those who are studying the Scriptures will be able to tell you when Jesus is going to come back.

But the Rapture, when Jesus takes His church off this earth, which happens at the beginning of the tribulation period, can't be pinpointed.  We can only get the sense that it's getting closer.

2.  Jesus promises to keep the faithful church from the tribulation

Revelation 3:10-AV Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

3.  It fits best with our understanding of the tribulation being a time of God's wrath

Revelation 6:17-AV For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

1Thessalonians 5:9-AV For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

That's not to say that I can't be wrong!

But that's where I'm at for now.

Some have said that belief in a pre-trib rapture makes for a lazy church, unprepared for hardship because they're trusting in the rapture rather than in Jesus.

Have you ever heard that from me?

Views on the rapture are not something to disfellowship over, just to politely and lovingly disagree over.

:38  drinking, marrying and giving in marriage

In other words, life was going on as usual.

For the most part, the world was not paying attention to what was about to happen, despite Noah's warnings.

The Point:

Many people are going to be caught by surprise!

:40  one shall be taken

There are two ways of viewing these two verses:

1.  It's a picture of the Rapture.

One is taken to be with Jesus.  One is left behind.

2.  It's a picture of the end of the tribulation.

One is taken away in judgement, the believer is left behind to go into the kingdom of Jesus.

:42-51  The Application

:42  Watch therefore

Here we come down to the whole application of tonight's study, and to Jesus' discourse on the end times.

It's important to me that we understand that there is a reason for Bible prophecy.

The reason is not so we can argue, or so we can play knowledge trivia games.

The reason is to motivate us and orient our lives differently.

If your own understanding of Bible prophecy doesn't affect the way you're living, then you have an incorrect understanding of Bible prophecy.

:43  if the goodman of the house

Can you imagine someone knowing that their house was going to be broken into, and not doing something about it?

The point is:

You know Jesus is coming.  Do something about it!

:44  in such an hour as ye think not

There's going to be a sudden surprise.

:45-47  faithful and wise servant


1.  Has been given responsibility by His Lord.

Each of us have been given some ministry, some portion to carry on with until Jesus comes back.

2.  He's doing his job.

Jesus comes back and the servant is doing what Jesus asked him to do.

Why is the servant being faithful?

The implication is because he knows his master is coming back.

:48-51  that evil servant


1. My lord delayeth

Isn't thinking about how soon it might be until Jesus comes back.

This is why it's important for us to be living as if it were tomorrow, even if it's not until another 20 years.

Always be ready.

2.  Acts like an unbeliever

Beats up his friends (instead of bringing them to Jesus)

Gets drunk (Whoa!  Pretty good warning against alcohol!)

:50  shall come in a day when he looketh not for him

This doesn't have to just refer to Jesus' second coming.

It could also refer to when Jesus decides that it's time for your stay on earth to end.

Main Lessons:


Be aware of the signs of the times.

Be Ready

Let your attitude of expecting Jesus' return to affect the way you live.

2Peter 3:10-12 AV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  11  [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of

persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness,  12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?