Jesus' End-Time Prophecies

 by David Scott

 

           Jesus had much to say about the end times.  Most Christians are aware of His prophecies in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, so I will begin with these.  Most of what is recorded in these 3 chapters is very similar, but Matthew included some things that Mark and Luke did not mention.  Likewise, Mark included some things that Matthew and Luke did not say.  Luke also included some distinctive insights.  Thus, to get the whole picture, it is important to compare the writings of all these men.

           One of the keys to understanding Matt. 24 is verse 3 because Jesus' disciples asked three questions, which the rest of chapters 24 and 25 answer.  Their first question pertained to when the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.  Their next 2 questions were about His second coming and the end of the age.  Jesus answered their first question in verses 15-20 of chapter 24.  It was because of these verses that the Christians in Jerusalem all escaped when Titus came to destroy Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  The only people, who died in that siege, were the Jews who rejected Jesus as their Messiah.

           Verses 4-14 predicted events that would occur throughout the church age.  For example, religious deception has occurred in every generation during the past 2000 years.  There have been many false Christs, false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers.  There have also been many wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes.  A key word in these verses is "sorrows" in verse 8.  The Greek word literally means "birth pangs."  Jesus chose this word to describe end-time events because He foresaw how all these calamities would increase in intensity on a progressive scale.  For example, the frequency of war increased exponentially during the past 100 years.  The atomic bomb of World War II is an example of how war also increased in intensity.

The same is true of earthquakes.  I once saw a chart of all the major earthquakes that occurred worldwide since the 1400's.  Between 1400 and 1500 there was only one major earthquake in the whole world. There was only one more during the next 150 years.  However, between 1650 and 1700 there were 3 major earthquakes.  Between 1800 and 1900 there were nearly a dozen.  However, during the last 100 years, the number of major earthquakes doubled about every 10 years.  Jesus was very accurate to describe such things as birth pangs.

           Verse 21 indicates that tribulation began when Jerusalem was destroyed, according to what Jesus said in the previous verses of that paragraph.  However, the tribulation mentioned in this verse should not be interpreted to involve only the destruction of Jerusalem.  If Jesus intended this to refer only to what happened in 70 A.D., He would not have mentioned the rise of many false Christs and false prophets in that same paragraph.  Nor would He have mentioned His second coming in verses 27 & 28 of that same paragraph.  Thus, the first part of that paragraph addressed the question about the destruction of Jerusalem and the rest pertained to events that would occur throughout the church age until He comes again.

           Another key verse to understanding this chapter is verse 29.  Jesus was very clear to state that His second coming would occur immediately after the tribulation of those days.  There is a lot of debate in Christian circles as to whether Jesus will return before, after, or during this period of tribulation.  There is also debate as to whether the tribulation Jesus spoke of here will last 7 years, 3 ˝ years, or throughout the church age.  It is my opinion that the tribulation Jesus mentioned in verse 29 is the same tribulation that He mentioned in verse 21.  Thus, I think that Jesus was referring to the entire church age when He spoke of these things.  Considering what Peter said in Acts 2:17-21, it seems to me that the last days began after Jesus returned to heaven in Acts 1.  Peter also mentioned the idea that the sun would be darkened and the moon turned into blood just as Jesus did in Matt. 24:29.  Thus, the last days began at that time in history, but we are now living in the last days of the last days.  In other words, we are living in the end times.  The last days have lasted 2000 years so far, but the end times will not last much longer.

           Jesus gave us a parable in verse 32 to help us understand the times in which we live.  Jesus interpreted this parable in verses 33-34.  Dispensationalists have given this parable a different interpretation to identify the fig tree as the nation of Israel.  However, Jesus said the figs on this tree symbolize the events He previously described in verses 5-14 and 21-30.  Since Jesus did not mention Israel in His interpretation, we should not either.  Since He said He will return after the tribulation of those days, we should not contradict Him either.

           One of the reasons pre-tribulation rapture theorists think they can explain this away is due to what Matthew recorded in verse 31.  They point out that the angels gather the saints from one end of heaven to the other, which implies to them that there are no saints on earth at that time.  However, as I mentioned above, Mark and Luke included some other details.  If you compare Matt. 24:31 to Mark 13:27, you will find that saints are not only gathered from all over heaven, but also from all over the earth.  Mark 13:24 also agrees with Matt. 24:29 that Jesus will return after that period of tribulation.  Luke 21:27 says something similar.  The word, "then," at the beginning of this verse, indicates that the rest of what follows in this verse must occur after the things mentioned in the previous verses.

Another reason I believe that Jesus intended us to see 2,000 years of tribulation in these passages instead of only 7 years or 3 ˝ years, is because Jesus was quoted in John 16:33 as saying that all saints will have tribulation in the world.  Paul confirmed this fact in Acts 14:22.  In all of these references, the same Greek word is used to describe the nature of this tribulation.  In modern English, it is helpful to realize that when Jesus and His apostles spoke of tribulation, they were referring primarily to persecution by enemies of the gospel and the calamities caused by war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, etc.

           If you are familiar with the way Dispensationalists interpret the above passages to promote a rapture of the church prior to any tribulation, then you may wonder where they got the idea that Jesus was talking about a 7-year period of tribulation.  They get this idea from Dan. 9:24-27.  However, to make these verses say what they want them to, they changed several words.  These changes were originally made by Scofield, and Dispensationalists have accepted his word without question ever since.  If you compare Scofield's notes to the KJV of Dan. 9:24-27, you will notice that he changed the pronoun, "he," to "the antichrist," and he changed "a covenant" to "the covenant."  Scofield also changed "confirm" to "make," and "many" to "Jews."  He further changed "cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease" to "breaks the covenant."

           I do not believe Scofield was correct to do this because the pronoun, “he”, in verse 27 can only modify one of the two people mentioned in verse 26 - the Messiah, or the prince.  History proves the prince was Titus, the Roman emperor, who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  However, Titus did not cause the Jewish sacrifices to cease.  These sacrifices ceased immediately after the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom on the day that Jesus died for our sins.  Thus, the Messiah caused the sacrifices to cease.  The fact that Jesus Christ confirmed a covenant with all who believe upon Him is revealed in Gal. 3:17, Rom. 15:8, and Luke 1:72-73.

           The 70 weeks of years in Dan. 9:25 also refers to the Messiah.  The decree to release the Jews from Babylon was issued by Cyrus in 457 B.C.  The 69 weeks (483 years) from that date brings us to 26 A.D.  Due to some inaccurate calendar revisions, we have lost about 4 years.  Thus, it really isn't the year 2,003 now; it is 2,007.  By adding these missing 4 years to 26 A.D., we get 30 A.D. – the beginning of Messiah's ministry.  Jesus' ministry lasted 3 ˝ years, which means He was cut off by crucifixion during the middle of the 70th week.  Thus, there are only 3˝ years left to be fulfilled of that 70th week.  Some of the prophetic details of what will occur during this half week are recorded in Dan.7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6,14; and 13:5.  Even more details are revealed in the full context of each of these passages.  There is a whole chapter in my book, Swimming Against The Tide, which explains this in greater detail.  If you desire to order a copy, write to me through the email link at the bottom of the index page.

           Something else Jesus prophesied to prove a post-trib rapture is found in Matthew 13:30.  Most people read this parable of the wheat and tares in a way that focuses upon their identity, but fails to recognize the timing of their separation.  If the pre-trib rapture was true, the wheat would be gathered first in verse 30, not the tares.  This sheds a different light upon another end-time prophecy by Jesus in Matt. 24:39.  Jesus pointed out in this verse that it was the wicked, not the righteous, who were taken away by the flood in Noah's day.  Yet, for some reason, pre-trib rapture theorists think it is the righteous who are taken in verses 40&41.  However, verses 40&41 should be interpreted consistently with verse 39 and Mark 13:30.  The tares will be taken first, not the wheat.

           It is difficult to focus only upon what Jesus said about the timing of the rapture when Paul and John also said a lot about this in their writings.  For example, Paul said the rapture will occur at the last trump in 1 Cor. 15:52.  This is the same trumpet that John wrote about in Rev. 11:15-18.  It should be noted that Rev. 10:7 also mentions the angel with the 7th trumpet.  In this verse, he is getting ready to sound it, but doesn't do so until the end of the next chapter.  According to Rev. 11:3, a period of 1,260 days will elapse from the time this angel gets ready to sound his trumpet and when he finally does sound it.  This is a period of 3 ˝ years.  The 42 months in verse 2 also equal 3 ˝ years.  Because Jesus was cut off in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, leaving only a half week to be fulfilled, I believe that Rev. 10:7-11:18 describes the events of that half week.

           I'm also inclined to believe this half week is described in Rev. 12:6&14 and 13:5.  This time period is described 3 different ways in all of these verses: 1) 1,260 days, 2) 42 months, 3) a time and times and half a time (KJV).  Daniel used the latter term in chapter 7:25.  A close look at the full context of all these references indicates they are all prophesying about the same time period.  Thus, the saints will be persecuted by a devil-worshipping world government for 3 ˝ years at the end of the age before Jesus Christ returns to destroy it.

           This fact is further confirmed by Paul in 2 Thes. 2:1-12.  He clearly stated that the day of Christ will not come until after the man of sin (antichrist) comes into power.  Dispensationalists try to get around this by saying the day of Christ is not the same as the day of the Lord.  According to them, a pre-trib rapture occurs at the day of the Lord, but the day of Christ occurs later.  If you read every passage in the Bible about the day of Christ and the day of the Lord, you will find they are synonymous.  Even verse 1 says we will be gathered unto Him at this time.

           Our gathering unto Christ is called the day of the Lord in 1 Thes. 5:2.  There are several things in this chapter, which Dispensationalists, who believe in a pre-trib rapture, overlook.  The Greek word for "remain" in verses 15 and 17 refers to surviving a great conflict.  The word, "and," is in italics because it was not in the original Greek text.  It was added by the translators in an effort to make the meaning clearer.  However, in this case, I think it should be omitted.  If it is omitted, verse 15 could be translated, "...we who survive alive until the coming of the Lord..."  Verse 17 can be similarly translated.  The Greek word for "shout" in verse 16 can also be translated as "battlecry."  I think this is a better translation because Rev. 19 and 20 indicate that Jesus will return to destroy the antichrist in battle.

           Another interesting Greek word in verse 17 is the verb, "meet."  According to Vine's New Testament Dictionary, this particular word was only used when people went out to meet a royal dignitary for the purpose of escorting him back to the place where they came from.  A different Greek word was used if the people went back to the place where the royal dignitary came from.  And another Greek word is used for meeting people, who are not royal dignitaries.  Thus, Paul was being very precise in his choice of words here.  Yet the pre-trib rapture theory says we will be caught up to meet Jesus and return to the place He came from.  Jesus isn't returning to take us to heaven.  He will return to set up His millennial kingdom upon the earth.  We will not rule and reign with Him in heaven.  We will reign with Him on earth.  This is proven by Rev. 5:10.

           About 3 months after Jesus saved me in 1966, He gave me dreams about these things, which came 2 nights in a row.  The second dream began where the first one ended.  It climaxed with the second coming of Jesus Christ.  After we were caught up to meet Him in the air, we were placed into military ranks.  When everyone was in place, Jesus led us back down to earth to establish His millennial kingdom.  I did not know anything about Greek at that time, yet my dreams completely agree with everything I said above.  The fact that God doubled these dreams is also very significant, according to Gen. 41:32.  The idea that God can reveal to people that they will live to see Jesus is proven in Luke 2:26.  I will never claim to know the day or hour of His return, but I do believe it will be in my lifetime.

           We can also apply Jesus' parable about the fig tree to understand the times in which we live.  The things He prophesied are rapidly being fulfilled.  When a world government is established, you can be sure His coming is nigh.  When that government begins to slaughter the church like Hitler, Stain, Mao, Amin, and Pol Pot, you can figure we are entering the last 3 1/2 years.  That is why some other pages at this site provide information about the trend toward a world religion and world government.

           A few years ago I saw a video, which was filmed by Roman Catholics, that shows the Pope meeting with the leaders of other pagan religions to plan a world religion.  One of those leaders was the Dali Lama, who really is a devil worshipper.  The film was intended to make the Pope's idea for syncretizing Christianity with paganism to be something good.  The Bible calls this apostasy and heresy.  The Bible also says that a great apostasy will occur at the end of the age before Jesus returns (2 Thes. 2:3).

           At the end of 1999, New Year’s Eve to be exact, Larry King had a show in which he interviewed Rev. Robert Schuler, a Vatican cardinal, the head of the Mormons, the Grand Mufti of Islam, and the Chief Rabbi of Israel.  They discussed how they could bring all of their religions together.  The events in the film mentioned above occurred several months later.  I don't know what they have planned for this year yet, but I won't forget how Robert Schuler threatened to silence anyone who opposed them.  I know from personal experience that Schuler is heavily into the occult.  He is not a legitimate minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is an infiltrator.  I once heard him say that all religions have access to God.  I wouldn't dare to call Jesus a liar as he implied.  Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father apart from Me." Nor would I contradict Peter, who said in Acts 4:12,  "Neither is there salvation in any other.  For there is no other name under heaven, given unto men whereby we must be saved."

 

Revised: 10/30/05

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