Article Preview: Does the Matthew 24 prophecy really mean what we think it does? Preachers quote from this chapter to “prove” that we are already in the end time and that the return of the Messiah is imminent. Are we in the end time? Who was this chapter written to? What is the key to understanding Bible prophecy?
The purpose of this article is to review some of the teachings concerning Matthew 24 and the “end time”, as taught by most of “modern” theology. The actual message of Matthew 24 seems to go unheard in today’s world of “churchianity”. Today’s churches have made the Bible into their own personal instrument and have consistently interpreted it in such a way so as to sustain their groups existence and provide “justification” to their members for choosing them out of all others. We hope to show, for your consideration, how, and or why, many verses may have been (unknowingly?) misunderstood in the past by some, and in other cases most of us.
Matthew 24 begins:
Matthew 24:1-3 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 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?
Many people know these verses by heart. This dialogue took place just two days before the Passover (Matthew 26:2). The disciples asked three distinct questions. Did Christ answer all of them? Don’t most Christians want to know the answer to these questions as well? The answer He gave to His own disciples, those who would be sent into the world to raise up the ekklesia, is just as applicable today. There are numerous individuals and groups that tell us we are living in the “end time”, but do they really understand what is meant biblically by that phrase? There is a flaw that has infected virtually every single religious prophecy advocate to this day. Every one of them, whether it was in 300 AD, 1300 AD, or the last century, has based their prognostications on one premise. That premise has proved to be in error 100% of the time to date. Today we have televangelists constantly “warning” us that the return of Christ can happen at any minute, so send us your money, ah, er, I mean, “give your heart to Jesus”, yes that is what I meant to say. Meanwhile, their revenues skyrocket and the listeners pocket books, well you know where it goes. Do these guys really have an inside track with God? If we score them as we would a baseball player their combined batting average is a grand total of 0.000. That is ZERO for the non-sportsman! So far they have NEVER been right, and yet they continue to acquire new blood in their personal vendetta to save the world. What is missing? Is there a “key” that would both unlock this mystery to the average individual and improve those self-appointed prophets prophecy batting average?
Would you be surprised to learn that there is not only a “key” to understanding the Bible, but that once you have this “key”, you can use it yourself and begin to understand the Bible with clarity. No longer will you think that you have to look to another to unveil the mysteries of the Bible. This is not to say that you should be alone or a religious “drifter”. It is to say that you can and indeed must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. This “key” gives you a freedom from those who would hold you captive and accountable to them, or their “group”. Let’s begin this look into what Matthew recorded for us and see if you can figure out what that universal “flaw” is that has condemned so many, who would foretell the times, to failure, and also, just what that unique “key” to biblical understanding really is.
Please, do not read one more sentence without your Bible in front of you! There will almost certainly be some information provided in the pages that follow with which you may not be familiar. In addition, some of what is presented will differ from what you have previously been taught or believed. You need to confirm this for yourself from your own Bible-if it is truth, then great-and if we are in error, then you need to be able to prove it to yourself as well as to us. God is capable of insuring that what He wants to have recorded will be preserved. He is also capable of hiding truths within plain sight, which He surely has done, as evidenced by the massive confusion found among those claiming to be Christians, the remnants of His own church.
Let’s begin by looking at the end of Matthew 24:3 to see if we can determine exactly what is meant by: “the end of the world”? We will begin with the word “world”. In Strong’s Concordance it is reference #165.
“World” would be better translated as a period of time, or an age, and therefore it is not a question of when the earth will cease to exist, but rather when the present time period ends. According to the Companion Bible, Appendix 129, there are four Greek words that are translated as “world” or “earth”, etc. The second word listed is aion, which is Strong’s #165, as noted above.”
“Aion = an age, or age-time, the duration of which is indefinite, and may be limited or extended as the context of each occurrence may demand. The root meaning of aion is expressed by the Heb. Olam which denotes indefinite, unknown or concealed duration: just as we speak of ‘the patriarchal age’, or ‘the golden age’, &c. Hence, it has come to denote any given period of time, characterized by a special form of Divine administration or dispensation.”
“These ages or age-times were all prepared and arranged by God (see Heb. 1:2, 11:3): and there is a constant distinction in the “New Testament” between “this age”, and the “coming age” (see Matthew 12:32, Hebrews 1:2, Ephestians 1:21).
Let’s look at some other scriptures in which the word “world” is from the Greek translation of aion.
Romans 12:1-21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Ephestians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So, it certainly appears from the above, that “world” in Matthew 24:3 is referring to this continuing age that the disciples lived in, as well as this present day. But let’s remember why the disciples were asking these questions in the first place. They were looking forward to the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, a time when the house of Judah and the house of Israel would be rejoined, as particularly well stated in the Ezekiel 37 account and other scriptures. They looked forward to the new age, realizing that the Roman “kingdom” would have to end before The Kingdom could arrive. The disciples were soon to realize that there was much more to this coming age than they had ever realized. (See Matthew 12:32, Mark 10:30, Luke 18:30, Hebrews 2:5, 6:5).
Continuing in Matthew 24:3 “...and of the end of the world?”: Consider the word translated “end”. It is #4930 in Strong’s.
When you research the words and meanings that #4930 is derived from, you will most likely arrive at the same conclusion that the Companion Bible does (pg 1364). It states that the “end of the world” (Matthew 24:3) means the “meeting together of all that marks the consummation of the age”.
This means that the disciples were asking a relatively broad question concerning what they should be looking for, in the way of evidence, to determine exactly when this present evil age would conclude and the Kingdom would be set up. How did Jesus respond? Did He answer all of what was asked of Him? Matthew 13:10-11 states that it was Christ’s intention that we be aware of and understand what He said.
Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11) He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Jesus answered His disciples beginning in vs. 4. Then in the latter part of vs. 6 He stated “but the end is not yet.” This “end”, in vs. 6, is a different word than the one the disciples used in vs. 3. In vs. 6 the “end” is #5056 telos.
Some today have made claims about this word meaning the end of an era (i.e. church era). But regardless of what one believes concerning supposed church eras, vs. 6,13 and 14 are all #5056, and cannot be referring to the end of an “era”. An era is a “period of time”. So to conclude that Matthew 24:6, 13, and 14 refer to the “end” of a church era is illogical, as defined by Strong’s (#5056).
Every event takes time, but what had been asked by the disciples and answered by Jesus had to do with events, acts or conditions, which were used to locate a position in time. We are not to use time to locate our position in a series of events. For example, if one said that the end (#5056) in vs. 14 denoted the end of the so called Philadelphia era, then one would be defining events by time. Secondly, vs. 14 cannot, by definition, be referring to the end of one era, when it would mean continuing in time into another presumed era, that being the Laodicean. Jesus specifically used #5056 “telos” because it means that something is over, finished, ended, it is not just a minor transition into another time period contained within the same present “age”. No, the end, telos, is the end, the conclusion, and the finale.
On the other hand, we are being shown through Christ’s own words in Matthew 24, to use signs, acts, and events to verify our proximity to the conclusion of this present evil age. This, of course, is exactly what the disciples were asking for in the first place!
So, what then is the “end” spoken of in vs. 13 and 14? To be properly understood, Matthew 24 needs to be subdivided. There are groupings of verses that address an issue, answer a question, and or encapsulate a thought. For example, vss. 4-8 comprises one such section, and these verses address a sequence of events herein called “the beginning of sorrows”. “Sorrows” would be better phrased as birth pangs. So these verses comprise introductory events preceding a full-fledged birth of some sort.
4-8 And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you.5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 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.7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
The next section (vss. 9-12) addresses a time of martyrdom, betrayal, deception, and lawlessness. Verse 13 offers a promise to those living through vs. 9-12. This promise cannot be fully understood from these few verses alone. Suffice it for the moment to state that the promise minimally includes certain of those in Israel who “shall have endured”, (up to this point) “unto to the end” (#5056), and shall be “saved” or “delivered”. Therefore, their physical life shall not be extinguished. They will be saved alive as we shall see.
9-13 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. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Verse 14 answers, in part, the “end of the world” (age) question from vs. 3. The evidence for this conclusion is derived from the sequence of events in vss. 4-13 and the use of “end” in vs. 14, which is the Greek telos, #5056. In addition, Revelation declares the precise timing of this specific event. There will be more on that later.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then (#5119) shall the end come.
The use of the word “then”, #5119, is very interesting and important to consider in this verse.
The English word “then” has more meanings than the Greek word “tote” that is translated to “then” in this verse. In English the word “then” can mean, “at that time”, but it can also carry a meaning of, “at another time”, or, “at other times”. Such as in, “Everyone came to dinner, and then they left”. The Greek has a different word that covers the “at another time” definition. So, we find that this verse might be better explained or understood by inserting the actual definition in place of the word. In this case it reads, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and at that time (not some other time, not some years later, not 1,000 years later, but at the time of this “preaching”) shall the end (finale) come.
Beginning with vs. 15, Matthew began a new thought. Verse 15 does not follow vs. 14 in time. Rather, vs. 15 precedes vs. 14 (perhaps by approximately 1,260 days?) Verses 15-22 form this next encapsulated section.
15-22 When [#3752, “as soon as”] ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then [#5119, “as soon as”] “at that time”, not some other time) let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then [#5119, “at that time”] shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
How can we know exactly what event vs. 21 is referring to? Is it the Great Tribulation? Is it the Day of the Lord? There are a number of clues, as well as some direct evidence, to consider. In the interest of brevity, let us mention only two points. First, the word “world” in this verse is “oikoumene” which refers to the inhabited world (earth). The word, by implication, also refers to the civilized world as opposed to the uncivilized one (i.e. barbarians). But, perhaps the single greatest proof of what it refers to is the fact that it was quoted from Daniel 12:1. This is a reference to what we have come to call, “The Great Tribulation” which comes upon Israel. (See Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 8: 24,25).
Daniel 12:1 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.
With vs. 21’s reference to the “Great Tribulation”, why is there so much misunderstanding over verse 22? The Great Tribulation is specifically upon the nations that comprise the House of Israel. The Day of the Lord is upon the Beast power and other non-Israelite nations who enter the foray.
Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
First, let’s notice that “shortened” is #2856, koloboo, and means, “to dock”, or figuratively, to abridge. What are “those days” which are shortened? As we have just seen, they are the days of the Great Tribulation of vs. 21. So the days are shortened to save the elect. We must first determine who the elect are. Then we need to know why it matters if “No flesh be saved (alive)”? The answer lies in the understanding of exactly who the “elect” are. Once we understand this, we will then perceive the need for having those days “docked”.
We know that the people who are subjected to the Great Tribulation of vs. 21 are the people of the House of Israel. The phrase: “The Great Tribulation”, has been adopted by many churches, and used in reference to the final great captivity of Israel. This expression is only found in Rev.7:14. (For commentary on “The Great Tribulation”, and the identity of the “Great Multitude” of Revelation 7 see the article, “The Great Multitude of Revelation 7”: off site.) We simply use it because so many people generally comprehend the meaning of the event so labeled. So, is it not then the Israelite people who are facing extinction if “those days” are allowed to continue unrestrained? Absolutely, and it is Israel which will cease to exist unless God shortens or “docks” the duration of the Great Tribulation. There is absolutely no doubt as to it being upon Israel. This is comparable to Luke 21:23-24; the passage is also paralleled in Mark 13. Notice that Luke specifically stated in Luke 21:22, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled”. This verse is quoted from Hosea 9:7. These days apply to all of Israel and not just Judah. Nevertheless, the focus in Matt. 24, and the other parallel passages, is on the land of Palestine, and particularly to Judah and Jerusalem. This is stated quite well in Luke 21:23 “... for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this People (the Israelites inhabiting the “land” of Judah as well as the city of Jerusalem). It is important to make this point, because so many people seem to think that verse 22 refers to the end of all human existence on the planet instead of only God’s People Israel. Compare this also with Luke 19:43-44 and Ex. 32:34. We must remember that it is because God has covenanted with Israel NOT to let them die out, which necessitates God’s cutting those days short. The promise is made to Israel in several scriptures, but perhaps one of the most often quoted is Mal. 3:6, “For I am the Eternal, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” The LORD (YHWH) God, the very God of Israel, promised Israel many times that He would never let them die out.
Does this mean that God is shortening the span of time that He had previously allocated for the duration of the “end time” (which includes, “Jacobs Trouble” (the “Tribulation”), and the “Day of the Lord”)?-NOT AT ALL! God has always known, and specified to the day, exactly how long He would let the Great Tribulation continue upon Israel. What verse 22 means is that if God did not intervene exactly as He has planned, by disallowing the Beast power to continue unchecked (or undocked) then the nations of Israel would be totally annihilated. Fortunately for Israel, God has promised that He would not let that happen, for Michael (Dan. 12), the great prince, will stand up for Israel, and “at that time” (the time when they are in captivity) they shall be delivered-exactly as God promised.
What we see then is that God is not forced into “docking” His own preplanned timetable because it somehow got off-track. God is docking the time that man (the Beast power, etc.) would conduct this Great Tribulation on Israel if left to his own plans.
Hopefully, we can all see that the elect, in verse 22, is Israel. Why have so many Christians chosen to believe that “the elect”, in this scripture, is the “church”? The Bible states that “the elect” is Israel. The disciples understood at the time Christ said this that “the elect” was a reference to Israel. In fact, at that time, on the Mt. of Olives, the only elect people on the planet were Israelites. The disciples had no idea that there would ever be an ekklesia of God, other than the physical nations of Israel. There was not, as yet, a single disciple who was “converted” and begotten by the Holy Spirit of God. There was no so-called “church”. Even after the church was established, Israel was still the elect, even according to “New Testament” scriptures. It was only when the “church” became established that it became, let’s describe it as, a co-elect with Israel. The context of the verse, chapter, or book will give us the necessary clues to understand which “elect” is being referred to in any given passage. Remember that Matthew wrote all of this down long after the church began. If he meant that the elect of chapter 24 was referring to the ekklesia (church), and not Israel, wouldn’t scripture require some kind of “oh, by the way” qualifier? Furthermore, please remember that verse 22 parallels Daniel 12, which is in direct reference to the physical nation of Israel, is it not? Some express their contention that these various scriptures are to the church “first” and then to Israel secondly. How does this approach square with the “Old Testament”? Was God/ YHWH on the level with Israel when He was prophesying to them through His own prophets? Was He being coy? No one is implying that these things will not happen to the church or anyone else “in type”, maybe they will or maybe they won’t, but we dare not forget that these particular passages specifically apply to all of the descendants of Israel in the “end time”!
If there is difficulty in understanding Christ’s unusually well detailed description of the end of the age, doesn’t it have to be a problem with us and not with God? The people of God have historically had a great tendency to spiritualize away many bible prophecies instead of looking for their fulfillments just as God has promised through his prophets since the beginning of the age. Maybe not you, but many for sure have done this over the years. We try to force fit what we think it already means. With the sincerest of intentions we have missed much, or most of, what God has prophesied, and this is simply due to our own subtle vanity. God said to prove all things. That does not mean to “prove it” with only our own reasoning, our nearsighted understanding, and our preconceived expectations. It does mean that we must humbly go on our knees before our Maker and seek His will, guidance, understanding, discernment and wisdom, which of course is only the beginning.
#Matthew 24:23 Then [#5119] if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 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.
Now, back to Matthew 24. Just what is it that Israel cannot be led astray from? First notice that verses 23 and 24 reflect events that take place during the tribulation of verse 21. This raises the question: Who are “the very elect” of verse 24? Who are these “elect” who cannot quite be “deceived”, which means to be lead astray? Is this “elect” the church? After all, it does say “the very elect”. They must at least be a special part of the elect, right? Well... actually “the very elect” would better be rendered, “even the elect”. Thus again, “the elect” remains to be Israel. But has not Israel pretty much lived in deception for most of the last 2,500 years? They do not know who they are. They do not even want to know. Notwithstanding, according to the Greek, the grammatical “mood” used in the verse leaves no doubt that it is impossible for these “elect”, of vs. 24, to be led astray. So again, what is it that Israel cannot be led astray from? For the answer, we can go to the book of Revelation. (Compare this with Jeremiah 50:4-9 and Isaiah 10:20,24)
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Who then are the “my people” of Rev. 18:4? Are these people the “church” or Israel? If the church has fled into a place of safety as some teach then it cannot be them. If some of the church goes into tribulation, how many will survive? The very fact that they missed out on going to a “place of safety” indicates the likelihood that they will be required to die as martyrs, does it not? If any survive, how many would there be? Too few to justify so much print space in Matthew. Consider this point: Since the number of members of any particular church is relatively small in comparison to the approximately 500,000,000 million Israelites on earth today, and that each church tends to teach that they are the “true” church, how is it even possible to think that this prophecy is to any “church” organization today? If anything, using that approach, it would have to be to all so-called Christian churches. But then we have another problem. This prophecy is to, about, and for Israel. Yet, the New Testament ekklesia (church) has membership in nations well beyond those nations that comprise the present day descendants of the ancient twelve tribes of Israel. These non-Israelite members of the ekklesia are not participants in this Great Tribulation since they are not citizens of those modern nations that are of Israelite descent. The “church” logic fails the scriptures. There are not enough people involved in any single “church”, and if it was “all” churches, then there would be members in opposing nations where one nation would be killing those of another. However, there is a much simpler answer. Repeatedly the prophecies describe the end time re-gathering of all the nations of the House of Israel from their national captivity! To learn more about just who are the modern nations of the House of Israel please see, “America, Britain & Israel in Prophecy”.
Revelation 14:9-12 Another Messenger, a third one, followed them and said in a loud voice, “If anyone worships the ravenous beast and his icon and accepts his mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they will also drink the wine of Yehovah’s anger that is poured out undiluted into the cup of His anger, and will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the Messengers and the throne . 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the ravenous beast and his icon.” 12 ‘This calls for’ patient endurance by the kadishea, who preserve [obey] the Commandments of Yehovah AND the faith of Yeshua (Jesus).
We read in these verses that anyone who receives the mark of the beast will be subjected to God’s wrath. In verse 11, we find no rest for those who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name. Revelation 18:4 says to come forth out of her that you be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues. This explains Rev 14:12. The saints here are the captive Israelites, and the patience of the saints is “not” taking the mark of the beast during their captivity in the Great Tribulation. So the answer to the earlier question, “Just what is it that Israel cannot be led astray from?” is the same as the reason for not taking the mark of the beast, that being, they (Israel) will not deny the God of Israel.
Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
This is the announcement of the imminent fall and destruction of Babylon (expounded in Rev. 18). Then, Revelation 14:9-11 quoted above, gives a special and specific warning directed to those in, or going into captivity. We still have the glaring question: Are these prophecies for the church or Israel? The people of the House of Israel, today, are not at the point where they would take a stand against the mark of the beast and refuse it in order to not deny the God of Israel. That is correct, TODAY, they are not! But there is a testimony to be made which will be deafening to Israel. The result of that testimony will instill the knowledge of the God of Israel into many Israelites to the extent that they will not deny their heritage, or their God. How will this come about? This is too extensive to cover in detail here. Suffice it to say that we need to remember that the Ezekiel 33 work, regarding the “watchman”, as well as the great Witness work, “preached in all the world” and “unto all nations” (also not pertaining to the church) has yet to occur. The “work” of the Watchman is to Israel, is it not? Even the Two Witnesses primarily go to Israel. Remember that they are killed in Jerusalem, not in a foreign land. What about the end time “Elijah the Prophet” who is to appear just before the Day of the Lord? God said that He would send this prophet to “them”, Israel, not the world (or the church), to turn their (Israel’s) hearts to their Father, etc.
So it is once again, Israel, or a significant part of Israel, which comprises the elect of Matthew 24:24 who will not be deceived.
Continuing on in Matthew 24, verse 29 introduces the heavenly signs, which are the sixth seal of Rev. 6:12. In verse 31, His angels, just as He stated in Matthew 13:39, gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Again, it is physical Israel that is gathered by the angels for “the God of Israel”, YHWH, the Eternal God. There is no claim of a resurrection in verse 31, only a re-gathering of physical Israel from captivity, just as God promised in Deuteronomy 30:4.
Deuteronomy 30:4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD (YHWH) thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
Heaven, as used here, is just someplace “over” the horizon. This expression is not unlike many we readily use in our modern English. It is not outer space, as no man lives there permanently. Neither is it the third heaven which is nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament and not identified in the New. It is just an expression, just as “from one end of heaven to the other”.
Here, in Matthew 24:30, we read that Christ finally addressed the question asked by the disciples back in verse 3, “...what shall be the sign of Thy coming”. Then Christ answered, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn”; the disciples gave no indication that they didn’t understand the meaning of this sign. Prior to that night, the disciples would ask Christ when they didn’t understand something. In this case they didn’t ask, so apparently they understood. Do you know what that “sign” is? First, let’s look at what happens when the sign is seen. All the tribes of the earth mourn. Who are all the tribes of the earth? Why are they mourning? Does it matter?
Yes, it matters, if God inspired it to be recorded there was a reason. As a profitable servant one would desire to achieve the highest level of understanding, in order to accomplish the highest level of service and compliance to his master’s will.
So, who and where are these “tribes of the earth”? First let’s look at the word “earth” which is #1093.
The Companion Bible (Append. 129.4) further includes: region or territory, used of one special land, or county, as distinct from other countries, in which peoples dwell, each on its own soil. Which of these possible meanings for “ge” is being expressed in verse 30? Many think this “ge” is referring to all the lands of the planet and therefore, all the foreign nations, peoples, etc., but is that the case?
The word “tribes” is phule #5443, an offshoot, i.e. race or clan: kindred, tribe. It, #5443, is used thirty-one times and is translated tribe(s) all but six times. In twenty-four uses as tribe or tribes it denotes expressly and exclusively one or all of the tribe(s) of Israel. Of the seven remaining uses, six are rendered “kindred”. (Revelation 1:7, 5:9, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6). Here again, kindred can be shown to apply expressly to the tribes of Israel. In particular, consider Rev 1:7.
Revelation 1:7 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.
This verse is paraphrased from Matthew 24:30 and Zech 12:10-14, while part of Matthew 24:30 is also from Zech 12. In Revelation 1:7 the word translated “wail” is #2875, the same word translated “mourn” in Matthew 24:30. The word “kindred” in Rev 1:7 is the same word translated “tribe” in Matthew 24:30. Notice it is verbatim. So then concerning all twenty-five times tribe or tribes is used, it is in reference to all of Israel or else some of Israel’s tribes.
Notice Zech 12:10-14. In verse 10 it is the ones who “pierced” Him who will be mourning.
Zechariah 12:10-13 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. 11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; 13 The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; 14 All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
Who was in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified, was it not Judah, Levi, and various other descendants of the families or House of Israel? Wouldn’t they be those who pierced Him? Notice verse 12, “And the land shall mourn...” (meaning the inhabitants of the land of Judah, where Jerusalem is located). Where is Christ returning to “in the clouds of heaven”? (Matthew 24:30). Is it not Jerusalem, specifically the Mount of Olives? (Acts 1:11)
Consider the word “all” in verse 14. The translation of this verse means exactly the same as what Zech 12 expresses. All the tribes and families that are present in the land or region in and around Jerusalem shall wail or mourn.
Finally, the remaining five uses of “kindred” do not refer to foreign nations, but to avoid drifting too far from the subject, we will leave that for your own in depth Bible study.
Back to Matthew 24:30, “and they shall see [Lit. “to comprehend what is seen”] the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The word “in” is epi, and means “upon”. So the Son of man is upon, or seated upon the clouds of “the” heaven (singular, with the article, as at the beginning of verse 30, where it is...Son of man in the heaven). See also Acts 1:9-11 where “heaven” is “the heaven”. (Note Rev 1:7, the word “with” should be translated “among”, while “clouds” should be “the clouds”. Let’s now look at Daniel 7:13.
Daniel 7:13, 22 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him... 22 Until the Ancient of days [the Father] came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
So we see that the “Old Testament” has supplied much of what has been recorded in Matthew 24:30. Have you ever considered that in these verses we find the Son of Man coming to the Father at the very time that “the saints [who are these ‘saints’, want to guess?] possessed the kingdom?” Yet some say that the Father was not known of prior to the time of Christ. These same people presume that the Father is a sort of deadbeat Dad who is not above abandoning His family for a thousand years, only to show up after the millennium. Does scripture support that “gap”? Hmmm, something to think about? Nevertheless, back to business.
Continuing in Matthew 24:31.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Many who consider themselves to be in the Body of Christ believe this to be a verse about the resurrection. But is it? There is a resurrection at the last trump (I Corinthians 15:52), but what is being addressed specifically in verse 31? We know that the timing of the events of verse 31 concerns the return of Jesus the Christ, during “the Day of the Lord”, which is before what some generally refer to as “the Millennium”. Notice the latter part of verse 31, “and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”. Is this referring to the resurrection of the saints? Let’s compare this to what God said in Deut 30:4-5.
Deuteronomy 30:4-5 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
The gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 is exactly the same as what was spoken of in Deut 30:4-5! Remember, we connected the use of the Greek word for “heaven” with the Hebrew word for heaven in the comparison of Matthew 24:30 and Daniel 7:13. As previously mentioned, the “heaven” #3772 as used here is simply referring to the air, and “from one end of heaven to the other (supply the ellipsis-“end of heaven”), which quite simply means the horizon. See the Greek and Hebrew definitions for heaven below.
Let’s go to Exodus 19:20 and compare it with Exodus 20:22.
Exodus 19:20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up... Exodus 20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
In the first verse, God (YHWH) came down upon mount Sinai and was on the top of the mount, which was accessible to Moses. We know this because he went up there. In the other verse, God was still on the mountaintop talking to Moses, but here God Himself called it heaven. Therefore, any elevated position could potentially be considered to be within “heaven” (by God). So then, why would not Matthew 24:31 be speaking of a re-gathering of physical Israel (all 12 tribes) as mentioned in Deut 30 and numerous other scriptures in the “Old Testament” rather than a resurrection?
Continuing in Matthew 24 is a parable, which may not mean exactly what most of us may have thought in the past.
Matthew 24:32-42 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
In the past, many have been taught that those who are “taken” in, verses 40 and 41, are being taken to the place of safety, or “raptured” just prior to the Great Tribulation. Is this the case? Why is this thought to be? Let’s start at verse 33.
In verse 33, “it is near” should be “He is near”, as “it” does not refer to “summer” of verse 32, but rather to the Son of man (as in verses 3-37), meaning that “it”, the “second coming,” is near. Verse 33 refers us back to verses 1-31, which are primarily concerned with the end time and what we tend to refer to as ‘the return of Christ’. It is because of “all these things” (verse 33) that He gave the parable of verse 32. “All these things” in verse 33 is the same as “all these things” in verse 34. And “all these things” includes the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. In addition, verse 37 is specifically referring to the time of the return of Jesus Christ, which is after the Great Tribulation and during the Day of the Lord. Verse 39 does the same. So the reference to those mentioned in verses 40 and 41 cannot be referring to a taking away of the church to a place of safety because it is not until after you see “all these things”, which includes the Great Tribulation, that you know that “He is near”.
So who are these people of verses 40 and 41, and what does it mean? Christ specifically gave the example of the “people” in the days of Noah. What happened to them? Were they “taken” or “left”? Let’s understand that this is actually a statement about living and dying. Those who were “taken” in Noah’s day died in the flood. This means Noah and his family were “left”, and they were left alive. So these verses, 32-42, are actually a warning to us, that if we are not watching and ready, we will die with those in the world during the Day of the Lord, if not sooner. This is all about the time of Christ’s return. It has nothing at all to do with being taken to a place of safety!
Here are a few more questions for you to consider. In Matthew 24:51, what will happen to those who know to watch and those who don’t? When does the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of verse 51 take place? At the return of Christ or after the Millennium, etc? Finally, when does the Lake of Fire appear?
God wants us to understand Him. We hope this article has been helpful and will encourage you to keep studying and prove all things as you have been commanded by God, and with that precious understanding hold fast and be ready and watch.
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We sincerely hope that you enjoyed this article and we look forward to hearing from you.
Well, have you figured out what that flawed premise is that I mentioned in the beginning of the article? The flaw that has resulted in 100% of all prognosticators of the end of the world, and/or the return of Jesus Christ, to be wrong 100% of the time-so far?
Have you surmised what that “key” to Biblical understanding, or at least the understanding of prophecy is?
The “flawed premise” is simply that all have always considered that they were living in the “end-time”. These folks looked around and took note of what they saw. They decided that it “looked” like what the Bible described, and as a result, they assumed that they were about to be eye witnesses of the “second coming”. They, in essence, made themselves the center of the universe. The problem with that is it cuts God out of the picture. They actually cut themselves off from understanding the “end-time” prophecies instead of locking on to them.
The “key” that opens the understanding of the events of the “end-time” is the understanding that the “end-time” events revolve around the twelve tribes of the House of Israel (which is much more than that one little nation in the Middle-east). There is an inherent flaw that most, if not all, so-called Christian churches (off site) employ in their interpretation of scripture and in particular prophecy. It is the same “cause” of the failure that results from the “flawed premise” just discussed above. The “churches” tend to place themselves into the scriptures and prophecies. They see God speaking to them, their “church”, their leader and so forth. Thus, they too, have made themselves the proverbial center of the universe and think that all prophecy somehow revolves around them or their group. They become exclusive to the out-casting of all others. Meanwhile, the reality is that they have cut themselves off from truth and from any genuine link to God that they might of actually had. They make God’s words fit into their seemingly well reasoned, but severely flawed package. Those who buy into it are now with the “special ones”, while those who don’t are considered as rejects. They say, “Well, they just don’t get it,” or, “God hasn’t opened their eyes”, or, “God has blessed us with this understanding,” etc.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, please reconsider everything. Start from scratch and this time use the right premise and the “key” yourself. Make God the center of the universe and you revolve around Him. Life is better and more enriched that way. After all, it is God’s Way, isn’t it?