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The Great Tribulation & Return or Second Coming of Christ – Matthew 24:15-51

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

June 2012 INTRODUCTION – Ch. 24,25 are in response to a question of the disciples, as seen in vs. 3, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Two weeks ago we looked at the context of this question and the beginning of Jesus’s long almost two chapter answer to this question and to the question they should have asked, but didn’t because they like us by nature are more interested in knowledge than they are proper responses to that knowledge.

For the sake of review I want to read what we covered two weeks ago; and then I want to read our first section for today = vs. 15-22 that introduces the subject of the coming Great Tribulation.

I. The Great Tribulation – vs. 15-22 A. The Abomination of Desolation – vs. 15 Is it a person (“standing”) or a thing? And has it already happened or is it in the future? Some of you may be thinking, “who cares”, but because of the command in vs. 15 (“let the reader understand”) we should care.

3 references in O.T. – all 3 in Daniel; many references to sins that are an abomination to God, but almost always refers to either the sin of idolatry or sexual immorality.

2 references to the abomination of desolation in N.T. – this one and Mark 13:14

Because Jesus clearly connects His discussion of the abomination of desolation to Daniel’s prophecies – let’s take a quick look at those

1. Daniel 9:27 “….and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate…”

2. Daniel 11:31 “….. and they will set up the abomination of desolation.”

3. Daniel 12:11 “…and the abomination of desolation is set up,..” Mark 13:14 “But when you see the Abomination of Desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” (also in black)

II Thessalonians 2:3,4 “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the return or 2nd coming of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”

This brazen act in the temple in Jerusalem – from what we can tell is going to unleash a horrible period in our world’s history – so horrible that Jesus goes on to speak of what kind of action those who believe in that region must take.

B. The Criticalness of Immediate Flight – vs. 16-20

This act will evidently be a major turning point in the rebellion and brazenness of the God haters; and thus the need to flee.

C. Why it will be “great” or horrible & in future? – vs. 21,22 This period of time will be the worst ever in history and nothing worse will ever come after it. The world will have never known anything quite like it. (vs. 21)

This period will be so bad that God will have to intervene/return to keep mankind from destroying each other. His primary motivation will be to protect and care for His own = the elect (vs. 22)

II. The Rise of False Christs & False Prophets – vs. 23-28 A. Reasons why we are not to believe them – vs. 23,24 1. When Jesus returns we will not need any person to tell us where He is (vs. 23)

2. The ability to perform signs and wonders means nothing in this regard. Satan and demons can give supernatural powers to men and women (vs. 24)

B. Why Jesus gave advance warning – vs. 25,26 Again commanded not to believe anyone who claims to know where He is

C. Lightning and vultures – vs. 27,28 Like lightning across the sky, it will be known to all and seen by all

Vs. 28 is in the context of a discussion about false prophets and false messiahs; most likely what Jesus is saying here is wherever there is spiritual death and bankruptcy such as was the state of Israel at that time, and evidently as will be at this time – – vultures or false prophets will gather and take advantage of their easily deceiveable state.

III. The Glorious Return of Christ – vs. 29-31 A. The timing of it – vs. 29 “Immediately after the great tribulation”

B. The Expanse or Universality of it – vs. 30 Everyone on the earth will see His return

C. The Gathering of the Elect – vs. 31 Jesus will send His angels to gather His people or the elect. He also mentions the role of angels in Matthew 13:41,42, & 49,50 in gathering the wicked or lost and sending them to the fires of hell. As is usually the case with Jesus, He does not speak of a rapture of His church before the tribulation; but rather a gathering of them after it. Some people believe that when Jesus in John 14:2,3 speaks of receiving His disciples unto Himself after preparing a place for them in heaven that He is speaking of a rapture. But there is nothing in the passage that speaks of the timing of this event, so theologians and scholars see it different.

IV. How to Recognize its Nearness – vs. 32-41 A. Parable of Fig Tree – vs. 32,33

B. Timing & “this generation” – vs. 34 Best to understand it as the generation which is alive when these things begin will be alive to see the end. Once the wheels get rolling, it will all take place in a relatively short time = period of years – not decades or centuries.

C. Surety of Jesus’s words about this – vs. 35

D. The Father’s secret – vs. 36

E. The Unpreparedness of Many – vs. 37-41

F. Larry Norman’s song, “……all be ready” = rapture; but matt. 13 would say it is the lost and wicked that get taken out first for judgment by the angels. “be taken” doesn’t sound so wonderful and loving.

V. How to be Ready & Prepared – vs. 42-51. A. Why Disciples must be alert – vs. 42-44

B. Blessing for the Faithful slaves– vs. 45-47

C. Judgment on the evil slaves – vs. 48-51

CONCLUSION – Major themes or concerns in ch. 24: 1. Not good to be ignorant of what Jesus has taught us

2. Not good to waste time on details that He hasn’t given us

3. Best to be daily seeking Him for what He has left us here to do and give ourselves with abandonment to fulfilling it

4. Non Christians need to know – they are not here by accident; they were created for a purpose; they will be judged on whether they discovered and fulfilled their purpose, which of course is impossible without coming to know their Master

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