“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. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:9-14 (KJV)
The birth pangs coming on the world are small in comparison to what is going to come. There will be an unprecedented increase in storms, earthquakes, other weather related catastrophes; unlike anything the world has ever seen. This all for the purpose of God’s redemption of His people, His nation called Israel. It is my belief that we are seeing these birth pangs this very day.
The nation of Israel is being attacked daily by cowardly terrorist who believe their only sure way to eternal blessing is by the taking of the infidel – Jews, Christians and pagans – if they cannot convert them to Islam. Jesus said, “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” 24:6. The world over is seeing these things take place, and we should see them as God’s invitation to repent of our sins and trust His Son as our personal Lord and Savior.
We must realize that these words are being spoken to the Jewish people; particularly to the disciples at this time to make them aware that He has not come to set up His earthly kingdom just yet. That the people of Israel have a time coming for cleansing and repentance. Let me give you three things for now that let me know that this is a message for the Jew: 1) When we look at the text of Matthew we see the genealogy of a King – the King of the Jews; 2) the mention of the “Abomination of desolation” in verse 15; and 3) “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” verse 16. These are clearly references to Jewish people.
There will be a point before the judgment proceeds with the nation of Israel where the Church will be taken out of this world. For some reason some want to call it a “Secret Rapture” or some other word such as that. There will be nothing secret about millions of people missing. That is why Jesus has cautioned us, warned us many times “I am coming again”, “No one knows the day or the hour”, “In such an hour as ye think not; the Son of Man cometh”. His coming for His bride is imminent, ie. sudden, and without further notice. What is secret about that? What worldly thief announces his coming? None. If any home owner knew a thief was coming they would be ready and prepared. We know Jesus is coming again for His bride; we need to be ready for His appearing, and for His call, “Come up here”.
On that day when millions disappear then, there is going to come a time of persecution on the nation of Israel. There will be a time of peace for about 3.5 years. Then that peace will be broken by the false peace maker, and that is when they will need to flee to the mountains.
THERE IS COMING A PERIOD OF TIME, AROUND THE WORLD, WHEN THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS, WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION (vv. 9-10). It seems that this will be a period of time after which a world ruler has come on the scene, and will establish peace with Israel, and between Israel and other nations. Anyone who refuses to accept this new world ruler, and has chosen to believe the Word of God, the exclusivity of faith in Jesus Christ alone, and refuses the work and ministry of this world ruler will be the one’s who suffer.
We know according to the Revelation that there will be 144,000 Jewish men (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5) who will become believers in Jesus Christ, carry the message of Christ to the world, and will be hated and despised. These will probably be called and set apart very near the beginning of the rule of the world leader.
Right now in our day when we speak of persecution we think of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, parts of Africa, and other parts of the world. This day that is coming will mean that believer around the world are going to be hated, despised. There will also be many who once professed faith in Jesus Christ who will turn away from the faith, and turn on their family and friends, exposing their faith to the authorities who will have them killed. Those “departing from the faith” will really, only be showing that they never really knew Jesus; nor has He known them – in His own words, “I never knew you”. John the apostle said, “They went out from us because they were not of us” (1 John 2:19).
The Christians in the USA can yell and protest when we feel we are being treated wrongly. For years now there has been a powerful influence from Christian groups who espouse moral beliefs and convictions, and relied upon politics and political machines and machinery to accomplish their purposes. I sometimes refer to this as “the woman riding the beast” (Revelation 17:1-5), which refers to a religious influence with seeming control over a political government. Our trust must be in Christ alone. No political machine; whether it be Republican, Democrat, Independent, Constitutional is the answer to the ills of the USA government; or of the governments of the world. What that will get us is a One World Ruler, the Bible has called Antichrist. This leader hates Christ, and His followers, and he will be filled with the devil, seeking to destroy the very work of God; and seek to take the place of God. He will seek to destroy the 144,000 as well as all who convert and believe in Christ. As a matter of fact it appears that all 144,000 will be martyrs for the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:1-5).
Those who depart from their professed faith will turn on their mothers and fathers who have believed, and report them to authorities of the world ruler. The “Offended” ones of whom Jesus speaks are those who because of the persecution, and maybe the popularity of the world ruler, and his chrisma will turn from their “faith”, and follow the lie. They are more intrigued by antichrist and his seeming power, than they are Christ and His real power. This can take us back to the parable of the sower which Jesus teaches in Matthew 13. There are two types of soil presented which does seem to receive the seed, but then one is burned up from heat or persecution from the sun, so bears no fruit. The second soil which receives the seed is thorny, brushy, weedy, thus is choked out because it gets no light from the sun, showing a heart that is caught up in the worldliness of wealth, power, prestige, politics, popularity, and even technology. This bears no fruit for the glory of Jesus either, thus does not know Him.
DURING THE TIME THAT IS COMING, THERE WILL BE FALSE PROPHETS OF UNPRECEDENTED PROPORTIONS (v. 11). These false prophets will tell the world to believe the world ruler. Trust him. He knows the way through our wars, tribulation and trials. Just trust him. Jesus has warned us just a few verses previous to “Take heed that no one deceive you”, and that “All these are the beginning of sorrows”.
That time will be a time of great deception. Paul the apostle writing to the Church of Thessolonica writes, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (KJV). There will not be one word of truth spoken about, truth of, or truth spoken by this individual and/or his government, yet he will be given the power and ability to deceive multitudes of people and nations with their leaders.
There are multitudes of people of our day who will flock to an individual leader because he/she may have a very influential personality, charismatic, powerful speaker, or good looks, and yet speaks whatever people want to hear. Because of the image he presents many will be moved to him, despite the contradictory words he speaks in different cultures and societies. That can be clearly seen in the USA’s political arena right now for the elections of 2008, concerning one very popular, young, and fast moving candidate for President of the United States. He has came into the political scene with a vigilance unlike any I have ever seen. I am just saying that this candidate is a good example of what is coming.
The false prophets will point to this coming one wold leader as the epitome of goodness, righteousness, and the answer to all the world’s problems. They will endeavor to make him appear as though he were Jesus Christ Himself, or a likeness of Him. Anti-christ does not just mean “against Christ” it can mean, “In place of Christ” or “Instead of Christ”. Because God has sent a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”, then these will be able to easily convince the deluded.
Why would God allow or send a “strong delusion”? The answer is given – “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The people having seen the power and heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, rejected Christ, and chose their own way, their own destiny; therefore God sends them the “strong delusion” and they cannot then believe. They will continue in their state of condemnation. By their own choice.
THOUGH LAWLESSNESS SHALL ABOUND THE FAITHFUL WILL ENDURE TO THE END (vv. 12-13). The Spirit of God has always been at work in the world, but not as He has been working since the departure of Jesus in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus had promised that He would send the Comforter (John 14:16; 16:5-16) when He returned to the Father. We read in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit coming on certain individuals, however, the Spirit of God doesn’t seem to abide with them, or continue with them, it is for occasional needs that arise. The Spirit came on Saul who had just been chosen as the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 10:9-12), and it is seen in Samson one of the judges of Israel (Judges 14:5-6), and there are other Biblical examples of the appearances of the Spirit of God upon His chosen people. The Spirit of God came on these individuals as the need arose, and to put away evil from Israel.
There has been evil in this world since the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden. The Spirit of God has kept that evil in check, though not violating the will of man. We can see the power of God throughout the Old Testament in the flood, in the call of Abraham and Sarah, the bondage of Joseph to Egypt, and eventually the bondage of Israel in Egypt as slaves. We definitely see God’s delivering power as the Pharoah is confronted to let God’s people go, and by his will he refuses, thus opening a floodgate of judgment upon Egypt; until finally after the death of his son Pharoah breaks, lets the children of Israel go, only to then change his mind, sending his army after them to kill them or bring them back; and the army of Egypt perishes in the Red Sea.
There has been lawlessness, evil, and sin since the fall, and it has always been kept to a minimum by the work of the Spirit of God. That may be hard for some to see and understand, however, when we realize that human beings are totally depraved – not meaning that we are as sinful as we could be, but that if we were left to ourselves, without God, we grow increasingly worse in wickedness – we might get better understanding of the hindering of evil by the work of the Spirit of God. It is almost horrifying to think what the world would be like without God’s intervention in human affairs. Those who want that will one day see what the world will be like without God. Atheists cry for a world without God, evidently thinking the world would be a better place, without Him. Thinking mankind is getting better, progressing in knowledge [science], technology, and medicine the non-theist mind believes that mankind can solve his own ills and problems and have peace on earth. But first, in the thinking of the non-theist, there must be no God.
During the time for which Jesus is speaking of there will be such lawlessness as has never been seen before. We think that things are bad now with men killing their wives, wives killing their husbands, mothers and fathers killing their children, children killing their parents, parents and step-parents raping, molesting and killing their children; yet, with all of this the Spirit of God reigns, rules and overrules for now. We are only seeing the introduction of what is to come, a prelude, a very small sample of the horror which will come on the world. Maybe using some exaggeration; that day will make this day look like the millennial reign of Christ in comparison.
As Christians before this day comes we must be ever vigilant in proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus Christ. We don’t want any of our loved ones; family, friends, or close relatives, or even those who may have made us their enemies to go through the event that is going to try those who “dwell on the earth” and be the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). We are to love the appearing of the Lord (2 Timothy 4:8). It seems that the appearing of the Lord is getting to be the farthest thing from many professing Christian’s hearts and minds. We want to see Jesus, and to see Him face to face.
There will be a multitude who will believe in Jesus Christ after the disappearance of the Church. It will probably be the largest number of people believing in such a short period of time, that has ever happened in the history of salvation. This time will not be peaceful for those who believe. Their live’s will be in constant jeopardy; any property they own will probably be lost – taken by the hater of Christ; and any business(es) owned by believers will be confiscated and given to the estate of the Christ hater. In order to live many will flee to remote areas, to the mountains and the hills, and will be trusting their lives to the hands of God. They will be unable to buy or sell, therefore groceries, and goods will be hard to come by (Revelation 13:16-17). However, no matter what comes their way, they will endure to the end. They will endure to the end of their lives. They will endure to the end of the tribulation. They will endure till Christ comes again.
Let me pose this thought or question for the Christians who are citizens of the USA and other free nations, of 2008: If I will not stand for Christ today when I have freedom, why should I believe I would stand and speak for Him when those freedoms are gone? If I am ashamed to speak for Him today, I will certainly be ashamed of Him when I have no freedom. In fact Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of Me I will be ashamed of you before My Father in heaven.” (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26)
The apostle Paul writes, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV).
Surely the Christian of 2008 can see that we are in perilous times for sure. We too must endure though the times be evil. Jesus is coming soon, and we need to be ready.
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM WILL BE PROCLAIMED TO THE WHOLE WORLD (v.14). There are many who believe and teach that Jesus cannot come again until the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and received all over the world. There are only a few places on the earth where the gospel has not been preached. During the time of suffering, the time of tribulation, the gospel message may contain the message of the coming of Christ’s rule and reign upon the earth. It would be a means of preparing the believers for that day.
The “gospel of the kingdom” does need to be spoken today (2008), but it is not heard much from the pulpits of our churches. May God have mercy toward those pastors/preachers who neglect to tell of the glorious kingdom of Christ on earth.
Pastors and preachers are saying, “I want to preach practical messages that people can use for their everyday life. I don’t see any practicality to preaching of ‘pie in the sky by and by'”. How could anything be any more practical than getting people ready for Christ’s coming? Preacher, one day they are going to look you in the eye and say, “Why didn’t you tell us? Why didn’t you tell us that Jesus was coming again? Why didn’t you tell us we needed to be ready?”, then what will your answer be? “Well, it wasn’t practical to preach”. The truth is friend, YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT. What are you doing behind that sacred desk where you are supposed to be proclaiming the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27-28).
The message of the kingdom of Christ as continued to be proclaimed since Jesus gave the commission to go into the world. Where one has failed or fallen, God raises another to continue. God has always had a remnant of people. The message will continue right up until the end of the time of trouble that is coming on the earth, and possibly right through the Millennial reign of Christ on earth.
-Tim A. Blankenship