Matthew 24, Part 1
Signs of His Coming
David Brandt Berg
In verse one of Matthew 24, the disciples were bragging to Jesus about the temple and what a beautiful building it was. He must have almost chuckled or even laughed! “He said unto them, See ye not all these things?”—This beautiful mountain of snowy buildings that Herod built for the Jews to please them—that Herod the Arab had built for the Jews, imagine that, to keep them happy! He said, “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” (v. 2).
“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives”—that’s a little hill just outside the walls of Jerusalem—“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?” (v. 3) They thought, “My goodness, when the temple is destroyed, that must be when You’re coming back and when the world is going to be destroyed!” They didn’t realize that the temple was going to be destroyed only 40 years later by the Romans, and it would still be another couple of thousand years before the end of the world.
“Jesus answered, and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you. Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 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. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (v. 4–8). We’ve had these things ever since Jesus was here, for the last 2000 years. He said they’re only the beginning. It’s only the beginning, folks!
“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. 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 until the end, the same shall be saved” (v. 9–13). That’s a sign of your salvation if you endure until the end. It doesn’t mean that if you make it to the end, then you’re going to be saved—you’re already saved. It means that if you are saved, you’ll stick it out to the end!
Now He’s going to give a very important prediction. They wanted to know, “When’s the end of the world going to be?” So He says in the 14th verse: “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.”
That is the first sign that Jesus Himself gave that we are nearing the end. And that is one of the signs of the end which has already occurred. The gospel has already been preached in all nations—if not directly by missionaries, certainly by radio and television and literature, or travelers and visitors and so on. Every nation on the face of the earth has today heard the gospel. Perhaps not every tribe and tongue and dialect and little tiny group, but every single nation on the face of the earth has now heard the gospel. And Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, then shall the end come.”
Now He’s going to be even more specific about the exact end of things.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.” We learn from Daniel—and Revelation and many other places in the Bible—that the abomination of desolation is going to be an image of the Antichrist, this Devil-man, which he tries to force the world to worship, to worship him. Jesus says here that when you see this idol, this image standing in the holy place, Mount Moriah, Jerusalem—one of the holiest places on earth to the world’s three great religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam—when you see the Antichrist image raised up and standing there, “whoso readeth, let him understand.” You’d better understand (v. 15).
“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” If you happen to be in Israel then, you’d better beat it! “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (v. 16–18). He says, “Take off, head for the hills! Don’t stop for anything.”
“And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.” It’s going to be hard to carry the baby; it’s hard to run while you’re carrying a baby. “But pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the sabbath day” (v. 19–20). Hope and pray it doesn’t happen in cold weather and you have to take off with nothing. Especially, He says, the people in Judaea, because that’s where the worst will begin, right at the headquarters of the Antichrist.
“For then shall be” what? Why does He say, “Look out, woe unto you”? Verse 15: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,” verse 21, “then shall be great tribulation”—the Great Tribulation, in fact—“such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” That is the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
When does that Great Tribulation begin? How can you know exactly when the first three and a half years of the Antichrist reign is finished and the last three and a half years of his reign begins and the Great Tribulation begins? Will you know? Of course you’ll know! You’ll probably be watching the erection of that image on television and hearing the Antichrist’s proclamation—given by the false prophet, his propaganda chief—for everybody to fall down and worship him and receive his mark in their hand or forehead or be killed!
Jesus Himself said the Great Tribulation begins then. Right then, in the middle of the seven years of the Antichrist’s reign, at the beginning of the last three and a half years of his reign. He says when that starts, you’d better head for the hills. You’re not even going to have time to go back into the house and get your clothes, or to go back in from the field to get your things; you’re going to have to just take off and run as fast as you can go!
It’s going to be so dangerous from then on, especially for those who love the Lord and who witness for Him and will refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast, and will refuse to kneel down and worship him. The Antichrist will order that they be killed. You had better be out where they can’t find you. You’d better be out where they can’t catch you and out where you can have something to eat without buying or selling and without the Mark of the Beast when that day comes.
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (v. 22). Who are the elect? There’s been controversy over who these elect are. Paul makes it very plain who the elect are—the Christians, the saved, the children of God. The word used here for the elect comes from the same root as ecclesia, “the elect,” the chosen or separated, eklektos. That means the elect or the church of God, all saved Christians.
So the church will certainly still be here during the Tribulation. Contrary to what some popular Bible teachers have taught, the church is still going to be here; they’re going to have to go through the Great Tribulation. Daniel says so. Jesus said so here. John says so in the book of Revelation. The church, the Christians, the people of God are certainly going to be here during the Tribulation. It’s as plain as day throughout the book of Daniel, and here in Jesus’ own words, and finally in Revelation.
“But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” Otherwise, everybody would have died.
But he says to watch out for the Tribulation period, especially. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there”… Why would people start looking for Christ then? They’re going to start looking for Jesus because they know that He’s coming soon, when they realize that this is the Tribulation and this is the Antichrist and they’re in the last three and a half years.
The people who believe in pre-Tribulation Rapture are going to get a big surprise. They’re going to be so confused they’re going to wonder, “Jesus was supposed to come! Where is He? Why didn’t He come and take us? When is He coming? He surely must be coming soon, because here’s the Tribulation, here’s the Antichrist, and we were supposed to be gone before this.” Jesus says, when they say, “Jesus has come here, or He’s over there,” don’t believe it! You’re going to know it when Jesus comes.
“For,” He says, “there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (v. 24). Even the Antichrist is going to do great signs and wonders, so that his followers will believe a lie and be damned. “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (v. 25–27). How are you going to know when Jesus comes? He’s going to come like lightning, shining even from the east unto the west!
And another sign: “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (v. 28). Now that’s a strange thing, and a lot of people don’t understand what He’s talking about. What does this mean about a carcass and eagles—or better said vultures? He’s saying it in cryptic, very puzzling language. He’s saying, “Wherever the body is, there are going to be those that feed on Christ. And that’s the best way you’re going to know when Jesus comes, because you’re going to be there! You’re going to rise to meet Him in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
You’ll know when He comes because He’ll shine like lightning around the world, and you’ll rise to meet Him in the air! You’re not going to have to worry about whether you’re going to be here, there, or somewhere else. You’re going to be drawn like a magnet, like the eagles to the carcass, those who have to eat and feed upon Christ to live spiritually (John 6:53). Wherever the carcass is, the body of Christ, there will all of us eagles be gathered together. That’s how you’ll know when Jesus comes. You’ll be there.
May He bless and keep you till that day, and make you faithful witnesses until He comes, in Jesus’ name.
Copyright © 1981 by The Family International.