OF THE LORD
Dissertation on the Pre-wrath
Rapture of the Church
PROGRESS INTO THE 70th WEEK OF DANIEL
Matthew 24:4, (BFT)*
And answering, Jesus said to them,
Mankind has always been preoccupied with the future, and of course, the disciples of Jesus were no exception. During the week prior to the crucifixion in 30 AD, Jesus frequented the temple in Jerusalem every day. And it was on one of these days, the 12th of the month Nisan, that it appears as though He actually baited the curiosity of the disciples by speaking of a future destruction of the temple with very strong language.
The occasion, according to Matthew 24:1 and Luke 21:5,
was the disciple's enamorment with the temple structure.
Do you not see all these things? Truly I say
This of course, elicited from them the obvious question of, When? But in actuality, they asked Him four specific questions.
The answers of Jesus, recorded for us in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, give us an outline for the history of the church up until the gathering of the elect (church age believers) out from this world at the arrival of the Day of the LORD which is the event that triggers the end of the age.
The possibility of deception requires specific information so that the church might be oriented to the progress of history and not be distracted from her evangelistic purpose. If the church, or more specifically, individual believers, get too distracted and discouraged at the progress of evil in the world, they will lose sight of the true objective for their continued sojourn here on the earth as is indicated at 1 Peter 2:9.
But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation
At 1 Peter 4.12, we are told that we should not be surprised
Thus, we have the Olivet Discourse, wherein Jesus orients us to the historical trends that will occur during the church age, leading up to His return at the Day of the LORD.
As this is studied, it is imperative to properly harmonize the three accounts that we have in the synoptic gospels. And as they unfold it will be clear that the progress is viewed from 30 AD, as an uninterrupted history of the church, until Matthew 24:29-31, when Jesus returns in association with the Day of the LORD signs and gathers His elect from the world.
Jesus breaks down the historical trends into three periods.
CHURCH AGE TRENDS: General trends both before and after 70 AD:
Mt. 24:5, For many will come in My name, saying, I am the
(Lk. 21:9 And when you hear of wars and disturbances,
These "wars and rumors" have been occurring since 30 AD, and are to be viewed as general trends without placing any specific significance upon them. In fact, Jesus calls them "the beginning of birth pains at verse 8. "Beginning birth pains" are those intermittent pushes and shoves which indicate that a pregnancy is moving toward its "end." However, before that "end" can occur, there must be the final birth pains which are the body's actions to bring that baby into the world and "end" the pregnancy.
The "pregnancy" is God's plan to establish the
Messiah's reign on the earth via His return at the Day of the Lord.
At verse 6, Jesus said, "the end is not yet." This clarifies that when the "wars and rumors" occur, the oriented Christian should not be deceived into thinking that it portends the end of the age. To explain why it is not yet the end, Jesus amplifies at Matthew 24:7 and Luke 21:10-11. Here, He describes trends that take place on a much larger scale than the ones just mentioned - -
For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom - - .
There are two things in this passage which tell us that these "larger scale" trends are those which will occur after AD 70.
By saying, "before all these things," Jesus is placing the following information before the "larger scale" trends just described. And so, chronologically, these events should be viewed first.
As we approach this study, a very important point needs to be recognized in order to properly correlate the language Jesus uses as He tells of the events that will take place. Jesus taught about two different times of persecution and two different times of crisis for Jerusalem. He uses similarity of language to describe both, and we must be careful to make the separation between the two situations or else we will miss the true intent of His teaching.
When Jesus talks about the persecution between 30-70 AD, he uses language that is very similar to what He uses to describe the persecution of the great tribulation. But by careful analysis, the distinction between the two periods can be preserved. The same principle applies to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the oppression by the beast in the great tribulation.
SPECIFIC PERSECUTION BETWEEN 30-70 AD
(based on Luke 21:12, "But before all these things")
"they will lay their hands on you and
will persecute you,
Mark also records this information at Mark 13:9-13 and it is best to take that passage as paralleling Luke 21:12-19. It should further be recognized that Matthew records this same teaching much earlier than the Olivet discourse at Matthew 10:16-23.
But at Matthew 10:23, Jesus takes the persecution and the gospel proclamation beyond the immediate time frame of the apostolic era and applies it to the church age in general without making any reference to the fall of Jerusalem 40 years after His resurrection.
"You shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."
This simply confirms the idea that there is no "interruption" of the historical progress of the church until Jesus returns at the Day of the LORD.
Now keep yourselves alert; for they will deliver
you to courts
The world-wide proclamation of the gospel was fulfilled by the apostles (at least in the context of the Roman Empire) prior to 70 AD according to language that we find at Colossians 1:6, 23. But it also has great significance for the period of time prior to the Day of the LORD. For there shall be, indeed, needs to be a blanket of gospel truth announced to Israel both locally, in Palestine, as well as world-wide, in order to sow the seed that will sprout in the 144,000 Jews who are converted just after the Day of the LORD arrives, (Revelation 7:1-8).
There also needs to be a maximum gospel proclamation to the world as a whole, "before" the return of Jesus to provide a "final warning" as it were, to all peoples so that, "whoever calls upon the name of the LORD, shall be saved." Joel 2:32
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed
Indeed, the ministry of "the church" will never be complete either to the world or to Israel until Jesus returns. Matthew 10:16-23
". . . you shall not finish with the
cities of Israel,
DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM - 70 AD
Having recognized the 30-70 AD time context of Luke 21:12-19, it should be clear that Jesus picks up at verses 20-24 with the siege of Jerusalem by the armies of Rome. This event actually becomes the point of contact and overlap between AD 70 and the future oppression of the beast during the great tribulation.
And once again, we must be very careful in recognizing the precision in the words of Jesus to distinguish between these two events, and at the same time realize that He used similarity of language to describe both.
Now when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
All things fulfilled does not refer to the "entire" plan of God for Jerusalem, but specifically, that which involves a world-wide dispersion. A world-wide dispersion is not what happens in the yet future oppression by the beast, nor what happens when the nations surround Jerusalem during the Armageddon campaign (Zechariah 12:1-5).
This prophecy of Jesus specifically fulfills OT passages that deal with the destruction of the city and the dispersion of the people. Leviticus 26:27; Deuteronomy 28:49-68
It deals with the national discipline that God will administer upon the Jewish people because of the rejection of their Messiah. Matthew 21:33-46; 23:37-39
That is why the term "days of vengeance" is used at Luke 21:22.
Woe to those who are with child and to those
who nurse babies in those days;
This is exactly what Gabriel communicated to Daniel in the famous "70 weeks" prophecy.
(And after the 62 weeks the Messiah will be
cut off and have nothing,)
The Roman army under Titus besieged the city in 70 AD on the 14th of the month Nisan until its fall, 134 days later on the 8th of Elul. This was prophesied by Daniel as taking place after the cutting off of Messiah. The cutting off of Messiah must be understood from the context of Isaiah 53:8 -
He was cut off from the land of the living,
(There is a different Hebrew word for cut off at Isaiah 53:8, but that does not change the parallel).
This of course refers to the provision of salvation through the sin sacrifice of the Messiah, the details of which do not come under the scope of this work.
The "prince who is to come" is the little horn of Daniel 7:7-22 and refers to the future dictator of a ten-nation confederacy with its political roots in ancient Rome. This man will establish a 7 year Covenant Experiment of peace and religious toleration (M.E.P.T.A.) with the peoples of Palestine (the many) and will then break it 3 1/2 years later (Daniel 9:27). But the people of that "end times" prince refers to the Romans, who in 70 AD destroyed the city and the sanctuary; the people from whom this prince descended, not to those who are associated with him when he comes on the scene.
Then after 70 AD, until the end (end times) there will be war, just as Jesus said at Matthew 24:6, and a decree of desolations which includes the famines and earthquakes of Matthew 24:7. And the plagues mentioned at Luke 21:11.
Additional Old Testament references concerning -
And it will come about in all the land,
In verse 7, we see a clear reference to the Messiah being "stricken" with the result that the sheep are scattered. This is quoted at Matthew 26:31 as fulfilled in Jesus. The sheep scattered refers to the "Jewish" disciples who must now function without a shepherd "present" to guide them. And yet it says, "And I will turn my hand upon the little ones." This indicates that Yahweh God will take care of these scattered sheep after the shepherd has been slain. At Matthew 26:31, when Jesus quotes this passage as being fulfilled through His arrest and crucifixion, He adds at verse 32, "but after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee." This, as a reference to His 40 day resurrection ministry, and certainly qualifies as fulfilling the last part of Zechariah 13:7, "I will turn my hands upon the little ones." The promise of assistance is further fulfilled by sending the promise of the Spirit to be with them forever (John 14:16-17). Furthermore, we have the promise of Jesus found at Matthew 28:20, "and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," which is then echoed at Hebrews 13:5, which perpetuates an Old Testament promise found at Joshua 1:5, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."
In verse 8, we see a change of focus to "the land." This then speaks of the "nation" of Israel and here Zechariah tells us that two parts (by far the greater majority of the people) will perish in a future judgment on Israel. Josephus gives the number as one million and 100 thousand, and although most authorities believe that to be an exaggeration, the historical reality did indeed produce a massive slaughter of the people of Israel.
The third part that is left in it includes those who remain
Hosea 5:14-15 (NASB)
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
In this passage, Yahweh tells us that He will "judge" Judah, and carry away. Carry away is the world wide dispersion that began in AD 70 and remains in effect even to this very day. He also said that He would return to His place. This refers to the fact that Yahweh (Jesus the Messiah) would leave the earth after accomplishing His judgment on the nation.
The judgment has two stages:
This is what Jesus had in mind when he challenged the crowd who were listening to Him in the synagogue at Capernaum as recorded at John 6:61-62,
But Jesus, knowing that His disciples grumbled
Not only was He identifying Himself as the savior (John 6:35-58), But also as the one mentioned at Hosea 5:14-15, "who would tear to pieces and return to His place." And Jesus will stay away until the nation acknowledges their guilt. Notice the comparison with Matthew 23:39,
"you shall not see me until you say -
The "content" of that acknowledgment is prophesied at Isaiah 53:1-10 and is taught to the people of Israel by the 144,000 servants who are saved after the Day of the Lord arrival of Jesus and minister to the nation until Jesus defeats His enemies at Armageddon and sets up His 1000 year earthly reign.
Back in Hosea, Yahweh then tells us exactly when it will be that they will seek Him, "In their affliction;" the time of Jacob's trouble; the great tribulation. This will be discussed later but it is evidenced by the fact that an orthodox segment of Jews in Israel do not accept the beast worship and instead flee into the wilderness when the beast sets up his image in the temple
(Matthew 24:15-16; Revelation 12:13-14). Then, between the Day of the Lord arrival of Jesus and the victory at Armageddon, many will recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah and embrace Him as their savior.
Next, Zechariah describes for us the history of the nation of Israel subsequent to AD 70 as a history of refinement and testing which will culminate with them "calling on my name" -
And I will bring the third part through the
In view of this scenario Daniel provides us with some very
And then at Daniel 11:33, we jump to a time of revival just prior to the destruction and captivity of Jerusalem in AD 70.
"And the wise ones among the people -
This is fulfilled by the ministry of the church which is summarized at Acts 1:8. "Giving understanding," is the proclamation of the gospel which results in a large group of Jewish converts during the years between 30 and 70 AD.
Now continuing at Daniel 11:33, we see a clear reference to the fall of the nation in 70 AD.
"and they (Israel) will fall by sword
and by flame,
(Just as Jesus taught at Luke 21:24 - -
"And Jerusalem shall be trampled under
foot by the Gentiles
An important point for proper interpretation here, is to determine whether the "destruction" language at verse 33 can properly refer to the condition of Israel during and/or after the Maccabean revival, or must look to a more complete destruction by the Romans in 70 AD.
And if, as is best, the language at verse 33 refers to 70 AD, then verses 34-35 must refer to events after 70 AD and which culminate in the purification of Israel at the time of the end, that is, during the great tribulation and just prior to the Day of the LORD.
So according to a very common practice in the OT prophets, the writer jumps the history after 70 AD and picks up at "the end time," after an unknown amount of time between 70 AD and the beginning of the 70th week.
"And when they (Israel) fall (world-wide
Israel remains "fallen" until the end of the
great tribulation when the period of time known as the Day of the LORD arrives.
In her fallen condition, since the Roman dispersion, Israel has come under many and varied attacks without much reprieve. But there will come a time when she shall be given a little help.
This probably refers to the Zionist movement of the early 1900s which was facilitated by the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the United Nations recognition of Israel's national status in 1948. It probably includes the yet future Covenant Experiment that will be established by the world ruler of the ten-nation confederacy which will give Israel the religious freedom she needs to build a temple (or at least, a functional sanctuary) and reinstitute its sacrificial system.
At this time we do not know the terms of The Covenant Experiment. It will probably include some kind of political and religious compromise, as the experiment also includes the Muslim nations in the region. It is a covenant that will compromise age old values and traditions in order to have what they think to be God's will for them. It is for this reason that it will be considered "hypocrisy" as mentioned at verse 34.
Daniel 11:34, "and many will join with them in hypocrisy."
It is called "a little help" because the Middle East Peace and Tolerance Accord (M.E.P.T.A.) is only an "experiment" at peace. It is a temporary covenant that provides only a temporary peace and security, since it will be broken just 3 1/2 years after its confirmation. The reason this can be identified with the "peace" covenant mentioned at Daniel 9:27 ("confirm a covenant with the many") is because of the phrase, "and many will join with them in hypocrisy." In order for their to be religious toleration in the Middle East, all parties involved must compromise and share "the Holy Place" of Mount Moriah where presently rests the Moslem temple, the Mosque of Omar, and where the Jewish temple must reside. The compromise will consist of allowing the two structures to exist side by side and worship to be expressed without interference or censor.
At the midpoint of the week the world ruler will break the covenant and institute beast worship. For the Jews who accept beast worship, this will perpetuate the "hypocrisy" of accepting the covenant into "the apostasy" of beast worship. 2 Thes. 2:3.
Once the covenant is broken and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the severity of their compromise will be exposed. The beast will take his stand in the sanctuary and institute "beast worship." He will forbid the sacrifices permitted by M.E.P.T.A. and set himself up as God. This begins the GREAT TRIBULATION period and it is at this time that those of the nation who are faithful to "orthodox Judaism" will flee Jerusalem and be protected in the wilderness from the great oppression by the beast that takes place at this time (Revelation 12:14-16). But there will still be many Jews who will associate with the beast and perpetuate the national apostasy further by acknowledging him as God.
Returning to Daniel 11:35,
"And some of from among the wise ones
(the Messiah worshipers of the church)
Seems exactly what Matthew 24:14 has in mind,
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall
be proclaimed in the whole world
It is the testimony of the true Messiah worshipers (the church), even in the midst of extreme persecution, (the 5th seal of Revelation 6:9-11) that will produce a purification so that when the Day of the LORD arrives, there will be a large group of Jews who trust in Jesus as the Messiah. (Revelation 7:1-8)
Furthermore, the "purification" will continue during the Day of the LORD judgments and culminate after Armageddon with "all Israel being saved (Romans 11:25-27)" and entering into Messiah's kingdom to reign with Him. But all this is to be amplified later. Right now we must return to our chronology.
CHURCH AGE TRENDS after 70 AD
for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom
All this continues from 70 AD as the beginning of birth
To recap: The rumors of war are not a sign of the end BECAUSE (for) there will be massive world-wide conflicts (kingdom against kingdom, etc.) along with famines, plagues, earthquakes and atmospheric disturbances. But all these things are just birth pangs leading up to the end but are not the end. And since we are dealing with a symbolic "pregnancy" instead of a literal nine month pregnancy, there is no way to determine the length of time allotted to this time of "beginning birth pangs." In other words, the beginning birth pangs should not be viewed as "signs of the season," for they are not. The signs of the season begin with the final birth pangs; birth pangs, which generally point to the end occurring within a matter of hours. This season is when the church comes under the oppressive reign of the beast at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week. Those are the signs that Jesus has in mind at Mat. 24:33, "you too when you see all these things." However, the context indicates that the "all these things" here refers back to a specific time period in the context (the tribulation) which begins with a specific historical event, identified as the rise of the beast who sets up the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place.
The final or advanced stage of birth pangs begins with Matthew 24:9, the events of the great tribulation. It is during this time frame (verses 9-28) that the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world, "and then shall the end come (verse 14)." The result of that gospel proclamation will be additions to the church which will be raptured at the Day of the LORD, and at least the 144,000 Jewish converts after the rapture.
In the meantime, the normal historical trends of a world under a physical and spiritual curse, will increase until we arrive at a time when alleviation from much of the pain will be administered by a world ruler seeking to establish THE peace on the earth.
All occur, bringing us naturally closer to the "season" of final birth pangs but are not signs in and of themselves.
Thus, the natural flow of Matthew 24 is to record the progress of the church from AD 70 into and to the end of the great tribulation. The message of Jesus bypasses any "direct" mention of the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel and simply picks up at the mid-point of the week when the man of lawlessness begins his oppressive reign as the beast out of the sea. In fact, everywhere in scripture, the emphasis is not on the 1st half of the week, but always on the 2nd half. There is a conspicuous absence of information about the 1st half, but an abundance of information about the middle of the week, the oppressive reign of the beast and all that follows.
The probable reason is because the 1st half is a time of
peace for most, if not all, the world, as a result of the covenant that
is established by the world ruler and the peoples of Palestine. Revelation
6:3 records the taking of THE (Greek) peace from the earth, which is what
happens when the beast breaks his false covenant. If the general historical
trend from 30 AD is "wars and rumors," then there will be no "official"
peace that can be taken from the earth except one that has been established.
The history of the church, then, progresses without interruption up into that first half of the 70th week and into the great tribulation from which she shall be delivered, as that tribulation is cut short (Matthew 24:22), by the visible return of Jesus at the Day of the LORD.
So prior to the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, the church will progress in a world environment of "beginning birth pangs." But the environment of the church itself will be one of false teaching and compromise (Matthew 24:5). This is represented by the letters of Paul and Peter, as well as by the letters to the 7 churches recorded in Revelation 2-3; all which describe conditions prior to the breaking of the first seal and which will exist until the 2nd seal when the tribulation begins. The distinction between the time period "before" the tribulation and that which is during the tribulation is indicated by comparing Matthew 24:5 and verses 9-11.
Jesus says at Matthew 24:5, which is BEFORE the tribulation begins at verse 9,
"For many will come in My name, saying,
I am the Christ,
Then He says at Matthew 24:11, which takes place DURING the tribulation, which begins at v. 9,
"And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many."
This refers to the great apostasy that Jesus predicts in verses 10-12. An apostasy that comes in direct correlation with the oppressive reign of the beast after He takes his stand in the Holy Place and institutes beast worship. An apostasy that will find many true believers in Jesus, falling away from THE faith, just as Paul predicts will happen at 1 Timothy 4:1,
But the Spirit specifically says that in later
This is the very apostasy that must occur BEFORE the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, as Paul writes at 2 Thessalonians 2:3,
"for it won't come unless the apostasy
This time period when the man of lawlessness is revealed and the apostasy will take place is the tribulation, the great one and is the stage of final birth pains prior to "the end" when Christ returns at the Day of the Lord. Details concerning this apostasy will be provided later.
In the meantime the church age is progressing and the church is functioning as "lights in the world" in order to represent the truth of God through evangelism, proclamation of God's standards for morality, and warning of the judgments to come.
*All Scripture references are from the Bible Fragrances Translation unless indicated otherwise.
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