Matthew 24 is the most important prophecy that Jesus Christ proclaimed at His first coming. Mark 13 and Luke 21 also have their version of this prophecy. I believe Matthew has the most complete prophecy.
“And as [Jesus] 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 [age]?” (Matthew 24:3).
In response, Christ interpreted the seven seals of Revelation 6-8. The first four of these seals are often referred to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse, explained in Revelation 6. (Request our booklet The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. All of our literature is free.)
In this chapter, Christ prophesied about a volcanic eruption of crises on Earth such as has never been experienced—and about the birth of a new age that will come from it.
The seven seals form the story flow of the book of Revelation. Here is the overview: The first seal reveals false religion; the second, war; the third, famine; the fourth, pestilence; the fifth, tribulation; the sixth, heavenly signs; and the seventh, seven trumpets.
If you understand these seals, they lead you step by step to the return of Jesus Christ: He returns at the last of those seven trumpet blasts. So the Second Coming concludes these seven seals.
That makes this prophecy—even though it contains a lot of bad news—the most wonderful news imaginable!
Everything revolves around this prophecy. Herbert W. Armstrong called it the pivotal New Testament prophecy. It reveals more to you about what is happening now than any other chapter in the Bible!
The Nuclear Threat
Let me give you a prime example. North Korea is in the spotlight of all the news media. It is front-page news around the world. There is a massive reason why.
After the four horsemen of the apocalypse comes the fifth seal: the Great Tribulation. We are now at the edge of this nuclear abyss!
Charles Krauthammer wrote: “The crisis with North Korea may appear trumped up. It’s not. Given that Pyongyang has had nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for more than a decade, why the panic now? Because North Korea is headed for a nuclear breakout. The regime has openly declared that it is racing to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the United States—and thus destroy an American city at a Kim Jong-un push of a button” (Washington Post, April 20; emphasis mine throughout).
Now, North Korea has those missiles that can apparently reach any American city! All Kim Jong-un has to do is push a button and millions of people will die! This is just one example of what the fifth seal, or the Great Tribulation, is all about.
The article continued: “Some will argue for deterrence. If it held off the Russians and the Chinese for all these years, why not the North Koreans? First, because deterrence, even with a rational adversary like the old Soviet Union, is never a sure thing. We came pretty close to nuclear war in October 1962.
“And second, because North Korea’s regime is bizarre in the extreme, a hermit kingdom run by a weird, utterly ruthless and highly erratic god-king. … The regime is savage and cultlike; its people, robotic.”
Soon, this madman could have 100 nuclear bombs and the missiles to destroy 100 U.S. cities!
Mr. Krauthammer also said that previous American leaders for 30 years have been kicking the can down the road. Now we have reached the end of the road!
It gets even worse. Kim Jong-un shares his nuclear power with Iran, the number one terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world by far! And Iran has a religious leader that is even more “bizarre in the extreme … a weird, utterly ruthless and highly erratic god-king.” He believes that a nuclear catastrophe would even hasten the coming of his messiah to rule the world!
That is a satanic counterfeit of the fifth seal, or the Great Tribulation, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
These two men have changed the nuclear equation in this world. They relish the idea of a nuclear war!
This is not a fantasy! This is the real world!
‘Then Shall Be Great Tribulation’
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
Many nations have weapons of mass destruction—including nuclear bombs. The Prophet Daniel called this “the time of the end”—or as Moffatt translates it, “the crisis at the close”—the crisis of all crises!
This is all tied to the Great Tribulation, or the fifth seal. In this seal, Christ also gives us an insight into the conclusion of the seventh seal—His return. Christ has warned us repeatedly of the worst time of suffering in human history. He commands us to proclaim His message to this world.
How many traditional Christians heed His warning? How many Christian leaders do you hear even discuss Matthew 24? It is the most important prophetic message Christ gave! They talk about the person of Christ continually—but not His message.
One third of your Bible is prophecy. Yet traditional Christians virtually ignore it all! That is what the first seal—religious deception—is all about!
Winston Churchill wrote after World War ii, “Mankind has never been in this position before. Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands, for the first time, the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own extermination.” We can now exterminate all human life. That is the great, ultimate achievement of man!
Doesn’t that prove there is something terribly wrong with man? Yet he still won’t turn to God!
Why aren’t the world’s Christians more concerned about this today? These are Christ’s words. A true Christian is one who follows Christ!
This prophecy is obviously about nuclear warfare, yet people say, So what. Will they have to experience it before they say more than “so what”? If we won’t listen to someone like Churchill, we surely ought to listen to Christ. Not one word of His will fail.
‘Whoso Reads, Let Him Understand’
Matthew 24:21-22 are talking about nuclear war so devastating that no flesh would survive if Christ didn’t intervene and stop it.
Would you say we are close to that time? Intelligence agencies and defense experts say North Korea could now have the power to destroy major cities in America. And the whole world knows that Iran could become a nuclear power extremely soon. This means that two madmen could be ready to attack America with nuclear weapons!
It is childish folly to think anybody but Christ could stop this nuclear madness.
Our only hope physically is to repent spiritually. If nations refuse, individuals can still repent and receive protection—plus they will become kings and priests under Christ forever. Those who have repented already are kings and priests in embryo (Revelation 1:6).
All this nuclear insanity is also a part of the sign of the Second Coming and the sign of the end of the age when Christ will save humanity from totally exterminating itself!
The real nuclear damage is not inflicted by these two madmen—but mainly by the “abomination of desolation” Christ described in Matthew 24:15. This abomination will be the major force that endangers the life of every person on Earth. But it will be too late to do much when you actually see the abomination unless you have already prepared yourself spiritually. God wants us to understand what Daniel and other prophets taught about the events that lead up to the abomination that makes desolate with its nuclear bombs! Then, step by step, we can trace all the prophecies and events that point to that sign until Christ returns.
Although we don’t know the day or the hour, we know when this is at the door (verses 36, 33). God says watch events (verse 42). The events date these prophecies. God says let those who read this understand, or they are in trouble—because we will have to “flee into the mountains” (verse 16). Be serious about your obedience to God. God says you must have enough faith that when you see all this, you run for your life!
If God did not intervene, there wouldn’t be anyone alive on this planet. The good news is He will shorten the time span and save us alive. But He will let it go a long way so that people learn they can’t rule themselves. Men don’t know the way of peace. God knows—and if you keep His law of love, it will bring great joy and peace into your life!