Matthew chapter 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.
In Matthew 24, 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. All four are explained in Revelation 6. We use the four horsemen to introduce our television program, and for good reason. (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. Jesus Christ has prevailed and has revealed this, and we are now seeing these prophecies being fulfilled.
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 exciting, wonderful news imaginable!
Everything revolves around this 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 (Matthew 24:21-22). 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, 2017; emphasis mine throughout).
Since that was written, North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile 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: “The North Koreans are not bluffing. They’ve made significant progress with solid-fuel rockets, which are more quickly deployable and thus more easily hidden and less subject to detection and preemption.
“At the same time, Pyongyang has been steadily adding to its supply of nuclear weapons. Today it has an estimated 10 to 16. By 2020, it could very well have a hundred. (For context: The British are thought to have about 200.)
“Hence the crisis. We simply cannot concede to Kim Jong-un the capacity to annihilate American cities.
“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. You can’t count on Caligula. 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! He is feared far more than Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his aggressive conquering of other people’s land. As Mr. Krauthammer said, Kim is “bizarre in the extreme … a weird, utterly ruthless and highly erratic god-king.”
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!
Will that problem cause mankind to finally realize that the nuclear madness is out of control? No, but the last three seals will.
‘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 when He was on this Earth! 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!
The seven seals are discussed from Revelation chapter 6 to the end of the book. This book puts all Bible prophecy into a time sequence, or a time frame. And still it is virtually ignored by Christian leaders in this world.
That is what the first seal—religious deception—is all about!
No flesh would be saved alive (Matthew 24:22; Moffatt translation) if Christ didn’t intervene and stop nuclear World War iii!
Only God can solve our number one problem: that of human survival. 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).
“And as he 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).
Matthew 24 is the most mind-staggering prophecy Jesus Christ ever spoke when He was on this Earth. Herbert W. Armstrong called it the pivotal New Testament prophecy.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, 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” (Matthew 24:1-2). Christ was not discussing the end time in the first two verses. In verse 3, Christ began to discuss the end time: “And as he 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?”
Dr. [Ernest] Martin wrote, “The usual explanation to justify the credibility of the prophecies is to say Jesus could only have been speaking about the stones of the inner temple and its buildings, not the outer temple and its walls that surrounded it. … [But] the Greek word Jesus used in His prophetic context to describe the temple and its buildings was hiĕrŏn. That means the entire temple, including its exterior buildings and walls.” Christ prophesied that theentiretemple, including its exterior buildings and walls, would be destroyed in the first century!
Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies says this about hiĕrŏn: “The word temple,hiĕrŏn (literally, ‘sacred place’), signifies the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, with its porticoes, courts and other subordinate buildings, and should be carefully distinguished from the other word, naos, also rendered ‘temple,’ which means the temple itself—the ‘holy place’ and the ‘holy of holies.’”
Please read Matthew 24:1-2 again. Christ was talking about the temple and every single one of the temple buildings.
Here is Mark’s account of this conversation: “And as he went out of the temple [hiĕrŏn], one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (Mark 13:1). Notice how this verse and the following verse pluralize building. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (verse 2). At this point, Christ had not started discussing the end time or the end of this age.
Mark 13:1-2 are talking about the a.d. 70 destruction. Christ looked directly at the temple and the temple buildings when He gave this prophecy and said they would be left without a single stone upon another. None of those buildings are standing today!
Notice this carefully: The Bible switches over to an end-time prophecy in verse 3: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives ….” Christ moved to the Mount of Olives and is talking from a different location than where He was for the first two verses. At this point, the disciples asked Christ about the end of this age (verse 4)—the time we are living in today. Christ knew that most of the disciples would face martyrdom, so He wanted to get their minds on His Second Coming and the wonderful Millennium.
The Messiah is trying to get all of us to focus on His coming.
Otherwise, we get discouraged and lose our spiritual motivation.
“And as he 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?” (Matthew 24:3).
There are two specific questions I want to focus on: “What shall be the sign of your coming?” and “What shall be the sign of the end of the age?”
God just recently revealed the meaning of this verse to me. This profound and incredible verse is about the last two eras of God’s true Church.
Two Commissions—Two Signs
Matthew 24:3 refers to the two commissions of the end time. “The sign of your coming” refers to Herbert W. Armstrong’s commission during the Philadelphia era of preaching God’s gospel around the world (verse 14). And “the sign of the end of the age” refers to the Philadelphia Church of God’s commission to prophesy again (Revelation 10:11), in the Laodicean era.
What was the sign of Christ’s coming? God’s Work under Mr. Armstrong! What is the sign of the end of the age? The work of the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) today! The commissions of these two eras are both signs.
God gave two signs. Mr. Armstrong’s work was the sign to this world of Christ’s imminent return. Our pcg work is a sign that the end of this vile age is almost here—and we are commissioned to usher it in!
We have to keep the overview in mind here. Jesus Christ is the Head. This is Christ’s Work. He not only answered these questions in Matthew 24, He inspired the disciples to ask them. And Jesus Christ is the Head of this Work today, right at the very end of this age. He makes us—the pcg—a sign, a crucial part of the most important prophecy ever spoken on Earth!
Matthew 24:14 contains the commission of the Philadelphia era under Mr. Armstrong: “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.” The commission God gave Mr. Armstrong focused on the gospel and the Second Coming of Christ. The work that fulfilled that commission was a massive sign of Christ’s return. That sign has already been given! But this world does not accept it.
How was Mr. Armstrong’s work a sign?
‘Elijah Shall First Come’
Read Matthew 16:28 through verse 11 in Matthew 17. In this passage, Jesus “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias [Elijah] talking with him.” It was a vision of Christ at His Second Coming. And Elijah was part of it.
Within that context, Christ specifically linked Mr. Armstrong’s work with His own return. “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:10-11). Jesus Christ Himself said that an Elijah would come before His Second Coming. This man would restore all things and deliver God’s gospel, or good news, and that would be a sign of Christ’s return.
Mr. Armstrong was that end-time Elijah. He restored all things, including the true gospel. His powerful work was a sign of Jesus Christ’s imminent return!
Christ used Mr. Armstrong to restore all things to the Church. That work of restoration is one that Christ Himself will complete at His return. He will “restore all things” to the world! Acts 3:20-21 say He will remain in the third heaven “until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
The sign of Christ’s coming, which the disciples asked for in Matthew 24:3, has already come and gone. But there is one more commission (or sign) that is being fulfilled during the Laodicean era. Today, the pcg is proclaiming a message—after the sign of Christ’s coming has already come and gone. It is a message about the end of the age.
Mr. Armstrong’s commission has already come and gone. And our commission is almost finished!
Our time to do God’s Work is extremely short. The end of this age is at the door (verse 33).
Now notice the first and most important warning Christ gave His disciples. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4‑5). This is the first horseman of the apocalypse! It is not just about deception from false, non-Christian religions. People are going to be deceived about Christ and His message—about what true Christianity really is. And it gets so bad that Christ’s own end-of-the-age disciples are deceived! So this goes even beyond false Christianity. The first horseman will also deceive many of God’s chosen people!
When Christ mentions the word you, He is discussing His own disciples. They too are deceived into believing a message about the person of Christ while rejecting His message in this end time. These are people who were given God’s Holy Spirit and most of His precious truth through Herbert W. Armstrong. Then they rejected it for a false Christianity!
Do we see how deadly this first horseman of the apocalypse is? It gets so bad that many of God’s elect will be killed because they are deceived! “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” (verse 9). Christ is still addressing His own disciples. This is why He addresses them as you. This persecution occurred in a.d. 70, but that was only a type of the end-time deception.
Christ is speaking to His disciples, and He said they would be deceived too. People who have the Spirit of God—who knew Christ and who were given all these prophecies—will be deceived. What an amazing and sobering prophecy! We must be extremely careful and deeply learn the Bible. Don’t trust me—trust Christ.
A well-known religious leader said, “The Bible says clearly that God has already revealed Himself fully and completely to us.” That is terribly wrong. He continued, “If we accept who Jesus is, as He is presented to us in the New Testament, then we will not look for any further revelation, nor has God promised any. God’s revelation is complete.” He’s saying that you don’t need any revelation after the first century!
He is dangerously deceived, and God will hold him accountable for leading people astray.
We need all kinds of revelation. Remember, the whole world is deceived (Revelation 12:9)—religiously as well. One third of the Bible is prophecy, 90 percent of which is for today—90 percent of prophecy in the Bible wouldn’t even be understood until this end time (Daniel 12:4, 9).
You must voluntarily prove this. Jesus Christ won’t force this on you. That’s why we have trials—we have to see what we have done to ourselves, and then say, God, let me follow you rather than a man. Most have to learn that by extreme suffering. But you don’t have to learn it that way—if you choose to follow God now.
Verse 9 of Matthew 24 says people will kill Christ’s disciples. This is dual. All of the first-century apostles were killed (except John), and the two witnesses will be killed in the end time—and we don’t know if others will be also. People are hostile toward the truth; so, rather than accept the message, they kill the messenger.
Verses 10-11: “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.” This is for the end time and is directed at Jesus’s disciples. It is not easy to follow God. But what a joyous, wonderful way of life it is.
Jesus Christ—the Son of God—ended up with only 120 disciples after a 3½-year ministry. Only 120 disciples! People don’t exactly want the truth, do they?
Matthew 24:12: “And because iniquity [moral and spiritual decay] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” “Iniquity” is better translated lawlessness. And today, it abounds. The foundation of the whole Bible is the law of God—the Ten Commandments. Yet many say the commandments have been done away. They haven’t! Christ said you must keep the commandments if you want to enter into the Kingdom! (Matthew 19:16-19). I am not sorry if that offends people, because they must hear that! Jesus is speaking of what we hear on the news practically every night: adultery, lying, stealing, hatred and murder, covetousness. It abounds in this world!
Romans 13:8-10 equate the law with love because they are one and the same. The law tells us how to love others. In other words, if you love a person, don’t commit adultery with his wife; don’t steal from him; don’t covet what he has; don’t murder or even hate him. If you love that person, keep the Ten Commandments. Love is the fulfilling of the law. The love of God is that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
Christ specifically used the word lawlessness and said it will abound in the end time. It is so bad that it even overwhelms many of God’s people who should know, practice and love the law (“most of you,” in the Moffatt and Revised Standard Version). Instead, they have contempt toward the law.
The love of many will wax cold. Love is translated from the Greek agape—the love of God, the love He has to give to His Spirit-begotten people. They will lose the love He gave them.
Herbert Armstrong said in 1981 that moral decay is becoming a bigger problem than the nuclear bomb! A number of studies have shown that moral decay is the chief cause of nations falling. We are all sinners, and I’m not trying to cast stones, but it is time to stop sinning. Christ sends His message of love to try to stop moral and spiritual decay. It’s just a message now; He won’t send the Great Tribulation until He has sent His message and final warning.
Everybody is getting into lawlessness today. The only way to fight that is to get on your knees and pray to God for the power to conquer it, to develop the kind of character He says we must have to attain eternal life (Matthew 5:48).
Look at how depraved our nations are becoming! It seems no sin is too base or disgusting. Society has abandoned its moral anchor and is embracing perversion. Traditional, biblical family is becoming a relic. People celebrate the most abominable sins! And even when they do discuss a public figure who is caught in some form of lawlessness, they describe it as “inappropriate behavior,” or something innocuous. Isn’t it time, when talking about the survival of our nation, to call sin what it is? That kind of sin abounds—not just in the leaders, but in everybody.
Moral decay will tear the modern nations of Israel apart. When the family is upside down, that is when Israel falls (Isaiah 3:12). We are all inclined to sin because the carnal mind is enmity toward God (Romans 8:7). But it doesn’t happen overnight; we wax cold. It’s like the frog in the water: Put him in the pot, turn the fire on low, and just let the water heat gradually—and he’ll boil to death before he realizes he needs to jump out.
Think of how much Americans have waxed cold since our forefathers established the Constitution. A founder of the Constitution, James Madison, said, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization … on the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Can you imagine a president saying that today? We are awfully close to collapse unless we wake up. Another founder, John Adams, said, “Children learn the meaning of morality, religion and respect for law from the habitual fidelity of their parents to one another.” These men understood that God’s law is the only sure foundation for a nation.
Today, many leaders scoff at and scorn the Founding Fathers of America. They have contempt for the Constitution—the supreme law of the land. Society has degenerated into a deadly lawlessness! The National Review stated, “Years of peace and prosperity have made [America] into a feminized country in which compromise is valued over action and tough choices are deferred for as long as possible.” This is about lawlessness. To solve our problems, we will have to see that—or it will get a lot worse, and fast!
When a society unravels like this, problems worse than any before are inevitable—and then comes sudden destruction! So says your Bible.
Gospel Preached in ‘All the World’
Notice this crucial statement within Christ’s Matthew 24 prophecy: “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” (verse 14).
If the gospel had been preached around the world in a.d. 800 or 1200, that would have fulfilled Matthew 24:14. So the gospel wasn’t preached around the world from the first century to the last, or it couldn’t be a sign. Christ is speaking of the true gospel.
The word “end” in verse 14 is not the same Greek word as the “end” in verse 3. The commentaries tell us that the context must reveal which end is being discussed in verse 14. The context shows us that this is the end of the period during which the gospel was preached to the world (the sign of Christ’s coming) as the primary commission.
So this Matthew 24:14 end is not the end of this age discussed in verse 3.
The disciples asked two questions: “What shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Again, we have here a twofold sign. The first sign of Christ’s coming is the preaching of the gospel around the world. The second question is specifically about the sign of the end of the age of man.
Herbert W. Armstrong prepared the way for Christ’s Second Coming (Malachi 3:1). His work was the sign of Christ’s coming, but not the conclusion leading directly into His coming. The conclusion of God’s Work in the age of man, before Christ returns, is the end-of-the-age commission. This is the work of the Philadelphia Church of God today, to prophesy again (Revelation 10:11).
From Matthew 24:14, God begins to specifically emphasize the end-of-the-age sign in the Laodicean era.
God inspired the disciples to ask their questions the way they did. It is clearly about the last two eras of God’s true Church. (For a full explanation, request our free book The True History of God’s True Church.)
After the gospel ceases as the main commission, then, in the very next verse, comes an ominous sign: the fast rise of the abomination of desolation. This is where most of the trouble will be for America, Britain and Israel.
The Abomination of Desolation
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16). Here Jesus tells His people in Judea to flee immediately when they see the abomination of desolation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (verse 21).
We are getting extremely close to when we must flee!
What is this abomination of desolation? Matthew, Mark and Luke all give us their versions of what the abomination is in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
Let’s compare Luke’s version to Matthew’s.
Luke 21:20 speaks of Jerusalem’s desolation being near when it is “compassed with armies.” The abomination that makes desolate is armies surrounding Jerusalem. This happens just before the Great Tribulation begins.
Germany and the European Union are already the real economic power of this world. Their military power is rapidly growing now.
When the abomination has surrounded Jerusalem, God’s very elect are told to flee (verse 21). This will signal a world cataclysm, when a mighty Holy Roman Empire begins nuclear World War iii.
These armies are the physical abomination of desolation. But God has revealed that there are two abominations: a physical abomination and a spiritual abomination. Both are led by the devil, who leads a man in each abomination.
The spiritual abomination has already occurred inside God’s Church. Led by a man who rejected God and the work He did through Mr. Armstrong, that spiritual abomination did horrific damage to God’s Church and His Work. It stopped the Work for four years! Then God raised up the pcg work. For seven more years, our message was directed toward warning God’s rebellious Church. So God’s message to the world didn’t go out for 11 years after Mr. Armstrong died.
This was the most devastating attack on God’s Church ever! It caused 95 percent of God’s people to fall away from Him!
The Laodiceans—95 percent of God’s people—are going into a nuclear Tribulation. Many Bible prophecies show that 50 percent of them will repent, but the other 50 percent will die forever! This is an unparalleled catastrophe! When God gives someone His Holy Spirit and reveals His truth, He holds that person accountable! Do we realize that this is dangerous knowledge?
This all happens in the end of the age.
The Prophet Daniel also described this spiritual abomination. Daniel 8:9-10 describe a battle between demons and angels. And God’s angels couldn’t win this spiritual battle because God’s people didn’t have faith! As a result, God’s truth was cast to the ground, and the Work was destroyed. God had to raise up another Work to be a sign of the end of the age.
“Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice [a symbolic term for God’s Work] was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (verse 11). This is an astounding prophecy about how God’s own people fought against God and cast down even the building of God’s sanctuary. All of this is explained in our booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last!
Most of God’s people don’t understand the spiritual abomination—and they are being trodden under by it! (verse 13). We have seen a spiritual “Antiochus” fight Christ, and as this prophecy shows, he prevailed because God’s people didn’t have faith. These people had the truth of God and then lost it.
After Mr. Armstrong died, the gospel commission ended (Matthew 24:14). Then Satan was cast down and his first vicious attack was against God’s true Church (Revelation 12:12-13). Satan then caused a dramatic rise of the physical abomination of desolation, or the Holy Roman Empire (Matthew 24:15).
These verses in Daniel 8 are about a spiritual Antiochus who came first. The physical Antiochus comes very soon. The physical Antiochus’s Holy Roman Empire has already risen; it is just waiting for an emperor to rule over it.
Daniel 8:23 is talking about that physical Antiochus: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” We are about to see this king of fierce countenance. Satan gives him understanding, and he is mighty “not by his own power”—but by Satan’s power (verse 24). This man is ready to burst onto the world scene and “destroy wonderfully”—with nuclear weapons! He will also fight Christ, just like the spiritual Antiochus did.
This is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.
Satan raised up the spiritual abomination, and he is behind the soon-coming physical abomination as well. The utter devastation by the spiritual abomination gives you an idea of what the physical abomination will be like. The devil possessed a man, and he is about to possess another man, who will raise up a frightening European empire. It is almost here!
Both of these abominations reveal the sign of the end of the age.
Who is revealing this truth? Who is speaking out about these abominations to the Laodiceans and to the world?
We have a commission to prophesy again at the end of this age and warn people about the abomination of desolation and the beastly empire that will lead directly into the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! It will fight Christ when He returns! This evil empire will be destroyed forever. This is a hope-filled message from Christ! Everything revolves around the message He is delivering through His very elect. Our work is the sign of the end of the age!
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matthew 24:15). God specifically says He wants us to understand. That Greek word is noeō, which means to perceive with the mind, or to think upon, heed, ponder, consider. It means to reflect or understand beyond the five senses. We must deeplyunderstand the abomination of desolation! According to verse 15, you must understand what the Prophet Daniel taught about the abomination. (Our booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last! will explain that biblical teaching to you.) This is what we warn about most of all at the end of the age! It’s one thing to know of or to recognize the abomination, another to really understand it.
We can’t do that humanly. This has to be revealed by Jesus Christ! Then it requires real effort and in-depth Bible study. We must deeply understand the answer to the question: What is the sign of the end of the age?
Our work is that sign!
This revelation is coming from the supreme God the Father and Jesus Christ! God wants us to understand about Christ’s Second Coming and the end of the age, which we are in right now. If you truly understand Matthew 24, it will unlock a lot of depth for you.
Time to Flee
When we can see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place and surround Jerusalem—the Jerusalem area—that is the sign to flee. “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:16-20).
The first-century disciples at first thought Christ would return while they were alive. That made their question about the sign even more urgent. Their nation was to be destroyed in a few years. They knew about these prophecies Christ was discussing—prophecies that appear many times in the Old Testament.
Many of Christ’s disciples had to flee to Pella in a.d. 70, so these scriptures about fleeing applied to them, as well as to us today. Their fleeing was only a type of what God’s very elect must do in this end time to be protected from the Great Tribulation that occurs just before the Day of the Lord and the Second Coming.
When God’s very elect see the abomination that makes desolate, they must run for their lives to a place where God protects them! God will reveal where that place is when the time comes (Revelation 12:14). This is the only way to escape the worst time of suffering this war-weary planet has ever experienced!
“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 [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22). Notice that the abomination is tied to nuclear war so devastating that no flesh would surviveif Christ didn’t intervene and stop it.
Would you say we are close to that time? Intelligence agencies and defense experts say that 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.
No wonder God has His people flee!
So 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. There are also other leaders with unstable and evil minds who have nuclear power!
This abomination is going to 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 give us the time frame—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!
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!
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (verse 22). The good news is God will shorten the time span and save us alive. But if He did not intervene, there wouldn’t be anyone alive on this planet. 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.
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!
If that is our ultimate accomplishment, isn’t there something terribly wrong with man? And he still won’t turn to God!
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.
‘At the Door’
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not” (Matthew 24:23). Don’t listen to men who tell you what church you should be in; listen to Christ!
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive [lead astray] the very elect” (verse 24). But God’s very elect can’t be led astray. They profoundly understand what Christ said and won’t let it go. They will have the highest reward in God’s Kingdom because of their loyalty when most were turning away from Him.
Verses 29-30 actually contain good news: As all these horrible signs come to pass, we know Christ is about to return. The gospel has already been preached worldwide, and now the final Matthew 24 warning is going out to the world. God says in Amos 7:8 that He won’t pass by them anymore; He is giving one final warning.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:32-33). The Moffatt translation reads “at the very door.” The Williams translation reads “at the door.” Christ’s return is “at the very door.” He really is coming back, and He will rule this world and show people, through a great turning point in the history of man, how to be successful and build a paradise on Earth.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they couldn’t read the signs of the time (Luke 12:54-56). They couldn’t see that the destruction of a.d. 70 was almost upon them. The Son of God, Creator of the universe, was warning them, and they still wouldn’t listen. So that doesn’t make me feel inferior if some don’t listen today.
English novelist Robert Harris once wrote in the Sunday Times that if you want to be a superpower, you need a strong leader, unity and a willingness to sacrifice your blood. America certainly falls short in the latter two conditions. And what if we have a crisis like the Great Depression? There will soon be chaos as never before, Christ said. Either every word of this will be fulfilled, or God lied (Matthew 24:35).
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39). Anciently, Noah warned for 120 years! People didn’t listen, and the Flood came suddenly. The end-time crisis of crises will also come suddenly. Be alert for it.
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (verse 41). A woman is a type of a church. This is a prophecy that there will be two churches of God: one that turns away, and one that God will protect.
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (verses 42-43).
Christ told us to watch! We cannot afford to be spiritually drowsy. The Moffatt translation of Luke 21:36 says, “From hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these dangers to come and in standing before the Son of man.”
Meanwhile, Christ is upset with His lukewarm, or Laodicean, Church because they wouldn’t give meat in due season (Matthew 24:44-45); they wouldn’t speak God’s word, and 95 percent of them turned away instead of delivering His message.
God wants to make His loyal people rulers “over all his goods” (verses 46-47). That’s a fantastic promise: the whole universe! Hebrews 2 states, in one translation, I will give you control over “the whole universe.” Of course, before we could ever receive such a stupendous reward, we have to build godly character or we would wreck it as Satan did. You have to build character by keeping God’s law.
Most of God’s people, since Christ didn’t return when they expected, have said, “My lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48) and have given up and decided to break the law like everyone else.
“And shall begin to smite his fellowservants [or get carnal and do what everybody else does], and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verses 49-51).
Satan has been cast down, and he is full of wrath (Revelation 12:12). He is like a roaring lion and hates anybody who would dare obey God. He desperately tries to destroy them.
Out of billions of people, we have the unparalleled honor and opportunity of hearing God’s warning, receiving His love, and understanding His message. Can you wrap your mind around how wonderful these words of Christ really are? How do you contain yourself when you really understand it? This is uniquely wonderful, but it requires obedience. Jesus Christ told us to take heed and be ready. If we do, He will make us rulers over all His goods. And God has a lot of goods!