Hello and welcome to my study on “The Olivet Discourse and the Tribulation”
The Olivet Discourse, the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus gives a detailed description of the signs that will take place prior to His second coming. Many people make the mistake of interpreting the signs in this chapter as events that we are experiencing today. Using scripture, I’ll explain how the signs that Jesus gives in this chapter are not speaking of events that we are experiencing today, but events that will happen during the Tribulation Period prior to His second coming. I’ll do this by comparing the signs in the Olivet Discourse with the events in the Tribulation Period.
This chapter starts off with Jesus walking out of the Temple, and looking over to His disciples, Jesus makes an interesting prophecy about the destruction of the Temple (Matt 24:2). Here Jesus accurately predicts that the Temple will be completely torn down.
This prophecy was fulfilled around 40 years later in 70 AD when the Roman Emperor Titus (general at the time) commanded his forces to completely destroy the city of Jerusalem and to tear down the Temple. His goal was to help finance the degrading Roman Empire by taking all the Temple treasures and carrying them back to Rome.
After giving this prophecy, Jesus makes His way to the Mount of Olives. Startled about what Jesus just predicted, His disciples asked Him two distinct questions, “when will these things happen?” and “what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of age? (Matt 24:3)” Jesus did not answer their first question regarding the destruction of the Temple, but instead focused on answering the question of the signs of His return. The following are a list of signs that Jesus predicts:
- False Christ’s deceiving many (Matt 24:5 nasb)
- Wars and rumors of wars (Matt 24:6 -7 nasb)
- Famines/pestilence (Matt 24:7 nasb)
- Earthquakes (Matt 24:7 nasb)
- Martyrs and Death (Matt 24:9 nasb) and,
- The Abomination of Desolation (Matt 24:15 nasb, Dan 9:27)
Again many people mistake these signs to be events that we are experiencing today. But as I have said on almost every one of my posts so far, we have to use scripture to interpret scripture. So lets compare these signs to the events that will take place during the Tribulation Period prophesied in the book of Revelations.
In the book of Revelations (see my Revelations Study Series), twenty-one judgements are cast onto the earth during the Tribulation Period ( 7 Seal, 7 Trumpet, and 7 Vial Judgements). If we carefully examine the first 7 Seal Judgements spoken of in the book of Revelations, you will see that this is a parallel passage to the signs spoken of above in Matt 24:5-10 nasb. Take a look:
- 1st Seal: Anti-Christ (Rev 6:2 nasb) // False Christ’s deceiving many (Matt 24:5 nasb)
- 2nd Seal: War (Rev 6:4 nasb) // Wars and rumors of wars (Matt 24:6 -7 nasb)
- 3rd Seal: Famines/pestilence (Rev 6:5-6 nasb) // Famines/pestilence (Matt 24:7 nasb)
- 4th Seal and 5th Seal: Death/Martyrs (Rev 6:7-9 nasb) // Martyrs and Death (Matt 24:9 nasb)
- 6th Seal: Great earthquake (Rev 6:12 nasb) // Earthquakes (Matt 24:7 nasb)
Can you see the connection? When you compare the first signs in the Olivet Discourse with the first 6 Seal Judgements of the Tribulation Period, they are speaking of the same events. Jesus was answering His disciples questions ‘exactly’ as they asked (what will be the sign of ‘Your coming” and the ‘End of the Age‘ Matt 24:3 nasb). The second coming of Jesus is not the Rapture (which happens before the Tribulation Period). Jesus’s second coming happens at the end of the Tribulation Period, therefore these signs in Matthew chapter 24 are speaking of the events happening during the Tribulation and not what we are seeing today.
In Matt 24:14 nasb, Jesus mentions that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the whole world. Compare this to the book of Revelations where God sends His Two Witnesses to preach to the world (Rev 11:3 nasb) along with 144,000 Jewish evangelist (Rev 7:4 nasb). Also Jesus said that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached. Today we preach the Gospel of Salvation, but in the Tribulation Period, the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached. Why? Because immediately following the Tribulation Period, Jesus will come back and set up His Millennial Kingdom for 1000 years. Therefore it is this that will be preached to the inhabitants of the earth during that time.
If we look at Matt 24:15 nasb, Jesus now speaks about the Abomination of Desolation that will be standing in the holy place. This is absolutely speaking about the Tribulation Period and cannot be confused with events today. One, because the Abomination of Desolation takes place during the mid-way point of the Tribulation Period (Dan 9:27). And two, the reference to the ‘holy place‘ here is speaking about the Temple which today is destroyed but during the Tribulation Period it will be rebuilt (Dan 9:27, Ish 14:13).
Matt 24:21 nasb makes another interesting statement. Here it says that next there will be a great tribulation. Many argue that this is where Jesus starts speaking about the Tribulation Period and the events spoken of before verse 21 are what we are seeing today. By looking at what we have seen so far we can now say that verse 21 is speaking about something else other than the start of the Tribulation Period. What verse 21 here is speaking of are the last set of 7 judgements (Vial) that will take place on the earth, which will be the worst ‘tribulation‘ the world has ever seen.
Lastly we now look at Matt 24:29-30, where it says “immediately after the tribulation of those days” which is now referring to the entire Tribulation Period, that they will see the Son of Man on the clouds (the second coming of Jesus Acts 1:9-11 nasb). The point that Jesus is trying to make here is that first, the Tribulation will take place, and then, I (Jesus) will return to the earth.
We can see now that the prophecies that Jesus gave the disciples during the Olivet Discourse was not speaking of the times of which we are living, but a future time when the entire world will be judged and the signs that they will see before His return to Earth.
One last thing to mention. In Matt 24:34 nasb, Jesus said that this generation will not pass until all these things take place. Many generations have come and gone since this prophecy, but there is one generation that will not pass before Jesus’s return to earth, and that is the generation that will be on earth during the Tribulation Period.
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And always remember, why is it important to study Bible prophecy? Because never have we been closer than today..