If The Church is Going to
Escape The Tribulation Period
How do You Explain Matt. 24?
Most of the people who teach that Christians will go through the Great Tribulation Period appear to base it upon one chapter in the Gospel of Matthew. Which as you are about to see, is usually out of context:
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.
24 For false Christ and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
That was a lot of reading.
To understand this passage we must go back to verses two and three. In verse two Jesus said, “Not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.” And then in verse three His disciples ask him three different questions:
#1 When will these things be?
#2 What will be the sign of your coming?
#3 When will be the end of the ages?
To get a proper understanding we must keep Jesus’ comment and their question in the forefront of our discussion.
Question #1 was, “when will the stones of the temple be thrown down,” and Matthew did not record the answer to that question. To see Jesus answer to that question you must read Luke 21:20-24, which was fulfilled in 70 A.D. Every stone in the temple was thrown down when the Roman army surrounded and conquered the Jews inside the temple in 70 A.D. There was a fire and when the golden vessels melted and the gold ran in between the cracks in the floor. The Roman Army led by the future Emperor Titus, literally turned over every stone in the temple floor to retrieve the gold between the cracks.
Question #2 and #3 We must go back to Matthew twenty four for the answer.
Question 2 and 3 have to be looked at from their relationship to each other. The question was “What is the sign of your coming?” Keep in mind that, until Jesus died for our sins and rose again, there was no such thing as a Christian. Therefore, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are recorded events of Jesus talking, and ministering to Jews who lived under the law of Moses. There were no Christians or New Testament Church until after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead, you will be saved.” Therefore there could be no Christians until after Jesus rose from the dead.
With that in mind, look at the third question again; “when will be the end of the ages?” In the Jewish mind the end of the ages would represent the 70 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy. If you study this prophecy you will see that there is a huge gap between the 69th week and the 70th week, and that gap represents the church age, or what the Bible calls, “The time of the Gentiles,” which Jesus spoke about in Lu 21:20-24.
In other words; through that prophecy God revealed the things concerning Israel, but there was coming a time when God would deal with the Gentile world. That’s the time we’re living in now, also called, “the church age,” In Matthew 24:4-8 Jesus begins to answer their questions by explaining to them about the “church age.” Then, in verse 8 He says, “These are the beginning of sorrows.” In other words, when the church age is over sorrow will really begin; from this point down to verse 14 is the first half of the tribulation period. And then in verses 15-26, Jesus deals with the second half of the tribulation period. In verses 27-28, He talks about the battle of Armageddon and verses 29-31 He talks about the Second Advent. The Second Advent is when He returns to earth but this is different than “the rapture.” (read the article The Rapture)
We will talk about the Second Advent more later on, but for now we need to realize that the 69th week of Daniel is over and the 70th week of Daniel will begin after the church age, or in other words, after the time of the Gentiles, when the church is not here.
The tribulation period is also referred to in the Bible as “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” Throughout scripture Jacob is symbolic of natural Israel. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, but when the scripture refers to him as Israel, it’s referring to the spiritual side, which is symbolic of the church. The scriptures also say that God has not appointed His church to wrath. And in the book of the Revelation we see the church mentioned in the first three chapters only; after that, in chapter 4, verse 1, we hear the Angel say “come up here” and we never see the church mentioned again in the book of Revelation, because it’s no longer on the earth, it’s now in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ!
There are so many scriptures that point to the church being Raptured out of the earth before the tribulation period that we would have to write a 300 page book to cover it all. But remember this; if God loved you enough to give you His Son, and let Him die in your place, why would He ever want to put you through something as severe as the great tribulation?