Welcome back friends! We’re on board our sailing vessel, navigating the sea of current events. The Lord is our teacher, His Word is our guide. Yesterday we laid a foundation of why Israel matters. We were reminded that Israel is God’s love letter to the world, and is the vehicle through which God the Father sent Jesus the Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.
Through Him is salvation, and the enemy hates that. So, from the beginning, Satan and his minions have worked tirelessly to destroy God’s ultimate plan, and prevent Jesus from fulfilling His mission. With that as our backdrop, let’s focus on a key event in that mission.
Following a return from Babylonian captivity, Israelites rebuilt the Temple and the Holy City. For the Jews, the Temple was the center of worship, as that is where sacrifices were made. The great feasts were held there and every year Jewish people, including Jesus and His family, gathered three times a year for the festivals. We pick up the story of Jesus’s final week on earth. It was Passover, and Jesus would soon become the Passover Lamb…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The narrative is given in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. These are synoptic gospels, sharing the same event, from the perspective of three different writers. Use Matthew 24 as the key passage, but read Mark 13 and Luke 21 to gain greater depth of context.
It is here that Jesus proclaimed some of the most profound prophecies in all of Scripture, so take a deep breath and put on your fins. We’re beginning a deep dive into Bible prophecy!
- According to Matthew 24:1-3, what is the setting, who was there, and what were they talking about?
- Bonus points! Mark 13:3 tells us specifically who was with Jesus!
- What is Jesus’s profound prophecy, stated in Matthew 24:2?
- Did you know the Romans totally and completely torn down the Temple in 70 AD, and drove the Jewish people back into exile? That is a key prophecy…store it in your memory bank, as we will return to it in a day or two!
- Now, make a list of all the things Jesus told His disciples would characterize the last days. Base your list on what you read in Matthew 24:4-14, Mark 13:5-13 and Luke 21:10-19.
Surely, in that list you found things recently discussed, such as false Christs and false prophets, and the deception they spread. Did you also write down the physical things that will occur? One I find interesting is found in Luke 21:11. In the NASB, it uses the specific word “plagues.” Those are generally thought to occur primarily in third world countries…until a worldwide pandemic hits! We’re getting a tiny taste of what a plague must be like!
The gospel writers then immediately mention the “abomination of desolation,” and Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Take a look at Matthew 24:15-28, Mark 13:14-23 and Luke 21:20-24. There, Jesus is warning of what happens specifically to those in Judea. He’s now talking specifically about the Jewish people! Make another list of all things indicated in those passages that the Jews must endure.
Then, still talking about the Jewish people, Jesus describes the glorious return of Christ…His return! Go ahead and read Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27 and Luke 21:25-28.
- In the first few words of Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24, the passages indicate these things will happen after what?
Yes…these things happen after the tribulation!
Recall the great promise the apostle Paul later gave to the believers at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9. What was the promise?
Indeed! God has not destined us to wrath (the tribulation), but to salvation through Jesus Christ! Thus, we know that believers in Jesus Christ will be saved from the tribulation, but Jesus is prophesying in Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24, that the Son of Man will come on behalf of the Jews AFTER the tribulation.
In a sense, Jews and Christians have two different “finish lines” on this earth. Those who have put their trust and faith in the salvation of Jesus Christ will be taken out of here as 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tell us. We call that the rapture. (Jews who put their faith in Jesus are included. But Jews, as a whole, have a veil over their eyes and do not see Jesus as the Messiah.)
Then, after the tribulation, the Bible tells us the Son of Man (Jesus) will literally and physically return to the earth, where His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and Israel will experience a national salvation!
Wow! We have covered ground today, and you have been faithful seekers of God’s truth! For the believer who studies to understand Bible prophecy, you know it is not meant to scare, but to prepare. We have a glorious future because we have a glorious Savior who reveals His plan to us!
In the days ahead, we’ll dive deeper and deeper into Bible prophecy, and will filter current events through the lens of Scripture. Today, it is my hope that you understand the gravity of what Jesus told His disciples who wanted to know that the end would look like. When we see signs of the times, those are birth pains pointing to the tribulation. The rapture happens first, but has no signs of its own. Thus, seeing signs of the tribulation causes us to know the rapture is imminent!
Let’s keep diving! See you right back here tomorrow!