Lesson 10 w/AnswersMatthew Chapters 22-24
Just as Christ completed his earthly ministry by instructing his disciples about end-time events and His second coming, so shall we in our study. We begin our last three lessons of study in Matthew by focusing on end-time prophesy, in particular the words of Christ spoken on the Mount of Olives about His second coming. Recorded in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, it is known as the Olivet Discourse. During this discourse, Jesus, in his own words, answers the question that everyone wants answered: "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3)
It is literally impossible to do a complete study of end-time prophecy in three short lessons. However, we can familiarize ourselves with the coming main events, the chronology of those events, and what Christ instructs us to do in light of these events.
Armed with the knowledge and truth of God’s word, we will not be led astray by false doctrine and false Christs; and we will be better prepared to witness to those who question the reality of His second coming at all.
So strap on your prophecy seat belts, and let’s allow the Holy Spirit to provide us with an exciting look into the future that awaits all of us in one way or another.
In preparation for the next three lessons, read Matthew Chapters 23-25. In this lesson, we will be focusing on passages contained within Matthew Chapter 24:1-31.
Before we begin, let’s examine some fundamental events that lay ahead of us leading up to the return of Christ. The key ones are:
- Rapture of the Church; please read and familiarize yourself with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
- Peace in the Middle East, as the Antichrist makes a peace treaty with Israel.
- Rebuilding of the Temple, and the return to the sacrificial system by the Jews.
- Midway through the seven-year period called "The Great Tribulation", or "The Tribulation Period" ("Mid-Trib" for you prophecy nuts), the Antichrist breaks the peace. From this time onward, Jews are hated, and the "Time of the Gentiles" begins.
- Things escalate, and many "Antichrists" arise doing great wonders.
- Near the end of the Tribulation Period, Satan has the image of the Antichrist worshipped in the Temple; in parallel, the judgments being poured out by God worsen.
- Armageddon occurs in the Valley of Megiddo.
- Just as man is about to destroy himself, Christ splits the Eastern Sky with all the Angels and the resurrected Church, He defeats Satan.
- Satan and his followers are cast into the pit and held for 1,000 years.
- Christ enters Jerusalem, sets up his earthly Kingdom as King of Kings; and he is now referred to by his royal title, "King". See Matthew 25:34.
- He judges the nations, and separates the Sheep from the Goats. He rules with a "rod of iron".
- Jerusalem and the surrounding Promise Land are turned into the most fertile soil in the world, fed by streams that will begin flowing out of Jerusalem.
- David is restored to his position as King of Israel, and once again sacrificial worship resumes with Christ on the throne.
- At the end of the 1,000-year period of captivity, Satan is loosed for one final battle. In the end, all those who follow him are defeated, and all are cast into the lake of fire; this is following the final judgment, where the Lamb’s Book of Life, and "the books" are opened. See Revelation 20:11-15.
- The "old earth" and all of God’s original creation are destroyed. A new heaven and earth are created; and a New Jerusalem, with its streets of Gold and its Crystal river, is unveiled. This is where the saved live with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.
With that very preliminary summary, let’s look at Matthew Chapters 22-24 and consider the following questions:
- Read Matthew 23:37-39. What is being addressed in this passage? When will the prophesy cited in verse 39 occur?
- ANSWER: Jesus is telling the religious leaders of Israel, the High Priests, the Pharisees, and the Elders that they had failed to follow God’s instruction and persecuted—stoned—the very people that God had sent to them to warn them that they were in error. Now he will take the mission of spreading the Gospel from them, leaving their house desolate; and they will never see Jesus again until his return. When they do see him again, they will recite Psalm 118:26, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."
- According to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, what must occur before Christ’s Second Coming?
- ANSWER: Verses 3-4 tells us that several things will occur before Christ returns. First, a rebellion occurs, and then the man of lawlessness is revealed. Setting himself up as God, he will proclaim to everyone that he is God. Then verses 6-8 tell us "the secret power of lawlessness is already at work...," but it is being held back until the proper time. Then, the one who holds it back will be "taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed." The remaining verses tell us that Satan will perform great signs, and that God will send them "a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."
- Now look again at 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. If we assume that this passage describes when the "dead in Christ" will be physically resurrected, then when will the Old Testament people who have been saved, and the people who accept Christ during the Tribulation, be resurrected? (See Matthew 24:31.)
- ANSWER: These are resurrected at Christ’s Second Coming. Matthew 24:30-31 makes it clear that upon Jesus’ return, he will "send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." All of the saved will come with Christ when returns; he will leave no one behind.
- In Matthew 24:1-3, the disciples ask three questions: (a) when shall these things be (i.e., the Temple buildings destroyed), (b) what shall be the sign of his coming again, and (c) what shall be the sign of the end of the world. As you review chapters 24 and 25, jot down the answers to these questions below, realizing that Christ only answers two of them; he does not address the destruction of the Temple. Let’s look at the question of what the signs will be. In Matthew 24:5-28 Christ answers the question "what shall be the sign of the end of the world?". In verses 29-31 he answers the question "what shall be the sign of thy coming?", which happens at the end of the Great Tribulation. In verses 32-35 what does the"fig tree" represent?
- ANSWER: Christ is telling us that there will be signs of his Second Coming, just as with a fig tree when it begins to bud—you know that summer is almost here. There are also scholars who believe that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel. If this is so, we should watch Israel closely. It became a nation again in 1948, and as it becomes a stronger and stronger nation, there may be signs of Jesus’ Second Coming. Watching what happens to it will give us an indication of how close to Christ’s return that we are. Clearly, the Middle East will be the focus when Christ’s Second Coming occurs. As we watch and pray for Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East could reveal the signs of His Second Coming to us.
- Now let’s go back and take a closer look at the answers Jesus gives. Read again Matthew 24:5-7. Jesus lists seven things that will occur "then". What are they, and to whom do they happen? (and no, not just the disciples; he is referring to a group larger than just the disciples.)
- ANSWER: He is referring to the Jews, God’s chosen people, as well as the disciples, who were also Jewish. The seven things are: false Messiahs, many deceived, wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, and earthquakes. He also said that these signs were simply the beginning, i.e., the "beginning of birth pains."
- The events described in Matthew 24:10-12 will begin "then" as well. List the specific events cited in each verse:
- Verse 10
- ANSWER: Great apostasy, people turn away from God, hate is everywhere.
- Verse 11
- ANSWER: Many false prophets appear and deceive many people.
- Verse 12
- Increased wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.
- Verse 10
- How is a person "saved" during this tribulation period? (See Matt. 24:13.)
- ANSWER: Endurance during the tribulation period, and the ability to cling to the gospel truth, will be how people are "saved" during this period. Just as Abraham demonstrated his faith by showing that he was prepared to sacrifice his son, just as Noah demonstrated his faith by building the Ark, and just as Moses followed God and demonstrated many acts of faith, etc., so it will also be in this time. Satan will try to fool "even the elect", but those with true faith will hold fast and will endure the persecution, the deception, and the executions. It will truly be a time of living out one’s faith.
- What specific "gospel" of the Kingdom will be preached to the whole world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come? And who will proclaim it? (See Matt. 24:13 and Rev. 14:1-7.)
- ANSWER 1: An examination of these verses reveals that the Gospel message that the 144,000 will take to the world will be different, i.e., "a new song", which only they know. Revelation 14:7 tells us what this message will be, and it will be a message of judgment. Whereas today we have a gospel of grace, they will have a message requiring endurance in the face of extreme persecution. They will be telling the world that the Messiah, the Christ, really is Jesus; and he is now preparing to return as King and will bring great judgment, i.e., something that will happen literally after their slaughter and after the death of the final two witnesses: Moses and Elijah. This is the gospel that will be preached to all the world, and then the end will come.
- ANSWER 2: It will upset both the earthly church (now under the influence of the false prophet), the Jews (who treasure their peace with the Antichrist), and the Gentiles (who want to continue their unrighteous life styles). In the end ("mid-trib"), the Antichrist will blame everything on the Jews and these witnesses; and great persecution of them "for my name’s sake" will break out. Following the death of the last two witnesses a thirty day party breaks out world wide, gifts are exchanged and a general celebration ensues. Following this time, the Antichrist will reveal himself to be the Christ, the Messiah, and will attempt to form a worldwide government. Israel, and especially Jerusalem, will be overrun by the Gentiles as they pursue after the Jews. This last three-and-one-half years of the tribulation is also referred to as the "time of the Gentiles".
- Read Matthew 24:15. What is the "abomination that causes desolation" which stands in the holy place? (See Rev. 13:13-15)
- ANSWER: The Antichrist has an image of himself put up in the holy of holies, and he demands worldwide worship of the image. This image appears to have life, and can speak. This is the abomination that brings the final desolation, i.e., Satan demanding and receiving worship of his idol in the Temple of God.
- Who is the group that Jesus refers to as "them which be in Judea" that will "flee to the mountains", as described in Matthew 24:16-20?
- ANSWER: This group is the Jews. This will be a most horrible time for them, as the Gentiles seek to annihilate all of them.
- Why will it be bad if they have to travel on the Sabbath, or are pregnant?
- ANSWER: Those who are strictly abiding by Jewish law will not want to travel on the Sabbath and will hesitate. Additionally, most means of escape will not be available if they have shut down for Sabbath activities; they will be especially vulnerable during that day. Pregnant women have a difficult time traveling quickly to begin with; and with an enemy whose plan is to annihilate the Jews, would not pregnant women be a primary target?
- Read Matthew 24:21-22. Who are the "elect", as referred to in this verse?
- ANSWER: The elect are the chosen of God. They are mostly Jews; but in actuality, anyone who converts and is saved during this period (and who is still alive) is part of the elect. If the only people left on the planet were the unrighteous who were following after Satan, God would not have a reason for shortening his judgment, but he does it for the elect’s sake.
- We are now at the midway point, or mid-tribulation, three-and-one-half years through the seven-year period. The Antichrist has broken his promise, and the peace is shattered. Now read Matthew 24:23-24 and note when will the false "Christs" be everywhere, and why will they be so believable.
- ANSWER: The Antichrist will wage a campaign against the Jews, and the world will seek relief from them and from the judgments being brought upon them. In the middle of all this turmoil, these false Christs will show great signs and wonders; and the unrighteous will believe them, falling prey to their own delusions, and many will be blinded to the truth and led to destruction.
- How do the verses in Matthew 24:25-27 and compare to those in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12?
- ANSWER: They are an exact match in many respects. Bottom line: we have been told in advance of the activities of these ungodly forces, their deception, and God’s plan for them. So, should any of this occur during our lifetime, we will not be fooled or mislead. The same will be true for the Jews during that time: the righteous ones will see this in God’s word, and understand what to do and what not to do.
- Read Matthew 24:28. What does this verse mean?
- ANSWER: Read "carcass" as "evil". Judgment will occur wherever the evil are. No one—repeat—no one, can escape judgment, nor will they particularly in that day.
- Read verses Matthew 24:29-31. We are now at the end of the Great Tribulation. If the sun represents God, and the moon represents Christ as a reflection of God’s Glory, and the stars of heaven represent spiritual beings; then how would you interpret verse 29?
- ANSWER: God is saddened and troubled by all that man has done in sinning against him. Terrible judgment is coming on the earth, and it is reflected in the horrible and awfulness of the times. Often in Old Testament scripture, God’s displeasure with man is reflected in the sun dimming, diminishing, or losing its light. Following this, Christ will lead his army out of heaven, gather the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints on the way down, and come to earth to end Armageddon. Then he will set up his earthly kingdom.
I know that this lesson, and the coming lessons will prove challenging for many of you, as you struggle in your understanding of end-time things. I pray that you will remember this first and foremost: that Christ is coming again. The details will work themselves out according to God’s timetable, and not based our incomplete understanding of prophecy.
Above all else, be comforted by these words of Christ in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, namely that He is coming again, and that we will be with him when he comes. Knowing and understanding even fundamental things about His return will strengthen our faith and our witness. I pray that you will find the coming days ones in which your faith and your walk grows as a result of this study.
I also pray that especially if you do not know Christ as your personal savior, you will see that now is the time. Acknowledge that you have sinned before God, believe that God sent his only Son Jesus to die for your sins, that he died and was resurrected and is coming again, and confess him as your Lord and Savior. Read Romans 4:23, Romans 6:23 and Romans 10:13. Now is the time to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. Won’t you pray that today?
May God richly bless you this week as you study His Holy Word.