A Study of Matthew 24 (Part 4 ) – The Tribulation

Apr 25, 2011 3 Comments by


Word Biblical Commentary: “….. mention should be made of those who find a deliberate double reference in Matthew 24: 15–28, both to the fall of Jerusalem and to the sufferings of the end time and the Antichrist .

At the time of these events, it is extremely unlikely that the evangelist had end times in mind. But just as Jesus and the evangelist had no trouble applying the symbolism of Daniel to the fall of Jerusalem yet to occur, so may we perceive the fall of Jerusalem as an anticipation of the final judgment…. A preview, if you like, of the awesome possibilities.

With Paul we can see the imagery as pointing ultimately to the Antichrist of the end of time (2 Thess 2:3–4).

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thess 2:3-4)

Here we can cross-check with Rev. 16:13-14 “And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”

The imagery is detailed. Unclean spirits seem to be ‘like frogs.’ They pour out of ‘the mouth of the dragon’ and ‘the beast.’ Though they are described vividly in the physical sense, they depict spiritual attack – demons. They perform signs and in our approach to such a day, our safety is in Christ and Him alone.

Matthew 24:27-33 “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

These verses pose difficulties, particularly the Lord’s reference to THE TRIBULATION.

Is he speaking about the Roman destruction of Jerusalem or is this a reference to the end times? The phrase “Great Tribulation” (thlipsis megas) only occurs four times in the New Testament: Matthew 24:21; Acts 7:11; Revelation 2:22 and 7:14 .

The reference in Acts describes a time of intense suffering caused by a famine during the time of the patriarchs.
In Revelation 2:22 Jesus warns the followers of Jezebel, the false prophetess, who is promoting immorality and idolatry, that they will “suffer intensely” There is also Jesus’ judgment on unrepentant followers of a false teacher.

This reference in Matthew 24:21 can be divided into four parts:
(1) 24:4–14 describes the “birth pains” that will occur throughout the entire age of the church (e.g., wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, apostasy, false prophets)

(2) 24:15–20 portrays the horrifying destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70 (cf. Luke 21:20–24; Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11)

(3) Matt. 24:21–28 spells out the period known as the “great distress” that immediately precedes Jesus’ return (Mark 13:19; cf. Dan. 12:1)

(4) Matt. 24:29–31 depicts the return of Christ.

Matthew 24:27-28 “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

This spectacular picture is linked to the Book of Revelation.

Rev. 19:17-18 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

(Coming soon. Matthew 24 – (Part 5) – The Prince of Israel)

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About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.

3 Responses to “A Study of Matthew 24 (Part 4 ) – The Tribulation”

  1. daigoumee says:

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  2. Ron Ross says:

    Thanks for the encouragement

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