Not unlike treasure hunters examining a map for clues leading to a buried treasure, or an archeologist carefully scrutinizing ancient artifacts for information about lost civilizations, or an engineer diligently studying blueprints in order to construct a mechanical device or a building, we have briefly examined some of YHVH’s spiritual blueprints found in the Scriptures to give us clues about the nature and order of end-time events. Understanding the seven biblical feasts, the seven stations in the tabernacle of Moses and the various steps of the biblical wedding will help us to decode the mysteries surrounding the events pertaining to the second coming of our Master, Yeshua the Messiah.
Introducing the Olivet Prophecy
Now let us carefully investigate another set of spiritual blueprints: Yeshua’s prophecy in Matthew 24 and 25, commonly called the Olivet Prophecy.
Having a working knowledge of all these “blueprints” will help us to discover who we are as a people in the eyes of YHVH, where we have come from, where we are presently, and where we are going—that is, what the future holds for us, and what our spiritual destiny or divine inheritance is. Only then will we understand the end-time prophetic events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, and we will learn what our role will be to play in them.
As we begin to examine Matthew 24 and 25, it is important first to note the chronological positioning of this prophecy in the context of the passages before and after this pivotal chapter. The chapters that precede Matthew 24 prophetically speak of precursory events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, while those that follow Matthew 24 prophetically delineate events that occur after his return.
Matthew 24 sits like a diamond in the midst of a brilliant gold setting. It speaks of the order of end time events pertaining to the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah, our beloved King, Redeemer and Savior. Listed below is a chronology of events as Matthew lays them out, more or less, in the order in which they will occur prophetically. Many of these passages will be elucidated upon later in this book. It is important that we present the overall layout of end-time events here and now before studying the individual components in detail later.
- Matthew 16:13–20, The disciples recognize that Yeshua truly is the Messiah.
- Matthew 16:21–28, Yeshua is the long-awaited Messiah, the Suffering Servant, who would die at the hands of the people and resurrect from the grave the after the third day.
- Matthew 17:1–13, This event, commonly called the transfiguration, is a revelation concerning Yeshua’s second coming in power and glory, but Yeshua shows the disciples that this will happen only after he has suffered at the cross and has risen again. Here Yeshua clearly delineates between his first coming and his second comings.
- Matthew 17:14–21, Before Yeshua’s second coming and the establishment of his universal kingdom on earth, YHVH will sublimate all demonic forces including the arch-demon himself, Satan, whom an unnamed angel will cast bound into the bottomless pit where he will be unable to torment or deceive humanity for the duration of the 1000 year-long Millennium.
- Matthew 17:22–23, Yeshua fills in more of the details pertaining to his death.
- Matthew 17:24–27, Yeshua teaches that the children of the kingdom (of Elohim) will be enslaved by economic Babylon until the sounding of the jubilee trumpet (or shofar) on the Day of Atonement. This will occur at his second coming when the saints will once and for all be set free and Babylon the Great will be permanently destroyed.
- Matthew 18:1–5, Here Yeshua talks about the requirements for entering his kingdom. He points out that only those who have been converted from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, and who will become like little children in spiritual demeanor can be members of the kingdom of Elohim.
- Matthew 18:6–9, Yeshua then teaches about offenses. Those who offend his little children, of whom is the kingdom of heaven, are in danger of the lake of fire judgment.
- Matthew 18:10–14, Here Yeshua talks about the final regathering of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This regathering began at Yeshua’s first coming, continued through the ongoing work of his disciples (Matt 10:6; 15:24), continues to this day, and will continue at his second coming and on into the Millennium, which in the Jewish thought is called the “final redemption.”
- Matthew 18:15–19:12, Here Yeshua goes into a long teaching about offenses between brothers, and discusses the subject of divorce and remarriage. This passage is discussed at length later in this book. Suffice it to say here, Yeshua is alluding to the two houses of Israel, which have been at odds with each other ever since the united kingdom split under King Rehoboam. Their reuniting is prophesied in the Tanakh (most notably in Ezek 37:15–28), and is a key event that will coincide with the second coming of Yeshua who is also known by his Hebraic title, Messiah Son of David. This long-awaited event has been written about by the Jewish sages for many years. However, it is a fact largely been ignored or forgotten by Christianity.
- Matthew 19:13–15, Yeshua again stresses the point that only those of childlike demeanor will be members of his kingdom of heaven on earth.
- Matthew 19:16–30, In the story of the rich young ruler, we see that Torah-observant Jews can be in Yeshua’s kingdom providing they are obedient to the Torah and are followers of Yeshua.
- Matthew 20:1–19, In the Parable of the Laborers, Yeshua talks about the landowner (i.e. Yeshua), the vineyard (i.e. Israel) and those who have been laboring in his vineyard (i.e. his disciples). Yeshua will give out rewards to his saints at his second coming.
- Matthew 20:17–19, Yeshua again speaks of his crucifixion and resurrection. This must first happen before his millennial kingdom can come.
- Matthew 20:20–28, Yeshua talks about how positions of responsibility in his kingdom will be given to those who have a servant’s heart and who are willing to lay down their lives as Yeshua himself did.
- Matthew 20:29–34, Yeshua heals two blind men. As will be discussed later, this is a prophetic picture of Yeshua healing the two houses of Israel, which are both blind in part spiritually (Isa 8:14; Rom 11:25) at his second coming.
- Matthew 21:1–11, Yeshua triumphantly enters Jerusalem riding on a colt, but with a mare accompanying the colt. This speaks prophetically of his second coming when he will enter Jerusalem again riding a white horse (Rev 19:11)—this time not in the role as the Suffering Servant (Messiah Son of Joseph), but as the Conquering King (Messiah Son of David).
- Matthew 21:12–22, Here Yeshua curses the fig tree, a picture of the fruitless and largely Torahless religious system of his day. He then cleanses the temple of its secular defilement. This he will do at his second coming when he will suddenly come to his temple and purify the sons of Levi—the Levites and priests (Mal 3:1–3).
- Matthew 21:28–32, In the Parable of the Two Sons, Yeshua takes the Jewish leaders to task for being like a disobedient son, whereas the seeming disobedient son actually become the obedient one. The tables were turned on the Jews (or house of Judah) who were smug in their spiritual self-assuredness, yet those (of the house of Israel), whom they rejected and condemned, were actually the ones who would end up walking in the “way of righteousness”—a Hebraic expression for “walking in the ways of Torah.”
- Matthew 21:33–46, The Parable of the Wicked Husbandman is a brief overview of YHVH’s dealings with Israel leading up to the second coming of Yeshua where he will judge the wicked husbandmen (the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders of his day) for not faithfully tending his vineyard (i.e. the people of Israel).
- Matthew 22:1–14, In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Yeshua speaks of his upcoming wedding (at his second coming) between himself and those who are properly attired spiritually with robes of righteousness (Rev 19:7–9).
- Matthew 22:23–33, Here Yeshua teaches on the resurrection of the righteous dead, which occurs at his second coming and coincides with his marriage to his bride (the saints who adhere to both the Written and Living Word of YHVH according to Rev 12:17 and 14:12).
- Matthew 22:41–46, Yeshua again teaches about Messiah the Son of David, which is a reference to his second coming.
- Matthew 23, Here Yeshua gives a final rebuke to the leaders of the religious system of his day comprised of blind, greedy, self-serving and kingdom-building hypocrites.
- Matthew 24, This is a discussion of the tribulation period, and the great tribulation followed by the resurrection or “catching away” (also known as the “rapture”) of the saints. The order of events found here corresponds with those found in the book of Revelation (discussed below) and with the order of the fall appointed times (moedim) or feast days (also discussed below).
- Matthew 25:1–13, In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Yeshua teaches that not all who are spiritual virgins will become the bride of Yeshua, but only those who have properly prepared themselves spiritually.
Elsewhere Yeshua taught that some who are saved will be called the least in his kingdom while others will be called the greatest (Matt 5:19).
Matthew 25:14–30, The Parable of the Talents teaches us that there will be different levels of rewards in the kingdom of Elohim based on our spiritual profitability or works of righteousness. Yeshua will hand out these rewards at his second coming (Rev 11:15–18).
Matthew 25:31–46, Here is what is often called “The Judgment of the Sheep and Goat Nations.” This too will occur at Yeshua’s second coming.
After this quick overview, hopefully it is becoming apparent that beneath the story line of Matthew chapters 16 through 25 listing a series of events in Yeshua’s life, there is a more or less chronologically-ordered subtext prophesying about events that will surround his second coming. He talks about the kingdom of heaven, which he had just initiated and begun promoting, and about regathering the lost sheep of Israel, and reuniting the divided kingdoms of Israel (the house of Judah who are the Jews, and the house of Israel or Ephraim who are loosely speaking, the Christians). These activities will be occurring up until his second advent. Then from Matthew 24 through 25, we see Yeshua prophesying about events that will occur just prior to and shortly after his return including end-times tribulations, the great tribulation, his second coming, and his giving out rewards and judgments to his servants.
A Closer Look at Matthew 24 and 25
The Olivet Prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25 is a blueprint which discusses, in chronological order, the tribulation period, the great tribulation (which is different than the tribulation period) and the resurrection (“rapture” or “catching away”) of the saints to meet Yeshua in the air after the great tribulation. The chronology of these events is apparent. Let’s analyze them in detail.
In Matthew 24:3, the disciples ask Yeshua three questions. These questions are in the context of verse two where Yeshua is prophesying about the destruction of the temple and its buildings.
- Question one was: “Tell us when shall these things be?” (That is, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.)
- Question two: “What shall be the sign of your coming?”
- Question three: “What shall be the sign of the end of the age?”
Yeshua then proceeds to answer each question in order. The first question asked was this: when shall these things be? From verses 4–20 he gives an overview of the last days (plural) starting with the era surrounding the destruction of the temple in a.d. 70 until the present era.
Prophetically there are two days (plural), or 2,000 years between the death and resurrection of Messiah and his second coming. This time period, 2000 years from the death of Stephen in Acts 7 until the present time, has been one of intense persecution and tribulation of believers in Yeshua. It is estimated that in recent decades nearly 50,000 believers are being martyred each year around the world in various communist, Moslem and Hindu countries as, well as in countries with totalitarian regimes or in tribal conflicts of one sort or another.
In Matthew 24:4–20, Yeshua gives an overall perspective of that 2000 year-period explaining the conditions that will prevail on earth for his people, and he gives some general warnings and some prophecies as to what will happen. For example, Yeshua states that there will be many false prophets and false messiahs, and that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world.” This last prophecy was not totally fulfilled until the past century. Furthermore, it is doubtful that Yeshua’s prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation being placed in the Jewish temple (verse 15) has occurred yet, unless the Moslem’s Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount somehow fulfills this prophecy. If not, this will probably occur after the third temple is built in Jerusalem just prior to the beginning of the great tribulation mentioned in verse 21.
Based on a literal (Heb. peshat) interpretation of the prophecies found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1, it appears that their will be a physical temple standing in Jerusalem at the second coming of Yeshua.
The second question the disciples asked Yeshua is, “What shall be the sign of your coming?” Yeshua answers this question from verses 21 through 28. Yeshua refers to this time period as the great tribulation (Gk. megathlipsis, verse 21). That the saints will also go through this period is clearly stated in Revelation 2:22 and 7:14. It is not until “immediately after the tribulation” (Matt 24:29, emphasis added) that Yeshua makes any mention of the saints being “caught away” (or raptured).
Integrating the End Times Scenarios of the Olivet Prophecy and the Book of Revelation
The General Tribulation Period
Certain aspects of the prophetic scenario that Yeshua lays out in Matthew 24 were fulfilled in A.D. 70 with Jerusalem’s destruction. Discussing the events around A.D. 70 is beyond the scope of this work, so I’ll pass over this subject and focus on those prophecies which are clearly eschatological (i.e. those which deal with end-times events) in nature.
The time period of the Olivet Prophecy started in the first century A.D. and continues until the second coming.
Matthew 24:4–8 describes conditions that existed on earth at 70 A.D., and that would continue and intensify up until the second coming. These include:
- Religious deception — the spirit of Antimessiah. (John talks about this spirit in his first epistle, and says that it was active in his day, 1 John 2:18–19.)
- Wars and rumors of wars.
These four conditions answer the disciples’ question about what would be the signs of the end times (Matt 24:3), and they also correlate one-to-one with the first four seals (commonly known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse) of Revelation 6.
- Religious deception and corresponds to the first horse (Rev 6:2).
- Wars and rumors of wars corresponds to the second horse (Rev 6:3).
- Famines corresponds to the third horse (Rev 6:5).
- Pestilence corresponds to the fourth horse (Rev 6:7).
Next in Matthew 24 comes the martyrdom of the saints — something that has been happening since the death of Stephen in the Book of Acts to this present day (Matt 24:9–14). This martyrdom corresponds with the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9–11.
There are two groups of martyred saints: those who are killed before the end of the tribulation period and just before the beginning of the great tribulation, and those who are martyred afterwards. This second martyrdom completes the martyrdom of saints that has been going on over the ages (Rev 6:11lp).
The great end-times martyrdom of saints corresponds with the worldwide preaching of the gospel (Matt 24:14). This prophecy of Yeshua about the gospel being preached to all the world has only been fulfilled recently. The modern missions movement started in the early 1800s and the worldwide proclamation of the gospel could only be fulfilled with the advent of modern telecommunications in the twentieth century. After the gospel is proclaim worldwide, Yeshua said that the end of the age will come (Matt 24:14lp). This marks the beginning of the great tribulation period just before the second coming of Yeshua (Matt 24:20).
The Great Tribulation
During the great tribulation period, the abomination of desolation event occurs, and Jerusalem is ravaged necessitating the saints to flee to the Judean mountains outside of Jerusalem (Matt 24:16). This prophecy was partially fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, but not completely. Some biblical scholars have noted that the early first-century believers fled to the northern plain country of Pella (a city located in the northern foothills of the Jordan Valley just southeast of the Sea of Galilee on the east side of the Jordan River), and not to the Judean mountains as Yeshua prophesied in Matthew 24:16 would happen. In light of this fact, it would seem that this prophecy was not entirely fulfilled in the first century, but still awaits a last days fulfillment.
It must be noted at this point that the events of the great tribulation leading up to the wrath of Elohim are not the wrath of Elohim. They are simply the results of man bringing judgment on himself because of his sin. To this point, Elohim has not intervened in the affairs of men.
What else happens during the great tribulation? Perhaps this is the time when the Antichrist and the false prophet exercise great authority over the much of the earth and make war with and overcome the saints for three-and-a-half years (Rev 13:5). Historically, the church (or kahal) of the Most High has always flourished from the time of Yeshua’s and Stephen’s martyrdom until now. The same will occur during the persecution of the Antichrist system against the saints. Out of this will come a great and innumerable multitude who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14–15).
Post-Great Tribulation and the Signs of Yeshua’s Coming
After the great tribulation, we come to Matthew 24:29 where Yeshua answers the disciples’ last question, “What will be the sign of your coming,” (verse 3). He declares that after the (great) tribulation period there will be an awesome display of heavenly signs and wonders to shock and awe men into repentance. This happens just before Elohim pours out the fury of his wrath upon this earth to punish rebellious men who still refuse to bend their knees to him. During this event, Yeshua describes the sun being darkened (Gr. skotidzo, meaning “to be covered with darkness”) resulting in the moon not giving its light, the stars falling from heaven, and the powers of heaven being shaken (Gr. saleuo meaning “a motion produced by winds, storm or waves, etc., or to cast down, to overthrow,” verse 29).
This sign in heaven, which will “appear (Gr. phaino meaning “bring forth into the light, or cause to shine in heaven, to be resplendent”), will mark the coming of the Son of Man. Yeshua will appear in the earth’s atmosphere. This verse doesn’t tell us that Yeshua will touch down onto the earth, only that he will be “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great (Gk. polus meaning “much”) glory (Gk. doxa meaning “splendor, magnificence, excellence, dignity, majesty, honor,” ). This will be a universal event, for all humans will see him in the sky and will mourn (Gk. kopto meaning “to wail, lament,” verse 30).
This coming of Yeshua in glory with signs in the heavens corresponds perfectly with the description of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12. There is a one-to-one correlation with the addition of several key details. John records that the great leaders of the earth in fear will wish for death as they recognize the fact that their game is over and that Yeshua has come back to earth and that he is angry — “the great day of [the Lamb’s] wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15–17). Remember, Yeshua is still in the earth’s atmosphere. He has not touched down on earth yet. Let’s now discuss the concept of the “wrath of Elohim.”