Today, Shabbat, I have been busy studying and writing in preparation for Yom Teruah—the Day of Shouting or Shofar Blasts. In several days (Thursday, Sept. 9 on the biblical crescent new moon, abib barley calendar), my family and I will be celebrating this first of four fall biblical feasts, which our rabbinic Jewish brothers incorrectly refer to as Rosh Hashanah—an unbiblical name. Although Scripture gives us but scant information about this high holy day, its significance relative to the disciple of Yeshua’s cannot be overestimated.
In light of the current global chaos occurring on so many fronts and the tidal wave of evil that is systematically sweeping across the earth, Yom Teruah affords the faithful saint a great opportunity to celebrate in advance a glorious upcoming event. This is because Yom Teruah not only points prophetically to the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah but to the resurrection and glorification of his righteous saints as well. (See my in-depth study article on the subject at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/yom_teruah.pdf)
In preparation for celebrating this biblical holiday, I have put together a study on Matthew 24, the famous Olivet Discourse, where Yeshua talks about end time events as they will occur in more or less chronological order. This is an excellent place to attempt to figure to where we are at in the progression of events that signify the end of the age or end times just before the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah.
What follows is my best analysis of the subject based on decades of Bible study. However, I reserve the right to be wrong on anything that I write below. Regardless of biblical understanding, we are still looking through a glass darkly, and we will not fully understand end time events until they are occurring or have already occurred. This is a biblical provable fact regardless of what the profit motive driven Christian prophecy pundits and prognosticators will tell you.
So here is my best analysis on the first part of Matthew 24.
Matthew 24:1–51, The Olivet Prophecy and the Book of Revelation. See notes in Revelation entitled “Revelation and the Olivet Prophecy (i.e. Matt 24 and 25) Compared.”
Matthew 24:1, The buildings of the temple.The geographical context of Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse contained in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 is the Temple Mount containing Herod’s Temple (vv. 1–2), and from the vantage point of the Mount of Olives overlooking the same (v. 3ff).
Matthew 24:3, Do you see? Yeshua’s predicts the destruction of the temple—a prophecy that was clearly fulfilled in A.D. 70.
Matthew 24:3, Tell us. Yeshua’s statement as to the destruction of the temple elicits further questions from his disciples. Yeshua’s following discourse is in response to three questions that his disciples asked him, while on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount. These three questions were:
- When shall these thing be?
- What shall be the sign of your coming…
- And the [sign of] end of the age?
The first question is in response to Yeshua’s statement that the temple would be destroyed. The temple was destroyed approximately forty years later in A.D. 70.
The second questions is more open-ended as to the timing of its fulfillment. The disciples knew that Yeshua would eventually return as the Conquering King, Son of David Messiah, even as so many Old Testaments prophets had predicted and of which the disciples were well aware. The disciples had no way of knowing whether Yeshua’s second coming was imminent or far away timewise.
The third question refers to the end of this present age age when Messiah will establish is kingdom on earth—a subject that many Old Testament prophets had written about. We now refer to this Messianic Age as the Millennium based on John’s book of Revelation. There we learn that at the end of this present age, Yeshua will return from heaven to destroy the world-ruling kingdom of Satan (called Mystery Babylon the Great) along with all of his demonic and human minions, and will then establish his kingdom on this earth for one thousand years.
So as we can see, the three questions that Yeshua’s disciples asked and that he subsequently answered cover a long time span including from the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 until the end of the age some two thousand years later.
Therefore, the Olivet Prophecy must be viewed as being fulfilled over a long, protracted time-frame. This view, however, has not been that of many classical Christian scholars, who, rather, have viewed Yeshua’s prophecy as having been fulfilled in A.D. 70 and subsequently thereafter with the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church as Yeshua’s supposed kingdom on the earth. It is total folly to view the largely apostate, paganized Roman Catholic Church with all of its offshoot denominations as representing Yeshua’s millennial kingdom on earth for several reasons.
First, the Roman Catholic Church and its spiritual daughters have, to one degree or another, failed to walk in Yeshua’s Torah-truths that he came to bring to its fullest expression (Matt 5:17) and not to destroy (Matt 5:18), and which he commanded his disciples to obey (Matt 5:20; John 14:15, 21) and teach (Matt 28:20). Rather, the Catholic Church and her spiritual daughters have spurned much of his Torah.
Second, all of these churches, in spite of the good works they may done on this earth in the name of Jesus, have not fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that speak of the universal rule of King Messiah on this earth in specific detail. It certainly cannot be said that the Roman Catholic Church has fulfilled these millennial prophecies.
Third, the book of Revelation speaks of many events that have yet to transpire and that must happen before the Millennium. Most notable of these is Yeshua’s return on a white horse with his saints and the overthrow of all of men’s governments, and the defeat and banishment of Satan and his minions into the abyss for one thousand years.
Matthew 24:4, Deceive [Gr. planao] you/lead you astray. Planao means “to lead astray via fraudulence and seduction.” The fact that Yeshua mentions this warning first emphasizes the importance he places on this point. The fact that Satan comes as an angel of light seeking to devour spiritually whomever he can is the first and foremost tactic of the enemy of which the saints must be aware. The moment Elohim reveals his Truth to humans, whether it was in the Garden of Eden to the first humans, or in the form of his Son as the Word of Elohim incarnate, the enemy has been there to counterfeit it and to lead and to lure humans astray. His tactics have not changed from then until now and on to the end of the age.
Matthew 24:5, I am the Messiah. In Gospels of Mark and Luke, this phrase simply reads, “I am” (Mark 13:6; Luke 21:6). This can possibly be viewed as a Hebraic allusion to the I AM of Exodus 3:14, to which Yeshua likened himself in John 8:58. Matthew’s account adds the title the Messiah to I am. The word Messiah is from the Hebrew word mashiach meaning “an anointed or consecrated one.” Here Yeshua is plainly telling us that after him, many deceivers will come claiming to be the one that heaven has anointed or consecrated as its divine messenger to humans. The world is full of pseudo-messiahs and those claiming to be Elohim’s messenger and billions of people have been deceived to follow many false religions. Mohammed, the founder of Islam is a leading example of false prophet or anointed one. There have been plenty of such individuals in the Christian church as well.
Matthew 24:6, Wars and rumors of wars. Wars and rumors of wars have been occurring since the beginning of time, and certainly since the time Yeshua gave this prophecy, so this is not something new on the human scene. Yeshua’s mention of this as a sign of his coming would seem to indicate that wars would increase toward the end of the age and likely on a more global and catastrophic scale than ever before in human history. Certainly World War I and II would qualify as fitting this description. Luke’s account states that these wars need to occur first (Luke 21:9), “but the end of the age will not come immediately” or, as Matthew states “but the end [of the age] is not yet” (Matt 24:6). The two world wars of the twentieth century could fit this description.
Matthew 24:7, Nation [Gr. ethnos] against nation…kingdom [Gr. basileia] against kingdom.What this is really saying is that ethnic groups or tribes and nations will be fighting each other. In other words, in the end times, not only will countries be at war with other countries, but there will also be ethnic, racial and tribal clashes within those countries.
Famines…earthquakes. Along with the wars come famines and earthquakes. Again, these have been occurring with regularity for along time. However, like the wars, it would seem that as we draw closer to the end of the age, these will be increasing with severity and magnitude, or else what would be the point of Yeshua even mentioning them, since these have been happening all along forever?
Luke adds here something that the other two Gospels leave out: “pestilences… fearful sights and great signs from the heaven” (Luke 21:11).
Pestilences refers to plagues or diseases. Scripture does not specify whether these are naturally occurring or man-made bioweapons. They could include both.
“Fearful sights” is the Greek word phobētron meaning “a fearful thing or frightful portent,” or “dreadful sight or appearance” (Zodhiates), or “something which inspires terror, a terrible sight or event” (Mounce). This is the only place phobētron is used in the New Testament, so the word is open to interpretation as to its exact meaning. Presumably it would refer to something unusual or out of the ordinary that brings universal fear on humanity.
“Great signs from heavens” are the two Greek words megas sēmeion meaning “great, big, exceedingly” and “miracle, sign, token, wonder, remarkable event, a wonderful appearance, extraordinary phenomenon, a wonderful work, portent or miraculous operation” (Mounce). Sēmeion can also refer to“a miracle, sign or token with a spiritual end and purpose; miracles which lead to something out of and beyond themselves; finger-marks of God. ” (Zodhiates). Sēmeion can also signify “a sign by which the divine power in majesty is made known, a supernatural event or act, a token, wonder or miracle by which the power and presence of God is manifested” (ibid.). It can also mean “the signs, wonders and miracles worked both by the disciples and apostles of Yeshua and by false prophets claiming to act by divine authority” (ibid.). It seems that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled in any large way.
Matthew 24:8, These are the beginnings of sorrows. Sorrows is the Greek word ōdin meaning “a pang or throe, especially of childbirth, birth pangs.” Yeshua is clear. What he has previously mentioned as signs of the end of the age must first occur before the events which he next predicts will come to pass.
Matthew 24:9, Tribulation. The persecution of the saints has been occurring since the death of Yeshua and Stephen, so this is nothing new. However, for it to be a notable event as a sign of the end of the age, persecution needs to be intensifying. Indeed, Christian persecution around the world is increasing. Previously, it has been confined largely to communist and Muslim nations. Now it is occurring more frequently in the formerly Christian nations of Europe and North America. In America, this started in the early 1960s when the atheists were instrumental in removing prayer from the public schools to the point that now the forces of evil are continuously and violently opposing nearly any overt sign of Christianity in the public arena with little or no police, judicial, government protection or pushback from Christians.
Deliver you up. Mark’s gospel adds, “for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them” (Mark 16:9). This happened in the first century as the book of Acts records, however, with one caveat. The gospel had not yet been first preached to the whole world (Mark 13:10). So this is largely an end times prophecy.
You shall be hated by all nations. This prophecy was not fulfilled in the first century. In fact, until modern times, most nations had never heard the gospel message. The gospel had to have first been preached to all nations before all nations (“and all men,” Mark 13:13) could hate the disciples of Yeshua much less persecute them.
Luke 21:16–18, Put to death…not a hair. At this point in the Olivet Prophecy, Luke adds an interesting statement of Yeshua that Matthew and Mark omit. Yeshua declares, “and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost [or destroyed].” These two phrases seems contradictory unless Yeshua is referring in the first place of physical death and in the second place of spiritual death. This must be his meaning in light of the next verse where he says, “By your patience [or endurance] possess [i.e. acquire, obtain, possess, provide, purchase] your souls” (Luke 21:19). What it seems that Yeshua is saying here is that if his end times disciples will patiently endure the persecution against them even unto physical death, he will preserve them, so that even though they may die physically, they will not die spiritually but experience eternal life.
Matthew 24:11, Many false prophets. False prophets can refer not only to those who falsely predict or foretell the future, but those who falsely claim to speak under the inspiration of YHVH’s Spirit. Since the first century, countless false prophets and false teachers have arisen leading many people astray, but at the end of the age, the activities of false prophet and the number thereof will only increase. This is not surprising since Satan knows that his time is short thus necessitating the rallying of all of this troops to deceive as many people as possible—especially the saints since all others are already in his spiritual camp.
Matthew 24:12, Iniquity [Gr. anomia]. Anomia literally means “lawlessness,” which in a biblical context ismerely another name for Torahlessness.
Matthew 24:14, The gospel…will be preached. This prophecy that the gospel will be preached to the whole world has not been totally possible until the advent of global travel and mass communications. The modern global missionary movement began in the early to mid-1800s largely in England, and then picked up by American missionaries. But it was not until the advent of radio, television, satellite, and finally the internet that this prophecy was capable of being fulfilled.
Many classical biblical prophecy students believe that the prophecies of Matthew 24 were fulfilled in the first century A.D., especially with regard to events surrounding the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Indeed, in many of these prophecies were fulfilled at that time, but not all of them. At that time, the gospel message had not yet been preached “in all the world.” As confounding as it may be to the Bible student, some biblical prophecies have multiple fulfillments and apply to different people over long periods of time. This is due to the cyclical and repetitive nature of human events, and many biblical prophecies account for this fact. The same is true of the Olivet Prophecy. Some aspects of it were fulfilled in the first century, some have been in the process of being fulfilled over the past two thousand years, some are yet to be fulfilled, and, finally, some prophecies may have more than one fulfillment at different times.
Then the end [Gr. telos] will come. Only after the gospel has been preached to all nations will the end come and not before. The Greek word telos means “to set out for a definite point or goal; properly the point aimed at as a limit, that is, (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state (termination [literally, figuratively or indefinitely], result [immediate, ultimate or prophetic], purpose).” The gospel message has been going forth since Yeshua’s appearance on this earth (and before), but only recently has it reached all nations and all people since the recent advent of global electronic communications. This is the point in the Olivet Prophecy when Satan begins to pull out the stops to advance his global kingdom. This is also when the Great Tribulation begins (Matt 24:21). Until this point starting in the first century with the death of Yeshua, Stephen and other apostolic era saints, Christians have experienced tribulation. Now the intensification of the proceeding occurs culminating in the return of King Yeshua the Messiah.
This is the point, according to my best understanding, where we are presently at in the order of end time events (minus the great signs from heaven mentioned in Luke 21:11). We are on the brink of the Great Tribulation period. NOW IS THE TIME TO REPENT OF SIN AND DRAW CLOSE TO YESHUA LIKE NEVER BEFORE.
Matthew 24:15–26, The Great Tribulation. It is true that many of the events in these verses have occurred before. During the time of the Maccabees in the second century B.C., the heathens set an idol in the Jerusalem temple. This also occurred in A.D. 70 under the Romans. But these were foreshadows of what is to occur in the end of days after the gospel has been preached in all the world to all nations (v. 14).
Matthew 24:15, The abomination of desolation.There has been much speculation as to what this is. The term itself signifies an abominable, polluted idol that engenders devastation. Many Bible scholars believe this prophecy was fulfilled by General and later Emperor Titus, the Roman general who conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in A.D. 70. At this time, he set up idols on the site of the destroyed temple and made sacrifices to his gods (Josephus’ Wars 6.6.1). Other biblical scholars believe that this prophecy was fulfilled by the Roman emperor Hadrian who set up an idol to the god Jupiter in the temple he had built in A.D. 135 in the spot where Herod’s Temple previously stood. While these historical events are notable fulfillments of this prophecy, in light of Yeshua’s words in verse 14 that the gospel must first be preached in all the world, there seems to be an even greater, end times fulfillment yet to come.
Holy place. From the Greek, this can also be translated as “holy spot.” Specifically in a biblical sense, the holy place refers to that part of the Tabernacle of Moses and later the temples built in Jerusalem that was so named. However, since A.D. 70, there has been no temple on the so-called Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This has led some biblical students to suggest that a temple has to be built in the end times in Jerusalem, so that this prophecy might have its ultimate end times fulfillment. If this is so, will this temple be sanctioned by Elohim such that his presence will be there thus designating as “the holy place”? This seems highly unlikely. Other biblical students of have reasoned that since the saints are now the temple of the Holy Spirit with the aggregate thereof being the “Christian Church,” then the holy place in which this abomination is to be placed refers to the major apostasy of the church itself in favor of some demonic religious system. While this may be true in one respect or another, this is hard to quantify and delineate objectively. Since the first century and onward, there have always been Christians and churches that fit the biblical definition of being apostate or having abandoned the Truth of Elohim.
Again, the term holy place can also be translated holy spot, which could have a broader and more generic meaning beyond that of simply the literal holy place in temple of Elohim in Jerusalem.
To this writer, the meaning of term “the holy place” in this prophecy remains unclear.
Whoever reads, let him understand. This phrase is a parenthetical that was added either by the writers of the Gospel or later editors. This we know because Yeshua never wrote anything down; he communicated only verbally.
Luke 21:20–24, Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Many biblical students have assumed that this part of Yeshua’s prophecy refers to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The problem with this interpretation is that it does not fit in with the chronological flow of events listed so far in Matthew 24. The armies that surround Jerusalem in this verse occurs immediately prior to the second coming of Yeshua. Therefore to state that it refers to the Roman armies in A.D. 70 is an anachronism—an event that is out of place. As such, does Scripture speak of some end time armies surrounding and conquering Jerusalem? Indeed it does. Zechariah the prophet predicts that this will occur just prior to Yeshua’s second coming and the establishment of his millennial kingdom on earth. As an aspect of the day of YHVH and as a final judgment against the non-believing Jews in Israel, the prophet tells us that YHVH will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses pillaged, the women raped and half of the city’s population will either be taken captive or will flee (Zech 14:1–2). This event occurs just prior to Yeshua’s setting his feet on the Mount of Olives at his second coming (v. 14). But just before this, YHVH will come on the scene and destroy Israel’s invading enemies. This likely will occur at the battle of Armageddon as described in the book of Revelation as an aspect of Yeshua’s second coming (Rev 16:16 cp. Rev 20:19–21).
Matthew 24:29, 31, Immediately after the tribulation…gather the elect. Perhaps no other verse in the Bible disproves the pre-tribulation rapture theory better than this one. Here Yeshua clearly states that the gathering of the saints to meet Yeshua at his coming in the clouds occurs not only after the tribulation, but also after the great tribulation (v. 21). The tribulation and great tribulation are separate events from the wrath of Elohim, which John describes as being part of the seven trumpet and seven bowl judgments (Rev 6:17; 11:18; 15:1; 16:1).