|Matthew 24||Disciples – Be Ready For The End|
29 - Matthew, A Manual For Discipleship
Disciples – Be Ready For The End
In Matthew 23 Jesus has just given His final public teaching. He began His public teaching ministry with the Beatitudes which are an introduction to the large message given in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). He concludes His public teaching with the Bad-Attitudes, that is, the heart problem presented by the religious elite, the hypocritical religious leaders of the day. In His final public teaching Jesus condemns religious hypocrisy and expresses His heartfelt lament that Israel chose to reject their Messiah (23:37-39).
A Provocative Prophetic Prediction
Matthew 24:1-3 – “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 
After His scathing message against the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, Jesus departs from the Temple confines where He has been teaching (He has been teaching there since Matthew 21:23). His disciples accompany Him as He travels East from the City of Jerusalem, down the Kidron Valley, over the Brook Kidron and up the slopes of the Mount of Olives which oversees the City and where the Temple was situated.
As they leave His disciples convey their awe of the massive Temple structure. The disciples are impressed with the size and magnificence of the Temple (24:1). Josephus the Jewish historian tells us that the stones of the Temple were 20 feet high, 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. It’s estimated these stones weighed approximately 110 tons each. These massive carved stones were so perfectly fit together that a knife could not be wedged between them. These huge foundation stones can bee seen today in Jerusalem.
How did Jesus feel about this structure? His response is noteworthy, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (24:2). Jesus was not impressed with the massive manmade structure anymore than He was impressed with the outward show of religiosity demonstrated by the Pharisees and scribes. Instead Jesus said a time would come when every stone of this Temple will be torn down. The disciples were dumbfounded. The Temple was so imbedded in their way of life that to hear that it would be destroyed moved them to associate such demise with the “end of the age”. This is what drives them to inquire, ““Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (24:3).
Putting Prophecy In Perspective
Matthew 24 is a very important portion of scripture prophetically. This is a portion of Scripture that every disciple needs to study and know. To properly understand what Jesus teaches here it is important to plow straight and in the right field. To plow straight it is best to set our sight on a distant point. Therefore, first we need to understand that the phrase “end of the age” refers to that time period beginning with Jesus’ statements here and continuing up to the Millennial Age of the Kingdom of Christ (Revelation 20).
Secondly, we need to understand that the field of contents in Matthew 24 related by Jesus pertains to three groups:
Failing to see the involvement of these three separate and distinct groups has led to a misunderstanding concerning who Jesus is talking about and where this teaching fits into prophetic history. Those who make no distinction in who is being addressed here by Jesus have been prone to see the church as supplanting Israel in prophecy, the church going through the Tribulation, and the Rapture and 2nd Coming of Jesus as one and the same event.
The Immediate Historical Fulfillment
In 70 A.D., less than 40 years after Jesus spoke prophetically about the Temple’s destruction, the Roman general Titus invaded Jerusalem to put down an uprising. It was then that the city was destroyed. The name of the land was changed from Israel (lit. “Governed by God”) to “Palestine” (lit. “Land of the Philistines”).
Historical documents tell us that Titus commanded his soldiers to not desecrate the Temple confines but a drunken soldier threw a torch into the Temple, which started an intense fire. So hot was the fire that the gold inlays of the Temple melted and seeped into crevices of the structure. The soldiers began pulling apart the Temple to get at the gold and in the end not one stone was left on another! The massive structure had been destroyed and Jesus’ prophecy fulfilled just as He said it would be.
But this was not the end-all in regards to the prophetic word of Jesus given in Matthew 24. Realize that this was only the beginning. The events mentioned by Jesus in this chapter will be occurring in ever increasing frequency and intensity:
The events of this age will crescendo in a final seven-year period referred to as the “great tribulation.” During this period God pours out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world and seeks to wake up the nation of Israel. Even this outpouring of wrath has a redemptive purpose to it. Many will be shaken and saved when they recollect the seeds of the gospel that were planted by Christians who are no longer around because they have been raptured to be with the LORD. (Look at the detailed account of the Great Tribulation in Revelation chapters 6 through 19.)
What Can The World Expect To Experience Toward The End of The Age?
Matthew 24:4-14 – “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.13 “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 
As we draw closer and closer to the end of the age, what will the world look like? What can the world expect to experience as we approach the end of the age? As we answer these questions, keep in mind that we disciples will see many of these things as we are in the deteriorating world prior to being raptured out of the world before the Tribulation period.
First, false messiahs (24:4-5). Jesus said:
It’s interesting that there were no claims to messiahship prior to Jesus. Why? Think of it this way, have you ever seen a counterfeit $3 dollar bill? $30 dollar bill? $300 dollar bill? No. Why not? Because there is no such thing. A counterfeit can only be made if an authentic original exists. In the same way, until Jesus the authentic Messiah came, there was no Messiah to counterfeit.
Secondly, wars and rumors of wars (24:6-7a). Jesus said:
Is such a sign applicable to our world today?
The War Atlas, (a publication of The Club of Rome which is a part of the European Economic Community) reports:
In the January 2002 issue of Whistleblower magazine, David Kupelian, in an article entitled Preparing for the Next War,” writes the following:
“Americans have been conditioned somehow to go into denial about the nuclear threat. Perhaps it’s the standard Hollywood depiction of a nuclear detonation as causing the annihilation of everything – the end of the world – that causes most Americans reflexively to roll their eyes.
The truth is: 1) There are currently thousands of nuclear weapons in the world; 2) They are coveted by dictators, jihad madmen and would-be superpowers; and 3) they are constantly under development (or their acquisition is being negotiated) by unstable regimes run by megalomaniacal leaders.
If we’re going to face the fact that evil people are striving mightily to obtain, and use on Americans, the most devastating weapons possible – and after Sept. 11, who could doubt their willingness to do so – we must also understand that their favorite, and ultimate, weapon is the nuclear bomb. Nothing else will do.
A nuclear bomb is what turns a psychopath into a superpower leader. Not smallpox, not anthrax, not sarin gas, not jet fuel. A nuclear bomb is to a hate-filled, charismatic figure like bin Laden what a 12-gauge shotgun is in the hands of a 15-year old girl facing an attacker: It’s the great equalizer.” 
In the same issue of Whistleblower, Brian T. Kennedy, in an article entitled, The Urgent Need For Ballistic Missile Defense, writes:
“We should also note that ballistic missiles can be used not only to kill and destroy, but to commit geopolitical blackmail. IN February of 1996, during a confrontation between Mainland China and our democratic ally on Taiwan, Lt. General Xiong Guang Kai, a senior Chinese official, made an implicit nuclear threat against the U.S., warning our government not to interfere because Americans “care more about Los Angeles than they do Taipei.” With a minimum of 20 Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles currently aimed at the U.S., such threats must be taken seriously. . . .
China possesses the DF-5 ballistic missile with a single, four-megaton warhead. Such a warhead could destroy an area of 87.5 square miles, or roughly all of Manhattan, with its daily population of three million people. Even more devastating is the Russian SS-18, which has a range of 7,500 miles and is capable of carrying a single, 24-megaton warhead or multiple warheads ranging from 550 to 750 kilotons.
Imagine a ballistic missile attack on New York or Los Angeles, resulting in the death of three to eight million Americans. Beyond the staggering loss of human life, this would take a devastating political and economic toll. Americans’ faith in their government – a government that allowed such an attack – would be shaken to its core. As for the economic shock, consider that damages from the Sept. 11 attack, minor by comparison, are estimated by some economists to be nearly 1.3 trillion dollars, roughly one-fifth of the GNP.”
In light of this information and articles, it seems clear that we are living in an age of wars and rumors of wars.
Third, famines (24:7). Jesus said:
Studies of the global environment show that deserts increase 14.8 million square miles per year which leads to less and less land to produce the food necessary to feed an ever growing world population. In the U.S., topsoil measures 3 inches. Topsoil in the U.S. used to be like it is in Canada, 10 feet. Globally there is less food in storage than there was in 1920. The world is constantly experiencing a state of famine in various areas of the world. We are living in an age of famine.
Fourth, pertilences (24:7). Jesus said, “And there will be . . . , pestilences . . . .” As of January 15, 1997 the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/Aids reported that there are 21.8 million people worldwide living with HIV/Aids (1 million adults and 830,000 children).
Fifth, earthquakes (24:7). Jesus said, “And there will be . . . earthquakes in various places.” “In 1980 the eruption of Mt. St. Helens was equivalent to 500 atomic bombs and 400 million cubic tons of dust shot up into the air. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are on the rise.
Sixth, persecution (24:8-10). Jesus said:
Are Christians and Jews persecuted today? Persecution of Jews and Christians is growing worldwide. On February 1, 2002 this writer received an e-mail from the International Christian Concern organization which ministers on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide. The e-mail contained a letter from three Christians being persecuted in Saudi Arabia. The letter in part said the following:
SAUDI ARABIA TORTURES CHRISTIAN PRISONERS
Detained Christians fear for their lives: Reports of torture follow statement from Saudi Embassy in Washington saying, "You release our prisoners here and we will release yours there."
THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY FROM EXCERPTS TRANSLATED AND PARAPHRASED FROM A LETTER ICC RECEIVED FROM 3 ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS DESCRIBING THE HORRENDOUS ORDEAL OF TORTURE, TERROR, AND TORMENT THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH AT THE HANDS OF AN OFFICIAL AT THE BREMEN DEPORTATION PRISON IN JEDDAH. 
"On January 28, 2002 by order of the Bremen Prison Commander Major Bender Sultan Shabani and with no hearing, trial, or process of law, we were illegally subjected to severe punishment and physical abuse. Being suspended with chains, each of us were flogged 80 times with a flexible metal cable, and also severely kicked and beaten with anything that came into their hands. This was witnessed by over 1,000 deportees.
"Our bodies are wounded, swollen, terribly bruised, and with great pain. Baharu’s kidney may have been damaged and he is passing blood with his urine. When we reported to the prison hospital for treatment, we were slapped and told to come back after we were dead. It seems as if we were brought to Bremen Deportation Prison to be tortured and tormented to death.
"One Ethiopian-Yemeni named Ahmed is the primary instigator of all of this. He is an extortionist who has for a long time been intimidating and threatening Ethiopian Christians working in Jeddah. If they will not pay him blackmail money, he invents serious false charges such as having blasphemed Islam, and reports it to his connections with the Saudi authorities.
"Ahmed . . . has been continually threatening us, and anyone who comes to visit us. He tells visitors that he will put them in prison also the way he did us. . . . We have now been imprisoned for 6 months for being followers of the Christian faith, having never been formally charged with anything. . . . .
"The room we are in is only 11.5 X 30 meters, with at times up to 1,800 men of all nationalities crammed into this tiny space. There is no furniture – no space to lie down except for short naps taken in shifts on the floor. About 80% of the inmates including us have been infected with contagious diseases. Some have AIDS. The toilets are overflowing. The food is not clean. When we complain, we are chained and handcuffed as punishment . . .. 
Persecution is often covered up for political expediency by governments. Jesus said,
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10).  We need to pray for the persecuted brethren throughout the world. Israel at present is experiencing terror attacks on almost a daily basis. We live in a world rampant with persecution of Christians and Jews. 
Seventh, deceptive false prophets (24:11). Jesus said:
Jesus actually mentions the rise of false prophets twice (24:5,11). If He mentioned false prophets and deception twice, he must have felt we needed to be doubly aware of the danger such false prophets hold.
When leaving the Ephesian church the apostle Paul gave the following warning:
This warning is just as pertinent in our day and age. This is exactly what the Spirit foretold as he inspired the apostle Paul to write:
False ministers of religion are proliferating at a rapid rate. One reason for this is the use of the Internet. In an article posted on Sun Sentinal.com we see the cheapening of ministry and the absence of any consideration for the calling of God. The article is entitled Web sites offering 'instant ordination' in mail-order ministries By Mitch Lipka and Marian Dozier (Staff Writers) who write:
“ Ready to move up from member of the flock to shepherd? Enticed by the privilege of being called minister, reverend, rabbi or even doctor of divinity? If you hear God calling, it's never been easier to answer. Just rev up your computer and decide how much of a commitment you want to make. Thanks to the miracle of e-mail, you can become a minister by simply hitting the "send" button. You might also have to mail $200 or more -- but you're saving on all that pesky religious training. A growing number of Web sites offer instant ordination, with many promising that, in no time, you can be providing absolution, presiding over funerals or even starting your own church. The perks, they say, include clergy discounts, special parking access and press credentials.” 
In June of 2001, an article in the New York Daily News exposed a minister who appears to have been in ministry for personal gain. The article, entitled, Tax Rap vs. Bronx Cleric - Minister received $5.5M refund, but bank smelled rat, stated the following:
“A Bronx minister with champagne tastes who alternately listed Trump Tower and a Bronx housing project as his home address persuaded state tax officials to give him an astounding $5.5 million tax refund in June.
Within hours of obtaining the refund, the Rev. Clayton Harris authorized Independence Community Bank of Brooklyn to electronically pay for a Corvette convertible, a second luxury car and North Carolina property worth $750,000, according to those close to the case. Authorities said the free-spending minister also wrote out a check for $1 million for Clayton Harris Ministries and deposited it into a separate account at Chase Manhattan Bank. Harris' free run was abruptly ended when officials at Independence Community Bank became suspicious and notified authorities. The electronic transfers were quickly blocked, and the $1 million check was frozen; the actual loss is said to be about $13,000.
Harris, 43, is being held pending arraignment in Manhattan tomorrow on a 33-count indictment charging him with grand larceny and filing false income tax returns and other documents. The court appearance for Harris — once affiliated with a Brooklyn church but who presently has no known affiliation — was delayed because he was unable to find a lawyer quickly. Red-faced officials at the New York Department of Taxation and Finance declined to explain how such a large check could have been issued — especially to a minister.
With these articles in mind, it is no wonder that there is a growing disrespect for the ministers that God does actually call. We are living in an age of deceptive false prophets.
Eight, cold-heartedness (24:12). Jesus said:
We live in a society where the law is continually weakened to pander to the lusts of people’s selfish fleshly desires. The laws of men are more and more in opposition to the Law of God. Laws legalizing such activities as abortion are leading to the dehumanizing and cheapening of human life. The sanctity of human life is steadily declining. The result is the understanding of what love is being lost and love is in the deep freeze.
When the Church, (through who the Spirit is serving to restrain all out evil in the world – 2 Thessalonians 2:7)) is removed in the rapture, all hell will break loose. We see a bit of this hell breaking loose today. In June of 1998, Luke Woodham, age 17, a teenager accused in a school shooting spree and having killed his mother earlier in the day by repeatedly stabbing her and then beating her with a baseball bat proclaimed, “I’m going to heaven now” as he was handcuffed and shackled and being led to the courthouse, “Everything happens for a reason. It’s God’s will.” (Newsday, June 6th, 1998).
Who could forget the tragic story of Andrea Yates who systematically and robotically murdered her five small children by drowning them one by one in her bathtub? One article described this horrific story in the following way:
HOUSTON – Andrea Yates told police she began thinking several months ago about killing her five kids, and finally did it this week because she believed she was a bad mother and they were hopelessly damaged.
Without emotion, Mrs. Yates also described how she methodically drowned the children Wednesday morning in her Clearlake home, chasing down her oldest son Noah after he saw his baby sister floating lifeless in the bathtub and tried to get away, said a police official familiar with the case.
She told police she had already drowned her three middle sons and carried their bodies to a back bedroom when her seven-year-old son walked into the open doorway of the bathroom and saw the full tub where six-month-old Mary lay, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 
The Andrea Yates story is still ongoing. No matter the reasons for Ms. Yates actions, whether it be mental breakdown or not, it is still an example of, “the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).
Ninth, the gospel will be spread throughout the world (24:13-14). Jesus said:
This is a verse that has been often misinterpreted and greatly abused. The return of Christ is not dependent on our preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. The return of Christ will occur according to the Father’s set time. Many use Matthew 24:14 as a call to missions, but the Gospel will be preached throughout the world during the Tribulation by 144,000 apostle Paul-like messianic evangelists (Revelation 7), two witnesses (Revelation 11), Tribulation saints (Revelation 12) and angels who fly throughout the world warning against the antichrist (Revelation 14:6-7).
It’s interesting that in Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he made the following comment in the opening lines of his letter:
Here we see that Paul was able to say that the gospel had been heard “in all the world.” This means that there is no outstanding activity that needs to be accomplished in order to usher in the return of Jesus. If there was, then Christ’s return could not be said to be imminent. It is misinterpretation of scripture to say that the rapture cannot occur for any reason. Jesus could come back at any time, even before you finish reading this study. Are you ready disciple?
What do we do now?
When we look at the world today in light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, it seems clear that we are closer to the end today, than ever before in the history of mankind. If that is so, what should we do? Jesus tells us.
Enduring to the end
In Matthew 24:13, Jesus speaks of endurance. The word “endure” is translated from the Greek term HUPOMENO (Strong’s #5278) meaning, “to stay under; remain under; have fortitude; persevere; endure patiently; abide; endure; and suffer.” We get a clearer sense of the word by examining it more closely. HUPOMONE is a word formed by joining the prefix HUPO to the term MENO. The preposition HUPO (Strong’s #5229) can mean, “by” or “under.” The word MENO is translated, “abide.” To “abide” (Strong’s #3306 – MENO) means, “to continue; abide; stay; dwell; be present; remain.” Therefore when you add the prefix HUPO to the term MENO you have the idea of continuing-under/by; abiding-under/by; staying-under/by; dwelling-under/by; remaining-under/by.
Other verses which use this term give us further insight and a few of them are as follows:
Jesus connected ongoing salvation with an enduring faith (Matthew 10:22). So important is endurance that it is used to characterize the greatest attribute of God ‘s love (1 Corinthians 13:7). This last verse quoted shows that the apostle Paul was motivated to endure by the calling and commission of Christ. It also shows us that Paul had a handle on Christ likeness because Jesus exemplified to the utmost what endurance is all about.
Jesus is our Model of Endurance
Jesus is our ultimate example of endurance as He endured suffering and shame for the sake of the gospel as it says in Hebrews:
As we see the endurance of our blessed Savior it moves our heart in the Spirit. As we look at Jesus we are reminded of our great personal saving relationship with Him. Jesus referred to enduring by relying on Him in this personal relationship when He used the word “abide.”
Enduring means Abiding
Jesus used this word to instruct the disciple on how to endure and persevere when He stated:
Abiding in Christ is not something we do with discipline, intestinal fortitude or our own strength. No, abiding is done by relying on Jesus, staying by Him, continuing by Him, dwelling by Him, abiding by Him in the personal saving relationship He has blessed you with. Jesus explains this when He says:
Abiding in Jesus is simply living by the Spirit in close relationship and communication with Him. Abiding in Jesus is an ongoing, moment by moment process by which we endure to the end of this life. In this sense, Jesus must become our all in all. The apostle Paul expressed this well when he said:
Jesus is our all in all, He is our reason for living and that ultimately is what abiding in Him is all about. Abiding in Jesus is staying so close to Him that we stick to Him like glue. Abiding in Jesus means we are with Him and He with us at all times everywhere we go. There is one other way this is expressed.
Enduring is Abiding is Putting On Christ
Jesus said the disciple needs to endure. We have described endurance as abiding by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit in our personal saving relationship with Jesus. Another way to describe this is found in the writings of Paul. Paul went on to write to the Romans that the disciple is to “put on Christ,” in other words; by faith we are to depend on His righteousness. Paul was inspired to put it like this:
If some 2000 years ago Paul was making this statement to the Romans, how much more is it true for us today? Disciple, endure in the abiding presence of Jesus! Put Jesus on like a garment that is part of you and press on.
We need to understand that this endurance of abiding in Jesus is not a hardship but a blessing! It isn’t as though we abide in Jesus kicking and dragging our feet. There is no better way to live than to endure and live abiding in Jesus. James the half-brother of Jesus speaks of the blessedness of enduring in our faith when he is inspired to write:
James goes so far as to say that even though Job experienced suffering, in the end endurance was well worth it and blessed. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter of hell begins to break loose around us, in His strength, we will endure.
A first century “saying” is appropriate here which states:
We may falter in our abiding, but Jesus will always be there for us to help us onward and through hard times. Abiding in Jesus is a blessed way to live one’s live, no matter the circumstances.
What Can Israel Expect As We Approach The End of the Age?
Matthew 24:15-36 - “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.18 “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.19 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!20 “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.21 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.22 “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.24 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 “See, I have told you beforehand.26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.27 “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.28 “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.31 “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.33 “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” 
As Jesus now turns to give some particulars about Israel and the end of the age, He goes straight to the Scriptures to communicate these profound prophetic truths.
Who is the Lord speaking to in these verses?
That the LORD is speaking in regards to the trouble Israel in particular, (not the church) will encounter in this Tribulation is evidenced by a number of things in this passage.
First, that Jesus makes reference to the “abomination of desolation,” which is taken from Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy which pertains specifically and exclusively to Israel, supports the view that these verses are aimed at Israel and not the Gentile church (24:15). The phrase “abomination of desolation” is an excerpt from a prophecy found in the book of Daniel who prophesied to the exiles of Israel in the sixth century B.C. This quote of Jesus comes from a very distinct and incredible prophecy of Daniel which has come to be referred to as The Seventy Weeks of Daniel prophecy and pertains exclusively to Israel. We will discuss this in greater detail below.
Second, if Jesus were talking about a church that would become predominantly Gentile in the future, He would not have concerned Himself with stipulations about the Sabbath (24:20). The Sabbath was something that God arranged by eternal perpetual covenant with Israel (Exodus 31:12-18). The early church began meeting on the first day of the week, Sunday (the day after the Sabbath) to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus on a weekly basis (as mentioned in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2). Mention of the Sabbath pertains particularly to Jews.
Third, Jesus use of the word “elect” seems to support a reference to Israel (24:22,24,31). In both the Old and New Testaments Israel is referred to as the “elect” of God as we see in the following verses:
While some argue that the “elect” can refer to Christians, it seems that the context here supports the view that Jesus is speaking particularly to Israel here.
Fourth, Jesus uses the symbol of the fig tree, which is an accepted Biblical symbol for Israel (24:32-35). Based on the imagery used in Jeremiah 24 and elsewhere in the Bible, it seems very clear that Jesus is speaking of Israel when using the “fig tree.”
The Abomination of Desolation
Matthew 24:15-20 - “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.18 “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.19 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!20 “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” 
As mentioned earlier, we know that Jesus is now speaking of Israel in particular because He refers to a portion of Scripture that concerns Israel exclusively.
In Daniel 9 the prophet is inspired to write:
This prophecy was given by inspiration through the prophet Daniel and says that “Seventy weeks are determined for your people,” which refers to Daniel’s people who were the Israelites or Jews. The “Seventy weeks” refers to seventy “sevens” (i.e. Hebrew SHABUWA – Strong’s 7620 – “sevens”) and is interpreted to refer to seventy sets of seven year periods or 490 years. Therefore what Daniel is being inspired to tell us here is that God is saying there are 490 years determined for Israel to accomplish His purposes for the people (Daniel 9:24a). What are these purposes? First, “to finish transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring everlasting righteousness,” which refers to the coming of Messiah Jesus, His atonement on the cross and everlasting righteousness brought by His resurrection (Daniel 9:24b). This period of time will also mark the end of prophecy (“to seal up vision and prophecy”) and end with the establishment of Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom (“to anoint the Most Holy”). In Daniel 9:25 and 26a we have an exact prediction to the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His substitutionary atonement at the crucifixion (see comments on Matthew 21). In the second part of Daniel 9:26 and in verse 27 it speaks of another “prince who is to come” which is a reference to the antichrist who will ultimately destroy the city and sanctuary which are rebuilt during a seven year covenant of peace made with Israel and then betrayed half way through, (another Temple will be constructed during the Tribulation period as mentioned in Revelation 11:1-2). The second part of verse 27 which states, “on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,” refers to the antichrist’s betrayal of the covenant previously made with Israel (9:27b). This occurs at the midway point of the Tribulation. The Tribulation therefore is also known as “the seventieth week of Daniel.” This seventieth week begins with this seven year covenant diplomatically arranged by antichrist with Israel and will likely allow for them to reconstruct the Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Halfway through the seven-year covenant antichrist will betray and break the covenant by desecrating the Temple; He will desecrate the Temple or perform the “abomination of desolation” by proclaiming himself to be God in the Temple (see 2 Thessalonians 2). The second half of the Tribulation or seventieth week is known as the Great Tribulation because it will be a time of all our persecution of the Jews by antichrist. So you see, by Jesus referring to this prophecy in Daniel, He is identifying a prophetic word that pertains specifically and exclusively to the Jews.
Historical fulfillment of the abomination that causes desolation
Around 170 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria became enraged at the Jews for not acknowledging him as the embodiment of the Greek god Zeus. As a result he ordered the destruction of Jerusalem. In one day 100,000 Jewish men were slaughtered, women raped and the city looted. The culmination of Antiochus’ deplorable action was when he entered the Temple and butchered a pig on the Temple altar. He forced the priests to drink the blood of the pig and eat raw pork. He finished this abominable act which caused desolation of the Temple by smearing the pig’s blood on the Temple walls. Daniel 11:31 speaks of this historical event as the abomination of desolation.
The future prophetic fulfillment of the abomination that causes desolation
But there is also a future prophetic event referred to in Daniel 9:27 where such an abomination of desolation is associated with the person of antichrist in the seven year period of the Great Tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, the antichrist will make a seven year peace agreement with Israel which he will break at the halfway point. He will set himself up as a god in the rebuilt Temple and repeat an act likened by Jesus to the historical abomination of desolation.
In 2 Thessalonians it describes the nature and impact of this abominable act by stating:
The antichrist will come to Jerusalem and desecrate the Tribulation Temple (see Revelation 11:1-2) but pronouncing that he is “God.”
A Woeful Great Tribulation
Matthew 24:21-22 - “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.22 “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” 
The bulk of Matthew 24 addresses the events which occur during the time known as the Tribulation. The Tribulation is the seven-year period preceding the 2nd Coming of Jesus. The Old Testament refers to this period in history as THE TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE (Jeremiah 30:7). In verse 21 Jesus mentions “great tribulation.” THE GREAT TRIBULATION (24:21) is the second half of the seven-year Tribulation marked by the abomination of desolation performed by the antichrist (see above) and will be a time of even greater intense trials for those on earth as compared with the first half of the Tribulation. The Tribulation is a time when the wrath of God will be poured out on a Christ-rejecting world. During this time the LORD is dealing with Israel in particular. During this time in End Time events, the Church is absent having already been raptured before the Tribulation
“. . . such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be . . .”
In verse 21 Jesus says, “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” As we study this passage some may be thinking, “Wait a minute, haven’t these signs been present throughout history? What makes our time different from the immediate times of Jesus?” While the signs mentioned by Jesus have been present throughout history, we need to realize that Jesus tells us that the end times He is talking about is special and unique. There will never be another time like the times Jesus describes in Matthew 24! The end times described by Jesus will be marked by a greater intensity and severity than any other time in history.
In the opening verse of the book of Revelation it states:
An interesting and important word used in this opening verse is the word “shortly.” The word “shortly” is translated from the Greek phrase EN TACHE (Strong’s # 1722 & 5034) that means “speedily; quickly; shortly.” We get the English word tachometer from these words. The idea here is that just as a tachometer measures the increase in RPMs in an engine, the rapidity, frequency, and intensity of the events leading up to the end times will also be ever increasing. Who could, therefore, look at our world today and doubt that we are very close, very close in deed, to the end times Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24?
The church does not go through the Tribulation
If Jesus is speaking to Israel and not the church in this passage, then where is the church? I believe the church will not go through the Tribulation period described here by Jesus (see Revelation 6-19). If the church does not go through the Tribulation, then where is it during the Tribulation and why doesn’t it go through the Tribulation? Let’s answer these questions one-step at a time.
First, Christians do experience trials. Any disciple who has been a Christian for any amount of time accepts the reality that Christians experience trials and the Bible teaches us this too (John 16:33; James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-19; 5:8-11). Jesus said:
While the Christian does have trials or “tribulation” in this world, (which is obvious), the source of trials during the Tribulation is markedly different than those we experience now.
Second, while Christians do experience trials in life, they are saved from God’s wrath. Part of the good news of the gospel is that a believer will not experience the wrath of God. The Bible teaches that believers are saved from God’s wrath (Genesis 18:23-33):
Third, the Tribulation is a period where God pours out His wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Satan is the author of trials and tribulations for the believer in our world now (just ask Job – Job 1-2). Now in Revelation 12:12 it does mention that Satan has come down and is wrathful because he knows his time is short, but Satan’s wrath is only incidental and secondary to the wrath of God during the Tribulation. But during the seven-year Tribulation period it will be God who brings the trials and tribulations to earth. The Bible clearly teaches that the Tribulation is a period in history where God purges and fumigates the world of sinners as preparation for the coming Millennial Kingdom of His Son Jesus. The Tribulation is a time when God pours out His wrath on earth to accomplish this task. We see this in the following verses taken from Revelation 6-19, which is the most definitive description of what occurs during the Tribulation period:
The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath will be poured out on a Christ-rejecting world.
Fourth, if Christians are saved from God’s wrath and the Tribulation is a time of God’s outpoured wrath, then Christians will not experience the Tribulation. In the book of Revelation Jesus promises that the church would be removed before the Tribulation. We see this in the following verse: