It is the opinion here at NWOIB that the above diagram represents the most coherent, cogent, and Scripturally sound reading of Matthew 24. The integrity of this position, it will be shown, is unshakable. At the temple:
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 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."Later, He was asked two questions:
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?"1) When will these things be?
2) What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (This is a singular question because the disciple knew that these two events occurred at the same time.)
His answers reflect perfectly the structure and themes shown in the Book of Revelation--as one would expect as He is the author of both. The first vision of Revelation, Ch. 4:1 - 8:1, will be examined below.
Jesus answers these two questions with 2 parallel timelines extending from the present (theirs) to the end/His Second Coming. These two timelines will here be defined as Part 1 and Part 2, and noted in the diagram above.
PART 1: vv. 4 - 14:
And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 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. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.What Jesus is describing above are the 2nd, 3rd, and fourth Seals from Revelation. He doesn't mention the First Horseman. or 1st seal, because He Himself is the first.
These seals are not specific events, but conditions imposed upon the world: war, disease, famine, natural disasters, etc. It is very important to understand these as recurring conditions. These things have been with us for as long as we can remember.
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 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."He then mentions tribulation. As was described in the initial post in the Revelation series, the tribulation is the entire Gospel Age. This position has been and will be supported Scripturally endlessly. The tribulation begins in the first century.
Jesus then gives several indication for a long passage of time between the time that they are in and the end." For example, "many false prophets will rise and deceive many." This obviously takes some time. As does "the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world."
After that long passage of time, the end will come.
(Note: notice that the Gospel is here referred to as a "witness." While not the subject here, the "Two Witnesses" of Chapter 11 are the Church and the Gospel, and they prophesy for the same time period: 1260 days, 42 months, or for a time, times and half a time.")
Notice how this long passage of time coincides directly with the 5th Seal in Revelation 6: Nothing actually happens to the earth; only the saints cry out,
"How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 8:10)After Jesus mentions "the end," he then goes back to their current time and starts a parallel timeline:
PART 2: vv. 15 - 31:
"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 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. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened."The disciples had asked when the temple would be destroyed. Jesus then tells them to remember the Prophecy given to Daniel; when the see this abomination--run. The abomination was the warning to flee.
After that, the tribulation begins (first century)--directly parallel to what he said in Part 1. So now there needs to follow some indication of that long passage of time, the 42 months:
"Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ! ' or "There! ' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. "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. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
He gives us a direct correlation from Part 1: false christs and prophets.
Then the tribulation ends at the end of the age:
"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. 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. 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.After the tribulation, Jesus describes the 6th Seal exactly:
I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. (Rev. 6: 12 - 13)Jesus makes it abundantly clear here that His return is after the tribulation, which is for approximately 2000 years--as far as we know at this point. From sometime in the first century until His return.
Here is a hasty timeline to summarize:
A) Destruction of temple
B) 2nd,3rd,4th Seals
C) Tribulation starts
D) Long passage of time
E) Tribulation ends
If you return to the two questions asked of Jesus at the beginning of this report, then you'll notice they are basically asking, "When is the beginning, and when is the end?"
This leaves us with the matter of "this generation" that is conveniently tossed into the future by many.
"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. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."First notice that Jesus doesn't say that anyone will see everything he has just covered: he wouldn't say that because it would be impossible for anyone to see the events of 2000 years!
His phrase "all these things" only covers the first century, up to that long passage of time, until he in nigh, or at the doors. He does not say return. Whoever sees these things will know that he is near.
"This generation" is and cannot be a future one; He is referring to the people He is addressing. They will see "these things" just as he described: the destruction of the temple, wars, natural disasters, death by famine or disease, and the beginning of tribulations--the persecution of the church.
So this leaves the matter of what He meant by "nigh." Why would He say He say that He would be near, or at the door for such a long period of time? The answer is that we are to wait expectantly on the Lord at all times; Psalm 27:15:
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!Luke 12: 39-40:,
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man s coming at an hour you do not expect.One could also extrapolate that He was also employing a double meaning: one concerning His return, the other concerning the tribulation that His people were to go through: when Christians were being persecuted, they were to be sure that He was always near.
With this understanding, you will surely see and appreciate the complete harmony between Daniel 9 and 12, Matthew 24 (to include Mark 13 and Luke 21), and the entire Book of Revelation.