We have been discussing Matthew 24 and all of the End Time markers.
The “beginning of sorrows” that Jesus spoke of and that we have covered so far are: wars and rumors of war, nations rising against nations, famines and pestilence, and natural disasters. Though all of history records war after war after war, in recent years they have stacked on top of each other again, especially in the reborn nation of Israel where they have in a short 70 years they have been the focus of eight recognized wars, eight recognized conflicts and numerous other attacks. We also learned that the word for “nations” means “ethnicities” and that these ethnicities turn on each other, even as we see in the news night after night. On top of this insanity, famines have been on the rise as have superbugs that are antibiotic resistant, and now they say there is a lab-created Coronavirus that leaked out of a Chinese lab in Wuhan, China.^ And if wars, ethnic cleansing, famines, and superbugs were not enough, there are also natural disasters throughout the world, ranging from earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, snow storms, rain storms, and on and on.
Furthermore, Jesus guaranteed persecution of those called by His name. Throughout history since Christ’s life, death and resurrection, persecution has flooded the lives of Christians worldwide. In many Muslim countries one will lose one’s life if converted, while in America the persecution has been limited to instances where non-Christians just think Christians are crazy and might turn a cold shoulder to someone. But persecution is now on the rise even in the U.S. as pressure is put on businesses who stand for Biblical morals, students who stand against evolution, and on those who dare to speak Biblical truth to a rising number of those who are easily offended and quick to start a lawsuit. Indeed, “…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 nations, and then the end will come,” (Matthew 24:12-14). Truly when all these signs combine together and increase together, Jesus said, “…when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors,” (vs 33).
But there is still one very important thing missing in all this…one thing upon which all the others hinge. The status of Israel.
The Great Tribulation
Jesus describes a Tribulation so great that the world has never seen such tribulation and will never see it again. Matthew 24:15-22 says, “15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
Some say this Great Tribulation, also referred to in Scripture as the time of Jacob’s Trouble, has happened already and will not happen again. And indeed, it has happened. Twice to be exact, even three times actually in the past. And it will definitely happen again one final time. The first time it happened was during the days of the Maccabees (167 B.C.); the Maccabees were Jews of the tribe of Judah. Antiochus Epiphanes IV, a Greek Seleucid Emperor (one of the 4 Grecian empires divided up among Alexander the Great’s generals), had built a gymnasium near the Temple, placed statues of Greek gods in each Jewish city calling all to worship them and outlawing the worship of the true God, and had set up an idol in the holy Temple of God and sacrificed a pig on the God’s altar. When that abomination was set up in the Temple, it was winter.
Thus, Jesus says to pray that when this same type of thing happens again, “20…pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day…” Jesus said this because in the days of the Maccabees it did happen in winter and it did happen on the Sabbath. The Jews in Judea and Jerusalem fled for their lives and hid in caves. They had no weapons for all their weapons had been confiscated by the Greek Seleucid dynasty. Nevertheless, they banded together and took a stand against the Greeks until finally they retook Jerusalem and purified the Temple.
Then about 200 years later it happened again in A.D. 70 when the Emperor Titus of Rome burned the Temple, destroyed Jerusalem, killed nearly a million Jews and took the rest as slaves. Luke 21 predicts this one specifically. Interestingly, it happened in August so the Christians must have been praying that it would not happen in winter!
Then in A.D. 135 the Roman Emperor Hadrian squashed one more effort of the Jews to be free. Only this time the Jews were banned from ever returning to the land. Judea was renamed Syria Palestina, and Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitalina wherein a temple to Zeus was erected right on top of where God’s Temple had once stood.
For 1900 years, there was no Israel; there was no Jerusalem. For 1900 years the land was laid waste by famine, and no one inhabited it. For 1900 years it hardly ever rained. For 1900 years not even indigenous tribes lived within its borders.
American Author “Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867, and published his impressions in Innocents Abroad. He described a desolate country – devoid of both vegetation and human population: “….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
He was amazed by the smallness of the city of Jerusalem: “A fast walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour. I do not know how else to make one understand how small it is.”” ^^
There are famines, pestilence, persecution, natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars, false christs, and great deception, and there have been since the inception of the Church and have in the last few years increased greatly in number and intensity. However, in spite of the increase and fulfillment of all this, the Great Tribulation as described in Matthew 24 could not come to pass except that there be a nation of Israel first. Why? Because Jesus said so. The Word of God says so. And God keeps His word (Isaiah 55:11). Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).
The Fig Tree
In the Bible, the nation of Israel/Judea is referred to as both an olive and a fig tree. Even so, Jesus in Matthew 24:32-34 says, “32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
To begin with, the fig tree is one of the last to put forth leaves. Once it puts forth leaves, most of the other trees have all leafed out already. This is more than likely why Jesus used this example of Israel and not the olive tree in this instance.
Interestingly enough, the rebirth of Israel took place in a succession of other national recognitions. Lebannon was granted independence from France in 1943. Jordan gained its independence from Britain in 1946. The French liberated Syria in 1946, and “Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952.”^^^ Though these had been dominated by other nations, these countries had been around for centuries. Then during and after WWII they were finally recognized as independent entities again. When it comes to Israel however, it was a miracle, a resurrection, a rebirth which took place and on May 14, 1948. It was then that the late leafing of the fig tree of Israel sprouted forth in fulfillment of Christ’s prediction and in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Since Israel was rebirthed as a nation, the land has flourished and bloomed. The wasteland that Mark Twain saw was blessed with rain and abundance and is now inhabited from sea to sea, north to south. Indeed, the fig tree is budding like Jesus referred to in Matthew 24.
Let us also remember that Jesus also said that the generation that sees everything happening including the budding of Israel, that that generation will see His return.
Physical Israel and Spiritual Israel
There are those who teach and propagate that Israel has been replaced by the Church. However, this is not Biblically accurate. What is accurate is this. Some of Israel’s branches were broken off because of unbelief. Those who believed, namely the Church, were grafted into the vine. Paul calls us “spiritual Israel.” Romans 9-11 speak clearly on this topic. But, God never completely forsook Israel entirely. He will and is dealing with them again right now today. And they are hard hearted. But, there are many in Israel today who are coming to know Jesus as their Messiah, the Son of the Living God. It is incredible the testimonies that are coming out of Israel. Even as the anti-missionary movement in Israel frantically seeking to shut down Christian evangelistic activity, and are persecuting Christians who are declaring the Gospel to the Jews in Israel, even though and in spite of this rabid attempt, Jews are coming to know Jesus as the Messiah and their Messiah. And they are looking forward to His return and are going out with fervor and great zeal to declare the Gospel to their Jewish brothers and sisters.
Indeed, God would never forget His people and has engraved them on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). And He promised that even as they had at one time praised God for saying He had rescued them out of Egypt, one day they would praise Him for rescuing them from the north country and from all countries into which He had driven them (Jeremiah 16:14-15). God is not finished with Israel because God keeps His word.
Even so, let us be ready. Let us be the good servants of Matthew 24:42-51 who are serving each other and ministering to each other with God’s Word, caring for each other, and edifying one another. Jesus has tarried a long time, but let’s love each other while we wait.
Let us also live as Luke 21:31-36 says,“31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
So let’s be ready. Even though the World mockingly says, “You’ve said time and again that He’s coming again. Oh sure He is!” And most Christians in modern times, according to researchers (as documented in the video Before the Wrath), do not even believe that Jesus is coming to get them. However, from what we have been studying in Matthew 24, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus’ return is very close, much closer than ever before because Israel is a nation again. And He will be coming at a time when we least expect it – meaning, He has been tarrying a long time. We will all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, and we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever (I Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4). So, let’s be ready! We don’t want to be here for Jacob’s Trouble/the Great Tribulation such as this world has never before seen nor ever will again, do we? So, again, let’s be ready!
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus, the Spirit and the Bride say “come!” (Revelation 22) Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Amen.
^^^ The Fig Tree and History of Israel
“The Secrets of the Parable of the Fig Tree in Matthew 24,” https://www.douglashamp.com/the-secrets-of-the-parable-of-the-fig-tree-in-matthew-24/
“The Fig Tree Has Budded,” https://www.douglashamp.com/the-fig-tree-has-budded/
“The Maccabean Revolt,” https://www.ancient.eu/article/827/the-maccabean-revolt/
^^ Mark Twain
“Mark Twain in the Holy Land,” https://zionismandisrael.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/mark-twain-in-the-holy-land/)
^ Lab-Created Coronavirus
“The Bio-Weapon Wuhan Coronavirus, Stolen From Canada & Intentionally Released in China,” https://beforeitsnews.com/prophecy/2020/01/the-bio-weapon-wuhan-coronavirus-stolen-from-canada-intentionally-released-in-china-2509762.html
“GOP Candidate for L.A. Congressional District Says Coronavirus was “man made” in Lab: Ask Bill Gates Who Financed It,” https://ktla.com/news/local-news/gop-candidate-for-l-a-congressional-district-tweets-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-ask-bill-gates-who-financed-it/
“Coronavirus Stolen from Canadian Laboratory by Chinese Agents 2018,” https://cairnsnews.org/2020/01/28/coronavirus-stolen-from-canadian-laboratory-by-chinese-agents-2018/