WE'RE CONTINUING NOW THE STUDY OF MATTHEW 24 in which Jesus Himself tells us exactly what's going to happen during this period, this last three-and-a-half years of World history, the last three-and-a-half years of the Antichrist reign, the Great Tribulation. He tells us exactly what is going to be the cue when it begins, and that will tell us exactly when it ends, because it lasts exactly three-and-a-half years. This is said several times in the Bible.
Jesus tells us that the Great Tribulation will begin with the setting up of the abomination of desolation, the Image of the Beast, in the holy place. He speaks of it as the Abomination of Desolation and we find out it's an Image of the Beast in Revelation, 13th Chapter. And Daniel speaks of it as well, and they all speak of it as occurring at the same time, exactly in the middle of the seven-year reign of the Antichrist, at the beginning of the last half, which is three-and-a-half years.
During the Tribulation things will get so bad that many people will think it's time for Jesus to come, especially the Church people who were taught that He was supposed to come before the Tribulation. They're going to wait and expect to see Him come any day!
BUT JESUS WARNS NOT TO EXPECT HIM SOONER THAN HAS BEEN PREDICTED, but that there will be many people who will try to deceive the people, false Christs and false prophets who will try to deceive you into thinking either that they are Christ or that Christ is coming nearby somewhere, He is here or there. And He finally says, "Don't believe any of them, because when I come you'll know it!" The sky will light up like permanent lightning from one end to the other, and there will be such a sign in the Heaven that you couldn't possibly mistake the fact that Jesus is coming!
NOT ONLY THAT, THE GREATEST SIGN THAT JESUS IS COMING and HAS COME IS THAT YOU WILL START FLOATING, YOU WILL START LEVITATING! Suddenly your feet won't be able to touch the ground, you'll start floating upward. And He will gather you together to His Body, and we will meet Him in the air! This is spoken of a number of times in God's Word. It is spoken of in the first chapter of Acts also, and spoken of in 1st Thessalonians 4th chapter.
SO WHEN IS HE GOING TO COME? Scofield and the Brethren and the Cooneyites, I think they were called, and now today most of the Fundamentalist Evangelical Church having followed Scofield's Bible, have been erroneously teaching that Jesus was going to come before the Tribulation and rapture them out of the Earth before all this trouble begins, before the Antichrist appears. But that's not so! By reading this one chapter alone you can see that that is not so.
BECAUSE HE SAYS THAT THE TRIBULATION WILL BEGIN "WHEN YE SHALL SEE THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place." When you see it standing there you'll know the Tribulation has begun. And He doesn't say a word about taking you out of here immediately then at all! All He says is He warns everybody to head for the hills! You'd better run, get to your refuge or hiding place, your survival goods! Get out of the cities and out of the populated areas where there's going to be lots of trouble.
GET OUT WHERE YOU'VE GOT YOUR FOOD HIDDEN and YOUR HIDEAWAY! Stay away from officers of the law of the World kingdom of the Antichrist who are going to try to kill you if you don't worship the Beast and His Image, the Antichrist and his idol. And you won't be able to buy or sell, buy groceries or sell anything to get money to buy them with, so therefore you'd better have'm stashed away someplace where you can find'm and where nobody else can find them!
HE'LL TAKE CARE OF HIS OWN, DON'T WORRY, BUT HE EXPECTS YOU TO DO SOMETHING towards trying to take care of yourself. God doesn't wash your face for you. He doesn't wipe you. He doesn't dress you and undress you. You're not a baby any more. God expects you to do something for yourself. And when He has warned you time and again to be prepared for those days, then it's time you were prepared and you have a hiding place picked out and your survival goods stored there so that you will be able to survive this period as long as possible.
BECAUSE JESUS IS NOT GOING TO SAVE YOU OUT OF IT DURING THAT THREE-and-A-HALF YEARS. He may protect you in it, keep you in it, because He needs a witness, and lots of witnesses there to tell the World what's happening!--Even to tell the Church (Editor's note: "Church here refers to Christians who have been deceived by Scofield's pre-rapture doctrine) what's happening, because even the Church will be mystified, because most of them have gotten into that false doctrine, at least the Protestants, that Jesus is going to come before the Tribulation.
HE'S DEFINITELY GOING TO COME BEFORE THE MILLENNIUM! We are definitely pre-Millennialists! We are not post-Millennialists. We don't believe that the Church Age today is the Millennium! We do not think that this period from Christ's first coming to the next coming is the Millennium. Because if you read the description--as we will later as we study the Millennium--in many other places and particularly Isaiah, you'll certainly see that if this is the Millennium, you and I don't want any of it!
BECAUSE DURING THE MILLENNIUM, JESUS IS GOING TO REIGN and RULE IN PERSON USING US AS HIS INSTRUMENTS! There's going to be Worldwide peace and Worldwide plenty and no more war! So, if this is the Millennium, then the Prophets sure were wrong! Frankly, I believe God's Prophets, and I think their interpreters, some of the more Modernistic Churches, are wrong who have interpreted that because this Church Age came into such power and such rule over governments, they thought they had struck the Millennium for sure! Well, they're finding out now things didn't turn out as well as they expected and the Church people aren't still running the World as they were for awhile. The Devil's people are now running the World!
ONE OF THE DIRTIEST PIECES OF THE DEVIL'S DIRTY PROPAGANDA has been to deceive Christians into thinking that they're going to get rescued by Jesus out of this World before the Tribulation! They're going to be totally unprepared for it and shocked by it and it's going to shake some of their faith! A lot of Christians who are expecting to get raptured by the Lord and His second coming before the Tribulation are going to get the shock of their lives, because He's not going to do it! He Himself said so! He says right here in the 29th verse, as plain as day:
"IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from Heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in Heaven: and then shall all of the tribes of the Earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory!" ... "And then He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other."
THAT'S WHEN JESUS IS GOING TO COME: AFTER THE TRIBULATION! It says it as plain as day in that 29th verse. Immediately after the Tribulation of those days. It says after the Tribulation shall appear the sign of the Son of man in Heaven. After the Tribulation, then shall all the tribes of the Earth mourn. After the Tribulation they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory. After the Tribulation He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together His elect. That's when Jesus is going to come back for His elect, to rapture His Saints, to gather them together!
THAT'S WHEN JESUS IS GOING TO COME FOR YOU and FOR ME, AFTER THE TRIBULATION! In fact, at the very end of the Tribulation, thank God! Not before. Not a day before! He's even got the days numbered in the Scriptures several places we've already studied. The exact number of days from the setting up of that idol of the Antichrist in the holy place in Jerusalem it's going to be 1260 days to the day, God's Word says so!
DON'T BLAME IT ON ME! Don't get mad at me because I'm teaching you that Jesus is going to come after the Tribulation and not before the Tribulation. If you want to get mad at somebody, get mad at Jesus! He's the One that said it! Get mad at the Bible! A lot of people do! They don't like it when I preach'm the Bible. A lot of people get mad at me and they can hardly believe that I'm even reading from the Bible when it's right here, plain as day, it says so! After the Tribulation!
WHEN IS JESUS GOING TO COME?--AFTER THE TRIBULATION! When shall His sign appear in Heaven?--After the Tribulation! And when shall all the tribes of the Earth see Him and mourn? You know, they say it's going to be a secret Rapture, nobody's going to see Him except the saved, nobody's going to know He's come. All of a sudden a bunch of us are just going to disappear and they won't even know what's happened to us! That's what these Secret Rapturists teach! That's what these Cooneyites teach--they're a little bit looney if you ask me! Kooky, or Looney, whatever!
THAT'S WHAT THESE SCOFIELDITES TEACH, Moody Bible Institute, Los Angeles Bible Institute, the Brethren Denomination and virtually all the Full-Gospel and Fundamentalist and Evangelical Churches are teaching this Pre-Trib Rapture!--And they got it straight out of Scofield's Bible, a Bible that has led millions of people astray from the Truths of Bible Prophecy! (--The KJV with Scofield's notes and interpretations!)
THE CHURCH NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF SUCH A THING UNTIL ABOUT 200 YEARS AGO WHEN THIS FALSE DOCTRINE FIRST APPEARED IN ENGLAND. Think of that! Back in the late 1700s as I recall. The Church had never thought of such a thing. But all of a sudden it sounded so good, "Oh boy, we won't have to go through the Tribulation after all!" In fact, I think some Pentecostal preacher got some false prophecies and messages in tongues and interpretation that the Church wouldn't have to go through the Tribulation after all! Well, he didn't get that from the Lord and he didn't get it from the Bible, so I don't know where he got it from!
NOW DON'T MISUNDERSTAND ME, I BELIEVE IN THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT, BUT THAT GUY REALLY GOT THROWN A RINGER and THAT WAS A REAL DUD! Because it's not so, it didn't check with the Bible! But he began to cheer up a lot of Christians who were a little bit worried about not being able to make it through the Tribulation. He said, "Don't worry, Jesus is going to come and take you out before the Tribulation." Well, that naturally became a very popular doctrine, just what everybody had been waiting to hear! Just what all the Church had been waiting to hear to be relieved, they thought, of having to be tested and tried and purified and purged and made white during the Tribulation.
THEY'D JUST AS SOON GO TO HEAVEN DIRTY LIKE THEY ARE!--The stinking filthy, dirty, sinning Christians that they are! Disobedient, rebellious, selfish, not sacrificing, not helping missions, much less becoming a missionary, not forsaking all for the Lord to serve Him, not witnessing, not winning souls, not passing out tracts, they don't want to do any of these things. They've been just living selfishly for themselves and their pretty little church and giving their pretty little pennies! My Grandfather used to come home from church when he was a poor preacher and look at the offering and quoted with the Apostle Paul: "Alexander the coppersmith hath done me much harm." (2Ti.4:14.) 'Cause it was mostly pennies!
WELL, IT'S CERTAINLY TRUE, SUCH PEOPLE ARE NOT REALLY READY TO GO and they certainly wouldn't stand up very well in the Tribulation, so they want Jesus to come and rescue them out of it before. So this became a very popular doctrine, the Pre-Trib Rapture, and it just spread like wildfire all across the World and across the ocean, clear into America and all over America, and particularly the Brethren denomination took it up. And when they took over Torrey Bible Institute in Los Angeles and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, they started teaching it there too.--Scofield was its Pastor!
THEY BEGAN TO INFILTRATE ALL BIBLE INSTITUTES and BIBLE COLLEGES IN THE UNITED STATES, TEACHING THIS SAME DOCTRINE. And then Scofield did his masterful piece of deceit and got out his Scofield Bible, and that really finished it up! It misled nearly every Christian in the United States into thinking Jesus was going to come before the Tribulation and rapture him out of it.
WELL, AS YOU CAN SEE BY WHAT WE'VE READ HERE, JESUS SAID AFTER THE TRIBULATION HE'S GOING TO COME! After the Tribulation you'll see Him in the heavens! After the Tribulation He's going to gather together His elect. After the Tribulation! Not a minute before, not a minute before the end of it. It's going to last three-and-a-half years and you're going to have to go through all of it or die, one or the other! So take your choice.--Or die before it.
Also see: Scofield: The Man Behind the Myth
Let us look closely at some verses, comparing Matthew 24:29-31 with Revelation 6:12-17:
Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)There is a clear parallel between Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17. Soon after the opening of the Sixth Seal, unbelievers will run and hide, having seen the face of Jesus on His throne in the air, knowing that God's wrath is imminent. It will begin with the opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1). It is when the world sees Jesus in the air that He will gather and catch up His believers at the Rapture, thereby protecting them from the wrath to come. This will not be a "secret" and "silent" event. Would Jesus not have described, in detail, one of the greatest and most important events in human history—the Rapture of believers? I believe He would have, and I believe He did so in Matthew 24:30,31.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. ... The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. ... Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:12,13,15-17)
If you will check the counter reformation move of Papal Rome in the 16th century after Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. You will find that Pope Leo X authorized three Jesuit Priests to reinterpret Daniel’s 70 weeks of prophecy; the Book of Revelation; and Ezekiel. The goal of these Jesuits was to take the heat of the Protestant Reformation away from the papacy. The three Jesuits were:
The futurists rapture doctrine originated and was submitted by Francisco Ribera in 1585. His Apocalyptic Commentary was on the grand points of Babylon and Anti-christ which we now call the futurists or rapture doctrine. Ribera’s published work was called “In Sacram Beati Ionnis Apostoli ” Evangelistate Apocoalypsin Commentari (Lugduni 1593). You can still find these writings in the Bodleian Library in Oxford England.
Ribera’s futurist interpretation rocked not only the Protestant church , but also the Catholic church so the Pope ordered it buried in the archives out of sight. Unfortunately, over 200 years later a librarian to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the name of S. R. Maitland (1792-1866) was appointed to be the Keeper of the Manuscripts at Lambeth Palace, in London, England. In his duties, Dr. Maitland came across Francisco Ribera’s futurists/rapture teaching and he had it republished for the sake of interest in early 1826 with follow ups in 1829 and 1830. This was spurred along with the Oxford Tracts that were published in 1833 to try and deprotestantize the Church of England.
John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) (A Leader of the Plymouth Brethren) became a follower of S.R. Maitland’s prophetic endeavors and was persuaded. Darby’s influence in the seminaries of Europe combined with 7 tours of the United States changed the eschatological view of the ministers which had the trickle down effect into the churches. Darby’s/Ribera’s teachings were embraced radically by Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921). Scofield adopted Darby’s/Ribera’s school of prophetic thought into the Scofield Reference Bible of 1909 which was heralded as the “book of books”.
Another contributor to the rapturist’s chaotic prophetic line of thought came through Emmanuel Lacunza (1731-1801), a Jesuit priest from Chile. Lacunza wrote the “Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty” around 1791. It was later published in London in 1827. The book was attributed to a fictitious author name Rabbi Juan Josafat BenEzra. Reverend Edward Irving (1792-1834) contended that it was the work of a converted Jew and proved that even the Jewish scholars embraced a pre-tribulation rapture line of thought. It wasn’t long until he had persuaded others to follow his line of thought which gave birth to the Irvingites (per your reference to Margaret McDonald).
In March 1830, in Port Glasgow, Scotland, 15 year old Margaret McDonald made claim of her visions. Robert Norton published Margaret’s visions and prophecies in a book entitled, “The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets in the Catholic Apostolic Church” (London, 1861). Although the modern day view of every believer being taken away in a rapture is different from all of the thoughts that came before it, there is little doubt to it’s error.
Lacunza casserted that only those believers that partake of the sacrament of the Eucharist would be raptured; while Margaret McDonald said the rapture would only take those that were filled with the Holy Spirit; and Norton claimed that only those that had been sealed with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands would be raptured. Definitely confusion ensued. John Darby, an ordained deacon in the Church of England, was acquainted with Edward Irving and had visited Margaret McDonald during the time of her visions. Combined with the knowledge he had gained from S.R. Maitland/Ribera’s teachings and the new push from Irving/McDonald/Lucunza’s teachings, Darby used the rapture theory to bring a clean break from the lethargic Church of England.
A prophecy can have more than one fulfillment. Matthew 24:14-17 will have an ultimate final fulfillment as well.