Most of these verses are from Matthew, in what may be regarded as the final discourse of Jesus. John has one entry here, and John is the only apostle to record the many things that Jesus said to his disciples on the last night. Thus, John is the only gospel to tell us that God will not leave his church to suffer this coming wrath. Please note the regular order, and the precise timing or order of all of the events. The last judgments involve first the Jews, and then the Gentiles and will occur at the absolute end of the age—or perhaps, at the very beginning of the new age, when we will reign with Christ on earth.
1. Unseen earthly kingdom
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24: 3-8
In this passage the mystery kingdom is revealed. Note that a mystery in the Bible is something that heretofore has not been revealed. During this time the 70 weeks of Daniel are to be suspended, with the Messiah being “cut off” at the 69th week. So all of the previous time, more than 2,000 years now, has been what the Bible refers to as the “time of the Gentiles”, and until the earthly kingdom of the Gentiles is finally at an end, the seventieth week will not begin.
2. The Rapture
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14: 1-3
Note that this passage is the only one not taken from Matthew, and the reason is that it contains information about the Rapture, part of a long personal message to the church given in John to the apostles by Jesus. Please note that Jesus is preparing a place for us, that where he is (heaven) there we may be also. Heaven will be a temporary refuge for us, as this will mark the beginning of the 70th week when judgment is poured out upon the earth. Jude tells us this when Jude quotes from the book of Enoch (Jude 14), saying that the Lord will return with “ten thousands of his saints”. How will his saints return to the earth first, except that they have already gone up to heaven?
3. The Tribulation
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Matthew 24: 21, 22
The tribulation is a final seven years of 70 weeks of years determined against Israel. The Bible specifically calls the last 3½ years to be the “great” tribulation, a period of judgment unparalleled in the history of man. This period is the subject of Revelation chapter four through nineteen.
4. The preaching of the gospel kingdom
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
The message of Christ redeeming the earth is to be given to all of the earth. It is to be proclaimed faithfully unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
5. Coming of the Desolator
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:)
Note that the Desolator comes not until the last week, the 70th week of Daniel starts. It is very interesting that Jesus points us back to Daniel here, and we should be aware of these famous seventy weeks of Daniel. Many a Christian has wounded himself and the church by attempting to declare who the beast is, and many men throughout history have had this abominable description falsely attributed to them. The world will not know of the Desolator until the final week is started, and thus after the church is raptured out of the world.
6. Judgment of Israel
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24: 37- Matthew 25:30
Sometimes these verses are misinterpreted to be about the Rapture as different people are taken suddenly. The Rapture, however, is not in view here. Rather the judgment of the people of Israel is here, and the people are taken, not for the delight of the Rapture, but rather to judgment where they are found wanting. Walvoord says: “However, a careful reading of the passage yields exactly the opposite result. At the rapture of the church, those taken are those who are saved, and those who are left are left to go through the awful period, including the great tribulation. Here the situation is just in reverse. Those who are taken are taken in judgment, and those who are left are left to enter the millennial kingdom.”1 Chafer says (nearly of the same passage, Matthew 24:37- Matthew 25:13), “While it is approached from several different angles, the one objective of all this extended section is the exhortation to Israel to be prepared for the coming of their Messiah-King.”2 Chafer goes on to explain why this is written to the church, a mistake many have made. “In the instance of the Church in her rapture, those who are truly saved are without exception taken into heaven and the unsaved who were only professors outwardly are left for the impending judgments which follow on the earth.”3 In other words the saints, i.e. the church, are taken out of the world, and are in the presence of Christ when these judgments are explained. The church is identified by God without mistake, and is raptured up to heaven. There is no separation of believers and unbelievers, for God knows who are his.
1. Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 382). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
2. Chafer, L. (1993). The Teachings of Christ Incarnate. In Systematic theology (Vol. 5, p. 129). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
3. Chafer, L. (1993). The Teachings of Christ Incarnate. In Systematic theology (Vol. 5, p. 129). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
7. Judgment of Nations
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Walvoord gives a great summation of what these passages say: “
The holocaust and suffering of Jews in Germany in World War II leads to worldwide sympathy for the Jews, resulting in their transition to a homeland.1
In 1948, the United Nations recognizes Israel as a nation and allows her to have five thousand square miles of territory, excluding ancient Jerusalem.
Israel, though immediately attacked by those nations surrounding her, achieves increases in territory in subsequent wars.
Though Russia at the beginning is sympathetic to Israel, the United States becomes her principal benefactor and supplier of military aid and money.
Israel makes amazing strides forward in reestablishing her land and its agriculture, industries, and political power.
In the series of military tests, Israel establishes that her army is superior to that of surrounding nations.
Arab power opposing Israel is sufficient to keep Israel from having peaceful coexistence with other nations in the Middle East.
Israel continues in the state of confusion and conflict until the church is raptured.
With the formation of the ten-nation confederacy by a Gentile ruler in the Middle East, Israel is forced to accept a seven-year peace settlement.
The world and the Jewish people celebrate what appears to be a permanent peace settlement in the Middle East.
Israel prospers, and many return to Israel after the peace is settled.
Toward the close of the three and a half years of peace, Russia, accompanied by several other nations, attempts to invade Israel but is destroyed by a series of judgments from God.
After three and a half years of peace, the covenant is broken, and the Middle East ruler becomes a world dictator and a principal persecutor of Israel.
The world dictator desecrates the temple of Israel and sets up an idol of himself to be worshipped.
Worldwide persecution of the Jews begins, and in the land two out of three perish.
A Jewish remnant that puts trust in Christ emerges.
Though the world ruler massacres both Jews and Gentiles who fail to worship him as god, some survive and are rescued by Christ.
The second coming of Christ rescues persecuted Jews and Gentiles and brings judgment upon all wickedness in the world and unbelievers.
The promised kingdom on earth—with Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and David as her regent prince—begins with godly Israel being regathered from all over the world to inhabit her Promised Land.
For one thousand years Israel experiences unusual blessing as the object of Christ’s favor.
With the end of the millennial kingdom and the destruction of the present earth, godly Israel has its place in the eternal state and the new heaven and the new earth.
Those among Israel who are saved are placed in the New Jerusalem in the new earth."
I see much beauty in the final discourse of Jesus. Even though Walvoord may not have the
events exactly correct, for which of us can say with certainty of prophetic events, it should be obvious that God has planned the end from the beginning, and that everything will fall out exactly as God planned. That much is comfort! However, the coming judgment, which we Christians shall evidently escape through the rapture, should nonetheless be causing us much distress and prayer, especially as we see the day drawing closer. Psalm Two says the kings of the earth make their plans against God, but that God sits in his heaven and laughs at those plans. The wrath of God is due to be poured out upon all men and women of the earth in that day, and we certainly see that in the many beheadings and persecutions of Christians in the Middle East. In the final day, there are only two sides to be on. Either we believe in the Messiah, or we reject the Messiah. Ought we not to be reaching the lost for Christ, since we know that the days are short?
1. Walvoord, John F. (2011-09-01). Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (p. 372). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.