Mt. of Olives - View from the Temple Mount - From the Wikimedia Commons - Courtesy of Neilwiththedeal


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Appendix A - Jesus' Own Outline of the Future- The Olivet Discourse

Jesus had much to say about things that are yet to come. But before He gave His own outline for the future, He made a striking prediction of something that would happen within just a few decades.

Looking across the Kidron Valley, from where He was on the Mount of Olives, Jesus called attention to the magnificent Temple built by Herod the Great. It was considered one of the most magnificent buildings in the world at that time. He said that in spite of its amazing size and grandeur, it would be utterly destroyed. This prophecy was fulfilled less than 40 years later in 70 AD, when the Roman army captured Jerusalem and completely dismantled the Temple. In this way Jesus validated His vision of future things.

When the disciples wanted to know more, Jesus gave them a simple outline of things to come. It doesn't include everything that will happen, but it gave them (and us) a timeline we can use to sort out various future events that we study.

Four Periods of Time

1-Beginning of Birth Pains

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. - Matthew 24:4-8

Jesus warned about false messiahs, and predicted an increase in wars and rumors of wars, as well as famines and earthquakes before the beginning of the Tribulation. The list of signs given in the parallel passage in Luke's Gospel includes plagues, fearful events, and signs in the heavens (Luke 21:9-11).

Natural disasters, famines, and plagues are always with us, but they seem to be greater in some years than in others. Over-all, these conditions do seem to be increasing.

Another important event that Paul revealed is the "Rapture"-or "catching away" of true believers at the end of the Church Age. Again, Jesus did not mention it in His sermon about the future because the whole concept of the Church was a "mystery," which had not yet been revealed. This period of time, just before the beginning of The Tribulation is the logical place for the Rapture to occur. It also corresponds to the end of the Church Age foretold in Revelation (Chapters 2 and 3), and the point in the vision at which the Apostle John was told to "Come up here," (Chapter 4, verse 1) to describe the rest of the events of the future, starting with the Tribulation.

2-The Tribulation

"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. - Matthew 24:9-14

When Jesus spoke of "tribulation," He was referring to a seven-year covenant that Daniel foretold. We know this is true, because in verse 15 He mentions the "abomination of desolation" that marks the breaking of that covenant by the evil ruler who is to come:

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate." - Daniel 9:27

The first half of these seven years of turmoil will be characterized by a growing polarization between good and evil, with believers being severely persecuted.

The worldliness that we are already seeing during this present time will be an even greater problem during the Tribulation because, as Jesus said, "lawlessness will abound." Once Christians have been removed in a great exodus at the Rapture, there will undoubtedly be a multitude of new believers. Many who have heard the Gospel, but had not hardened their hearts against it, will suddenly realize that what they had heard was true, and that some of their friends and family have been taken to be with Jesus, just as they had said. The evil leadership of the world at that time will give other explanations - perhaps, that UFOs have removed the narrow-minded troublemakers from the earth. Many of those who have heard the Gospel might realize the truth and give their lives to Christ.

However, new Christians during the Tribulation will be persecuted for their faith. They will be killed or driven underground where they will hide from the authorities. It will be a very difficult time for them.

After the Rapture, people who called themselves Christians, but who had never truly accepted Christ as savior, might still attend their cold, liberal churches where the Bible is not really taught. Their churches will begin to band together with others who have no spiritual life, and even with other religions. But these people will not have a true love for God, and because of the evil, lawless, trends in society, they will drift further away from the truth.

Increased lawlessness will be a by-product of the absence of godly Christians from places of influence in the world. In the Rapture, true Christian legislators, judges, teachers, and others who influence culture will be taken away, and the new believers of the Tribulation period will not be allowed to ascend to those positions. Therefore, whatever restraint Christian leaders have now will be gone and morals will become progressively more corrupt.

During this first half of the seven-year Tribulation, the Apostle John predicted the torments of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (Revelation 6:1-8): The false messiah, a great world war, terrible famine, and death by various means.

Jesus promised that the Gospel will be preached to all the earth during this time. This probably relates to John's vision of angels preaching the Gospel all over the world and warning everyone not to receive the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 14:6-11).

3-The Great Tribulation

"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.
"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. - Matthew 24:15-28

Jesus gave a preview of the horrifying events at the middle of the seven years of the treaty. According to the Book of Revelation, the first half would have already been a time of distress since true believers would have been persecuted and driven underground or killed. But then, the Beast will have an image of himself set up in the "Holy Place" in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. This is the "Abomination of Desolation" predicted by Daniel, and it will lead to the institution of a world-wide economic dictatorship and the dreaded "Mark of the Beast" (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 13).

At that point many Jewish people will realize that the new world dictator is evil. Those who live near Jerusalem will need to flee immediately into the wilderness. The Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 63:1-6 indicates that God will defend them during this awful time in the area of Bozrah, near the ancient city known as Petra in modern Jordan.

As the dreaded seven years of tribulation and "great tribulation" come to a close, the Beast will realize that his world empire is crumbling. In frustration he will unite all nations in their mutual opposition to Jesus Christ, and will gather a great army from all over the world to participate in the Campaign of Armageddon.

Jesus' will return in power and great glory, destroying His enemies and gathering the faithful together to enjoy His restored kingdom. His glorious return will be like the lightning in the sky. When He comes "every eye will see him," and He will come as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Revelation 1:7; 19:11-16).

4-After the Tribulation

"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." - Matthew 24:29-31

After the Campaign of Armageddon, Jesus will gather true believers who remain and allow them to enter His Millennial Kingdom, where He will reign for 1000 years over a restored "Eden-like" earth (Revelation 20:1-6). Non-believers still alive after Armageddon will also be gathered and bound for future judgment (Like the weeds of the parable in Matthew 13:24-30).

Next: Apendix B: Apostate or Worldly?


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