By Colleen Donahue

In the last study we saw that in the "pre-end of age" times, that men and women would be faced with six perils. These perils will be used to silence the voice of God and draw believers away from the faith. These six perils are:
1- false messiahs
2- wars and rumors of wars
3- natural calamities
4- persecution
5- apostasy
6- cynicism

These six perils have been going on for decades now and are increasing. The pivot point between the "pre-end of age" and the time we'll call the "end of the age" is found in Matthew 24:14 when the gospel will be preached throughout the whole world. During the 20th century with the increase of radio, television, written materials and the internet, the gospel has made its way around the world. Now in this study we'll continue with .....

The Great Tribulation and Rapture- End Times - Part 3

Studies continued from Matthew 24:15-22/ 36-44


Day 1- "The siege of Jerusalem was one of the most terrible sieges in all history. Jerusalem was obviously a difficult city to take, for it is "the city that is set upon a hill", and it was defended by religious fanatics. But Titus decided to starve the city out.

No one quite knows what the desolating abomination is. The phrase itself comes from Daniel 12:11. There it is said that the abomination which makes desolate is set up in the temple. The Daniel reference is quite clear. About 170 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes, the King of Syria, determined to stamp out Judaism and to introduce into Judea, Greek religion and Greek practices. He captured Jerusalem, and desecrated the temple by erecting an altar to Olympian Zeus in the temple court and sacrificing swine's flesh upon it. Then he turned the priests' rooms and temple chambers into public brothels. It was a deliberate attempt to stamp out and obliterate Jewish religion. It was the prophecy of Jesus that the same thing would happen again, and that once again the Holy Place would be desecrated, as indeed it was.

Jesus saw coming upon Jerusalem a repetition of the terrible things which had happened 200 years ago; only this time there would arise no Judas Maccabaeus. This time there would be no deliverance and no purification. This time there would be nothing by ultimate destruction." ( From the Daily Study Bible by William Barclay - The Gospel of Matthew Vol.2 p.338-339)

Matthew 24: 15-22 / Luke 21: 20-28

This is a prophecy with double fulfillment. It happened around 170 B.C. but it will happen again or Jesus wouldn't have quoted it some 165 years after Antiochus.

Day 2- In these verses there are several indications that this prophecy is for the Jewish people and NOT the church. Old testament prophets did not prophecy for the church but for the Jewish nation. The Lord in referring to Daniel's prophecy rules out that it is for the church. The Great Tribulation pertains to the Jews. The center is Jerusalem and the circumference is Judea.
Daniel 12:1 / Matthew 24:21

The Great Trial refers to the Gentiles. It's center is Rome and the circumference is the whole world.
Revelations 3:10
At the end, the Great Tribulation and the Great Trial will run together.

Day 3- In these verses, Jesus tightens the focus from many Antichrists (Matthew 24:5) to a single Antichrist that will emerge. This single leader is an all important sign of the close of the age.
Daniel 8:23-26

Day 4- For those living in Judea (the region in and around Jerusalem) it will be a time of unprecedented suffering, terror, destruction and death. It will be a time to act promptly and leave the city.
Matthew 24: 16-22

Day 5- Read the following descriptions given of the Antichrist so that you can begin to get a profile of what he will be like. Notice the various names he is called.
Daniel 9:26-27 / 11:36-39 / 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 / 1 John 2:18 / 1 John 4:3 / 2 John 7 / Revelations 13: 1-8

Day 6- The Antichrist will be a powerful man with charismatic appeal and deceptive powers. He is an political leader that will set himself up in opposition to God. He will espouse all the humanistic philosophies and ultimately will receive the worship of the Jews AND all the nations on earth.

While Jesus came in His Father's name this man will come in his own name and authority. How will the Jews respond to him?
John 5: 42-43

Day 7- Matthew 24:15 says that "the abomination that causes desolation" will be seen standing in "the holy place". Where is this holy place? It's the temple in Jerusalem. I believe our answer is that the temple will be rebuilt, although the site is currently occupied by the Dome of the Rock (a Muslim holy place).

In the Old Testament, God decreed that Jewish sacrifices could be offered there and no where else on earth. So we'll need to stay tuned and watch how the Jewish people will overcome the obstacles blocking the rebuilding on this site. God's word is sure and scripture cannot be broken.
2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4

Day 8- Before this prophecy is fulfilled (of the Antichrist causing desolation in the holy place and receiving the world's worship ) a seven year period will be inaugurated. This specific time frame is divided into 3.5 year periods. In the middle of the seven years the Antichrist will desecrate the temple. The last 3.5 years is called the "end of the age". This is the "70 week" prophecy of Daniel.
Daniel 9: 24-27

Day 9- This "End of Age" time frame of 3.5 years is spoken of in different ways throughout the Bible.
Daniel 7:25 / Revelations 12:6 / 13:5

Note: "a time, times and half a time" equals 3.5 years. 40 months equals 3.5 years and 1260 days equals 3.5 years.

Day 10- The spirit of the Antichrist creeps up on us slowly infecting our minds and clouding our vision. The philosophy of humanism is the lie that man can satisfy his own life. Status, pleasure, material things will be able to meet the deep needs of men's hearts. This philosophy has been advancing for centuries now and competing with the truth of God. The world still gives God a place but it's very small. He's become our "aide" and comfort as we achieve our own destiny and pursue our own goals. This humanism will reach its pinnacle in the last days.
2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7

Day 11- Against this dark and deceptive philosophy of humanism (which sounds so right and good) the voice of the gospel will still come as wonderful news.
John 7: 37
Jesus Christ's call is to the thirsty people who can be found in the desert wilderness.
Isaiah 45:22 / 55:1 / Revelations 22:17

Day 12- Until the end of the age, good and evil will exist side by side in the world. Currently, "good" (human good) is the dominant philosophy of the world even though evil seems to triumph at times. Evil must constantly disguise itself as good for men to accept it. Evil as a philosophy has been restricted by forces for good. Reread these verses in :
2 Thessalonians 2:7

Notice that there is "one that holds it (evil) back" and this will continue to be the case until "he is taken out of the way".

Day 13- What restrains evil now? There seems to be two things:
A. 1 Peter 2:13-14
God has instituted authorities among men to punish those who do wrong and command those who do right.

B. Matthew 5: 13-16
Christians are the salt (flavor and preserving power) and the light (the life of Jesus within) wherever they live in society.

Day 14- What or who restrains evil in the life of a Christian?
Ezekiel 36:27 / John 14:17 / John 16:13

Day 15- Going back to 2 Thessalonians 2:7 that we looked at in Day 13 -- Who is "he who restrains"? Some say this is the Holy Spirit and others day it is the Roman empire (or government). I believe the triumph of evil will be a combination of Christians leaving the world (through rapture) and the government's forfeiting its role to do good by restraining evil. It does not say that the Holy Spirit is taken from the world because clearly the Holy Spirit has a role to play while there are men on the earth. This verse seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit will be sent far and wide throughout the earth.
Revelations 5:6

Day 16- The removal of the church from the world is called the Rapture. It is described in:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Day 17- The Lord Jesus continually warns us that we cannot set a date for this event. But, we are given clues as to its relationship to other events. It will occur sometime between:
Matthew 24: 14-15

I am no expert on end times or the rapture. As I have read and studied over the past years my thoughts on this have evolved. Perhaps over time they will evolve some more. But in writing today here are some thoughts.

There are three main views regarding the Rapture and only one can be right. I will present what I have come to see today but we should all be encouraged to dig deeper to find all the light that God would want to teach us.

View #1 - It is called "Pre tribulation Rapture". It says that the whole body of believers (called the church) will be raptured before the Great Trial. Christians therefore have no need to watch and pray since they know they will be raptured anyway.

View #2 - It is called "Post Tribulation Rapture". It says that ALL the church will pass through the Great Trial and be raptured after that time. In this case Christians wouldn't be waiting for the Lord but for the Antichrist to come since he must come first before the Great Trial starts. They also would lose their hope knowing the terrible things awaiting them.

View #3 - This view is that one group of believers will be raptured before the Great Trial and another group will go through the Great Trial and be raptured afterwards.

(For a deeper study on all three views see "The King and the Kingdom of Heaven" by Watchman Nee, p. 271-289; Christian Fellowship Publishers in New York. )

I personally have come to believe that the third view is most correct.

Day 18- Who will be able to escape the hour of great trial?
Revelations 3:10

The answer falls in the phrase "those who have kept my commands to endure patiently", or in another version "Those who keep God's commands and patiently endure."

Only believers will be obeying God's commands and patiently enduring. Notice that this is addressed to the church at Philadelphia representing one seventh of the total church.

Day 19- What conditions are needed for believers to escape the great trial?
Luke 21:36

Only believers will be watching and praying. But even amongst believers, only some will be doing so. It is not a question of salvation or grace (since all believers are saved). It is a question of worthiness. Therefore only some of the church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation.

Day 20- How will believers escape? Those who are alive at that time will escape by being raptured.
Matthew 24: 36-42

These verses suggests rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation because one doesn't know when the Day of the Lord will come. But if we read --
1 Thessalonians 5: 2-4
this suggests rapture after the Great Tribulation. In this case a believer knows when the Day of the Lord will come and is not in darkness concerning it.

Day 21- There is another indication that not all the church will be taken from the world at one time.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 & 17
Notice the phrase recurring in these verses.
"We who are still alive, who are left." This phrase implies that some have gone ahead and some are left.

Day 22- During these end times there will be campaigns of deceit against any that are even tempted to believe in Jesus Christ. There will be the rise of powerful and persuasive religious personalities. (People are quick to follow anyone who speaks with authority and has a pleasing personality).
Matthew 24: 24

Lies are more readily believed when they are cloaked in religious garb and delivered eloquently. In a secular society, false prophets are those with great intelligence and influence. When they speak, people listen. These false prophets may "sound Christian" but they will distort Biblical truth. That is why watching and praying will be so important for a believer.

Day 23- What is truly of the Lord will be open, unexpected, and seen by all.
Matthew 24:27

This is in contrast to finding Him in wilderness (or isolated) places and secret rooms.
Matthew 24: 26

Day 24- What is truly of the Lord may also not attract great crowds at all. Perhaps that is the meaning of a rather cryptic saying.
Matthew 24:28

A carcass is dead and putrefying. It is the food for vultures who are willing to eat anything just to eat. We may find that the teachers drawing the largest crowds may be offering death to their followers (vultures). They may have just enough truth to sound Biblical but will be mixed with falseness as well. We are to test all that we hear against God's word and follow the Lord's advice.
Matthew 24: 4-5

We'll continue this study of the Olivet Prophecy in Part 4 and look more closely at the Second Coming of Christ.


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