Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to understand your Word; we want to live in line with your Word, by your sufficient grace through faith; we want to be fully ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray in His name. Amen! I consider it a great privilege to be able to study God's Word and to share these things with you.
Last time when we stopped we were discussing the short great tribulation of Matt.24:21, 22. The short great tribulation is not coming against Christians. It will involve very intense warfare between armies of the world, and Israel will go through intense shaking at that time. The armies will undoubtedly use weapons of mass destruction. As we discussed, although this warfare will only last a few weeks, the loss of life will be gigantic. Last time when we stopped, we had just finished discussing the most important cross-reference in the Bible for the short great tribulation. We discussed Rev. 9:13-21, verses that prophesy of the events of the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation. These verses prophesy of the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation. As we have discussed in some detail, the abomination of desolation will come to pass about a month before the middle of Daniel's 70th week. About the time of the abomination of desolation, the sixth trumpet will sound, and the intense warfare of the short great tribulation will come to pass. Shortly after the short great tribulation ends, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, the Lord Jesus Christ will return and the rapture will take place at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation.
I still have a lot more to say regarding the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22. For one thing, we will discuss two other very important cross-references that will help us understand the short great tribulation. But first I'll read Matt. 24:15 and then verses 21 and 22. As always, I'll read from the New American Standard Bible (1995 edition) unless I mention otherwise. I frequently make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]]. "Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)." And now verses 21, 22, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."
Now let's turn to another very important cross-reference that includes the warfare of the short great tribulation, Joel 2:30-32, "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. [The "blood, fire, and columns of smoke" go with warfare, which is (I believe) the warfare of the short great tribulation, which will come to pass just before the Lord returns and the day of the Lord begins. Significantly, Joel 2:31 goes on to mention the coming of the day of the Lord.] The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. [[This speaks of the same darkening of the sun and moon that is spoken of in Matthew 24:29 (and other verses). As we have discussed, the smoke and dust generated during the intense warfare of the short great tribulation will block out most of the light coming from the sun and the moon. Remember that Matt. 24:29 speaks of the sun being darkened and the moon not giving its light "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (referring to the days of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22) and just before the Lord returns, as pictured in Matthew 24:30, 31. And remember that Revelation chapter 9 (in the verses that speak of the warfare of the sixth trumpet, which is the same as the warfare of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22) specifically mentions "smoke" in verses 17 and 18. (Later in this broadcast, we'll look at a verse that demonstrates that it's biblical to say that the sun can be darkened by smoke. Technically the sun itself won't be darkened, but most of the light coming from the sun will be blocked out before it reaches the surface of the earth.)
Joel 2:31 says the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. When the Lord Jesus returns and the day of the Lord begins, it will be dark. Many verses speak of the day of the Lord as a day of darkness. We should briefly discuss one minor detail. Matthew 24:29 speaks of the moon not giving its light, but Joel 2:31 speaks of the moon being turned into blood. I believe it is rather clear that Matthew 24 and Joel 2 are speaking of the same event. What little light that is visible coming from the moon will apparently have an ominous red coloration, the color of blood. Revelation 6:12, which is speaking of the same event, says the "whole moon became like blood."]] (32) And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD [Let's stop for a minute to discuss the word LORD. The Hebrew has "Yahweh," which is a very important name for God that is used over 6,500 times in the Old Testament. The NASB shows that the Hebrew noun behind the word LORD here is Yahweh by using four capital letters for the word LORD. Many other translations follow this same procedure, including the KJV, NKJV, and the NIV.] Will be delivered. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape [This is one of many places where we read of the escape of the repentant elect end-time remnant of Israel. They will escape being blown away during the great shaking that will take place during the days of the short great tribulation. They will be here to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to Jerusalem, but not in time to be taken in the rapture. They will be living on the earth when Antichrist is reigning throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, and there will be many martyrs.], As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls." The survivors are the repentant elect end-time remnant of Israel.
Now we'll look at another very important cross-reference for the warfare of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22. We'll look at Dan. 11:40-44. (These verses and quite a few other verses of Daniel chapter 11 are discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.") "At the end time [I would translate "at the time of the end."] At the time of the end the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships [[Throughout Daniel chapter 11, the kings of the South and the kings of the North are waging warfare against one another. The king of the South centers in Egypt, and Egypt is at least included here. Significantly, the king of the North here is Antichrist. Antichrist comes on the scene at verse 36 in Daniel chapter 11. At the time of the end the king of the South will collide with him, will collide with Antichrist, who is the king of the North. What does it mean that the king of the South will collide with him? We could also translate that he will push at him. One way, or another, the king of the South will push against the king of the North. One likely scenario is that the king of the South will attack Israel, who will be in covenant with the king of the north (Antichrist).
Then the king of the North will retaliate against the king of the South. As this verse (verse 40) says, "the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships." The armies of Antichrist will be equipped with modern weapon systems, but there were no words in the ancient world to describe modern weapon systems.]]; and he [the king of the North] will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. [The king of the North is coming from the north, so we can think of him entering countries like Lebanon and Syria, countries just north of Israel.] (41) He will also enter the Beautiful Land and many countries will fall [[The "Beautiful Land" is Israel. I assume Antichrist's abomination of desolation will take place at that time. It is quite possible that Antichrist will enter the temple at Jerusalem, proclaiming that he is their savior and that he, not God, should be worshipped. And, as we have discussed, the short great tribulation will come to pass right after the abomination of desolation. I believe the warfare pictured in the following verses, especially verse 44, is the warfare of the short great tribulation.
The NASB (1995) edition, which I'm quoting from here, adds the word "countries" in italics. (The format I am using here doesn't allow italics.) I believe it is a mistake to add this word. The meaning that was intended here, I believe, is that many Israelites will fall. This is the time of Jacob's trouble or distress that Jeremiah 30:7 speaks of. Zechariah 13:8 is one of many important verses that deal with the time of great trouble/distress for Israel in the time of the end. It mentions that two-thirds of the Israelites will be cut off and perish in those days. But Zechariah 13:8 and the verses that follow in Zechariah and many other verses (including Joel 2:32, which we have discussed already in this article and Dan. 12:1, which we will discuss later in this article) show that the repentant elect end-time remnant of Israel will be saved. That's what the apostle Paul was speaking of in Rom. 11:27 when he said that all Israel will be saved.]] and many will fall; but these will be rescued out of [or, will escape] his hand; Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon. [The present country of Jordan is located in the territory that was occupied by the ancient countries of Edom, Moab, and Ammon. Why won't Antichrist attack the people of Jordan at that time? Probably because he is in a hurry to go south and attack Egypt. Remember that the king of the South pushed at the king of the North, and Egypt is mentioned in the next two verses.] (42) Then he [the king of the North, Antichrist] will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape. (43) But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels. [The fact that the Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels means that they will submit to him, including submitting their armies to him. It is quite possible that the Ethiopians and Libyans will be associated with the king of the South when he initially pushes at the king of the North.] (44) [I believe this is a verse of key importance for the short great tribulation.] But rumors [I prefer the translation "reports" of the NIV.] But reports from the East and from the North will disturb him [[I assume that Antichrist will hear reports of gigantic armies coming against him. And I assume that these gigantic armies will be raised by the four evil angels under the sounding of the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation. According to Rev. 9:16 these armies will number 200,000,000. (This could be, and probably is, a literal number.) Reports like that could disturb a person. The fact that Antichrist will hear reports coming from the East and from the North fits perfectly with the picture presented here in Dan. 11:40-44. Antichrist will be in the South after conquering Egypt when he hears the reports from the East and from the North. He will probably hear of these gigantic armies crossing the Euphrates River from the East and from the North and coming against him. Remember that the four evil angels, who apparently gather these gigantic armies, are bound at the present time at the great river Euphrates (according to Rev. 9:14).]], and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many." I assume these words cover much of the warfare of the short great tribulation. Antichrist will probably be killed during this warfare, but as we will see, he won't stay dead. Throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, the false prophet will insist that the fact that Antichrist was raised from the dead proves that he must be worshipped.
I won't read or comment on Dan. 11:45 in this article; that verse is discussed in my book. But we will discuss Dan. 12:1, which is a very important cross-reference for the short great tribulation. For one thing, there is widespread agreement that Jesus' words about the great tribulation of Matthew 24: 21, 22 build on Dan. 12:1. This verse is discussed in substantial detail in my book. I'll start to read Dan. 12:1, "Now at that time ["That time" will start about the time of Antichrist's abomination of desolation. Many verses show that Israel will begin to experience a time of great shaking at the time of the abomination of desolation. (See 24:15-22, for example.], Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise [[This is Michael the archangel, who we read about, for example, in Rev. 12:7-9. These words were spoken to Daniel. His people are the sons of Israel. Michael will arise about the time of the abomination of desolation to protect the Israelites, but it is clear that Michael will only be standing guard over the elect sons of Israel. This is confirmed by the last words of Dan. 12:1, "and at that time your people, everyone who is written in the book will be rescued." I believe it would be better to translate "and at that time your people, everyone who is written in the book [God's book of life] WILL ESCAPE." They will escape being cut off and perishing, and they will be left as a repentant remnant when the great tribulation is over in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. As I mentioned, many Israelites will be cut off and perish during those days, with apparently only a third (the elect) being preserved as a remnant. Michael will make sure that none of the elect sons of Israel will be cut off during those days of great shaking. It is important that the elect be kept alive, so they can receive the Lord Jesus Christ after He returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week; they (at least many of them) will be ready to submit to Him when He comes to them, but they will not submit to Him until after the rapture.]] And there will be a time of distress [or, tribulation] such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time...." These words speak of the short great tribulation of Matt.24:21, 22. As I mentioned, there is widespread agreement that Jesus' words about the great tribulation build on these words of Dan. 12:1.
Now let's take a quick look at Dan. 12:2. (Later in these studies we will look at all of Daniel chapter 12 verse-by-verse. It is a very important prophetic chapter, and it strongly supports the viewpoint that Christ will return, and the resurrection of the believers will take place, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.) "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life [These words speak of the resurrection of the believers right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. This includes the believers of Old Testament days and all true Christians who will have died before that time.], but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt." These last words speak of the resurrection of the unbelievers. If the Bible didn't have any more to say on the resurrection than this verse, we would think that the resurrection of all people will take place at the same time, but the New Testament makes it quite clear that the resurrection of the believers will take place before the resurrection of the rest of mankind. Revelation chapter 20, for example, shows that the rest of mankind will not be resurrected until the end of the millennium.
We'll turn back to Matt. 24:29 and get into some important details. "But immediately after the tribulation of those days [As I have mentioned, "the tribulation of those days" refers back to the days of the short great tribulation of verse 21. For one thing, the Greek noun translated "tribulation" is the same in both verses. This same Greek noun is also used in the Septuagint version of Dan. 12:1. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was originally written in Hebrew.] the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. [[As we have discussed, all the smoke and dust generated during the warfare of the short great tribulation will block out most of the light coming from the sun and the moon. We'll discuss this important point in some detail here. First, let's look at Rev. 9:2. I just want to make one point with this verse. Someone might say that smoke and dust may block out most of the light coming from the sun and the moon, but it doesn't really darken the sun and the moon. Is it biblical to say that the smoke and dust can darken the sun and the moon? Revelation 9:2 shows that it is biblical, "He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of the great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit."
There are quite a few cross-references that speak of the sun and moon being darkened when the Lord returns and the day of the Lord begins. We have already discussed Joel 2:30-32 in this article, which is a very important cross-reference. Those verses speak of "blood, fire and columns of smoke," then the darkening of the sun and moon before the day of the Lord comes. And as I mentioned the "blood, fire and columns of smoke" will result from the warfare of the short great tribulation of Matthew chapter 24, which is to be equated with the warfare of the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation. And I mentioned that the verses that speak of the very intense warfare of the sixth trumpet mention "smoke" twice.
The other cross-reference that mentions the darkening of the sun and moon that we will look at here is Rev. 6:12-17. This reference, which deals with the sixth seal of the seven seals of the book of Revelation, is quite important. It gives us a quick look at the arrival of the day of the Lord (which will begin at the time the Lord Jesus returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week) before the scroll of the book of Revelation is opened. Back in Revelation chapter 5 we see the Lord Jesus Christ take this scroll from the hand of God the Father. He was the only Person in the entire universe found worthy to take the scroll and to open it. He was the only Person worthy to bring to pass the things written in the scroll.
After the scroll is opened (when the Lord Jesus breaks the seventh and last seal on the scroll at Rev. 8:1), we learn, for one thing, the details of the arrival of the day of the Lord. Those details include the fact that seven trumpets will sound. The first six trumpets will all sound, and the events associated with each of the trumpets will come to pass. Then the Lord will return and the day of the Lord will begin with the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet. That seventh and last trumpet will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. We also learn from the book of Revelation of the super-important three and one-half year ministry of the two witnesses, also called prophets, who will minister throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week. For one thing, they will be calling Israel and all mankind to repent and to submit to God and His Son. We will speak a lot more about these important things as we continue with these studies.
Here in Rev. 6:12-17 the scroll has not yet been opened, and we don't learn hardly anything new. We already knew about the things that are mentioned in these verses from earlier prophecies. I'll read Rev. 6:12, "I looked when He [the Lord Jesus Christ] broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood [I would translate, "and there was a great shaking." I believe this great shaking refers to, or at least includes, the great shaking of the great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22, which will produce the great amounts of smoke and dust that will cause the darkening of the sun and moon spoken of here (and often); The sun is darkened here (as in Matt. 24:29 and Joel 2:31), and the moon becomes the color of blood (as in Joel 2:31), and Matt. 24:29 mentions that the moon was darkened.] (13) and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. [Matthew 24:29 speaks of the stars falling from the sky, and it speaks of the powers of the heavens being shaken, when the Lord Jesus returns. Revelation chapter 12 shows that Satan and his angels (who are called stars in Rev. 12:4) will be cast down to the earth at that time, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, when the day of the Lord begins. We will discuss those verses in Revelation chapter 12 when we turn back to Matt. 24:29.] (14) The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. [These verses (Rev. 12:12-17) give us a picture of the arrival of the day of judgment before the scroll is opened.] (15) Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (16) and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us a hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne [God the Father], and from the wrath of the Lamb [the Lord Jesus Christ]' (17) for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Many Christians never speak of the wrath of God, but the Bible speaks of His wrath as much as, or more than, it speaks of His love. The Bible teaches of the need to repent and to fear sinning against God. Who will be able to stand? Those who repent and submit to God, His Word, and His righteousness (in faith) WILL BE ABLE TO STAND.
Now let's turn back to Matt. 24:29. I'll read the entire verse:]] But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Satan's kingdom will be greatly shaken at that time, right in the middle of the seven years. "The stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." As I mentioned, the most important cross-reference to understand these words is Revelation chapter 12. I'll read the relevant verses, starting at verse 3. "Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. [I won't get into the details of this verse here. I'll just say that it is clear that the dragon is the devil.] (4) And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. [It will become clear as we continue that the stars are angels. This is the only place in the Bible where we learn that a third of the angels followed the devil in his rebellion against God. When the devil is cast down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, his angels will be cast down with him. "His tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." Now skip down to Rev. 12:7, and we'll learn more about the great shaking of Satan's kingdom that will take place right in the middle of the seven years.] (7) And there was war in heaven, Michael [Michael is the mighty archangel who is spoken of, for example, in Dan. 12:1.] and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, (8) and they [the devil and his angels] were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." Calling Satan the serpent of old refers back to Genesis chapter 3. Satan and his angels (the stars) being thrown down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, corresponds perfectly with the words of Matt. 24:29 about the stars falling from the sky and the powers of the heavens being shaken. There may well be some literal meteors too, but the fact that Satan and his angels will be cast down to the earth at the time the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth is a major feature of God's end time judgment of the world. Then, at the end of the seven years, Satan will be cast into the abyss for the duration of the millennium (and his angels will undoubtedly be subdued with him). At the end of the millennium, Satan will be loosed for a short season, and then he will be cast into the eternal lake of fire. (See Revelation chapter 20.)
It's time to stop for today. We'll come back to Matthew chapter 24 in the next article. God bless you!
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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