Jesus starts the chapter off by saying that the Temple will be torn down to the ground and destroyed. And then rebuilt again.
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, the apostles come together to ask Jesus about His return, which we know to be the Day of the Lord, and the end of the world. Jesus, as it turns out, has plenty to say on this subject and uses no parables. He tells them plainly what will happen in the time of the end.
“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?” Matthew 24:3 (KJV)
Many Christians, who love to apply the entire New Testament to the Church alone, read this chapter and try to make this about the Rapture of the Church. But that will not work, Matthew 24 is not about the Church which didn’t even exist on the day that they asked Jesus these questions.
Matthew 23 ends with Jesus talking about His Second Coming, and Matthew 24 continues this exact same theme so we have harmony with the context. In our earlier article on the Rapture of the Church, we explained the difference between the Rapture and the Revelation. If you have not yet read that article, please do so before proceeding with this teaching on Matthew 24.
“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:39 (KJV)
Jesus has something very important for the apostles to understand, and He begins to speak prophetically. He is giving a prophecy, not of the time in which they were living (though you can draw some parallels), but of a time far into the future. The time of Jacob’s Trouble that Jeremiah spoke about:
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, as in the nation of Israel. Jacob’s trouble has no application to the Church which would be formed later in Acts 2. Jacob’s trouble is about the Jewish people and the nation of Israel as they go through the time that Jesus Himself refers to as “great tribulation” that would have no equal in human history. Worse than the Russian pogroms, worse than the slaughter in South Africa, even worse than Hitler’s Holocaust in Nazi Germany. So with that, let’s look at our top reasons why Matthew 24 is not talking about the Rapture of the Church.
#1: The time period that Jesus talks about is not the dispensation of the Age of Grace of the Church.
All through Matthew 24 are scriptural time clues that we, as Bible believers, need to be aware of. In Matthew 24:13, Jesus says that whoever are the people who are alive and going through this time period, they are saved by a combination of faith and works. There is no Christian in our dispensation of the Age of Grace that needs to “endure until the end” to be saved. We are saved according to Ephesians 2:8,9, and kept saved according to Ephesians 1:13,14. There is nothing in Paul’s teachings that tell us to “endure” for salvation. Paul taught and preached the doctrine of Eternal Security. But, obviously, the people living in the time of Matthew 24 are not saved that way. Hence, this will be our number one reason why Matthew 24 is not talking about the Church and it’s soon-coming Rapture.
- “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
- “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 (KJV) – Church Age
- “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14 (KJV) – Church Age
#2: The rebuilt Jewish Temple has no practical significance for the Church
Jesus starts the chapter off by saying that the Temple will be torn down to the ground and destroyed. This happened in AD 70. But interestingly, just a few verses later, He says that it’s back up and running again, and people are worshipping there. Not only that, Jesus says to “go and read the Prophet Daniel”, specifically Daniel 9:27, to see who else shows up at the rebuilt Temple in the end times. It’s the Devil himself! But guess what? Christians don’t have or need a “temple” because we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. That’s the temple God has for Christians. So Matthew 24: 15 is our second reason why Jesus cannot be talking about the Church age.
- “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:)” Matthew 24:15 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
- “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV) – Church Age
#3: The Christian Church is not able to carry out the command to flee into the mountains
Right about the same time Jesus shows the apostles about the Abomination of Desolation, He then says that the believers living in this future time period will be instructed to “flee into the mountains” and get out of Judea, which is to say Israel. Just like in our previous reason, this one also has no practical application for any Christian in the Age of Grace. First of all, only a minute fraction of born again Christians live in Israel, rendering this command meaningless to us. But it is still a command, and as such must be carried out. But by whom? Well, how about by all the Jews which has been brought back to Israel during the false 7 Year Peace Treaty engineered by the Antichrist? Now in this context, we have perfect harmony. If all the Jews in the world were regathered as the Bible says they will be in the end times, then they will all be there in Judea and able to carry out this command. This is the only way this verse has any doctrinal meaning. The people living in this time period are told to flee, Christians are told to “wait” for His Son from Heaven who gets us out before the Wrath comes. Huge Difference. Where do the Jews flee to? Why, they flee to the red rock city of Selah, Petra!
- “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:” Matthew 24:16 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
- “And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:14 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
- “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:19 (KJV) – Church Age
#4: The Christian Church does not have a sabbath day, we have the Lord of the Sabbath Himself
Moving on down in the chapter, we arrive at Matthew 24: 20, where another huge time clue awaits us. With the previously-mentioned fleeing still in the context, Jesus then says to pray that when you turn to run, that it’s not on the Sabbath day, which is the last day of the week, Saturday. Again, Christians were never given the command to worship on the Jewish Sabbath day, because we have the Sabbath Himself, Jesus Christ. Not just the “shadow” which is represented on the sabbath. Paul says we can worship on any day we choose, but like the Apostles in Acts 20:7, we usually come together on a Sunday, the first day of the week, for obvious reasons.
- “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” Matthew 24:20 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
- “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16,17 (KJV) – Church Age
- “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7 (KJV) – Church Age
#5: The Christian Church is not God’s “elect”, that refers to Israel and the Jewish people
Our last reason why Matthew 24 cannot be talking about the Rapture of the Church is as equally compelling as the previous 4 reasons. Jesus in verse 22 says that time of Jacob’s Trouble – the Great Tribulation – is so grievous that if He didn’t come and “cut it short” then not even the “elect” would be saved. His return to cut it short is what the Bible calls the Day of the Lord, turn to Revelation 19:14 to see where the Church is on that Day. God’s elect is not the Christian Church, according to the Bible the Jews and Israel are God’s elect. We started this teaching by talking about how many Christians just automatically broad-brush the entire New Testament with the “church stamp”.
- “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” Isaiah 45:4 (KJV)
- “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”
Isaiah 65:9 (KJV) – Tribulation Age
God wrote the Bible dispensationally, and that’s how we are to read, understand and apply it.
The whole Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, from cover to cover. The overarching theme of which is the battle for the Kingdom, and the King for whom it has been prepared. Simply put, it’s all about Jesus Christ. to wit;
“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7 (KJV)
God wrote the Bible dispensationally, and it must be read that way to to grasp it’s meaning. Many Christians are shocked when you tell them that Matthew, Mark and Luke were not written about or for the Christian Church from a doctrinal perspective. It was written to Jews waiting for a Kingdom on Earth, which was postponed, and to those who will be alive on Earth during the time of the Great Tribulation after the Rapture.
But that’s a lesson for another day, hope this helps!