Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
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)
Matthew 24:9-14 describes Israel’s condition and certain events pertaining to the nation, beginning in the middle and covering the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. Time-wise, events in these verses are synonymous with events in the continuing twelve verses (vv. 15-26, furnishing commentary for the previous verses), and with events in Revelation 12:6, 13-17.
When the man of sin breaks his covenant with Israel (in the middle of Daniel’s Seventy-Week prophecy), the nation will, in an apparent almost immediate sense, be delivered up for affliction. The mass killing of millions of Jews will then commence; and the Jewish people, at this time, as never before, will begin to be hated by all the nations of the earth (v. 9).
Jews themselves during this time, because of existing conditions, will even begin to betray and hate one another; and false prophets will arise among the people, leading many astray (vv. 10, 11; cf. Mark 13:12; Luke 21:16).
Scripture relates the matter of internal turmoil among the Jewish people during this time to their becoming lawless. Their previous “love” for one another will, as a result, grow cold, bringing about dire consequences (v. 12). Betrayal of and hatred for one another, along with the work of false prophets (all among the people themselves), will produce a condition aiding the set goal of the enemy — the utter destruction of Israel (cf. Psalm 83:4). And this evidently reveals another reason why “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (v. 22).
The general plight of the Jewish people during the last half of the Tribulation is given in these few, brief verses. And the statement is then made that the one enduring to the end would be saved (v. 13).
This has to do with physical deliverance out of the Tribulation. Those Jews who survive the afflictions, mass killings, hatred by the Gentiles, and the lawlessness of their own people, will be physically delivered at the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
Concluding this part of the Olivet Discourse, reference is made to the worldwide proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. This gospel will be proclaimed throughout the earth by one hundred forty-four thousand Jews during the time described by verses nine through thirteen. The ministry of these Jewish evangelists will thus occur during the darkest hour of human history. It will occur during the reign of Antichrist, amidst all the trouble, terror, and conflict within his kingdom; and it will occur during the time Satan makes his last, desperate attempt (preceding the Messianic Era) to destroy the nation of Israel.
Comparing Matthew and Revelation
The Jewish section of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:4-39) has to do with events during the seven-year Tribulation, leading into and including the return of Christ and attendant events at the end of the Tribulation. The corresponding section in the book of Revelation covers fourteen chapters (chapters 6-19a), and events in these chapters are arranged in a parallel fashion to the way events in the Jewish section of the Olivet Discourse are arranged.
Note this section of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew’s gospel. Verses four through fourteen provide a brief summary of events that cover the entire seven years of the Tribulation, and this summary concludes with the worldwide proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom.
Then, verses fifteen through twenty-six provide additional details concerning specific events that will occur in the middle and during the last half of the Tribulation, the same time covered by verses nine through fourteen; and these verses lead into events surrounding the return of Christ as revealed in verses twenty-seven through thirty-one.
In the book of Revelation, the Tribulation begins with the opening two verses of chapter six, and judgments during this seven-year period are revealed by and through the opening of the seven seals (6:1-17; 8:1), the sounding of the seven trumpets (8:2-9:21; 10:1-7; 11:15-19), and the pouring out of the seven bowls [KJV: vials] (16:1-21).
The first six seals are opened in chapter six, and the judgments wrought by and through the opening of these seals provide an overview of events and judgments during the entire seven years of the Tribulation, as seen in Matthew 24:4-13. Then, note that at the end of this overall coverage in both Matthew and Revelation, the Spirit of God moved the two writers to record information relating to the same thing — the worldwide proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom (v. 14).
In Matthew 24:14 a brief statement is given concerning the proclamation of this message; and corresponding Scripture clearly reveals that this ministry of the Word will be carried out by a “remnant” removed from the nation of Israel, the one hundred and forty-four thousand of Revelation 14:1-5 (ref. Chapter 2 in this book).
It is this, as in Matthew’s gospel, which appears in what can only be the parallel section in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 7:1ff, the one hundred and forty-four thousand first come into view; and these verses immediately follow the opening of the first six seals, forming a perfect parallel between Matthew 24:4-14 and Revelation chapters six and seven.
As in Matthew’s gospel, so in the book of Revelation — the emphasis is upon events that will occur in the middle and during the last half of the Tribulation, not during the first half.
In Revelation chapter six, the opening of the first seal (depicting the man of sin going forth “conquering and to conquer”) is the only part of the chapter that has to do with events occurring during the first half of the Tribulation. The remainder of the seal-judgments can only point to events occurring either in the middle or during the last half.
And it is so with the remainder of that portion of the book dealing with judgments resulting from the breaking of the seals, the sounding of the trumpets, or the pouring out of the bowls.
Even in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24-27, the emphasis is upon events occurring in the middle and during the last half of the Seventieth Week, not upon events occurring during the first half. Actually, the only event in this prophecy that will occur during the first half of the Seventieth Week is the ratifying of the covenant between the man of sin and Israel; and this same emphasis upon events occurring during the middle and last half of the Week carries over into Matthew 24:4-39 and Revelation 6:1ff.
The first half of the Tribulation, compared to the last half, will be a time of relative peace; but this peace will come to a sudden end when the man of sin breaks his covenant with Israel. This is what the opening of the second seal evidently refers to:
Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it [the same rider as on the white horse when the first seal was opened, but now revealed in his true color] to take peace from the earth . . . . (Revelation 6:4)
Then, the remainder of the seal-judgments describe conditions and events following this, occurring during the last half of the Tribulation (vv. 5ff).
In the book of Revelation, immediately following the opening of the first six seals, an entire chapter (chapter 7) is given over to the sealing of the one hundred and forty-four thousand and the results of their ministry (paralleling events in Matthew 24:4-14).
Beyond this parallel point in the Olivet Discourse, specific details are given concerning events occurring during the time covered by previous Scripture (that is, events in vv. 15-26 occur during the same time as events in vv. 9-14, providing additional commentary).
And it is the same in the book of Revelation. Specific details are given concerning events occurring during the time covered by previous Scripture (that is, events in chapters 8ff occur during the same time as certain events in chapters 6, 7, providing additional commentary). Then, in both the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation, the entire matter leads up to and includes the return of Christ with attendant events (Matthew 24:27-31; Revelation 19:11-21).
The Jewish section of the Olivet Discourse is, in the preceding respect, a little Apocalypse — Matthew 24:4-13 corresponds to Revelation 6:1-17; Matthew 24:14 corresponds to Revelation 7:1-17; Matthew 24:15-26 corresponds to Revelation 6:3-19:6; and Matthew 24:27-31 corresponds to Revelation 19:11-21.
“Time” surrounding the opening of the seven seals, the sounding of the seven trumpets, and the pouring out of the seven bowls is something that must be understood in its proper perspective if one is to grasp the issue at hand. The thought is not at all that once one seal has been opened, revealed events associated with that particular seal must come to pass before the next seal can be opened. No! Events covered by a particular seal can still be occurring during the time other seals are opened, or even during the time the trumpets are sounded or the corresponding bowls of wrath are poured out. It seems evident that many judgments revealed under the opening of these seals will overlap one another and extend throughout a large portion of the Tribulation, with some evidently still occurring when the last trumpet is sounded and the corresponding last bowl is poured out.
The seven trumpet judgments form the judgments revealed when the seventh seal is broken; and the seven bowl judgments correspond to the seven trumpet judgments, providing a further description of these judgments (cf. Revelation 8:1-10:7; 11:15-19; 16:1-21).
The sounding of the seventh trumpet and the corresponding pouring out of the seventh bowl bring matters to the same end.
Note Revelation 10:7; 11:15; 16:17:
but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel [the angel with the seventh trumpet], when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever.” (ASV)
Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
The words, “It is done,” closing the statement concerning the pouring out of the seventh bowl, are the translation of a perfect tense verb in the Greek text. The perfect tense refers to action completed in past time, with the results of that action existing during present time in a finished state.
At this point in the book, everything will have been brought to pass; and the mighty angel seen at this time in chapter ten can then act in the described manner — placing one foot on the land and the other on the sea (taking complete control of the earth), extending the opened scroll toward heaven (the seven-sealed scroll now unsealed, opened, showing that all the judgments have been completed), allowing the announcement by other “loud voices” seen in Revelation 11:15, “The kingdoms of this world have become . . . .”
(For additional information on the preceding, refer to Chapters 18, 19 in the author’s book, The Time of the End.)
The One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand
The one hundred and forty-four thousand Jews who will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth during the last half of the Tribulation will be saved during the first half, with the complete group having been saved preceding the middle of the Tribulation. This is what is referenced by the birth of the male child at the mid-point of the Tribulation in Revelation 12:5. Then, the birth of the entire nation, “all Israel,” will occur at the end of the Tribulation (Isaiah 66:8; cf. Romans 11:26).
The one hundred and forty-four thousand will apparently be saved through the ministry of the two witnesses in Revelation chapter eleven, whose ministry will span the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation.
Then, the nation itself will be saved at the end of the Tribulation by the personal appearing of Jesus Christ. They will “look upon” the One whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10); and in the antitype of Joseph revealing himself to his brethren (Genesis 45:1ff), Christ revealing Himself to the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1ff), and Christ revealing Himself to the two disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13ff), Christ will reveal Himself to the nation of Israel, resulting in a nation being “born at once” (cf. Isaiah 66:7, 8; Zechariah 12:10-14; 14:6).
The salvation of individuals comprising the one hundred and forty-four thousand will evidently occur at different times throughout the first three and one half years of the Tribulation, with the last of these individuals being saved near the end of this time. Israel is seen in labor throughout this time but does not give birth until near the middle of the Tribulation, after all of the one hundred and forty-four thousand have been saved.
In this respect, the gestation period for the nation bringing forth the male child will be about three and one-half years. And the last of the one hundred and forty-four thousand being saved will bring the nation’s pregnancy to full-term, with the birth of the male child in Revelation 12:5 then taking place.
There are Christians today who teach that the Church must somehow have a part in the salvation of the Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation. Such would be brought to pass in one of two ways:
1) By their conversion near the end of the present dispensation through Jewish evangelism (and their remaining behind at the time of the rapture).
2) Or, by Christians proclaiming the salvation message to the Jewish people near the end of this present dispensation so they will have it in their possession during the Tribulation (ultimately resulting in the salvation of the 144,000).
The teaching that the Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation are to be saved during the present time is, of course, completely fallacious. A Jew saved today finds himself positionally “in Christ,” a part of the one new man; and, in this standing, there is no distinction between saved Jews and saved Gentiles. They have both relinquished their national identities and will both be removed together at the time of the rapture, with no distinction made between the two. There can be no such thing as a saved Jew being left behind at the time of the rapture to go through the Tribulation, no more so than a saved Gentile being left behind at this time to go through the Tribulation.
Then, beyond that, the Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation are not to be saved during the present dispensation anyway. They are to be saved after the Church has been removed, during the Tribulation. The entire matter is Jewish and future. It will be then, not now, that Israel’s travail and the resulting subsequent birth of a child occur.
The teaching that Christians are to proclaim the salvation message to the Jewish people during the present time so that they will have it during the Tribulation, resulting in the salvation of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, is a false form of Jewish evangelism.
The whole concept behind any form of evangelism, to the Jew or the Gentile, is to proclaim the gospel message in view of people being saved during the present dispensation, not during the coming Tribulation.
To further complicate the matter insofar as man is concerned, there will be exactly twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who will be saved and form the male child at that future time (the tribe of Manasseh replacing the tribe of Dan). And Jews don’t even know what tribe they are from today, much less Christians. Their genealogical records were destroyed in 70 A.D.
But God knows; and when the time arrives, the necessary number from each of the tribes will be saved and called forth to form the first-fruits of the nation and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth during the last half of the Tribulation.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The message that will be proclaimed to the Gentiles worldwide by the one hundred and forty-four thousand during the Tribulation is called the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). This will be a message for the unsaved, which can only be a salvation message with the coming kingdom in view.
Scripture refers to the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom during only two brief periods — one past, and the other future (though the kingdom was in view at other times in God’s message proclaimed to Israel [e.g., messages by and through the Prophets during the time of the Old Testament theocracy, or the reoffer of the kingdom by the Apostles and others during the Acts period]).
The gospel of the kingdom in past time was proclaimed to Israel by John the Baptist, Jesus, the twelve, and the seventy immediately preceding and during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry (for about three and one-half years); and the gospel of the kingdom, at a time yet future, will be proclaimed to the Gentiles throughout the earth by one hundred and forty-four thousand Jews during the Tribulation (for about three and one-half years).
The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed to Israel in the past was simply,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7)
The message was directed only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The “Gentiles,” and even the “Samaritans,” had no part in this message (Matthew 10:5, 6). It was a message calling upon God’s people to repent in view of the proffered kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom was “at hand [pointing to something ‘nigh’ or ‘near’]” for two reasons:
1) The King was present.
2) The Kingdom itself could have then been established had the nation heeded the message.
Israel though did not repent. The scribes and Pharisees “shut up the kingdom of the heavens against men [‘before men,’ ‘in the presence of men’]” (Matthew 23:13). They were not going to enter the kingdom, and they did everything within their power to prevent the nation itself from entering. The scribes and Pharisees were the ones directly responsible for Israel’s rejection of the King and the Kingdom, terminating with the crucifixion of the King Himself.
The proffered kingdom (the kingdom of the heavens) was taken from Israel in view of an entirely separate and distinct “nation” becoming the recipient of the associated heavenly promises and blessings previously offered to Israel.
And herein lies the reason why the Church was called into existence.
The kingdom of the heavens was taken from Israel and is presently being offered to “a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). This is the “nation” in 1 Peter 2:9, comprised of Christians, an entirely separate and distinct creation and the only people presently in existence who are in a position to bring forth fruit (2 Corinthians 5:17; cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).
The message presently being proclaimed to Christians relative to the coming kingdom though is not the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom of the heavens is not “at hand.” The King is absent, and the Kingdom cannot be established during the present time. We are living during a dispensation between two times:
1) The time when the kingdom was “at hand” (Messiah was present and the kingdom could have been established).
2) The time when the kingdom will once again be “at hand” (the period immediately preceding Messiah’s reappearance to establish the kingdom).
The message that is to be proclaimed during the present time to those who are to have a part in the kingdom of the heavens is more properly called “the word of the kingdom” or “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (Matthew 13:19; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 1 Tim. 1:11, ASV). This message is for the saved alone and has to do with an inheritance in the future; it has to do with future positions as co-heirs with Christ in the kingdom; it has to do with the salvation of the soul, not with the salvation that Christians presently possess.
The gospel of the kingdom that is to be proclaimed to the Gentiles throughout the earth during the Tribulation will have to be first and foremost a salvation message, for the message will be directed to the unsaved. During those days, the kingdom, unlike today, will be “at hand”; and the message, though not the same as the message proclaimed to Israel in the past, can once again be called “the gospel of the kingdom.”
“Salvation” in the future proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom to unsaved Gentiles will be with a view not only to eternal verities but also with a view to the kingdom being “at hand.” The time during which the message will be proclaimed, the recipients of the message, and the name of the gospel would necessitate a conclusion of this nature.
Salvation with a view to the coming kingdom is not a new thought or message at all. In fact, this message has been around for almost six millennia and is really the only type salvation message that has ever been or will ever be proclaimed to man.
Man was created with a view to the kingdom, with a view to ruling the kingdom (Genesis 1:26-28); his fall and subsequent salvation were because of and with a view to the kingdom (his fall, with a view to disqualifying the man to rule; and his salvation, with a view to placing man back in the position for which he had been created); then, Israel was brought into existence with a view to the kingdom (Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6); and individuals are being saved today with a view to the kingdom (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 2:5, 10; 1 Peter 5:1-10).
Thus, the apparent relationship of salvation to the kingdom during the Tribulation, through the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, should not be thought of as something any different at all. Man has always been saved with a goal in view, which is always seen as the kingdom; and the matter will be no different for individuals saved during the Tribulation.
ALL is with a view to the kingdom.
Results of the Message
The results of the ministry of the one hundred and forty-four thousand are given in Revelation 7:9-17 (cf. 6:9-11), immediately following the record of their being sealed (vv. 1-8). These verses though do not include all the results of the ministry of the Jewish evangelists.
These verses refer only to those slain for their testimony during the Tribulation. Multitudes of others who heed the message will survive those days and be alive when Christ returns.
Those slain for their testimony during that future time are described as “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (v. 9). The Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation will have a ministry foreshadowed by Jonah’s ministry when he, after the Word of the Lord came to him the second time, heeded God’s command and went to Nineveh. As a result, all Nineveh heard God’s message and believed.
This though, in its fulfillment in the antitype, refers more specifically to the results of the ministry of all Israel during the Millennium. The entire nation, as Jonah, will heed God’s command when it comes to them the second time and go forth as God’s witness to the ends of the earth; and the results of the nation heeding God’s command will be as in the type: all Nineveh, referring in the antitype to all the Gentiles throughout the earth.
But the Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation, a first-fruits out of the nation of Israel, will realize a first-fruits, as it were, in the antitype of the prophecy of Jonah. The main harvest will then follow as the entire nation goes forth with God’s message of salvation during the Millennium.
Saved Gentiles slain during the Tribulation are seen in heaven in Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6. The remainder of the saved Gentiles during this time will appear at the judgment of the nations following the Tribulation (Matthew 25:32-40). The ones slain are said to be innumerable, and the ones who live through the Tribulation will undoubtedly be of similar numbers as well.
The main harvest though, relative to all Israel in the antitype of Jonah and Nineveh, will be the unsaved Gentiles from the nations surviving the judgments of the Tribulation who will form the nations on earth at the beginning of the Millennium. These Gentiles will then form the nucleus for a far greater population that will come into existence as time goes on during the Millennium, as Israel continues to carry God’s message of salvation to the Gentile nations worldwide.
Both saved Gentiles slain for their testimony during the Tribulation (Revelation 20:4) and a segment of those surviving the Tribulation (those designated as “sheep” in Matthew 25:31-46), are seen to occupy regal positions in the kingdom. This is referred to in Revelation 20:4 as “they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years,” and it is referred to in Matthew 25:34 as “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world [referring back to the restoration of the material creation and the creation of man in Genesis chapter one].”
Thus, a central purpose for a first-fruits out of the nation of Israel to proclaim God’s message during the Tribulation will be the procurement of additional sons to rule in the kingdom.
Then, those from the Gentile nations who survive the Tribulation (unsaved Gentiles) will populate the millennial earth, bringing to pass the fulfillment of God’s promises to both Israel and the Church. Israel is to be placed at the head of the nations on the earth, with the nations being reached by and blessed through Israel; and Christians are to rule over the nations from a heavenly sphere as co-heirs with Christ.
Thus, the entire matter is for purposes which move even beyond the Millennium, during that time when all things will have been brought under subjection and the kingdom delivered up to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). And these purposes of God involve His dealings with three classes of individuals that will exist throughout time and eternity — Jews, Christians, and Gentiles — with regality extending beyond the new earth out into the universe itself (Revelation 22:1-5).
The time during which the one hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish evangelists conduct their ministry will be during the reign of Antichrist. This will be the time when the mark of the beast will be given and beast-worship instituted. Apart from this “mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” no one will be able to “buy or sell” during those days; and refusal to participate in beast-worship will carry the sentence of death.
It will also be during those days that innumerable Gentiles worldwide, from all nations, will heed the message carried by the Jewish evangelists. All who so heed this message will come under the sentence of death, for they will not only refuse the mark of the beast and refuse to participate in beast-worship, but they will bear a true witness concerning Jesus Christ.
The revealed form of death for the followers of Christ during the Tribulation will be the guillotine (Revelation 20:4), though this may simply be an expression used in Scripture referring to the numerous forms that death may take in that day. Followers of Christ will be slain for their testimony, which, in that day, can only be part and parcel with their refusal to participate in beast-worship.
The situation will be somewhat similar (but far more intense) to conditions that existed among the followers of Christ in the Roman world during the first century. In those days the Romans deified the emperor and participated in emperor-worship. Christians though worshipped the one true and living God, rejecting emperor-worship; and multitudes were slain for the testimony that they held.
Persecution in the Roman world under ten different emperors, viewing themselves as gods, occurred over a period of two and one-half centuries. The far more intense persecution of the followers of Christ during the Tribulation will occur under one world ruler over a period of three and one-half years, who will declare himself to be “God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4), demanding worship as such.
This man, as the Roman emperors, will be deified (by and through his own actions and those of the False Prophet); and the persecution of the followers of Christ that began in the Roman world under Nero will be concluded during the last half of the Tribulation in a worldwide kingdom under the man of sin.
Numerous saved Gentiles from the Tribulation will realize an inheritance in the kingdom, both those slain and others who survive the Tribulation. And it will be then that the question asked by the Tribulation martyrs will be fully addressed:
How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10b)
The beast and false prophet will have previously been cast into the lake of fire, awaiting Satan and his angels, along with all of the unsaved dead extending all the way back to man’s creation, being cast into the lake of fire one thousand years later (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:11-15). And there they will reside, together, throughout the endless ages of eternity.