Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Contents & Introduction
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
THE JEWISH SECTION
1. THE TIME, SIGN (24:1-3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
2. THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS (24:4-8) . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3. THEN… (24:9-14) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
4. IN THE HOLY PLACE (24:15, 16a) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
5. THE GREAT TRIBULATION (24:16-22) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
6. FALSE CHRISTS AND FALSE PROPHETS (24:23-26) . . . 73
7. THE LORD’S RETURN (24:27-31) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
8. THE FIG TREE (24:32-36) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
9. THE DAYS OF NOAH (24:37-39) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
THE CHRISTIAN SECTION
10. ONE TAKEN, ANOTHER LEFT (24:40-44) . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
11. THE HOUSEHOLDER AND HIS SERVANT (24:45-51) 165
12. THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH (25:1-4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
13. THE MIDNIGHT CRY (25:5, 6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
14. GO OUT TO MEET HIM (25:7-9) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
15. THE DOOR WAS SHUT (25:10-13) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
16. TO RECEIVE A KINGDOM (25:14) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247
17. DELEGATED RESPONSIBILITY (25:14-18) . . . . . . . . . . . 263
18. AND TO RETURN (25:19) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277
19. GOOD, FAITHFUL SERVANT (25:20-23) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297
20. YOU WICKED, LAZY SERVANT (25:24-29) . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
21. CAST OUTSIDE (25:30) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327
THE GENTILE SECTION
22. THE KING OF GLORY (25:31-33) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347
23. THOSE ON HIS RIGHT HAND (25:31-40) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363
24. THOSE ON HIS LEFT HAND (25:41-46) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 393
APPENDIXES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxx
ANTI-SEMITISM (APPENDIX 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407
ANTI-CHRISTIAN (APPENDIX 2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 421
AGES AND DISPENSATIONS (APPENDIX 3) . . . . . 435
SCRIPTURE INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 447
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
See! Your house is left to you desolate;
for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Matthew 23:37-39).
The nation of Israel spurned the offer of the kingdom of the heavens at Christ’s first coming. The reason for this rejection is, in Matthew chapter twenty-three, attributed directly to the actions of the scribes and Pharisees during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry.
The scribes and Pharisees, the most numerous of all the religious sects in Israel, controlling the religious life of the people by their very numbers, sat in Moses’ seat (v. 2). The shadow of regality still remained in the Divine Law even though the theocracy had long since been taken from Israel, and the scribes were the keepers and the Pharisees the legalistic teachers of this Law. They, occupying this position on Moses’ seat, were the ones who “shut up the kingdom of the heavens against [‘before,’ ‘in front of’] men.” They were not going to enter this kingdom; and they did all within their power to prevent the nation itself from entering, ultimately resulting in the kingdom being taken from Israel (v. 13; cf. Matthew 21:33-43).
Because of that which the scribes and Pharisees did, they experienced a condemnation at the hands of Christ unlike that which befell any other group. Time after time Christ said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees . . . .” (vv. 13-16, 23, 25, 27, 29). He called them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “fools,” and likened them to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness” (vv. 14, 16, 17, 19, 23-29).
The scribes and Pharisees were the “sons of those who murdered the prophets” (v. 31). Israeli history from Moses to Christ is marked throughout by rejection, unbelief; and the scribes and Pharisees formed a terminal group of the nation’s religious leaders in this respect.
The scribes and Pharisees were the ones who had filled up “the measure” of their fathers (v. 32; cf. Genesis 15:16). They were the ones present when Israel’s Messiah appeared with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to the nation; and they were the ones directly responsible for the nation rejecting the King and the Kingdom, resulting in the crucifixion of the King, continued unbelief, and continued rejection of the Lord’s prophets (v. 34; cf. Matthew 21:33-42).
And because of these things, resulting in a terminal facet of unbelief and rejection under the leadership of the scribes and Pharisees, the Lord announced that “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth” (going all the way back to Abel) would come, not only upon the Scribes and Pharisees, but upon the nation as a whole (vv. 34-36).
It is this rejection and unbelief by Israel (attributed to the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees) and the consequent condemnation brought against Israel (again, attributed to the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees) that prompted the Lord’s lament over Jerusalem and His statement concerning the nation’s coming desolation in verses thirty-seven through thirty-nine. The “house” (house of Israel [which included the people, the Temple, the city, and the land]) was to be left “desolate.”
The word “desolate” is a translation of eremos in the Greek text, which means “desert,” “wilderness,” “waste land.” Because of the previous actions of those who sat in Moses’ seat, this is how the house of Israel was to be left. Rather than entering into what is termed in Hebrew 2:3, “so great a salvation” (a salvation in connection with the kingdom of the heavens, previously open to Israel), desolation would instead be the nation’s lot; and, as revealed in related Scripture, this desolation would not end until two millennia had run their course; and this desolation, at the end of two millennia, would be climaxed by the nation going through the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), the coming Tribulation. Only then would the nation be removed from this condition.
The establishment of the new state of Israel May 14, 1948 wrought no change in Israel’s condition as depicted in Matthew 23:38; nor has any change been effected during the intervening years since. Almost two-fifths of world Jewry constitutes what is presently called “the nation of Israel” (rather than “the new state of Israel” as it was called at the time of its inception); and those now in Israel are there under a Zionistic movement in unbelief, without a Temple, sacrifices, etc.
Although the Jews will rebuild their Temple during the days of Antichrist and reinstitute at least a segment of the Mosaic Economy in connection with the Temple worship and Jewish life, such will bring about no change to Israel’s desolate condition. Unbelief will still prevail; Israel will still exist apart from her Messiah. The desolation cannot be lifted until that day Israel states concerning her rejected Messiah, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (v. 39)!
Israel is going to have to pass through the Great Tribulation before that time when the nation calls the Lord Jesus Christ, “Blessed.” This is what the first part of Matthew chapter twenty-four, continuing the line of thought from chapter twenty-three, is all about — Israel in the Tribulation, brought to a repentant state, followed by deliverance.
As the Israelites during Moses’ day were forced to cry out to God “by reason of the bondage” under which the Assyrian Pharaoh had placed them, so will the Israelites under the future Assyrian, the Antichrist. This man will bring Israel into such dire straits by and through his efforts to destroy the nation that the Jewish people will cry out to the God of their fathers. And as God heard, remembered, and sent Moses back to the Jewish people in the past, He will hear, remember, and send Jesus back to the Jewish people yet future.
At that future time, just as Moses was received, so will Jesus be received; and, as deliverance was effected through Moses (beginning with the blood of the paschal lambs), deliverance will be effected through Jesus (beginning with the blood of the Passover Lamb).
(Note that deliverance must begin by and through the appropriation of the blood. This is set forth in the original type in Genesis chapter three, it holds true in Exodus chapter twelve, and it holds true at all other places in Scripture.
In the prophetic calendar of Israel, set forth in the festivals of the Lord in Leviticus chapter twenty-three, the Passover comes first. The blood must be appropriated first.)
According to Hosea 5:15-6:2, it will be “after two days,” during the nation’s time of “affliction [the coming Great Tribulation],” that the Jewish people will say,
Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up (6:1).
And it will be “on the third day” that Israel will be raised up to “live in His [the Lord’s] sight” (6:2). Each day in this passage is one thousand years in length (2 Peter 3:8). Desolation is to prevail for two thousand years, extending into and through the Great Tribulation; then, at the outset of the third one-thousand-year period — dating from Abraham, covering the entire 2,000 years of the Jewish dispensation, with the seven years of the coming Tribulation completing this dispensation — Israel will be restored. The last of the triad of days, the last of the triad of one-thousand-year periods, will be the Messianic Era; and it will be during this time that Israel will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Matthew 23:39)!
(Note that Hosea 5:13-6:3 is Jewish, having to do with the Jewish dispensation [extending from the birth of Abraham to the Messianic Kingdom]. The Messianic Kingdom — the third day, the third one thousand years — is ushered in at the conclusion of this dispensation, not at the conclusion of the present dispensation [the Christian dispensation in which we presently live].
The present dispensation occurs while time is not being marked off in the Jewish dispensation, with seven years left to complete the Jewish dispensation. God has, so to speak, stopped the clock marking off time in the Jewish dispensation and has begun an entirely new dispensation in his dealings with man.
And once His plans and purposes for this new dispensation have been completed [calling out a bride for His Son, taken mainly from the Gentiles (Genesis 24:1ff)], He will turn back to Israel and complete the last seven years of the previous dispensation [the Jewish dispensation], with the Messianic Era then being ushered in at the completion of this dispensation [Daniel 9:24-27; cf. Genesis 23:1ff; 25:1ff].)
During that coming third day, during the Messianic Era, the Jewish people will voice the nation’s confession as outlined in Isaiah 53:1ff:
Who has believed our report? . . .
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant . . . and when we [the Jewish people] see Him [Jesus], there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men . . . And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him . . .
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities . . . . (vv. 1-5)
It will be in that day that the Jewish people will say,
Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O LORD, we have waited for You; the desire of our soul is for Your name [the name, “Jesus”], and for the remembrance of You (Isaiah 26:8)
During the present time of desolation, Israel hates the name “Jesus”; but in the latter days of this desolation, when iniquity once again becomes full and corresponding judgment falls (cf. Genesis 15:16), the Jewish people will cry out for deliverance. This deliverance will be effected by and through none other than Jesus. And following this deliverance, when the house of Israel no longer lies desolate, the prophecies concerning the relationship that Jesus and Israel are to enter into (as foretold in Isaiah 26:8; 53:1ff) will come to pass. But, until then — desolation.
The Olivet Discourse is a tripartite, connected discourse dealing with the Jews, the Christians, and the Gentiles. The inception of Christianity awaited a future date at this time; but the discourse — given following Christ’s statement that He would build His Church (chapter 16), following the kingdom of the heavens being taken from Israel (chapter 21), and following the announced desolation of the house of Israel (chapter 23) — anticipated the “one new man” in Christ being brought into existence.
The first part has to do with the “Jews” (24:4-39).
The second part has to do with “Christians” (24:40-25:30).
The third part has to do with the “Gentiles” (25:31-46).
The first part of the discourse deals with events pertaining to Israel during the coming Tribulation and with Messiah’s return and the restoration of the nation at the conclusion of the Tribulation. Israel had rejected the proffered kingdom and was about to crucify the nation’s rejected Messiah, and now the nation must pass through the Great Tribulation and await her Messiah “in the way of Your judgments” (Isaiah 26:8).
The second part of the discourse deals with the new recipients of the offer of the kingdom of the heavens. The emphasis throughout this section is upon present faithfulness in view of a future time of reckoning, anticipating the kingdom.
The third part of the discourse deals with judgment upon saved Gentiles (saved during the Tribulation) following Christ’s return at the conclusion of the Tribulation.
In this fashion, the three sections of the Olivet Discourse reveal God’s dealings with the three segments of mankind — Jew, Christian, and Gentile — during and at the conclusion of the present age.
In the Jewish section of this discourse, God’s dealings with Israel are centered on the coming Tribulation. The reason for this is very simple: Israel has been set aside during the present time while God removes from the Gentiles “a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). The time when God will deal with Israel once again awaits the completion of His purpose for the present dispensation. This is the reason that the Jewish section of the Olivet Discourse begins with Israel in the Tribulation. This section begins at the point where God resumes His national dealings with Israel once again, anticipating the end of their present desolate condition.
In the Christian section of the discourse, unlike the Jewish section, God does deal with a people during the present time — a time preceding the Tribulation. And those with whom God is presently dealing are the recipients of the offer of the kingdom of the heavens following Israel’s rejection of this offer, which is exactly what is in view in this section of the Olivet Discourse. Events in this section occur during and at the end of the time that the house of Israel lies desolate.
(There is a strange, widespread interpretation which associates this second section of the discourse with Israel rather than with Christendom, but such cannot be correct. God’s present dealings with a segment of mankind in relation to the kingdom of the heavens prohibit this view. God is not dealing with Israel today; and the kingdom of the heavens, which is the matter at hand throughout this section, had previously been taken from Israel.
Thus, such an interpretation is not only strained and unnatural, but it is not possible. Such an interpretation will not at all fit the tenor of Scripture leading into the Olivet Discourse. It is completely out of line with that which is taught in the previous chapters of Matthew’s gospel.)
Then, in the Gentile section of this discourse, only the Gentiles are in view. God, at that time in the future when these events occur, will have completed His dealings with Israel and the Church. The Christians and the nation of Israel will be judged first. Then, God will judge the saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation immediately prior to His 1,000-year reign over the earth.
(Note that any type of interpretation of the judgment of the Gentiles in the closing part of the Olivet Discourse, in Matthew 25:31-46, which has Christ judging both saved and unsaved individuals at the time of His return cannot be correct for at least two main reasons:
1) This judgment, as all other judgments preceding the Millennium, has to do with the millennial kingdom (v. 34), not with eternal verities.
2) Scripture places the judgment of all the unsaved at one point in time — following the Millennium, not before (Revelation 20:11-15). Their judgment has nothing to do with Christ’s 1,000-year reign over the earth, only with the eternal ages which follow.)
Distinctions Between Parts
There are a number of distinguishing differences that mark the three sections of the Olivet Discourse. Certain things are peculiar to each section. Parables, for example, are seen throughout the Christian section; but parables are seen only at the end of the Jewish section; and parables are not seen at all in the Gentile section. Then, salvation and judgment appear in quite different settings in each section; and the time interval during which events occur is entirely different in each section.
Four parables comprise the whole of the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse (24:40-25:30), which is in perfect accord with the structure of the gospel of Matthew leading into this discourse. Parables, in Matthew’s gospel, first appear in chapter thirteen. It was at this point in His ministry that Christ departed the house, went down by the seaside, and began to speak in parables (vv. 1-3).
The terms “the house” and “the seaside” in Matthew 13:1 carry deeper, significant meanings (in their symbolic usage in Scripture) than just being used as a mere statement of fact. The term“the house” in this passage points to the same “house” that Christ referred to in Matthew 23:38 — the house of Israel; and “the sea” in Scripture is peculiarly related to the Gentiles (Jonah 1:15; Revelation 13:1).
Within the symbolism used, Jesus (for the first time) departed from those to whom He had come (the Jewish people), went to an entirely separate entity (the Gentiles), and began to speak in parables. Thus, the first mention of parables in the gospel of Matthew relates them peculiarly to the Gentiles, not to Israel (although Christ later in the chapter went back into the house and uttered three additional parables).
The events of chapter thirteen immediately followed the events of chapter twelve, occurring on “the same day” (v. 1). The events of chapter twelve set the stage for and reveal the reason why Christ departed the house, went down by the seaside, and began to speak in parables. It was in chapter twelve that the scribes and Pharisees committed what is called the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” attributing to Satan the power by which Christ had performed His miraculous works.
And this was a sin of such magnitude that there would be no forgiveness, “either in this age or in the age to come [‘the age to come’ (the Messianic Era)]” (vv. 24-32). It is here, for all practical purposes, that the kingdom of the heavens was taken from Israel, although the announcement was not made until after Christ had ridden into Jerusalem (presenting Himself as Israel’s King) immediately preceding His crucifixion (21:5-11, 15, 18, 19, 33-43). In like manner, the condemnation of the actions of the scribes and Pharisees and the announced desolation of the house of Israel (23:1-39) also do not appear until a later time in Matthew’s gospel, although the events depicted in chapter twelve likewise anticipate these things.
In chapter twelve, the Pharisees, seeking ways to destroy Christ, held a council against Him (v. 14). Jesus, knowing this, withdrew to another place and continued performing miraculous signs having to do with the kingdom (v. 15; cf. Isaiah 35:1, 5, 6). Christ, at this time, healed a man who was both “blind and mute”; and “all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’” (vv. 22, 23)
The construction of the Greek text (using the particle meti) shows both confusion and negative feelings on their part, undoubtedly brought about by the previous actions of the scribes and Pharisees. The Pharisees at this point (the scribes were also included [Mark 3:22]) seized the opportunity to cast reproach upon both Christ and His work by attributing the manifested power to Satan. This brought about Christ’s pronouncement of judgment (vv. 31, 32) and His refusal to reveal any additional sign other than that of “the prophet Jonah” (vv. 38-40).
It is here that the great turning point in the ministry of Christ occurred. That part of “the sign of Jonah” to which Christ referred pointed to Calvary, not to the Kingdom. Christ then alluded to judgment about to befall the nation (vv. 41-45), anticipating the announcement of desolation in Matthew 23:38. Then, for the first time, Christ departed the house and went down by the seaside, as revealed at the beginning of the next chapter (13:1).
It was not long after these events that Christ announced, “. . . I will build My Church” (16:18) — the announcement of the bringing into existence of an entity separate and distinct from Israel, the “one new man” in Christ. The Cross, foreshadowed by “the sign of Jonah,” then came into full view (16:21; 17:9 [cf. Luke 9:31], 22, 23; 20:17-19; 21:39).
All of this anticipated the kingdom being taken from Israel, the house of Israel being left desolate, the occurrence of the events of Calvary, and the Church being brought into existence.
Parables, within their proper setting in Matthew’s gospel, are peculiarly connected with Christ’s departure from Israel, with the Gentiles in view. And although the Church is comprised of those taken from both Israel and the Gentile nations, its association within the framework of that which is centrally in view is with the Gentiles rather than with Israel.
In the types, Joseph and Moses both took Gentile brides in the far countries; and in verses such as Acts 15:14 and Romans 11:25, the Gentiles come into full view by and through God visiting “the Gentiles” and God bringing about the fullness “of the Gentiles.”
Thus, it is only natural that the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse is comprised entirely of parables, with parables being a distinguishing characteristic of this section.
2) Salvation and Judgment
Salvation in the Jewish section has to do with physical deliverance, and the judgment associated with this deliverance is the Tribulation here upon earth.
Salvation in the Christian section has to do with the soul/life, and the judgment associated with this deliverance is the judgment seat of Christ in the heavens.
Salvation in the Gentile section has to do with entrance into the kingdom, and the judgment associated with Gentiles being allowed to enter the kingdom surrounds the Son of Man seated on “the throne of His glory” here upon the earth.
a) Jewish Section: This section begins with Israel in the Tribulation (vv. 4-26); and it ends with the return of Israel’s Messiah at the close of the Tribulation (vv. 27-30), followed by the re-gathering of the Jewish people from a worldwide dispersion (v. 31), with the parable of the fig tree (vv. 32-36) and a reference to the days of Noah concluding this section (vv. 37-39).
Those who endure “to the end [the end of the Tribulation]” will be “saved [physically delivered out of this time of trouble]” (v. 13). They will comprise the ones re-gathered back to the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the close of the Tribulation.
All is Jewish throughout.
(The judgment of individual Israelites occurs after the Tribulation, following the Jewish people being re-gathered but preceding their being placed back in the land. This individual judgment is not in view in Matthew 24:4-31 [cf. Ezekiel 20:33-38].)
b) Christian Section: This section, comprised of four parables, concerns itself with faithfulness during the present dispensation with a view to participation in regal activity during the coming dispensation. And the emphasis throughout this section is somewhat evenly distributed between present and future times. Perhaps nowhere else in a comparable length of Scripture can the purpose for one’s salvation during the present dispensation be more clearly seen than in this section of Scripture.
The Church will be removed from the earth at the end of the present dispensation, preceding the Tribulation, to appear before the judgment seat of Christ; and each Christian, in that day, will render an account concerning “the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10b). Responsibility (present), accountability (future), and the kingdom (future) form the main thrust of the subject matter throughout the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse.
Further, “the kingdom of the heavens” is the subject matter at hand (25:1), something that can no longer pertain to Israel at this point in Matthew’s gospel (cf. Matthew 21:33-43).
All is Christian throughout.
c) Gentile Section: This section begins with the Son of Man, following His return, seated on the “throne of His glory” upon the earth. All of the saved Gentiles who survive the Tribulation will be gathered before Christ and separated into two groups — the sheep (seen as the faithful) and the goats (seen as the unfaithful). They will then be judged (the faithful will be dealt with first, then the unfaithful; and judgment in both instances will be on the basis of their treatment of Christ’s “brethren [the Jewish people]” during the Tribulation. Entrance into the kingdom will await the faithful, and the opposite in relation to the kingdom will await the unfaithful.
All is Gentile throughout.
3) The Time Interval
The time during which events occur is completely different in each section. In the Jewish section, time during and immediately following the Tribulation is in view; in the Christian section, time preceding the Tribulation and time leading into the Millennium are in view; and in the Gentile section, time following the completion of God’s dealings with Israel at the end of the Tribulation is in view.
a) Jewish Section: God’s resumption of His dealings with Israel awaits the completion of His present dealings with the Church. Israel has been set aside, and God will not deal with Israel on a national basis again until He has completed His purpose for the present dispensation. Then, and only then, will God turn to Israel once again.
The time during which God will resume and complete His dealings with Israel during Man’s 6,000-year Day is seen in Daniel’s prophecy of the “Seventy Weeks” (Daniel 9:24-27). One Week (one Seven) — the last seven years of the prophecy — awaits fulfillment. This period, which begins with the ratifying of the covenant between the man of sin and Israel (Daniel 9:27), comprises that future time during which God will deal with Israel once again; and this period is the coming seven-year Tribulation.
God will then complete His dealings with Israel, preceding the Messianic Era, immediately following the Tribulation at the time of His return. Israel’s blindness will be lifted, the house of Israel will no longer lie desolate, and the nation will then subsequently realize the purpose for its very existence — exercising the rights belonging to the firstborn in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
b) Christian Section: This section begins at a time before the Tribulation and actually encompasses the entire present dispensation, with the Millennium in view. The Tribulation is not in view at all; and this must, of necessity, be the case because Christians have nothing to do with this time. The Tribulation is the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” not the Christians’. The matter of a pre-tribulation rapture of Christians is dealt with indirectly in the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse through a depiction of Christians appearing before the Lord in judgment apart from any mention of the Tribulation.
Related Scripture, of course, reveals why this is the case. The Tribulation lies beyond the rapture and has to do with events here upon the earth after Christians have been removed; and judgment awaiting Christians, following their removal from the earth, will occur in the heavens. A pre-tribulation resurrection and rapture of Christians is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Hebrews 11:4-7; Revelation 1:10-15; 4:1, 2), and Matthew 24:40-25:30 must be understood in this same light.
The subject matter at hand in the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse is faithfulness or unfaithfulness of the Lord’s servants during His time of absence, with a future reckoning and the coming kingdom in view. The time during which the Lord’s servants exhibit either faithfulness or unfaithfulness covers the entire present dispensation. The time of reckoning will then occur at the conclusion of the dispensation and will evidently precede the beginning of the Tribulation upon earth.
The ratifying of the covenant between the man of sin and Israel is the event that marks the beginning of the Tribulation rather than the removal of the Church, as is often taught. It appears clear from events revealed in Revelation chapters four and five that an interval of time will exist between the removal of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation (events at the beginning of chapter four point to the removal of the Church [vv. 1, 2], but the Tribulation does not begin until events depicted at the beginning of chapter six [vv. 1, 2]; and events in chapters four and five must occur before events in chapter six can occur.
Events following the removal of the Church (which anticipate events surrounding the judgment seat [Revelation 1a, 4a; cf. chapters 1b-3]), events surrounding the twenty-four elders relinquishing their crowns (chapter 4b), and events surrounding the seven-sealed scroll (chapter 5) must be brought to pass first.
(That is, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, it appears evident that God will complete His dealings with Christians before He turns to and completes His dealings with Israel. This would necessitate events at the judgment seat of Christ in heaven [Revelation 1b-3] being completed before events of the Tribulation begin upon earth [Revelation 6:1ff].
Then, events surrounding the twenty-four elders [which have to do directly with Christians, following judgment] and the seven-sealed scroll [which has to do with both Christians and Israel] must be brought to pass preceding the Tribulation as well.
For more information on the preceding, refer to Chapters 6-9 of the author’s book, The Time of the End.)
c) Gentile Section: Most of the Gentiles upon the earth who enter into the Tribulation will be killed during this seven-year period. Revelation 6:8; 9:15-18 alone reveal one-half of the earth’s population being killed during this time. Then, there are verses showing unrevealed numbers being slain (6:4; 8:9, 11; 11:5, 13; 12:16; 13:15), followed by the Battle of Armageddon at the conclusion of the Tribulation, where blood will run “up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [about 180 miles]” (14:19, 20; 19:17-21; cf. Isaiah 63:1-6). The judgment of the Gentiles, as revealed in Matthew chapter twenty-five, will evidently occur immediately following all these things.
This judgment has to do with living Gentiles alone. No resurrection is in view. These will be saved Gentiles who survive the judgments of the Tribulation on earth when Israel’s Messiah returns.
Gentiles who die during the Tribulation will be resurrected and appear in one of two entirely separate judgments, separated by 1,000 years, depending on their saved or unsaved status.
The saved will evidently be resurrected and judged before the Millennium in a separate judgment from that of the saved Gentiles surviving the Tribulation in Matthew 25:34-40. Their resurrection and judgment is revealed in Revelation 20:4.
The unsaved though will not be resurrected and judged until the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-15).
The kingdom is the focal point toward which the entire program of God, as it pertains to man, has been moving since the creation of Adam; and the Olivet Discourse comprises a dissertation of God’s terminal dealings with the three divisions of mankind — Jew, Christian, and Gentile — immediately preceding and leading into this kingdom.
The Jewish section has to do with Israel in the Tribulation, followed by the return of Israel’s Messiah and the re-gathering of Israel, anticipating the kingdom.
The Christian section has to do with the present faithfulness or unfaithfulness of Christians and the coming judgment seat, anticipating the kingdom.
The Gentile section has to do with all the saved, living Gentiles being dealt with immediately following God’s completion of His dealings with Israel, anticipating the kingdom.