Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that the Lord’s answer to His disciples’ question is of three sections: the section concerning the Jews (24:4-31), the section concerning the church (24:32—25:30), and the section concerning the Gentiles (25:31-46). The section concerning Israel is divided into two parts: from Christ’s ascension to the end of the age (24:1-14) and during the end of the age (24:15-31). In order to understand 24:1-31, we must keep these subsections in mind. We must also be careful not to misapply the verses, that is, not to apply them to the wrong time or to the wrong people.
Many Christian teachers do not understand the significance of the term “the end of the age.” The Greek phrase here can also be translated “the completion of the age” or “the consummation of the age.” The end of the age denotes the three and a half years of the great tribulation that will terminate this age. Therefore, the end of the age is not the close of the age, but the very last period of the age. In order to understand the prophecies in the Old and New Testaments, we must have a clear understanding of this matter. Many Christian teachers are confused regarding the prophecies because they are not clear about the end of this age.
This term “the consummation of the age” is found in the last verse of Matthew (28:20). Because we hope to be raptured, we expect the Lord to be with us until the end of this age, not until the close of the age. At the close of the age, the Lord will descend to the earth and place His feet on the Mount of Olives. Before this takes place, there will be a period of time which the Bible calls the end of the age, a period of time which will last three and a half years. In 24:6 the Lord told His disciples that they would hear of wars and rumors of wars, but that “the end is not yet.” He told them not to be disturbed, for such things were but the beginning of birth pangs. The end of the age, the great tribulation, was not yet. In verse 14 He said that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations and then the end would come. In verse 6 He said that the end was not yet, but in verse 14 He said that the end would come.
We need to remember that 24:1-14 speaks of the things between Christ’s ascension and the end of the age. All these verses must be applied to the Jews during this period of time.
Now we come to 24:15-31. These verses describe the things that will happen at the end of the age, during the last three and a half years. The end of the age begins with verse 15. Remember, this chapter speaks especially about the sign of the Lord’s coming and the sign of the end of the age. Verse 14 indicates that a strong sign of the end of the age is the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the whole world. When this has been accomplished, we should realize that the last three and a half years are about to begin. Thus, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom will be the greatest sign of the end of this age. Prior to this preaching, many other things will have taken place. But these things are not the signs of the end of the age, for in speaking about them the Lord said that the end was not yet. Therefore, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to all the inhabited earth will be the unique sign of the end of this age. Immediately after the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, the events described in verse 15 will take place.
Verse 15 says, “When therefore you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him who reads understand).” How long the period of time will be for the events covered in verses 4 through 14, no one knows. But the prophecy in verses 15 through 31 concerning the remnant of the Jews will definitely be fulfilled in the last three and a half years of this age, the time of the great tribulation, the second half of the last week prophesied in Daniel 9:27. It will begin with the setting of Antichrist’s image (the idol) in the temple (v. 15) and end with Christ’s open coming (v. 30).
“Abomination” means an idol (Deut. 29:17). Here it refers to Antichrist’s image set up in the temple of God as an idol (Rev. 13:14-15; 2 Thes. 2:4) at the beginning of the great tribulation (v. 21). Antichrist with his false prophet will force people to worship this idol. The setting up of the idol will mark the beginning of the great tribulation, the end of the age.
There are many Christians who are not clear about the phrase “the abomination of desolation.” As we have seen, the abomination here refers to an idol, the image of Antichrist set up in the holy place. According to Revelation 13, this image will be able to speak. Before that time, no idol will be able to speak. The Greek word rendered “desolation” means “causing desolation,” “desolating.” The abomination, the idol of Antichrist, will cause desolation. Antichrist is called the destroyer (Apollyon, Rev. 9:11); he will do much destroying (Dan. 8:13, 23-25; 9:27). As soon as Antichrist sets up his image and forces people to worship it, he will begin to destroy all religious things. Furthermore, this idol will provoke the Lord’s anger, and He will come in to destroy Antichrist and his army. This is what is indicated by the phrase “abomination of desolation.”
This idol will stand in the holy place. Here the holy place refers to the temple (Psa. 68:35; Ezek. 7:24; 21:2). This indicates that Antichrist will set up his image in the temple.
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