In this final part of our study of Daniel 9, I’d like to conclude by jumping ahead for just a bit to the New Testament book of Matthew chapter 24, which is a parallel to the passage of Daniel chapter 9. This passage in Matthew is referred to as Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in which He is speaking about this same period of time, the 70th week of Daniel. This same Olivet Discourse is also covered in Matthew 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, all of which are specific to Israel. In this discourse, Jesus is addressing the very events that will take place during the 70th week of Daniel at the “end of the age.”
At this time, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. He was addressing Israel and the Jews specifically. He was NOT addressing the Church at all in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21. We need to keep this foremost in our minds as we move from the Old Testament to the New to gain further insight into what will be occurring on earth with regards to Israel during this last seven years.
We begin with a discussion of the Olivet Discourse from Jesus to His disciples and recorded in Matthew 24. In this passage, Jesus gives a summation, an OVERVIEW of events that both lead up to the Tribulation, as well as giving an overview of events that will occur DURING this final 70th week. Again, the Olivet Discourse was written specifically to the Jews. These are clear dispensational distinctives that must be kept in mind.
Although all scripture is written FOR our edification in this church Age, not all passages are written TO the Church. We must keep in mind the three (3) classes of people to whom the Word of God speaks:
(2) The Gentiles, and
(3) The Church of Jesus Christ.
“Give none offense neither to the Jews (1), nor to the Gentiles (2), nor to the church of God (3)”
(1 Corinthians 10:32).
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus is addressing the Jews, first with regards to the coming destruction of the Temple and of the ensuing worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people, which did indeed occur in 70 AD, and then later on in these passages to the Jews who will be living in Israel in “that day” – i.e. the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (reference Daniel 9).
Who were Daniel’s people? The Jews. There was no Church in existence when this prophecy was given to Daniel. At the time that Daniel lived, there were only two classes of people: Jews and Gentiles.
God gave to Daniel specific and detailed prophecies regarding His (God’s) plan for the ages for the Jews. Earlier in chapters 2 and 7 of the book of Daniel, God revealed the rise and fall of the great Gentile empires that would affect the people of Israel from that time on through to what is right now becoming the revived Roman Empire. These prophecies were given with astonishing detail and precision.
How do we know that Jesus was also speaking to a still future Jewish audience here in Matthew? For one thing, the Church was not even in existence until her birth at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to the Father.
Stay with me here because things do get a bit tricky to keep up with.
Although the Church is NOT the entity being addressed by Jesus here in the Olivet Discourse, in the verses relating the events that will be occurring and what the state of the world will be like BEFORE the Tribulation BEGINS, we can know from both history and current events that even though the CHURCH is not addressed at all during the Olivet Discourse, up to a certain point, we who are living during the Dispensation of Grace (the Church Age) ARE in fact living during the “birth pains” portion of the end times right now.
Even though Jesus’ target audience was Jewish, up to a point, even though we are not DIRECTLY addressed, the Church IS part of certain events that LEAD UP TO the beginning of the actual “Day of the Lord.”
For example, in Matthew 24, verses 1-8, Jesus is giving a GENERAL OUTLINE of what the world will be like LEADING UP TO the actual beginning of The Tribulation. And since scripture clearly teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, then although the Church is not addressed, we are clearly here during the time preceding the rapture but gone before the Tribulation begins.
Although Jesus is addressing the Jews specifically in this entire passage, these first 8 verses also encompass ALL who are living on earth (including the lost Jews, the lost Gentiles, and the redeemed Church who, at this point, ARE ALL STILL HERE ON EARTH during this run-up time before the actual event occurs that will initiate the start of the Tribulation. Up until this point, all three classes of people (the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Church) are still here TOGETHER even though we are not addressed or even hinted at as being here.
However, beginning in verse 9, events from here on out shift from the “birth pain” times in which the Church IS still here on earth, to the time AFTER what would become known as the rapture of the Church, to the moment when the final seven-year countdown begins.
In other words, between verses 8 and 9 of Matthew 24, several things not mentioned here at all but which are significant pieces of the entire end-times puzzle that are found in other books of the New Testament, will have occurred. Between verses 8 and 9 of Matthew 24, the following events will have taken place:
(1) the rapture of the Church ( as recorded in the books 1 and 2 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians)
(2) the rise to global prominence of the “man of sin” – the Antichrist
(3) the confirmation of a covenant between Israel and “the many” (many other nations) brokered by the Antichrist
(4) the global rise to power of the Antichrist
(5) the rebuilding of the Jewish temple on its ancient site
(6) the acceptance of the Antichrist as their Messiah by national Israel
(7) the midpoint BETRAYAL of the nation of Israel by that same false messiah three and one half years into the last seven years when the Antichrist turns on Israel and begins his full on persecution of the Jews
Many of these events not mentioned in Jesus’ discourse take place BETWEEN verses 8 and 9. Jesus here is not giving a blow-by-blow account of these last seven years, but rather a generalized overview, a synopsis if you will, of what ISRAEL can expect to happen during the “end times,” which encompass both the time BEFORE the Tribulation begins – i.e. the “birth pains” time in which the Church (until the moment of the rapture) is also living, AND the events that will transpire after The Tribulation begins and onward to the end of these last seven years.
He is giving a summary, answering the disciples’ questions regarding the end of the age as it pertains to ISRAEL. Jesus was answering in a general way questions posed to Him by the disciples who were JEWISH and whose questions pertained to what would happen to ISRAEL at the end of the age. This is yet another reason (besides the fact that the Church had not yet been birthed) why Israel alone was the focus of the Olivet Discourse.
We must remember when studying the Bible to keep clear the distinctions between national Israel (the Jews), the Church, and Gentiles who are non-believing, non-Jewish peoples. Unbelieving Jews are just that – unbelieving JEWS.
The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were addressing Jews still living under the Dispensation of Law, since the new Dispensation of Grace under which we, the Church, are living right now had not yet begun. The Dispensation of Grace began at Pentecost with the birth of the Church (See Acts chapter 2).
In this present Dispensation of Grace, the entity known as the Church is made up of BOTH believing Jews and believing Gentiles who are, upon salvation, made ONE in Christ. Upon salvation, each Church-Age believer becomes part of the “body” of whom Christ is the Head – also called the Bride of Christ – of whom Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom.
This Dispensation of Grace will end with the resurrection of the “dead in Christ,” which will occur a nanosecond before the rapture of the living saints; both the dead and the living who are “in Christ“ make up the Church.
During the last seven years that are the final completion of Daniel’s 70th week, the Church will not be on earth at all. The Church in her Immortal and now glorified bodies will be in Heaven during this time, seated around the throne of God (Revelation chapters 4-5). After the event of the resurrection /rapture, God’s focus once again returns fully to national Israel to finish up her final seven years of the old Dispensation of Israel under Law.
The Jews will then have their seven years (the last “week” of years under the Dispensation of Law) to both finish and fulfill the entire 490 “weeks” of years that the Lord purposed expressly for the Jews, according to Daniel chapter 9. This particular time is also called THE Tribulation (to be distinguished from general tribulation, which we all endure).
The insight into what events will be like and the things which will happen to the Jews during this last seven years, after the ending of the Church Age at the rapture of the Church, are found in the 24th chapter of Matthew, verses 9-31 in particular, and in the book of Revelation chapters 6-19.
During this Discourse in verse 31 of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus pauses in His narrative of events that will be occurring on earth during the Tribulation and goes back to a time BEFORE the Tribulation begins.
In verse 31, the “elect” mentioned here are the believing (saved) JEWS (NOT the Church) whom Jesus sends His ANGELS to collect. (Bear in mind that at the rapture of the Church it is Jesus Himself who comes into earth’s atmosphere, not to the earth, and it is Jesus Himself who calls His bride to “come up here” to meet Him in the air).
How do we know the elect referred to here are believing Jews? We know it because, in the context of the passage, all of this takes place at the end of those last seven weeks of the Tribulation period when Jesus is about to physically return to the EARTH to rescue and liberate Jerusalem from the gathering armies of the earth.
Remember, from AD 70 until Jesus returns, the Jews have been scattered among all the nations. And even though the majority of Jews worldwide have returned to the land of Israel, there are still Jews living in nations all over the world. In fact, the Gentile nations will be judged by how they as both individuals and as national entities treated the Jews, whom Jesus called these “my brethren” during the Tribulation (Matthew 25: 31-46).
The “elect” spoken of here in verse 31 are Jews. The believing Jews living in Jerusalem at the midpoint of the Tribulation are told to flee into Bozrah – to Petra, to be protected. The believing Jews worldwide will be either helped or betrayed by the Gentile countries wherever they may find themselves. This is why, at Jesus’ return, He sends His holy angels to gather His believing “elect” from every point under heaven.
At the end, Jesus will have all the living, surviving believers gathered before Him. There, just prior to the beginning of the Kingdom, He will enter into judgment to divide the Gentile “sheep” – those who are believers, whom He will grant entrance into His kingdom along with the believing remnant of Israel – from the “goats.” The “goats” are all those who survived but who are not believers in Him, who will be cast into outer darkness and who will NOT be granted entrance into His Millennial Kingdom.
In context, verse 31 of Matthew 24 is speaking of the elect “believing Jews” whom Jesus will gather unto Himself. He offered this “gathering unto Himself” to Israel once before when He lamented that He longed to gather them (Israel) unto Himself as a hen gathers her brood; but Israel was at that time unwilling (Matthew 23:37). However, at the end of the Tribulation, God will bring about the last gathering of the now-believing remnant of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:1-4; Isaiah 11:12).
Around the time of His return to earth at the end of the Tribulation, all believing Israel (the one third of Israel whom Jesus protects and preserves throughout the Tribulation) will be gathered to Him to go into the Millennial Kingdom under the leadership of their Messiah King, in order to receive ALL of the benefits of God’s unconditional covenant made by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Remember, the Church and Israel are separate entities. The Church will have already been taken to Heaven at the rapture (Revelation 4:1).
In the next few verses, Jesus breaks the sequence of His description of Tribulation events, and goes back in time to give some insight into what will be the MAJOR end-times sign that will alert the Jews (and subsequently us too) that the time of the end is drawing near. Israel is always God’s timepiece.
In verse 32, Jesus tells the inquiring disciples about what will be the “super sign” that alerts Israel (and the world) that the end times are getting close. That “super sign” is of course the rebirth of the fig tree, which symbolizes Israel.
Jesus was telling them about the coming destruction of the Temple and the subsequent worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people; so now He backtracks to the REBIRTH – the REGATHERING of the Jewish NATION back into her homeland of Israel AFTER Israel’s worldwide diaspora has ended, but BEFORE the Tribulation begins (reference Ezekiel 37).
We now know from our vantage point of history looking backward that Israel was indeed “reborn” as a nation in her own ancient land of Israel on May 14, 1948. That was when the “fig tree” of Israel began to bloom.
Jesus then goes on in verses 32-33 to give a description of the attitude and general tenor of the times AFTER the rebirth of Israel but just BEFORE the Tribulation time begins (a period of time that is still in the “birth pains” era, leading up to the beginning of the Tribulation). Again, Jesus completely leaves out any mention of the Church because of the following:
(1) Jesus had not yet gone to the cross to fulfill His purpose to die for the sins of the world, to be the Savior of mankind, and
(2) the Church had not yet been brought into existence in her time.
Finally, Jesus goes back to what is happening where He left off in verse 31. He picks up again the narrative of events that will happen in verses 38-39. In context, these verses are referring to the days of both Noah and Lot, when the WICKED were taken away in judgment while the righteous were kept in safety.
In the following verses, still staying within context of the judgment imposed by God upon the wicked of both Noah’s day and the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah of Lot’s day, the “one taken and one left, ” IN CONTEXT, is referring to those taken here as being the wicked taken away in judgment.
This is the position of scholars such as Dr. Thomas Ice; and this writer is also in agreement with this position. The entire context of Matthew 24 is of a SEPARATION being made between the righteous and the wicked at the time of the end of the Tribulation.
In verses 40-51, Jesus is here describing events that MAY have a double or parallel fulfillment both BEFORE the Tribulation begins (in the time we are living in now – the time BEFORE the rapture occurs), and a parallel description of events that may still be in play AFTER the Tribulation begins.
The verses referring to people “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” certainly describe life going on as usual BEFORE the rapture and the subsequent Tribulation – life events such as we see occurring now.
However, (and this is ABSOLUTE CONJECTURE and SPECULATION on my part, so let’s get that established up front) there MAY also be a far more sinister meaning of Jesus’ comment regarding the “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” statement that applies to the time DURING the Tribulation. After all, in context, the passage of the Olivet Discourse is recounting events that will take place during Daniel’s 70th week, which pertains to Israel, not the Church. Keep that in mind.
We know from scripture that once the Tribulation commences (beginning in Revelation 6 when the Lamb of God in Heaven breaks the first seal, which begins the Tribulation period on earth), the relative normality of life on earth devolves quickly into anything but normal LIFE lived as usual.
So, since the bulk of the Olivet Discourse from verse 9 onward of Matthew 24 is describing events that will be taking place DURING Daniel’s 70th week, what could Jesus be referring to regarding the “they” who will be “eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage” during this time of utter global destruction?
Let’s take a SPECULATIVE look at what Jesus’ statements regarding these things MIGHT mean in light of what conditions will be like on earth during the Tribulation and of the attitudes of the Antichrist lovers and followers – the reprobates who will be on earth during the Tribulation.
Might it not be possible that, DURING the Tribulation, the reprobates who will follow the Antichrist will be fully engaging in the same type of diabolical behavior involving the same types of forbidden deeds that the Nephilim of Noah’s day were involved in, hence the reference to the “days of Noah and Lot?”
We know from scripture that, during the antediluvian or pre flood time, all flesh (except for Noah) had been corrupted by the group of fallen angels who “left their first estate” and “took” all of whom they desired from among human women in order to procreate with them. The offspring of such an unholy and forbidden union between fallen angels and human women were the Nephilim – a hybrid race whom God absolutely abominated, and whom He destroyed in the flood (Genesis 6; Jude).
The tampering with God’s created order by the fallen angels and the further tampering with animal kind by their offspring, the Nephilim, were rampant in pre-flood times. These non- human offspring of fallen angels and human women were involved in the same types of abominations that modern-day reprobates are involved in now.
The reprobates of today are also tampering with human genetic structure through the corruption of both human and animal DNA. The modern-day scientists and geneticists are working to produce human/animal chimeras – the “marrying” of corrupted flesh with humanity through genetic engineering. They’re not only attempting to create human/animal chimeras, but also to “marry,” as it were, humans and machines by interfacing human biology with machines through the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The modern-day reprobates, whose religion is science, hope to one day soon merge machines with humanity in order to create human/AI that will “become “gods” themselves.
These modern-day reprobates, who are even now on the cutting edge of technology in both genetics and robotics, will be the acolytes of the Antichrist system during the Tribulation. Even now, right this minute, in our present-day time before the rapture, these people are already mimicking, trying to surpass the abominations that were done during the antediluvian time when fallen angels “left their first estate” and “took” human women and mated with them, producing the Nephilim of Genesis 6.
These aforementioned atrocities, along with the rabid “marrying” of Sodomites, transgenders, and every other ungodly perversion that was prevent in Lot’s day as well, are exactly what we are seeing repeated now. These ungodly things will undoubtedly continue on into the Tribulation.
This behavior will likely continue by the Antichrist followers during the Tribulation as well as becoming more widespread and more vile, with all of the diabolical and evil passions in which they want to indulge in now.
As I stated earlier, this idea of the “eating and marrying” as pertaining to the lifestyles and appetites of the reprobates during the Tribulation is simply conjecture on my part, and must be examined in light of what scripture actually states. Conjecture must always be admitted and treated as such. We dare not be dogmatic on that which scripture does not fully explain, and we dare not go past and state as truth those things upon which scripture is silent.
Suffice it to say that right now in the time in which we are living, the time BEFORE the rapture occurs, we certainly are witnessing a deceptive “life as usual” appearance, even though every perversion known to man is being passed off and indulged in as “normal.” It is even now bearing the putrid fruit of depravity that will explode into full, vile bloom during the Tribulation once the Church along with the restraining hand of the Holy Spirit is removed.
The events Jesus speaks of next in this passage reveal what will be happening at the end of this seven-year period, at the time when He returns bodily to earth (not in the air as in the rapture). At the rapture, Jesus Himself appears in the air and calls the Church up to meet Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). In contrast to the rapture, the “gathering” in Matthew 24:40-51 is when Jesus sends His ANGELS to gather the WICKED from the earth to remove them to certain judgment. Again, the Church is NOT referenced in the Olivet Discourse.
As stated before, the Olivet Discourse is a general overview given in answer to the disciples’ questions regarding the end times and the Kingdom that belongs to Israel, not a blow-by-blow chronological recounting of all of the events that will take place during the last seven years. For a more in depth chronology of events during The Tribulation, read Daniel 9 and Revelation chapters 6-19.
In contrast, the Church – Christ’s “body/bride” – is “not appointed” to endure God’s wrath. In the verse below, the Apostle Paul is explicitly addressing the Church.
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Thessalonians 5:9).
We, the Church, are to always be looking forward to our “blessed hope,” which is the pre-Tribulation rapture spoken of in the books of Thessalonians and Corinthians. The rapture of the Church ends the Dispensation of Grace (the Church Age).
All throughout the final seven years of “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” the redeemed Church in our glorified, immortal bodies will be in HEAVEN, while on EARTH God will protect and preserve a remnant of national Israel. He will bring this Jewish remnant through the Tribulation (one third of them – Zechariah 13:8-9) so that, by the end of that last seven years, “ALL of Israel” (that is the entirety of Israel that will be left alive at the end of these last seven years) will be saved (Isaiah 63; Zechariah 13:8-9).
The (then) believing one-third Jewish remnant alive at the end of the seven weeks of “Jacob’s Trouble“ will have recognized Jesus as having always been their true Messiah, and will have finally acknowledged Him, accepted Him, and will have called out to Him to rescue them.
These one third remnant Jews, then rescued and reborn, will follow their King into His earthly kingdom still in their mortal bodies and will at last receive all of the covenant blessings that the Lord had made with their ancestor Abraham millennia ago.
They, along with the few surviving Gentile believers, will all enter into the Kingdom still in their mortal bodies. These two groups (believing Jews and Gentiles) will procreate and populate the Millennial Kingdom. Thus, God’s purpose for the Tribulation period will have been accomplished when He returns at His Second Coming to bring justice and set up His earthly Kingdom.
God’s ultimate goal for the Tribulation is not merely purposed for the Jews alone, but to also deal with ALL of the aftermath of sin that has for millennia wrecked and ruined His perfect creation. Part of the purpose for this seven years will be to put an end to ALL rebellious mankind. In short, these are God’s end purposes for the Tribulation:
(1) to bring an end to ALL sin and rebellion
(2) to fulfill ALL of the covenant promises to the at-last believing remnant of Jewish people with regards to the LAND that God Himself covenanted to Abraham and his physical descendants regarding the land of Israel
(3) To eventually (at the end of the Millennium) deliver ALL of the redeemed of ALL ages and dispensations to the Father, along with everything completed at the end of the 1,000-year Kingdom on this earth when Time finally merges with eternity.
Always keep in mind the clear distinctions between Israel and the Church. Each are separate entities both loved and used by God for His purposes, but each having differing purposes and differing roles in God’s Plan of the Ages. The Church never has and never will replace national Israel.
Though the Church is “not appointed to wrath” (that is the wrath of God that is in full effect during the Tribulation), this does not mean that the Church is now, or ever has been, spared PERSECUTION. The Church has always, since her beginning at Pentecost, suffered tremendous persecution in this world. The collective body of the true Remnant Church will continue to suffer persecution ranging from mild to severe, right up until the instant that the rapture occurs. However, persecution is NOT the same thing as the “wrath of God.”
A clear distinction between Israel and the Church will clear up all confusion. “Rightly dividing” the Word of God also demonstrates the incredible precision dovetailing seamlessly together both the Old Testament and the New.
I hope you have enjoyed traversing the 9th chapter of Daniel with me, and that we all now have a clearer understanding of the distinction between Israel and the Church, and that we now have come to a better understanding of WHY God is most definitely not finished with national Israel.
God bless you all, and let’s keep studying the Word until Jesus calls us Home. MARANATHA!