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Remember the timeline of the Pre-Wrath Rapture position:

Pre-Wrath Rapture Timeline


  • Daniel’s 70th week (a 7 year period) which will conclude this age begins with the signing of a covenant with the nation of Israel.
  • The birth pangs of various trials are experienced up until the mid point of the week.
  • At the mid point you have the climactic Abomination of Desolation where the AntiChrist defiles the temple and launches the persecution of the Great Tribulation period.
  • Those times are cut short before the end of the 70th week and Christ returns to Rapture believers and initiate judgment.
  • Immediately after that are the trumpet and bowl judgments of the Day of the Lord.
  • Then you have the Battle of Armageddon and the transition to the Millennial Kingdom.

Most of the commentators quoted below do not hold to that timeline … so you need to take that into consideration in evaluating what they say.

John MacArthur: Warning of Coming Peril

Typically, the prophet of the Word of God assigned by God to give a far-future prophecy gave also a near prophecy to establish his credentials.  In other words, if he proves to be accurate in the historically verified prophecy, we can believe him for the one that’s so far in the future that we can’t see it.  And the reason Jesus mentions the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 2 as prophecy is not to introduce the whole sermon on that same destruction, but to give you a historical point in which to verify that He speaks the truth.  And so He said there shall not one stone be left upon another that shall not be thrown down. . .

Verse 4 to 14 gives these general things that are going to happen and they will be the beginning of the end, just prior to the coming of Christ.

But Jesus goes one step further in verse 15 and says there’s one single event that kicks the whole thing off.  “When you shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, whoever reads, let him understand.”  Now, when you see the abomination of desolation, you know that’s the trigger that kicks the whole thing off.  Verse 21 says:  “For then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”  . . .

Now, as we come to verse 16 to 28, He warns us.  And He warns all the readers who will read this, who will know this in the time that it happens.  And He warns about four things:

  1. severe calamity,
  2. subtle confusion,
  3. spiritual collapse,
  4. and a second coming.

And these are really something to see.

Scott Harris: There should be great fear concerning the wrath of God. There should be a terror that grips the human heart when it contemplates God’s judgment on sin. The apocalyptic revelations are a warning to all mankind about the end result of sin and that we had better be prepared for the Lord’s return. It is a warning to the non-Christian to repent, or they will suffer God’s judgment, and it is a warning to the Christian to live their lives in a worthy manner. . .

Jesus is speaking prophetically to the disciples. That is, He is talking with them, but His message is really for a generation that is yet to come, the generation that “would not pass away until all these things take place” (24:34). This was a common occurrence in Old Testament prophecies and several things in the text point out that this is what Jesus is doing here. As just mentioned the generation that saw these things would not pass away until they were completed, and neither the disciples or anyone else has seen many of the elements here come to pass yet including

  • the preaching of the gospel in the whole world for a witness to all the nations (14),
  • nor the “Abomination of Desolation” (15),
  • nor the “great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (20),
  • nor the sun being darkened, the moon failing to give its light and the stars falling from the sky (29).

Last week we looked at what Jesus called the “beginning of birth pangs,” and related these to events described in Revelation 6 & 7. That there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of the righteous and apostasy. All these things have always been true, but at the beginning of the great tribulation they will increase dramatically in frequency and seriousness, just as birth pangs do. And prior to the end, the gospel will be preached to all the world, and we saw last week that during the tribulation period God will have 144,000 Jewish servants as well as the two Witnesses of Rev. 11 to accomplish this task, and then in Rev. 14 there is an angel that has “an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people…’Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgement has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.’” . . .

The Abomination of Desolation, the abomination that causes desolation, is when the Anti-Christ ends the Temple worship and sets himself up to be worshiped instead. Many Bible scholars believe this may even occur in the form of a statute of himself that he will set up in the holy of holies in the same way that Antiochus IV had set up an idol of Zeus.

This will be very obvious to everyone who desires to understand it when it happens. Jesus goes on to express the urgent need to flee when it does happen.

Greg Allen: Now; it seems to me that the thing that makes “the great tribulation” stand out isn’t so much the uniqueness of the things that happen in it. As I have studied this chapter, it appears to me that much of what will happen in that unprecedented time will be things that also characterize the times we call “the beginning of birth pains“. What seems to be unique about “the great tribulation” will be that those things will become greatly expanded—so that they spread from Jerusalem to the whole world; and they become greatly intensified—so that, unless those days were mercifully shortened by God, no flesh on earth would survive.

And it’s in this that I see a spiritual lesson for our everyday lives as believers. As our Lord gives a description of that future, unprecedented time of trouble on the earth, He also—at the same time—gives us hints of His sovereign rule over it. He tells His disciples when it will begin. He tells them what will happen in it. He tells them how long it will last. He tells them what to beware of during those times. And He tells them what the outcome of it all will be.

And if He demonstrates such sovereign control over even the most unprecedented outbreak of evil that this world will ever know, then you and I can be sure that He demonstrates sovereign rule over (if I may say it this way) all the far ‘lessor’ times of trouble that you and I—as His people—face in our daily lives right now.


A.  (:15) Sign of the Abomination of Desolation

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

B.  (:16-20) Sudden Escape Will Be Difficult

  1. (:16) Urgency of Flight

then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;

  1. (:17-20) Understanding the Urgency of Various Circumstances

a.  (:17) No Time to Pack

let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house;

b.  (:18) No Time to Retrieve Belongings

and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.

c.  (:19)  No Time to Give Special Care to the Pregnant or Nursing

But woe to those who are with child

and to those who nurse babes in those days!

Scott Harris: In verse 19 Jesus mentions personal situations that would make this very difficult. Those who are pregnant or have a young child would have a difficult time because it is hard to move quickly if either of those things are true. In verse 20 He mentions timing circumstances which would make it difficult, winter or a Sabbath. The cold, wet weather of winter makes travel and hiding in the mountains more difficult. Any hindrance could be fatal. And if it occurs on a Sabbath, those holding to the Sabbath travel restrictions would be greatly hindered and the orthodox might try to obstruct other people from breaking their Sabbath restrictions.

d.  (:20)  No Time to Make Allowance for Winter Weather or Sabbath Travel

But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;


A.  (:21) Severity Unparalleled

for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.

Stu Weber: This period of “tribulation” is a specific period of time beginning with the abomination and ending with the second coming of Christ (Rev. 11:2; 13:5). It is during this time that the terrible judgments of Revelation 6-19 with its seals and trumpets will destroy great portions of the earth. This time of trouble will be without precedent in world history.

[I would separate the persecution of the Great Tribulation from the outpouring of God’s wrath in the subsequent Day of the Lord which begins just after the Rapture event and contains the trumpet and bowl judgments.]

24:21-22. So the disciples might not underestimate the horror of this Great Tribulation, Jesus explained that it would be the worst suffering in all of history—unequaled from the beginning of the world until now (24:21). He added further emphasis, saying that this Tribulation would have the potential of destroying all life, leading some modern students to think of nuclear war. But whatever the means necessary to bring about such unparalleled destruction, it is evident that such a Great Tribulation is still future to us. So there is much more in mind here than the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. As bad as it was, that destruction has been multiplied in intensity on a number of occasions in the twentieth century alone.

The world has yet to see the great distress which will never be observed again (24:21). Jesus said as much when he indicated that those days would necessarily be cut short, implying divine intervention (24:22). Christ will intervene to prevent complete genocide and the wholesale destruction of the human race.

But even in judgment, the Lord will display mercy, particularly for the sake of the elect (plural of eklektos, “select, chosen ones”). These are those who have placed faith in him and followed him as his disciples. The use of the term elect also highlights the Lord’s sovereign choice as to who these people will be. It is he who draws the faithful to himself; none of us come of our own will. This Tribulation will not reach its full destructive potential because of the Lord’s intervention. By his hand, those days will be shortened. Because Jesus shifted into his segment answering the question regarding the timing and signs of his coming, we may infer that the Tribulation will be interrupted by Jesus’ return. He will end the destruction on earth.

B.  (:22) Salvation of the Elect

And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved;

but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.


A.  (:23-26)  False Christs and False Prophets Will Mislead Many

  1.  (:23-25)  Misleading People about the Identity of Christ

a.  (:23)  Deception Must Be Rejected

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’

 or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him

b.  (:24)  Deception Will Be Enticing

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

Stu Weber: False Christs would be those claiming to be the Messiah himself, while false prophets would be those claiming to have truth revealed by God—possibly in a hoax supporting one of the false Christs.

c.  (:25)  Deception Prophesied in Advance

Behold, I have told you in advance.

2.  (:26)  Misleading People about the Location of Christ

a.  Claiming He is in the Wilderness

If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth,

Richard Gardner: It is in crisis times such as these that false messiahs and false prophets will arise (vv. 23ff.; cf. vv. 5, 11), with impressive credentials (cf. 7:22-23; Deut. 13:1-3; Rev. 13:11-18). What makes their appeal all the stronger is that they come in Christ’s name (v. 5), from within the church. Some may set up shop in the wilderness, the traditional site for launching liberation movements (Exod. 3:1-12; Acts 5:36-37; 21:38), while others may fit the model of a hidden Messiah (in the inner rooms; cf. John 7:27).

b.  Claiming He is in the Inner Rooms

or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

B.  (:27-28)  The Return of Christ Will Be Sudden and Spectacular and Unmistakeable

  1.  (:27)  Return Compared to Lightning

For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west,

so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

So there is no secret rapture that occurs before the beginning of the 70th week as taught by the Pre-Tribulation camp.  There is only this one Parousia which includes Christ coming in glory and in judgment.

Warren Wiersbe: Matthew 24:27 indicates that the return of Jesus to the earth will be sudden, like a stroke of lightening.  The event that precedes His return is the gathering of the Gentile nations at Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:11ff.).  The eagles flying around the carcass picture the awful carnage that will result from this great battle (Rev. 19:17-19).

Charles Swindoll: In other words, the real coming of Christ in glory will be unmistakable. Nobody will confuse it with even the most astonishing “signs and wonders” of the false Christs and false prophets populating the end times.

Leon Morris: The coming of the Messiah will not be some secret thing such that only those with special knowledge will be able to say where the Messiah is. Jesus likens his coming to the lightning. Nobody needs to be told where the lightning is. When it flashes, the whole sky is lit up from east to west. The coming of the lightning is a coming that thrusts itself on our notice; we cannot overlook it. The coming of the Son of man will be like that. It will be open and public; nobody will need to be told about it.

Richard Gardner: According to Jesus’ words in verses 27-28, there will be no need for guesswork when the Son of Man really appears. It will be as obvious as “a horizontal lightning bolt… illuminating the whole earth, east to west, at the same moment” (Schweizer: 454). And it will be as certain as the presence of a carcass when one sees vultures circling (v. 28; cf. Luke 17:37).

2.  (:28)  Return Compared to Vultures Circling a Decaying Carcass

Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

Stanley Saunders: The sight of vultures signals from afar the presence of death. So too the coming of the Son of Humanity will make plain to all that the empire of heaven has defeated the dark forces of this world.

Charles Swindoll: In light of the menacing vision in Revelation 19:21 of birds gorging on the flesh of those slain at the return of Christ, it seems best to understand Jesus’ use of these words as foretelling the certainty of the future judgment of the wicked. His cryptic statement points to the earth as the place of judgment, as evidenced by the birds feasting on carrion. Evil and death tend to be found in the same places. Those separated from the righteous will be consigned to judgment because they did not find salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Marvin Rosenthal: Jesus is coming again because justice legally demands it.  The Lord Himself said, “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matt. 24:28).  This was a familiar Hebraic expression, the meaning of which would be, moral corruption requires divine judgment (cf. Job 39:27-30; Rev. 19:17-18).  “Wherever the carcass is” conveys the idea of moral corruption, stench, and decay.  “There will the eagles be gathered together” implies divine judgment on all corruption (sin and its progeny).  If God is holy and just, then He must, of necessity, punish evil.  Judgment on unrepentant, wicked men requires His return and will be on the King’s agenda at His coming.