THE FALSE STORY...
Matthew mentioned there would be great tribulation at the time of the abomination of desolation, and because of that, dispensationalists use this to talk about a seven-year period wherein there will be three and one-half years of great tribulation. Their belief is that the Jews will be gathered to Palestine to make a covenant with antichrist and that he is going to let them offer their own sacrifices for three and one-half years. Then they try to tie it in with 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and say the antichrist is going to sit in the temple as God. While he occupies that position, supposedly there is going to be three and one-half years of “great tribulation” on the people who are left in the world. They then teach that Jesus is going to return a second time, put down antichrist, and reign in a glorious reign for one thousand years here on the earth. Now that is a beautiful story; the only thing wrong with it is; it is not true.
Now let us look at the truth. Daniel talked about the overspreading of the abominations that would make the city desolate, but nowhere does he mention “tribulation.”
One reason people misinterpret Scripture is that they read the Bible too fast. If you read Daniel 9, verses 26 and 27 carefully, they will definitely show you that this desolation was not included in the seventy weeks; it followed after the seventy weeks. The Messiah came the seventieth week, preached three and one-half years, and was cut off in the midst of the week. He confirmed the covenant mostly with His own people until they rejected Him; then He brought in the Gentiles.
About thirty years afterward, Titus came in and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. This abomination was not even in the seventy-week period. The abomination that made the city desolate took place several years later, in A. D. 70. We need to realize, even though it was closely related to the seventy weeks, it was to follow.
This abomination that makes desolate was not to take place over the whole world but only in Judaea. In order to substantiate their story, millennialists say that every-one who is left in this world is going to suffer under this “great tribulation;” yet the Bible teaches it was only to affect the people in Judaea.
Let us look at the “great tribulation” according to the Word of God. In Matthew 24:21 we read, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world…” We have already proven to you that the seventieth week could not be in the future. Matthew 24:3 tells us, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these thing be?…” Jesus had told them there was not going to be one stone left upon another of the old temple (verse 2), and they wanted to know when it was to happen.
He answered them in verses 15 and 21: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand;)…For then shall be great tribulation …” Now, when is the “great tribulation?” In verse 15, Christ gave an unmistakable sign to tell us when it would take place. He said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).” Understand what? That this is the “great tribulation” that Daniel was talking about.
JESUS CARED FOR ALL...
When did the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place? Millennialists teach that this is the antichrist, who is going to sin in the holiest of holies (God’s place in the Jewish temple). Yet this could not be, for more than one reason. First of all, when Jesus said, “When ye…shall see,” He was speaking to the common people, and no one but the high priest ever entered the holiest place. The people would never know when it took place if it were something in the secret place or the holiest place.
Second, it is not a high priest or an idol set up in the holy place in the temple. He said, “Let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (verse 16). If this were an idol set up by antichrist in the holy place and he had taken over that far, it would be too late to flee. They would already be bound. Therefore, it definitely had to be something that people could see.
He said, “…(whoso readeth, let him understand;).” So, we know it was something one could read. They did not have a New Testament, so where did they read it? They read it from Daniel 9:24-27.
If you will study the history of the Gospel writers, you will find that Matthew wrote to the Jews. They well understood his writings. Luke wrote to the Gentiles; he wrote in a different manner. Luke made expressions that are much easier for the Gentile man and woman to understand.
When Matthew wrote, “When ye …see the abomination…spoken of by Daniel… Then…flee into the mountains,” How were they going to see it? They had to read it in the Book. When they read it in the Book and then saw it appearing, they knew it was time to go. But there were Gentiles without God, without promise, and without a Book to read; God loved them also. Gentiles came to Jesus and were saved while He walked here on the earth. Don’t you think He would make a way for them to escape? They could not understand Daniel, nor did they have a Book to read.
When Luke wrote it, he made it plain and understandable to the Gentile. Let us read Luke 21:5-7: “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?”
Matthew wrote, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet…” Luke tells us what that abomination was (not an antichrist nor an idol set up in the temple). What were they supposed to see? When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto” (Luke 21:20-21). So, what was the sign that they were to flee to the mountains? When they saw the Roman armies starting to surround the city, they would know Daniel’s prophecy was going to be fulfilled, that the city was going to be made desolate.
THE GREAT TRIBULATION IS HISTORY...
Josephus wrote history in A. D. 75; he lived right in that day. Through his writings, you can see how the hand of God worked. He said Titus and those armies so encompassed the city that it looked as though even the Christian was not going to escape. However, God moved on the armies and they withdrew for two or three days and the Christians fled; then the armies moved in and took the city. The abomination that made desolate was the Roman armies under Titus, the prince, just exactly as Daniel had Prophesied.
Today we have more reason to believe God and His Word than any people who have ever lived. When we study these things and see how every prophecy has lined up and has been fulfilled just as God said, what reason do we have to doubt Him for anything in the future? He has fulfilled everything He has spoken, right to the line, to this very moment. Therefore, we have good reason to believe that He will fulfill the rest of His word just exactly as He said.
Luke 21:22, tells us. “For these be the days of vengeance [I tremble when I preach on this. What a terrible time it is when God takes vengeance.], that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke was writing about Daniel’s prophesy in this verse. Everything that Daniel wrote was fulfilled right then, not sometime in the future.
Unbelief, my friend, works the same today, after all these many years. What was “the day of the vengeance of God?” God promised, even from Moses’ day and through the prophets, that if they raised up against Him and would not hear His voice, the day of His vengeance would come. Brother, the day of God’s vengeance came. He turned Titus and the Roman armies loose on the city of Jerusalem. The abomination which made that city desolate took place. It was more terrible than I can tell about. Then people try to tell me that eternal hell is just dying and that is all. Friend, what I am telling about is merely a taste of God’s vengeance. Sinners are going to receive the full effect of it in the lake of fire. That will be the day of God’s final vengeance.
I would like to share some Scripture to help you better understand what took place when those Roman armies moved in. Luke 19:41-44 reads: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, [ Why did He weep over it? ] Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto they peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another…”What was Jesus’ attitude when He walked into the city and, in His great wisdom, saw that it was just a short time until the abomination spoken of by Daniel was going to befall them? He wept.
After Gabriel came down and gave Daniel this message (that seventy weeks were determined on his people), he mourned and wept. Why did Daniel mourn and weep? Would he have mourned and wept if he could have seen that out in the end his people (the Jews) were going to be a world power and be used of God? On the contrary, Daniel knew God was through with his people and that terrible vengeance was coming on them. He was sick for three weeks, and he mourned and wept. He had insight into something terrible, and it was terrible! Such great tribulation came upon those people that there never was one like it before and never will be one like it again.
WHEN LOVE TURNS TO WRATH...
Flavius Josephus, who was an unbeliever, inserted in his book (you can read page after page of the terrible things which happened when the abomination moved in), “It is god, therefore, it is God himself, who is bringing on this fire to purge that city and temple by means of the Roman…”
You may play along lightly with God time after time, but remember, a day is coming when God will take vengeance. You are going to reap what you sow. There are many mocking God today, but a reaping time is coming. The lesson is right before us. History tells us that the slaughter was so great that, in some instances, the bodies were piled five feet deep, so they could not get through the streets of Jerusalem. The Romans, starting with the priests, hung the people on crosses. They kept crucifying them until there was no more room to put crosses in the ground. It sounds terrible, but it was guided by the hand of God. We need to behold the goodness and the severity of God. Certainly, God is love; but when love turns to wrath, you have never seen such wrath.
Josephus tells us that there were more people who perished within the city at the hands of their own people by rebels, suicide, anarchy, and the famine than from the hands of the Romans. Why? Jesus told them before He left that a “house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). That house became divided against itself until they killed one another by the hundreds of thousands. The Romans stood and watched them kill one another.
How can people get in such a state that they turn on one another? Let us read Matthew 12:43-45 to find the answer. Jesus, speaking to these very people said: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, wept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”
When the Jews rejected the Gospel and rejected the One who could come in and take control of the house, they invited seven other spirits more wicked than the first. They were mad, devil-possessed men and women.
Do you know why this world is waxing worse and worse? Do you know why people are doing such terrible things today? Many of them have invited seven other spirits worse than the first. That is why I definitely do not agree with the theory that Jesus cleans you up, and they you may go for months before He moves in. No, Sir! That will not line up with the Bible. Unless you allow the Master of the house to move right in through the Holy Spirit, the devil will come back with seven other spirits and take over.
No one has had to tarry for the Holy Ghost since Pentecost. The reason they tarried at Pentecost was that the Holy Ghost had not yet been poured out. John 7:37-39 tells us: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
“(But this spake he of the Sprit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” He was speaking of the Spirit which every believer should receive, but they could not receive Christ then because He was not yet glorified. However, since Christ has been glorified, every believer receives the Holy Spirit in the initial work of salvation.
FULFILLMENT OF GOD'S WORD...
Why did the Jews act as mad men and kill one another and their own companions? Jesus told them what would happen. Today people come service after service and take the preacher and the Holy Spirit lightly, but mark it down, a day of vengeance is coming. Go back to the Old Testament prophecies. God, through the Prophet Isaiah, said, “Yea, they have chosen their own ways…I also will choose their delusions…” (Isaiah 66:3-4).
My friend, time and goodness would not allow me to tell you the terrible things that went on as historians set it forth; yet most everything they tell us is in the Bible. In Deuteronomy God gave Israel a picture, hundreds of years before, of this very thing I am preaching about: the abomination of the desolation. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Lord thy God…that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten…and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:15, 25). That is where the Jews are right now, and they never will be gathered together again.
These things came on Jerusalem “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
“The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth [Here is a picture of the Romans. The eagle was their emblem.]; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand [they could not understand the Roman language]; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young [Josephus said it did not make any difference whether the soldiers met an elderly person or a woman carrying a baby; they would throw the baby up and catch it on their spears.]:
“And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep [Josephus tells about all of this], until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
“And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body [Josephus stood and watched a woman cook her child and eat it. In Haiti I have seen people die from starvation; but I have never, in all of my journeys there, seen any of them try to eat their own flesh. We need to take what God says to us more seriously!], the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee” (Deuteronomy 28:47-53).
WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION...
I want you to see why Matthew refers to this as a tribulation like never before or which never will be again. I thank the Lord that the day of this great tribulation has passed. Let us read farther: ”…thine enemies shall distress thee: So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee…” (verses 53-55). After the Romans had killed hundreds of thousands, they just surrounded the city, waited day by day, and watched hunger work on the people. The hunger set them so crazy that a man would kill his wife and eat her.
The big move of the devil in religion today is to pad the wrath of God. Many of the messages coming forth from the pulpits are about how God loves you with an everlasting love. Certainly, He does; but my friend, what God says in His Word, He means. God’s love is manifested in keeping His Word just exactly as He says.
As we go down through these verses of Scriptures, keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul. He said, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). There is nothing too good for God to do, and there is nothing too terrible for God to allow to have done, if He so decides.
Deuteronomy 28:56-57 continues: “The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them…” I am talking about tribulation. When we get our God stirred, we have Someone on our hands.
The historians have verified these things in their writings. Josephus said that he stood and watched these things with his own eyes. This was the “great tribulation.” It was the curse for disobedience and the day of God’s vengeance. We must realize some things, which God has put before us. Preachers are using Scripture today:”…except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved…” (Matthew 24:22). That has nothing to do with us today. First of all, it is not our flesh, which is being destroyed but our souls, and we are getting our souls saved. That Scripture deals with the literal destruction of Jerusalem.
THE BELIEVERS ARE SAVED...
After Jerusalem had been destroyed and the temple had been torn down (not one stone was left upon another), the city was so full of dead, stinking people that the Roman armies started out through Judaea killing everybody everywhere. Jesus had told the Christians to flee to the mountains of Judaea. Josephus said the Romans went up to the very edge of the mountains and God stopped them. If He had not shortened the days of tribulation, there would not have been any flesh left. They would have killed the Christians, but God protected them.
Josephus and other historians tell us that, to their knowledge, there was not one Christian hurt. Why? God gave them a sign. When they saw the sign, they were to flee, and every believer who fled was protected. If you will believe what God tells you, you will be protected by the hand of God too.
Before God pours one vial out on spiritual Babylon (fallen religion), He sounds the trumpet and gives every one of His people a chance to flee. He does not want them to suffer the vials of wrath that are coming on Babylon.
As Christians, we will have tribulation serving God, but not the “great tribulation.” I want you to see the difference. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). Thank God, Jesus suffered it all; He overcame the world. Why did He come down to the earth, take on the likeness of sinful flesh, and overcome it? For you and me. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Sure, there is great tribulation, but we can be of good cheer right while we are going through it. There is a vast difference between the tribulation of the world and the tribulation of Jerusalem.
Let us read Luke 21:33 for a few words of admonition from Jesus. He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” We have studied how God’s Word was fulfilled. Here Jesus was letting us know that His Word will reach fulfillment.
He went on to say in verse 34, “And take heed to yourselves…” When Jesus warned them about the “great tribulation,” He told them to take heed about other men. Today, however, who is your biggest enemy? Yourself! No one can keep you out of Heaven except yourself. You can blame your backsliding on other people, but there is only one to blame: look in the mirror. God has planned salvation so that no man can stand before you. You can serve God even if everybody is against you. Romans 8:31 tells us, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Now, we have words of warning from the same Savior who warned the people of Jerusalem. He is talking to us in this generation. He said, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness [Christians do not drink, but they can get drunk on things other than wine or alcohol: they can get drunk on Babylon’s (fallen religion) wine or on the cares of this life.], and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them [That is all of us, friend!] that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34-45)
Just the same as Satan closed in on Jerusalem, he is closing in on the church. He is surrounding the camp of the saints and putting the pressure on us. He is not using guns and tanks; he is working on our minds. He is working through the cares of life to rob us of our spirituality.
WATCH AND PRAY ALWAYS...
Luke 21:36 tells us, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape …” It is the same thing He told the others. When we see things affecting us, we need to seek high ground in our Christian experience. I heard a story once about a duck flying toward Florida. When he saw a farmer out feeding the chickens and ducks, he circled around and said, “Boy, they have it made!” So he landed and stayed with them a few days. He just ate and enjoyed himself. Soon, another flock of ducks flew over. The weather was getting cold, and he said to the chickens, “I think I’m going to go south with them. I’ll see you fellows later.” He flopped and ran real fast, but he could not get off the ground.
Today many people are flopping and putting forth a lot of effort, but there are not many flying too high these days. They are weighed down with the cares of life. We all have cares of life. Yet, how are we going to escape the loss of our souls? “Pray always.” The first picture of that “great tribulation” was the destruction of the flesh. Now, we must watch and escape the destruction of the spirit. The devil is against spirituality. He will let you go to church; he just does not want you to be spiritual.
Oh, how the world needs to know the truth about these things! May God help us to realize, Church of God, we are the dispensary of truth. May God help us to sound it forth and live it.
I pray that you will take these last words as words of warning. All those people had to do in Jerusalem was to take Jesus’ words lightly, and they were caught in the terrible destruction of the flesh. Now, all you have to do is take these words lightly (Luke 21:33-36), and you will be caught in the terrible destruction of your soul. On the other hand, by taking heed to God’s warning, you can escape.