Does Matthew 24 Refer to the Rapture or to Jesus’ Second Coming? – by Dr. Renald Showers – www.ankerberg.org
Many, many sincere Christians, many of whom I have great respect, believe that the Rapture is being presented in Matthew 24; and they believe it’s being presented two places in Matthew 24. Let me give you some background.
The Abomination of Desolation
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet back in Daniel 9:27.
Now, when you read Daniel 9:27, we are told there that the abomination of desolation will take place precisely in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation period—or on the basis of Daniel 9:27 you could call it the 70th week of Daniel 9, right in the middle of that 70th week of Daniel 9. In other words, the abomination of desolation will take place before the second three and a half years of that seven-year period of time.
Then, after saying the abomination of desolation will take place, Jesus warns the Jews who will be living in Israel at that time. He says, "When you see that abomination of desolation taking place,… then those who are in Judea should flee to the mountains." They should get out of there as fast as they can. He tells them why in verse 21: "for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world till this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened [literally "should be cut off"], there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be [cut off]."
What He is saying here is this: when the abomination of desolation takes place—in the middle of that seven-year period of time—that will be the starting point of what Jesus calls "the great Tribulation."
So the Great Tribulation will begin in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel 9 or, if you prefer, in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation period. And Jesus clearly indicates here in verses 21 and 22 that that Great Tribulation will be the unparalleled time of trouble in all of world history, the likes of which He said have not been since the beginning of the world, nor will ever be again in all of history. This will be the unparalleled time of trouble for planet Earth.
Who Are "The Elect" Jesus Refers to in Matthew 24:31?
I’m convinced this is referring to the elect of Israel and not to the Church elect or Church saints. The whole context of Matthew 24 is a Jewish context, not a Church context. Jesus, as we see in verse 15, speaking ahead of time to Jews of that future Tribulation period, said, "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in your holy place."
Well, who had the holy place? The Gentiles? No, the people of Israel did. That’s a reference to a temple of God in Israel. He said, "When you see the abomination of desolation… standing in your holy place, then let them which be in Judea [these are Jews living in their own land of Israel] flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house," etc.
And then, in verse 20, He says to them that they really ought to be concerned that their flight not be on the Sabbath day: "But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day." He’s talking here about Jews and how this will affect Jews. The whole context is a Jewish context.
And so I take it that the elect here are Jewish people whom He will gather together through His holy angels from the four winds, really the idea is from all four directions, under the heavens here on planet Earth back to their homeland of Israel in conjunction with His Second Coming.