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THE GREAT TRIBULATION

By Philip Mauro adapted/edited by Glenn Davis

Lesson 2

Wrath To The Uttermost

The greatness of the calamity which Christ foretold can best be understood by consideration of the seriousness of the sin which brought it on the city and people and then comparing it to the sin for which God used Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of His vengeance. Christ laid to the charge of the fathers that they had "killed the prophets," and stoned the messengers God had sent them. This agrees with the testimony of the Old Testament.

"Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees..." [2 Chr. 36:14-17]

But now [in Christ's day] they despised the words of God spoken by His Son; they mocked Him; and finally they betrayed Him and put Him to death. Who can measure the enormity of this crime? But there is even more. For not only did they reject Christ in Person, but they subsequently rejected, persecuted, killed, and crucified those whom the risen Lord sent to them with the offer of mercy in the Gospel. Christ included this in the iniquity He charged against them; and He said that by it they would "fill up the measure of their fathers."

The apostle Paul was one of those messengers who thus suffered at their hands. Speaking of this wickedness of the Jews he said: "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." [1 Thess. 2:15-16]

So we are told by both Jesus and Paul that:

[1] the sin and iniquity of that generation of Jews went far beyond the evil deeds of their fathers, and

[2] the "wrath" which was then about to be poured out upon them was to be "to the uttermost."

That being the case, we should ask:

[1] If there is to be a future generation of Jews upon which is to fall a yet greater tribulation and what would be the cause for it? What future crime could the Jews commit which would in any way compare to that of betraying and crucifying their Messiah?

[2] If such a terrible punishment yet awaits "Israel's long afflicted race," why is it that every prophecy which speaks of God's future dealings with that people holds out the prospect of mercy? We are not aware of any prophecy concerning the remainder of Israel, that gives any hint of such a thing as the greatest of all afflictions being yet in store for them, but rather blessing through believing the Gospel [see Rom. 11:23].

"My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth...my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished...the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings." [Is. 51:5-7]

For example, the above prophecy plainly has its fulfillment in the present era of the Gospel but comes with this promise: "Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away" [vs 11]. My opinion is that this verse has its fulfillment in those who are now being saved through the gospel. We quote it to show that the era to which this prophecy relates is not that which began with the return from Babylon. Therefore, what is written in the verses which follow cannot refer to the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, but must refer to that by Titus.

"Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out. There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up. These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee? Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God." [Is. 51:17-20]

Here is a strikingly accurate description of what took place at the capture of Jerusalem by Titus. That must be the event referred to, because none would claim that there is yet another "desolation" and "destruction" instore for Jerusalem. This being so, that can be no uncertainty as to the meaning of what follows:

"Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over." [Is. 51:21-23]

From this it is clear that Jerusalem and the people of Israel will never suffer again as in the days of the siege by the armies of Titus.

22. Not only did they _______________ Christ in Person, but they subsequently rejected, persecuted, killed, and crucified those whom the risen Lord sent to them with the offer of mercy in the Gospel.

23. The apostle Paul was one of those messengers who thus _______________ at their hands.

24. The sin and iniquity of that generation of Jews went far __________________ the evil deeds of their fathers.

25. The "_______________" which was then about to be poured out upon them was to be "to the uttermost."

26. What future crime could the Jews commit which would in any way compare to that of betraying and crucifying their Messiah? ___________________

27. It is clear that Jerusalem and the people of Israel will never suffer again as in the days of the siege by the armies of ______________.

Future Troubles For Mankind

We do not lose sight of the fact foretold by the last words of the prophecy in Is. 51, and by many other prophecies, that there are to be sore troubles for the world, distress of nations, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. These are the final "birth pangs," of whose "beginning" the Lord spake in Matt. 24:8. No doubt there will be grievous tribulations and persecutions in the "latter days" but those tribulations are not what He spoke of to the disciples on Mount Olivet. What Jesus then predicted was that "great tribulation," exceeding everything of the sort before or since, which was to come on that generation of Jews. Most of His disciples would live to see the Jewish War, and would be thankful they had His warnings and instructions.

The yet future troubles for mankind are distinctly mentioned by the Lord in this prophecy. They are clearly distinguished from the "great tribulation" for He tells what will happen "after the tribulation of those days" [vs 29, and then passes on to the subject of His second advent. This distinction is perfectly clear.

**Editor's comment: Mr. Mauro runs into a bit of a problem here, in my opinion. Verse 34 of Matt. 24 states that all these things must happen to the generation to whom Christ was speaking. That includes verses 29-31. When we read of Christ coming on the clouds many automatically assume it is referring to the Second Coming. While at the Second Coming Christ will return physically with the clouds, Scripture refers to other cloud comings of Christ - particularly in judgment - without it being a physical coming. We look at this in more detail as a special bonus at the end of this series. To be consistent, I believe, we must say that all the verses up to at least verse 34 must refer to the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Some believe that the entire chapter is in reference to that event.**

There is no comparison made, or intended by our Lord, between the distress of the siege of Jerusalem and those which are yet to come upon "all them that dwell upon the earth." The two cases are too widely different for any comparison to be made. The fact is that no city and no people have ever endured such terrible sufferings as those which attended the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies [more on this later]. We may be thankful for His assurance that none of greater severity will every befall a city and a people again.

We are not questioning at all that there will be "tribulation and wrath" during the closing days of this age. Our view is merely that our Lord, in His Olivet discourse, was not warning His disciples concerning the distresses of a far-off period, but concerning those which were close at hand.

28. What Jesus then predicted was that "great tribulation," exceeding everything of the sort before or since, which was to come on that ____________ of Jews.

29. Most of His disciples would live to see the __________________, and would be thankful they had His warnings and instructions.

30. While at the Second Coming Christ will return ____________________ with the clouds, Scripture refers to other cloud comings of Christ - particularly in judgment - without it being a physical coming.

31. No city and no people have ever endured such terrible sufferings as those which attended the siege of Jerusalem by the ________________ armies. 32. Our Lord, in His Olivet discourse, was not warning His disciples concerning the distresses of a far-off period, but concerning those which were __________.

**Editor's Comments: We are now ready to begin looking at the words of our Lord in Matt. 24. The Word of God is not meant to be confusing, but to give us instruction and encouragement.**

Outline Of The Olivet Prophecy

As the Lord was departing from the temple after rebuking the leaders of the people, certain of His disciples drew His attention to the massive stones of which the temple was built [some of these were 30 ft long and weighed 400 tons]. While they were admiring its grandeur, Jesus made an astounding statement that there should not be left one stone on another of that hugh pile of Temple masonry that would not be thrown down [Matt. 24:1-2]. This statement was the context of the Olivet prophecy.

A little later, as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, which overlooked Jerusalem, four of His disciples [Peter, James, John, and Andrew] asked Him privately for further information on this coming disaster [Mark 13:3]. The words He had spoken to the Jews had hinted at two things in a general way:

[1] That a severe judgment was to fall upon that generation of Jews, and

[2] That He Himself was to come again visibly [Matt. 23:39].

These words of the Lord will account for the form of the question put to Him by His disciples: "Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world [age]?" It is evident that in the minds of the disciples the destruction of Jerusalem ["these things"] and the coming of the Lord Jesus ["the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age"] were closely connected together. They might have assumed that the two events would happen together. So the questions, as reported by Mark and Luke, were, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when these things shall be fulfilled?" The disciples were evidently taking it for granted that, when Jerusalem should be again attacked by alien armies, the Lord Himself would come to fight against those nations. The disciples, therefore, were not in reality asking several different questions about several distinct and unrelated events, but were asking about what was, in their own minds, a series of connected events. That it was regarded by them as being all one matter, clearly appears by the form of the question as recorded by Mark and Luke.

It is important that we take note of this, for it explains why the Lord, in His reply, was so emphatic and so painstaking in warning the disciples not to expect His coming at the time of the siege of Jerusalem, and not to pay and heed to reports and false prophecies which were to be circulated at that time. It also explains why He was so careful to impress upon them that what He was foretelling would be the fulfillment of the words of "Daniel the Prophet," which end in utter and age-long "desolations" for Jerusalem, to be attended by "a time of trouble" for the people, "such as never was since there was a nation" [Dan. 12:2]. [See Seventy Weeks course.]

In fact it will be clearly seen, upon careful reading of the entire discourse, that the Lord did not give, or purpose to give, any information whatever concerning His second advent, except that it would occur when not expected. All that He definitely said on the subject was that it would not be at the time of then impending destruction of Jerusalem. It was of extreme importance that His own disciples should not be misled by false reports and false Christs at that time. Jesus did not want His disciples looking [as were the mass of the Jews] for a miraculous deliverance, but He wanted to watch for the sign He gave them, and should make good their escape by flight.

For this reason, the Lord began His reply by saying, "Take heed that no man deceive you; for many shall come in My Name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many" [Matt. 24:4-5]. The particular deception against which Jesus thus warned them was the false expectation that He would come and deliver the city. The fanatical Jews were encouraged in their stubborn resistance to the Romans by the confident expectation of a miraculous deliverance, as in Hezekiah's day. Our Lord, therefore, took great pains that His own disciples should not share this deception. And He continued this sort of warning down to the end of verse 14, cautioning them also that they were not to take such things as wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, as signs of His coming. Never were warnings more needed than these, or more generally disregarded. For all through the ages the Lord's people have been prone to look upon wars, or other great commotions, as signs of the Lord's immediate coming.

**Editor's comment: It never ceases to amaze me that the futurists take wars, etc. as signs of the "end times" when Jesus specifically said they were not. It just goes to show that when people start with pre-conceived ideas instead of Scripture nothing can change them - not even Jesus Himself.**

We repeat then, that the Lord's purpose in this discourse was not at all to give His people signs of His Second Coming again, but to warn that generation of believers of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and to give to them a sure sign whereby they might [and in fact they did] be safe by fleeing the land and city.

Viewing then the Lord's discourse as a whole we may clearly see in it the following purposes:

1. To warn His disciples against being led astray by false Christs and false prophets, a danger to which they were to be peculiarly exposed at the time of the Roman invasion of the land.

2. To warn them that wars, commotions, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes were not at any time to be taken as indications that His Second Advent was near. Obviously it was the Lord's design that His people should be, from the beginning, always in an attitude of expectancy of His coming: that they should not be looking for signs, but for Him [see Heb. 9:26]. As well stated by Edersheim: "All that was communicated to them was only to prepare them for that constant watchfulness, which has been to Christ's own people, at all times, the proper outcome of His teaching on the subject" - i.e., the subject of His Second Coming.

3. To give them a sure sign, whereby they might know with certainty that the hour had come for them to flee from Jerusalem and Judea.

The first two purposes are purely negative, so far as those disciples, and others of that generation, were concerned. The third only is positive in character; and in it we find the main object of the prophecy.

1. Jesus made an astounding statement that there should not be left one ________ on another of that huge pile of Temple masonry that would not be thrown down [Matt. 24:1-2].

2. What is the context of the Olivet prophecy? __________________________________________________________________________________________

3. In the minds of the disciples the destruction of Jerusalem and the ____________ of the Lord Jesus were closely connected together.

4. Jesus was painstaking in warning the disciples not to expect His coming at the time of the ________________ of Jerusalem, and not to pay and heed to reports and false prophecies which were to be circulated at that time.

5. Jesus did not want His disciples looking [as were the mass of the Jews] for a miraculous _____________________, but He wanted to watch for the sign He gave them, and should make good their escape by flight.

6. The particular _________________ against which Jesus thus warned them was the false expectation that He would come and deliver the city.

7. The Lord's purpose in this discourse was not at all to give His people signs of His Second Coming again, but to warn that generation of believers of the approaching ____________________ of Jerusalem, and to give to them a sure sign whereby they might [and in fact they did] be safe by fleeing the land and city.

Feed Yourself Students

1.  Answer all the questions.

2.  Using your Bible Helps research and write a description of the Temple in the days of Jesus.

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Return to The Great Tribulation Lessons.



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