t h e K e y o f D av i d R e p r i n t S e r i e s

A rt ic l e n u m be r R502

Matthew 24
C h r i s t ’ s M o s t p i vo t a l p r o p h e C y
R e pr i n t e d f rom t h e P h i l a de l ph i a Ne ws , Ja n ua ry-Fe brua ry 19 9 9

By Gerald Flurry


hen Christ walked this Earth, He proclaimed His most important prophetic message. It is written in the 24th chapter of Matthew (Mark and Luke also wrote their versions). Matthew, of all the disciples, seemed to be the most detailed in what he wrote. How exciting that must have been, to be there with the Son of the living God. What an honor beyond measure! But we live in exciting times as well. If we are willing, we get to introduce Jesus Christ to this world. When you look at the book of Matthew, on the surface—especially chapter 24—there is a lot of bad news there. That is all being fulfilled right now. But there is also inspiring good news beyond description. Matthew 24 contains more prophecy than any other single Bible chapter. It’s been called the apocalypse of the Gospels. Christ is speaking this Himself, and Matthew is doing everything he can to record it just as Christ spoke it. If you are a Christian, you are “one who follows Christ.” And it is rare to see a person who really does that. Many talk about Christ, but how many really obey Him? Many people reject the prophecies of Matthew 24, even though they talk a lot about Matthew. Why? What about Matthew 24 seems to bother people? Is it the talk of the end of the world? People have talked about the end of the world for a long time. But Jesus Christ talked about the end of this age, a time entering into a wonderful world so beautiful it’s difficult to describe. Read Matthew 24:1-2. The second temple, which was destroyed in a.d. 70, didn’t fulfill this prophecy: There is a more complete destruction coming in this end time. A time is coming very soon when there won’t be one stone on top of another, and Christ is not talking just about Jerusalem—but all Israel—America and Britain. It is a terrible time to come, with unparalleled destruction. I’m not trying to frighten anybody, rather just tell people what Christ said. Every single word will come to pass, and many scriptures prove that the a.d. 70 crisis was only a type of greater end-time events. If people understood the depth of this destruction, it would drive them to their knees.

Christ mentions that those who are loyal to Him will be protected from all these things (verses 15-20, 40), just as in the first century when Pella was the place where God protected His people. And yet, in a.d. 70 when all of this terrible destruction was going on, there was human cannibalism. Although we don’t like to think about or talk about that, it happened; and God says it’s only a type of what is coming upon us in this end time if we don’t heed His message. This is a message of love, and it’s the only hope in this terrible world. In verse 3 the disciples asked for a sign, and Christ gave one major sign that shows we’re almost to the time of His return. Verse 4: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” This is religious deception. Be careful when you listen to someone like me talk to you about the Bible. Jesus Christ said the biggest problem in the end time is religious deception. We have a responsibility to prove whether someone is speaking from this book the way they should. Most do not. Christ is speaking to His disciples, and He said they would be deceived too. People who have the Spirit of God—who knew Christ and who were given all these prophecies—will be deceived. An amazing prophecy! We must be awfully careful and deeply learn the Bible. Don’t trust me—trust Christ. This sign is about the gospel. But what is that? So many different versions of the gospel exist today. Christ said to beware, because people will tell you they are following Christ. Most of them are probably sincere; but so was Hitler! Sincerity, of itself, is not enough. A well-known religious leader said, “The Bible says clearly that God has already revealed Himself fully and completely to us.” That is terribly wrong. “If we accept who Jesus is, as He is presented to us in the New Testament, then we will not look for any further revelation, nor has God promised any. God’s revelation is complete.” He’s saying that you don’t need any revelation after the first century. But you need all kinds of revelation. Remember, the whole world is deceived (Revelation 12:9)—religiously as well. One third of the Bible is prophecy and 90 percent of it


M at t h e w 2 4 — C h r i s t ’s M o s t P i vo ta l P ro p h e c y

is for today—90 percent of prophecy in the Bible won’t even be understood till this end time (Daniel 12:4, 9). Christ spoke of a man in this end time, an end-time Elijah—a human being—who would restore all things just before Christ comes—including the true gospel (Matthew 17:10-11). If he had to restore all things, then, as far as truth was concerned, everything must have been nearly lost. These are scriptures ministers in the world do not usually come to grips with. you have to voluntarily prove this. Jesus Christ won’t force this on you. That’s why we have trials—we have to see what we have done to ourselves, and then say, God, let me follow somebody other than a man. Most have to learn that by suffering. But you don’t have to learn it that way, if you choose to follow God now. Verse 9 of Matthew 24 says people would kill Christ’s disciples. This is dual. All of the first-century disciples were killed (except John) and the two witnesses will be killed in the end time—and we don’t know who else. People don’t like the truth; so, rather than accept the message, they kill the messenger. Verses 10-11: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many [“most of you,” Revised Standard Version and Moffatt].” This is for the end time more than any other time and is directed at Jesus’s disciples. It is not easy to follow God. But what a joyous, wonderful way of life it is. Jesus Christ—the Son of God—ended up with only 120 disciples. People don’t exactly want the truth, do they? Verse 12: “And because iniquity shall abound [moral decay], the love of many shall wax cold.” “Iniquity” really means lawlessness. And today, it abounds. The main theme of the whole Bible is the law of God—the Ten Commandments. yet many say they have been done away. They haven’t! Christ said that you must keep the commandments if you want to enter into the Kingdom (Matthew 19:16-19). I’m not sorry if that offends people, because they must hear that. Jesus is speaking of what we hear on the news practically every night—adultery, lying. It abounds—it’s all over the place.

Everybody’s getting into lawlessness today. The only way to fight that is to get on your knees and pray to God for the power to fight against it, to develop the kind of character He says we must have to ever get beyond this life.
Romans 13:8-10 equate the law with love, because they are one and the same. The law tells you how to love each other. In other words, if you love a person, don’t commit adultery with his wife; don’t steal from him; don’t covet what he has; don’t murder him. If you love that person, keep the Ten Commandments. Love is the fulfilling of the law. The love of God is that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3). What is sin? It is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Christ specifically used the word lawlessness and said

it will abound in the end time—so bad that it even affects God’s people who should know about the law. Most of them also have contempt toward the law. The love of many will wax cold. This is translated from the Greek agape—the love of God, the love He has to give to His Spirit-begotten people. They will lose the love He gave them. Herbert Armstrong said in 1981 that moral decay is becoming a bigger problem than the nuclear bomb. A number of studies have shown that moral decay is the chief cause of nations falling. We’re all sinners, and I’m not trying to cast stones, but it is time to stop sinning. Christ sends His message of love trying to stop moral—or spiritual—decay. It’s just a message now; He won’t send the Great Tribulation until He’s sent His message, His final warning. Then He will let us bring our own problems upon ourselves. Everybody’s getting into lawlessness today. The only way to fight that is to get on your knees and pray to God for the power to fight against it, to develop the kind of character He says we must have to ever get beyond this life (Matthew 5:48). The Week magazine, January 16, 1999, talks about how depraved Britain has become: terrible things like the raping of 80-year-old women. How can it get more disgusting? Soon, in Britain, the family will become a minority and those just living together the majority. In the recent White House scandal, many said, “It’s just about sex.” No, it’s about fornication, adultery and lying! If we listen to Christ, we know what it’s about. usually, when people talk about “inappropriate behavior,” they’re talking about lawlessness. Isn’t it time, when talking about the well-being and survival of our nation, to call it what it is? That kind of sin abounds—not just in the leaders, but in everybody. Moral decay will tear the nations of Israel apart. When the family is upside down, that’s when Israel falls (Isaiah 3:12). We’re all inclined to sin, because the carnal mind is enmity toward God (Romans 8:7). But it doesn’t happen overnight; we wax cold. It’s just like the frog in the water: Put him in the pot and turn the fire on low and just let it heat gradually, and he’ll boil to death. Think of how much we’ve waxed cold since our forefathers established the Constitution. A founder of the Constitution, James Madison, said, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization … on the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Can you imagine a president saying that today? We’re awfully close to collapse unless we wake up. Another founder, John Adams, said, “Children learn the meaning of morality, religion and respect for law from the habitual fidelity of their parents to one another.” Those men understood that. Abraham Lincoln said if we forsake God, we will not bring this nation back together. “The Lewinsky scandal has sparked a political Armageddon in which almost every rule is broken, almost every tradition mocked” (Newsweek, January 7, 1999). We should be patriotic toward our country, but it’s mocking traditions today. The National Review stated, “years of peace and prosperity have made it into a feminized country in which compromise is valued over action and tough choices are deferred for as long as possible.” This is about lawlessness. To solve our problems we will have to see that—or it will get a lot worse, and fast! When a society like this unravels, you will see problems like you’ve never seen; so says your Bible.


M at t h e w 2 4 — C h r i s t ’s M o s t P i vo ta l P ro p h e c y

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). This is the one specific sign Christ mentioned. Thayer’s Lexicon states, “What end is intended the reader must determine by the context.” So, which “end” is this about? Obviously, when the gospel stops, Matthew 24 will begin to be fulfilled at a rapid pace like never before—no more delay (Revelation 10:6). God will not hold it back any more. There’s a two-fold sign here: 1) the gospel being preached around the world, and then we’re in the end time; 2) when it stops—and it has—we’re on a countdown to destruction, if we don’t heed God’s Word. That’s where we are. Everything really begins to accelerate after the man who preached the gospel is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2). (For more information write for our free book, Malachi’s Message.) Jesus said this gospel will be preached around the world, and that will be a sign that the end of the age is here. If the gospel had been preached around the world in a.d. 800 or 1,200, that would have been the end of the age. So the gospel wasn’t preached around the world from the first century to the last, or it couldn’t be a sign. Christ is speaking of the true gospel. God gets specific: One man in this end time restored all things—including the gospel (Matthew 17:10-11). “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the lord” (Malachi 4:5). He has come and gone. After the gospel ceases, then an ominous sign: the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15). This is where all the trouble will be for America, Britain and Israel. Although we don’t know the day or the hour, we know when this is at the door. God says watch the events. And He says, let those who read this understand, or they are in trouble—because here is what we will have to do: “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (verse 16). Be serious about your religion. God says you must have enough faith that when you see all this you run for your life. Why isn’t religion more concerned about this today? These are Christ’s words. And He says if you don’t warn people, you’re guilty of murder (Ezekiel 33). I take that seriously. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (verse 21). Suffering like never before because of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (verse 22). The good news is God will shorten things and save us alive. But if He did not intervene, there wouldn’t be anyone alive on this planet. He will let it go a long way, so people learn they can’t rule themselves. Men don’t know the way of peace. God knows—and if you keep His law of love, it will bring great joy and happiness in your life. Winston Churchill said after World War ii, “Mankind has never been in this position before. Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands, for the first time, the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own extermination.” We can now exterminate human life. That’s the great, ultimate achievement of man! If that is our ultimate accomplishment, isn’t there something terribly wrong with man? And he still won’t turn to

God! This prophecy is obviously about nuclear warfare, yet people say, So what. Will they have to experience it before they say more than “so what”? If we won’t listen to someone like Churchill, we ought to listen to Christ. Not one word of His will fail. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not” (verse 23). Don’t listen to men who say they know what Church you should be in; listen to Christ! “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and

As all these horrible signs come, we know Christ is about to return. The gospel has already been preached worldwide, and now this final Matthew 24 warning is going out to the world. God says in Amos that He won’t pass this way anymore; He’s giving one final warning. Christ will allow the Tribulation and then He will return.
shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive [lead astray] the very elect” (verse 24). But they can’t be led astray. They know what Christ said and won’t let it go. They will have the highest reward in God’s Kingdom because of their loyalty when most were turning away from Him. Verses 29-30 actually contain good news: As all these horrible signs come, we know Christ is about to return. The gospel has already been preached worldwide, and now this final Matthew 24 warning is going out to the world. God says in Amos that He won’t pass this way any more; He’s giving one final warning. Christ will allow the Tribulation and then He will return. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (verses 32-33). Christ’s return is right at the door. He’s really coming back, and He will rule this world and show people, through a great turning point in the history of man, how to be successful and build a paradise on Earth. Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they couldn’t read the signs of the times (Luke 12:54-56). They couldn’t see that a.d. 70 was almost upon them. The Son of God, Creator of the universe, was pleading with them, and they still wouldn’t listen. So that doesn’t make me feel inferior if some don’t listen today. Robert Harris, in the Sunday Times, January 10, 199, said that if you want to be a superpower, you need a strong leader, unity, and willingness to sacrifice your blood. America certainly falls short in the latter two conditions. And what if we have a crisis like the Great Depression? There will soon be chaos as never before, Christ said. Either every word of this will be fulfilled, or God lied (Matthew 24:35). “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (verse 41). A woman is a type of the Church. Two churches of God: one that turned away, and one which God will protect.


M at t h e w 2 4 — C h r i s t ’s M o s t P i vo ta l P ro p h e c y

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (verses 42-43). Noah warned for 120 years; people still didn’t listen, and the Flood came suddenly. And in the end time crisis will also come suddenly. Be alert for it. Meanwhile, Christ is upset with His lukewarm, or Laodicean, Church, because they wouldn’t give meat in due season (verses 44-45); they wouldn’t speak God’s Word, and 95 percent of them turned away instead of delivering His message. The International Herald Tribune of December 19, 1998, reported: “Earlier than many observers expected, Japanese investors are shifting out of u.S. dollars and into the currencies of Europe ….” China has already put half of its reserves in the euro. “A major exodus from the dollar into the euro by Asians, and in particular by Japan, ‘is the one thing the Americans walk in great fear of at the moment,’ said Noriko Hama, an economist at the Mitsubishi Research Institute in Tokyo” (ibid.). The u.S. is the greatest debtor nation ever (but still, a nation that has all the wealth and the blessings due to Abraham’s obedience). But almost nobody talks about the debt. What would happen if Japan didn’t support our debt anymore? That is serious, considering that one Japanese leader said a few years ago, We might sell our U.S. Treasury bonds, and the market dropped 200 points in a day, just from hearing these words! Is this truly a strong economy if people have such fear?

For God’s loyal people, He wants to make them rulers “over all his goods” (verses 46-47). That’s a fantastic promise—the whole universe. Hebrews 2 states, in one translation, “I will give you control over the whole universe.” But we have to build some character first, or we’d wreck it, as Satan did. you have to build character through keeping God’s law. That’s so wonderful. How do you contain yourself when you really understand that? Most of God’s people, since Christ didn’t return when they expected, have said, “My lord delayeth his coming” (verse 48) and have given up and decided to break the law like everyone else. “And shall begin to smite his fellowservants [or get carnal and do what everybody else does], and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verses 49-51). Fifty percent of God’s people lose their eternal life, and 50 percent turn it around in the Great Tribulation (Matthew 25:1-11). Satan has been cast down, and he’s full of wrath (Revelation 12:12). He is like a roaring lion and hates anybody who would dare obey God. He desperately tries to destroy them. Out of billions of people, we have the unparalleled honor and opportunity of hearing God’s warning and receiving His love and understanding His message. That is uniquely wonderful, but it requires obedience. Jesus Christ told us to take heed and be ready. If we do this, He will make us rulers over all His goods. And God has a lot of goods! ■