By Jack Kinsella
The Olivet Discourse is the theological term used to describe the passage in Scripture in which Jesus outlined the signs of His coming and the end of world government.
All three Synoptic Gospels, (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) offer the same outline, differing only in the amount of detail offered by each Gospel writer.
It is important to understand both the context and the perspective in which it was offered in order to understand how it applies in the real world. First, we must understand to whom it is primarily addressed:
“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)
So, who are “His disciples”? The word “disciple” means very much the same thing as “student”, only with the added implication of “devotion”. Any person can be a student, but a disciple is the devoted student of the master of a particular discipline or philosophy.
So the “disciples” are followers of Jesus. Which? They could be the 12 Apostles. Or they could be of the seventy disciples sent forth by the Lord in Luke 10:1.
Or they could have simply been some of other early followers of Jesus. We know that Jesus had at least five thousand followers.
But since the Bible refers to them as “the” disciples and says that they came unto Him privately, indicating they had intimate access to Him, it is a safe assumption the twelve Apostles either were the “disciples” or they were among them.
At the time, the Church had not been born. The redemptive process had not been completed, Jesus had not been glorified, the Comforter was not yet come and all men remained dead in their sins. The bulk of Jesus’ disciples were Jews living in Israel.
Jesus was speaking from the Mount of Olives, within earshot of the Temple. The historical context and perspective of the listener at the time it was delivered was not the Church, but that of Jews living in the region of Jerusalem in the last days.
At the same time, Jesus had Divine foreknowledge of the Church Age to come and how it would relate to the Jews of Israel in the last days. The “last days” in context here, would be the Tribulation Period, or the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”.
In this message to the Jews of Israel in the last days are a number of important clues useful to the Church in understanding the signs of the times, but the message is not necessarily for them.
This can oftentimes be confusing — the whole Bible is for all of us, and every verse is relevant to the Church, but not every verse is addressed to the Church.
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. “(Matthew 24:21-22)
Clearly, this verse is addressed to observant Jews that keep the Law of the Sabbath. But the Church is not under the Law nor the Sabbath.
Further, we read;
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
Clearly, this verse is addressed to the Jews of Israel that will witness the Triumphant Return of Christ, as was described by the Prophet Zechariah:
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only Son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
Staying in context here, we are at the point where Jesus makes His glorious appearance over Jerusalem, just before He touches down on the Mount of Olives, splitting the Kidron Valley all the way to the Dead Sea.
And then what happens?
“And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
Is this the Rapture, as many teach? No. It cannot be, for several reasons.
At the Rapture, the dead in Christ rise first, are resurrected and reunited with their newly changed and immortal bodies, followed by those who are alive and remain on the earth, who are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
Here, Jesus describes His Second Coming, at which time He gathers His elect from one end of heaven to the other. Not from the earth. Not from their graves. From heaven. Which is precisely the same way that Jude, the Lord’s half-brother, describes the Second Coming.
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.” (Jude 1:14)
So these signs are signs that lead up to the Second Coming, signs that culminate in the events of the Tribulation. We in the Church Age are witnessing the development of these signs, not their fulfillment.
Having explained the signs of the times from the perspective of the Jews of Israel on the Mount of Olives, Jesus switches from signs of His Second Coming to the signs of the coming Tribulation. Again, it is from the perspective of the Jews, but it is about events that befall the Church.
“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. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:32-34)
So when the Jews witness the rebirth of God’s fig tree (Israel) they are to know the Tribulation is near, even at the doors. When they see the other signs outlined by Jesus, they can know their redemption draws near. The national redemption of Israel is accomplished at the Second Coming.
Jesus goes on to describe other signs the Jews will witness just before the onset of the reign of antichrist. Remember, this is from the perspective of Sabbath-keeping Jews under the Law living near the Mount of Olives in Israel.
From THAT perspective, the Rapture will look like this:
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24:41)
That’s what it will look like from the perspective of those left behind – NOT from the perspective of those that are raptured.
The story as told from that perspective, begins with Revelation 4:1 when John hears, “Come up hither!” and is whisked into heaven.
Where the Olivet Discourse is of value in discerning the signs of the times for the Church is in understanding that if the signs pointing to the Tribulation are in evidence, it means the Rapture must be near, since the man of sin isn’t revealed until after the Holy Spirit is ‘taken out of the way.’ (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
With that understanding, let’s go back up to the top of the page to where Jesus begins outlining the history of the last days, beginning with the First World War. Jesus is telling His disciples what to be watching for from the perspective of the Mount of Olives.
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
The First World War resulted in the recovery of the Holy Land from the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the ingathering. The Second World War and its aftermath accelerated the ingathering and resulted in the re-establishment of the State of Israel.
But the end was not yet. Then came the ultimate rumor of war, the Cold War, but Jesus said this must all come to pass, and still, the end is not yet.
This is where we locate America in Bible prophecy.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
From the perspective of the Church Age, this is about where we are now. Earthquakes are steadily increasing. Formerly conquered pestilences like malaria and TB are making a drug-resistant comeback.
To address the “energy crisis” we now convert grain into ethanol instead of food. The global food shortage continues to worsen.
We are beyond the wars that recovered the Holy Land and restored the Jews.
The word “nation” here is translated from “ethnos” while “kingdom” (baselia) refers to economic-based political subdivisions, non-ethnic countries like the USA.
Israel is an ethnic nation, as are the various Arab states. Iran is ethnic Persian. Russians are primarily ethnic, as are Europeans. Ethnicity plays no role in America’s political existence — we called true ethnic Americans “Indians” before wiping them out and occupying their lands.
America’s political existence is as a “kingdom” — a political subdivision united by common economic interests.
With that in mind, I was struck by how quickly the Obama media was able to inject race as an explanation for Obama’s crushing defeat by Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate.
Ethnicity comes up at every turn in America, and particularly since Obama came to power based on his race more than any discernible accomplishments back in 2008. He has used race as a substitute for governance ever since.
Race has everything to do with America’s current Middle East foreign policy. Obama has made no secret of his disdain for the Jews or his affinity towards the Arab world. Everything about Jeremiah Wright screams racial politics.
Consider how America has been governed under Obama and Company.
When it isn’t black vs. white, it is white vs. Latino, or Jew vs. Arab, or rich vs. poor, or it is environment vs energy or induced panic about the latest outbreak of some new killer disease.
Everything is about conflict and all of it is rooted either in the ethnos or baselia. It is almost as the Obamanation is taking its cues from the Olivet Discourse.
From the perspective of the Mount of Olives in Israel, all these things are the beginnings of sorrows.
Here is what I want you to see amid all the fog of politics and war and finance and chaos. Everything is in perfect symmetry with the prophecies of the Bible for the last days.
Every event — in America, in Israel, in Russia, together with events we never heard of in places we never heard of…all of them fit perfectly into the context of Bible prophecy for the last days.
Those things that don’t yet fit continue to seek their proper context — but NOTHING trends the other way.
Ethnic unrest, international instability, looming economic catastrophe and famine, drug resistant pestilences, catastrophic earthquakes, false prophets, false Christs, persecutions, runaway lawlessness, people going off their rockers…
And, for the first time in history, thanks to the internet and satellite communications, the Gospel can literally be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations…
“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)
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)
The Lord IS coming! Go tell somebody!
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 5, 2012.