United Nations vs Israel
and the End of the World

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"Jerusalem will be...
burdening the world...
all the nations of the earth
unite in an attempt..."
- Zechariah 12:3 LB

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Home
Bible Prophecies Don't Endorse Israel's Behavior
As Foretold, the Nations Are Already United and Prepared to Act
But the Bible Contradicts Itself - Doesn't It?
Many of the Prophecies Have Already Come True
Jerusalem a Problem for the Whole World
Ezekiel's Prophecy: a Coalition Attack on a Restored Israel
Will You Have Seven More Years to Decide?
God Doesn't Send Natural Disasters - Or Does He?
Anti-Semitism Foretold in Scripture
The Holocaust Foretold in Scripture?
Jerusalem, Canaan, Sodom and Today's World
"Chosen People" - Chosen for What?
Promised Seed
"Promised Land" - Promised to Whom?
"Holy City"
Promised Messiah
An Islamic Antichrist
Daniel's Beasts and the Beasts of Revelation
What Jesus Said about Jerusalem and the End of the World
How to Survive
Many "Christians" Won't Survive
What Happens Next?
America's Role
Nations United and Resolved
Why Do Churches Fail to Preach about the End?
Are You Ready?
Prophecy Timeline
About the Writing of this Book
Dedication, copyright, ISBN & Scripture references
Contact

United Nations vs Israel, and the End of the World
online edition of the book by David A. Reed
"Jerusalem will be...burdening the world...all the nations of the earth unite in an attempt..." - Zech. 12:3 LB
"Jerusalem shall be...administered by the United Nations." - UN General Assembly Resolution 181


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What Jesus Said about Jerusalem and the End of the World

 

 

 

Of all the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible, about twenty-five percent of his teaching was devoted to prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the scattering of the Jewish people worldwide, and the end of the world.  He spoke of these events in advance and discussed the rewards and punishments that nations and individuals would experience.

Jesus had a number of things in mind when he spoke on these matters, and he sought to accomplish several things: 

-          to forewarn his first-century followers when to flee the city of Jerusalem so that they would survive its destruction by the legions of the Roman Empire

-          to bring others who heard his message to repentance—both those who heard him speak in person, and those who would read his words down through the centuries

-          to motivate believers to keep on the watch for Christ’s return by paying attention to world events

-          to let everyone know that God has already determined the outcome of human history, and that his victory over the nations is guaranteed

-          to make it clear that those who obey God will be rewarded and those who ignore God will be punished when God intervenes to put an end to human rule and establish the rule of the Kingdom of God.

In Matthew’s gospel, chapters 23 through 25 are devoted to these matters.  But, because the discussion ranges from first century events through end times events, parts of it can be difficult to understand.  The call to repentance comes through loud and clear.  And the assurance of God’s ultimate victory over rebellious mankind is equally clear.  But the exact timing of the events foretold in these chapters is less certain—because Jesus left it that way intentionally.

The entire twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel is devoted to Jesus’ denunciation of the Jewish religious leaders as “hypocrites” who would provoke God’s punishment upon the Jewish nation within that generation.  He told them,

“Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”

—Matthew 23:36 KJV

And that generation of Jews did see Jerusalem and its temple destroyed.  But when Jesus again uses the expression “this generation” a few verses later at Matthew 24:34, dispensational futurists insist on applying it to a different generation at the end of the world.  Many writers have tried to identify it with a particular generation in modern times.  Watchtower founder Charles Taze Russell identified it with “the ‘generation’ from 1878 to 1914.”  (Russell’s Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, 1908 edition, page 605)  His successors in the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership changed it to “the generation that saw the events of 1914.”  (Awake! magazine, October 22, 1995, page 4).  Left Behind authors LaHaye and Jenkins say, “we believe ‘this generation’ refers to those alive in 1948.  It may, however, mean those alive in 1967 or those alive in some yet future war when the Jews will once again gain total control of their holy city.”  (Their book Are We Living in the End Times? page 59)

But Matthew’s chapters 23 and 24 form a continuous discourse.  Matthew tells us Jesus spoke the words found in chapter 23, then “went out, and departed from the temple” (24:1) and spoke the words found in chapter 24.  Is it reasonable to believe that Jesus would say “this generation” to refer to his own contemporaries and then use the same term with a different meaning a few moments later?

Let's look more closely at chapter 23.  What “things” are referred to here?  And which “generation”?  Jesus makes it unmistakably clear.

In Matthew chapter 23 Jesus was addressing the Pharisees.  He called down “woes” upon them:  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” because they shut up the kingdom of heaven (vs. 13), because they devour widows’ houses (vs. 14), because they make disciples for hell (vs. 15), because they elevate gold above the temple (vss. 16-22), because they engage in nit picking while neglecting the weightier matters of the law (vss. 23-24), and because they appear outwardly clean but are inwardly corrupt (vss. 25-33).  He then reminded the Pharisees that they are “the sons of them who killed the prophets” and called them “ye generation of vipers.”  (vs. 31, 33)  After foretelling that they would persecute and kill his disciples the same way their fathers killed the prophets, “that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zechariah, son of Barachiah,” Jesus concluded with the sentence above:  “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”

Clearly this was the generation that stood there in Jesus’ presence, the generation he was addressing in person.  The punishment for their hypocrisy and their wickedness would come upon that very generation.  Just upon the scribes and Pharisees?  No, in his next sentence Jesus went on to say, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee.”  The punishment would come upon those religious leaders and their city of Jerusalem in that very generation.

Jesus pronounced these words in or around 30 - 33 A.D., and the armies of the Roman empire brought the destruction Jesus predicted upon the city in 70 A.D., less than forty years later, within the lifetime of “this generation.”

So, Jesus’ use of the term “this generation” in Matthew chapter 23 defines his use of the same term in chapter 24, and makes it likely that the Great Tribulation he goes on to describe there began upon the Jewish people back in the first century, and is not an end-times event yet to come.

Likewise, Jesus’ pronouncement to the Jewish religious leaders that “your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38 KJV) is a key to understanding “the abomination of desolation” that Jesus refers to sixteen verses later. 

“Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . ,”  Jesus said. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”  (Matt. 23:37-38 KJV)  He was warning of the coming desolation of the Holy City and its temple.  And he was still speaking of the same thing when he quoted Daniel about “the abomination of desolation” and the need for “them who are in Judea” to “flee into the mountains.”  (Matt. 24:15-16 KJV)  All of this happened in 70 A.D., when the city and temple were desolated by Roman armies.   

But Jesus’ disciples asked him a question that complicated the issue.  Their question involved not just the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but also the end of the world—and the timing of all these things.  They asked their question shortly after Jesus finished speaking as above in the temple:

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’  As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.  ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’   Jesus answered:  ‘Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.’”

—Matthew 24:1-8 NIV

So, the question the disciples asked Jesus had three parts to it: 

(1)  When will this happen?—the Jerusalem temple being torn down, stone by stone. 

(2)  What will be the sign of Jesus’ coming? 

(3)  What will be the sign of the end of the age?

Jesus went on to answer them with a lengthy answer that covered all three parts of their question.  So, it becomes necessary to discern which parts of Jesus’ response refer to the first century devastation on Jerusalem, and which parts apply to his coming and the end of the world.  The Gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke all recorded this discussion, each mentioning some different things Jesus said, but all three presenting the same basic message.  The great Reformation teacher Martin Luther explained the differences among the three Gospel accounts this way, starting with a comment on Matthew, chapter 24:

In this chapter there is a description of the end of two kingdoms; of the kingdom of the Jews, and also of the kingdom of the world. But the two Evangelists, Matthew and Mark, unite the two—and do not follow the order as Luke did, for they have nothing more in view than to relate and give the words of Christ, and are not concerned about what was said either before or after. But Luke takes special pains to write clearly and in the true order, and relates this discourse twice; first briefly in the 19th chapter, where he speaks of the destruction of the Jews at Jerusalem; afterwards in the 21st chapter he speaks of both, one following the other. Notice therefore that Matthew unites the two and at the same time conceives the end, both of the Jewish nation and of the world. He therefore cooks both into one soup. But if you want to understand it, you must separate and put each by itself, that which really treats of the Jews, and that which relates to the whole world.

(That quote is from Martin Luther's “Sermon for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity; Matthew 24:15-28” from his Church Postil, first published in 1525)

The best way to grasp what Jesus said would be to read the Gospels yourself—especially Matthew chapters 23 through 25, and parallel accounts in Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapters 19 and 21.  (For help comparing the three accounts side by side, you may wish to use a book like my own Parallel Gospels in Harmony—with Study Guide.)

One of the most controversial aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is his reference to ‘the abomination that causes desolation’:

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

—Matthew 24:15-16 NIV

Many modern teachers say that “the holy place” is a temple that will be built in Jerusalem in the future, and that a coming Antichrist will then desecrate that temple.  But a closer examination of Jesus’ own words places “the abomination that causes desolation” in the first century, when the Romans entered the existing temple and subsequently desolated it and the city of Jerusalem.

The immediate context should make this clear.  Just a few verses before mentioning “the abomination that causes desolation,” Matthew records that Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . Look,  your house is left to you desolate.”  (Matt. 23:38 NIV)  That same “house” or temple would be left desolate by something that causes desolation—the abomination that causes desolation.

Two verses further on, at Matthew 24:1, we read that “Jesus left the temple” and the disciples called “his attention to its buildings.”  In the next verse, Jesus tells them about “these things” that  “not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (vs. 2)  In verse 3 the disciples ask, when will “this” happen?  And thirteen verses later Jesus explains that the desolation will be accomplished by “the abomination that causes desolation.”  (vs. 15)  Where, then, in this compact discussion, did Jesus switch from speaking about the temple he and his disciples were looking at, to bring up what would happen to a different temple in the distant future?  Nowhere!  The reasonable conclusion that any reader would normally reach is that the same temple forms the subject of the discussion throughout these seventeen verses.  It is the same temple that is left “desolate” and faces “desolation.”

The differences between Matthew’s coverage and Luke’s reporting on this sermon sheds light on what Jesus said and helps us understand what he meant.  Writing initially for a Jewish audience familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures, Matthew included Jesus’ words quoting the prophet Daniel.  Luke, on the other hand, captured words that would be more understandable to his Greek-speaking audience.  In Luke’s parallel account we read that Jesus said,

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

—Luke 21:20-21 NIV 

What did Jesus say would be the signal for his first-century followers and others in Judea to flee to the mountains?  That signal was “armies” surrounding the city according to Luke’s account, and “the abomination that causes desolation” according to Matthew’s account.  So, “the abomination that causes desolation” must be the Roman forces that desolated the temple and the city.  Notice how they appear in the parallel accounts (KJV):

 

 

 

 

   MATTHEW                       MARK                           LUKE

24:15 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:) 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

24:17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  24:18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

 

 

 

 

24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

 

13:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

 

13:15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

13:16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

 

 

 

 

 

13:17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

13:18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

 

13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

 

21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21:21 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.

[17:31 "In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.]

21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

 

 

Similarly, the “great tribulation” in Matthew is “affliction” in Mark’s gospel, and Luke describes it as the Jews falling “by the edge of the sword” and being “led away captive into all nations,” and Jerusalem being “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”  So, the “great tribulation” Jesus spoke of must refer to the centuries-long affliction of the Jewish people—from the destruction of Jerusalem until Jerusalem was taken back from Gentile control during the Six Day War of 1967.

As mentioned earlier, there is some confusion, though, because the disciples added to their question about the Temple’s destruction, “and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?”  (Matt. 24:3 KJV)  Although Jesus knew, of course, that these three events—the Temple’s destruction, his second coming, and the end of the world—would not be simultaneous, he went on to answer their three questions together. 

Commentators offer many opinions on how the various elements of Matthew Chapter 24 should be divided and grouped together.  But such forensic reconstruction is not needed, if we follow Luther’s advice.  We need only compare Luke’s account to gain a better understanding of what Jesus meant.

The Roman forces were an abomination by virtue of the idolatrous images they carried with them, and they caused desolation by desolating Jerusalem and its temple.  This understanding of Jesus’ words prevailed in Protestant churches for hundreds of years, until the late 1800s and early 1900s when the writings of John Nelson Darby popularized the idea of a future seven-year tribulation, and transplanted these events from the context of the Roman destruction of the Temple to a rebuilt third temple sometime in the future.

What about Jesus’ declaration that there would be strange signs in the heavens above?

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”

—Matthew 24:29 KJV

The stars cannot literally fall from heaven, since the stars are mammoth heavenly bodies immensely larger than the earth.  The earth could literally fall onto the surface of a star, sooner than stars could actually fall to the earth.  The very size relationship between earth and stars mandates that the language Jesus uses here must be figurative.  Then his words fit perfectly the view that the “tribulation” here refers to the centuries-long suffering of the Jews beginning with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, climaxing in the Holocaust, and ending with the re-establishment of the state of Israel.  It was shortly after the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 that the heavens lost their power as men began to rocket into outer space. The heavenly bodies figuratively fell from the sky, as they came within mankind’s reach through manned space flight.  Luke reports that Jesus said,

“. . . there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars . . . for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

—Luke 21:25-26 KJV

While the Jews were returning to the Promised Land after their centuries-long tribulation, the scientists who had worked on Adolph Hitler’s V-1 and V-2 rockets began working for the victorious allied powers.   Soon test pilots flew experimental jets above earth’s atmosphere for the first time in human history.  Soviet Russia put its Sputnik satellite into orbit in 1957, followed shortly by the first manned space flights. 

The Jews re-took Jerusalem from Gentile hands in 1967, and immediately after that in 1969 a series of six Apollo space flights began bringing men to the moon.  Humans circled the moon, taking pictures of its hidden far side, and landed there to plant an American flag on this heavenly body.  It was as if the heavens had lost their power; they were no longer unreachable, but had now fallen beneath human feet.  There were signs in the sun, moon and stars that had never before been seen.

Jesus went on to say,

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  . . . Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

—Matthew 24:37-42 KJV

Ever since Jesus gave this admonition, Christians have been watching for his coming.   He said it would be like the days of Noah.  God’s favored people were saved in the Ark, and the disobedient were destroyed by the flood—at the same time.  The Lord said his coming would be like that.  Will you be one of those who survive?

 “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

— Matthew 24:44 KJV

Have you read Jesus’ words in their entirety, in the Bible itself?  Reading my discussion above—or reading what other modern writers have to say about Jesus’ message—can never be as beneficial as reading what Jesus himself actually said.  You will be blessed if you put this book down for a while and pick up the Bible to read it prayerfully.  Ask God for insight and understanding so that you can obey Jesus’ teaching.  He will answer such a prayer, and will give you the help you need.  Jesus’ sermons and parables will help you understand what is coming, and will help you prepare to survive.

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