In our Bible Study tonight we were studying about the return of the Lord Jesus. We were asked if we believed His return was eminent and I said Yes. My friend Eric said no. I was sharing with Eric after the study, about how I have come to believe that if we trust Jesus completely that he will provide our every need in the times to come. That led him to say how Jesus says in Matthew 24 that He will hide us in the mountains during the tribulation. I said, Christians will be raptured by then, and that speaks to the Jews in Judea.
Then he read to me Matthew 24 and asked me, “how I can believe that those verses are for the Jews when Jesus is speaking to His Disciples using the personal pronoun “You” and that the disciples are the church?’ I did not know how to respond. I know that Jesus is talking about the Jews, but how do I explain this? I told him that there is something about those verses that can be explained and that I would ask Jack Kelley.
From the perspective of history we can see that the pronoun “you” refers to events experienced by Jews from New Testament times until now. There’s no basis for assuming that the disciples represent the Church, especially when the end of the age they asked him about was the only age they knew, the one we call the 70 weeks of Daniel. In their minds it was only 7 years from completion and yet Jesus had just told them that everything would be torn down. Herod had just spent 40 years building the Temple and it wasn’t finished yet. How could it be torn down and then put back together in 7 years, they wondered?
This isn’t just my opinion. It is confirmed in their question to Him in Acts 1:6, after the resurrection. “Lord are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” They didn’t know anything about a Church Age, or that the last seven years would be delayed for 20 centuries, during which time Israel would cease to exist, and then be brought back, as if from the dead. They learned all this later. At that point in time they only knew that Daniel had been given a 490 year time frame during which everything would be fulfilled and 483 of those years were over. From their perspective every thing had been fulfilled and it was time to restore the Kingdom.
But that’s not all. For Matt. 24 to be fulfilled there has to be an Old Covenant observing nation with a functioning Temple in the promised land at the End of the Age. The Temple is obvious because Jesus mentioned it in verse 15. Judea was the name of Israel in New Testament times (verse 16), and and these are the people being told to flee into the mountains, not the Church. And finally only Old Covenant observing Jews are forbidden from traveling on the Sabbath (verse 20). These things are all unique to Israel.
Whether one believes in a pre-Trib rapture or not, there’s no way to insert the Church into Matt. 24.