The book of Matthew is known by many as the "Gospel of the Kingdom" because it dedicates a great part of its content to messages related to the kingdom of God. For example, Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." This gospel presents Christ as the King: "Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey'" (Matthew 21:5). The three wise men who came to Jerusalem asked, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2). Jesus was rejected by the people of Israel, but in His second coming, He will be received as their King. He will establish His kingdom on this earth, which will last one thousand years (the Millennium).
We have mentioned already that the promise for the Jewish people is a kingdom with its throne located in the land of Israel, the one promised to the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 15:18). In Luke 1:32-33 the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that the son she will conceive "will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Jeremiah 30:9 says, "But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David (Jesus) their king, whom I will raise up for them." There are many other prophecies in the scriptures related with the kingdom promised for Israel.
Therefore, when we read the gospel of Matthew, it is important to recognize the message and purpose of each passage, because many of them only speak of the people of Israel, and not of the church. The promise for the church is not a kingdom on this earth, but to be the bride of Christ in the Father's kingdom, the new earth.
For this section of the gospel of Matthew, we will provide only a few comments on chapters 24 and 25, which show a clear picture of the position of the people of Israel before the future events to occur very soon. First of all, the "catching up" or rapture of the church before the Great Tribulation is not mentioned in these passages. The message in these chapters is for Israel and the other nations, those who will suffer the final judgments of the Great Tribulation on this earth. Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." This "gospel of the kingdom" is the word to be spread during the Great Tribulation time; it is not the message of our current time. The gospel of the kingdom will be the hope of entering the Millennium, for those who live during that very difficult time of trials. We do not preach that kind of gospel now, but rather a message to be part of the body of Christ, the church. This is our hope now; it is a hope of glory. Our hope is to be the bride of Christ, not to enter the Millennium. Chapters 7 and 14 of Revelation describe 144,000 chosen people (12,000 of each tribe of Israel), who will preach the gospel of the kingdom before the second coming of the Lord. These, together with other believers, will be the ones fulfilling the prophecy that "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world...and then the end will come."
Matthew 24:34 says that "this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." The "generation" mentioned here is the generation of the signs described in chapter 24. Remember what we have stated: that according to the "prophetic eye," the Great Tribulation is the next event to happen after Jesus' time. So "this generation" is then the same as the generation of Jesus, because the generation mentioned in Matthew is a continuation of the one in the time of Jesus (you must see the time of Jesus "united" with the Great Tribulation time). The Roman Empire was governing in the time of Jesus, and in the Great Tribulation they will also be in authority, together with the Antichrist, represented politically by the European Union and religiously by the Catholic church, the great harlot (more on this later).
Again, the church will not be on earth in the Great Tribulation. The saved ones mentioned in Matthew 24:13 are those who believe in Christ during that period of great trials, who endure to the end. They will inherit the millennial kingdom. During the Great Tribulation time, the church will be in heaven around the throne of God. This is the great privilege of those born-again believers who are part of the body of Christ, the church, who live and walk by the Holy Spirit.
From Matthew 24:4 on, Jesus is describing the events to be accomplished during the latter time. This time is named the "time of Jacob's trouble (distress)." There will be really great distress and sufferings: "they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:9-12). Friends will hate and betray one another, even in their own family circle. "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
The Lord Jesus warns that when they see the desolator (Antichrist) "standing in the holy place" (Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), making himself as God, then all the people around Judea should flee to other places, because the most fearful persecution and tribulation of all time has arrived, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21, see also 24:29).
Jesus describes His second coming in Matthew 24:27, 30-33, and 36-44. He will place His feet on the Mount of Olives and will be seen by the inhabitants of Jerusalem and surrounding areas, "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming..." "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east..." (Zechariah 14:1, 4, Revelation 1:7). This second coming will be a visible coming to the earth with many signs to identify it. In the rapture, Jesus will not come down to the earth; rather, we "shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected ones) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). There will be no signs before the rapture.
In His second coming, Jesus will overcome the devil and his army, then judge the inhabitants of the world, in order to, after these things, establish His one thousand-year kingdom on the earth, not in heaven. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31). "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world'" (Matthew 25:31-34).
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37-39). Men today do not hear God; they are rebellious and scoff at the message of God, as they did in Noah's time, when all of them perished.
Dear reader, stop now for awhile and meditate in the Lord. Are you prepared to escape all the judgment that will come over the entire world? Come and humble yourself before the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord exhorts us at the end of this chapter (24:44) to watch and be prepared "for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." So, "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing" (vs. 46).