Elimelech's Family Tribulation
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Ruth, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying together. Keep in mind that at the present time we are studying the book of Ruth from the standpoint of eschatology, suggesting to you that the various experiences which the family of Elimelech had are miniature illustrations of the experiences that the nation of Israel has had and will have before God establishes her in her rightful place in His purpose and in His plan. After suggesting to you these experiences in the way of topical examples, we looked at the first miniature picture as it illustrates the truth that we mentioned concerning the nation of Israel. That first miniature picture was that Elimelech's family, exiled to Moab, was an illustration of Israel's dispersion among the nations of the world. We learned that Elimelech's family left the land of Judah because of famine. Famine is typical of judgment. The nation of Israel was scattered among the nations of the world as the judgment of God upon her for a number of things, but climactically for her rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah.

The Suffering of Elimelech's Family In Moab

Today we want to look with you at the second topical illustration we gave you in the book of Ruth which we characterized by the statement that Elimelech's family's suffering in Moab is typical of the suffering that the nation of Israel has endured and will endure until she is welcoming back her Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

To some of you it might be sufficient simply to say that Israel has suffered throughout all the century and that is that. But I don't know that we realize fully all that the Word of God has to say about it, and I don't know that we realize the extent of that suffering. If we did, things might be different.

I have asked you to open your Bibles to the book of Ruth that we might read the illustration before we look at the fact which is illustrated:

Ruth 1

1Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
3And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Notice the statement in verse 3: “Namoi's husband died.” The sons were left. In verse 4:

Ruth 1

4And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

The two sons died and the woman was left bereft of her two sons as well as her husband. Look at the latter part of the chapter, beginning with verse 19:

Ruth 1

19So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

You will notice, “The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” She realized that that which befell her was not ordinary circumstances; it was the chastening hand of God. She describes that chastening more in detail, in verse 21, with the words:

Ruth 1

21I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

She said, “I went out full. I have come home empty.” You will notice that she recognized the hand of God in all of this, realizing that the suffering that she and her family endured in the land of Moab was not due to ordinary circumstances, but was due to the hand of God upon them.

Israel's Suffering Related to Judgment

If you were to talk today in this generation to the average Jew, he will not tell you that the chastening that the nation of Israel has suffered down through the years is related to God's hand being visited upon them in judgment. He will have an explanation of some sort. There are some Jews who are interested in Old Testament Scriptures, yet not born again, who will say that they do believe, though they can't explain the exact cause, that the suffering that they are enduring is related to God's chastening upon His people. Of course, born-again Jews who know the Word of God are ready to recognize what the Bible very plainly teaches, that the anti-Semitism that has permeated the whole world is not due to the wicked hearts of men primarily, but due to the chastening of God for Israel. Though they do not recognize it now, when they do return to the land, they will recognize that it has been the chastening hand of God upon them.

Today I would like to examine with you what the Word of God has to say and what history verifies concerning the suffering of Israel in the land of the Gentiles as illustrated in a miniature fashion by the suffering of Elimelech's family in the land of Moab. From our vantage point in time and history, the Scriptures related to this subject fall naturally into two parts–fulfilled and unfulfilled. I would like for us to notice first the fulfilled Scriptures, those Scriptures prophesying the chastening of Israel which have been fulfilled. As early as 3500 years ago, while Israel was enroute to Canaan, Moses in his introductory speech as they entered the land of Canaan told them this very thing would happen.

Prophecy of Israel's Dispersion

Turn, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4, and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 25. Keep in mind that the children of Israel were just beginning their journey toward the promised land. Moses said:

Deuteronomy 4

25When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27And [notice very carefully] the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.

Here so long ago, 3200 years ago, Moses prophesied that Israel would be scattered among the nations of the world if she did not obey God.

Turn, please, to the last part of Deuteronomy and notice in chapters 28, 29, and 30, the farewell speech of Moses. The children of Israel were in the land, and they were already settled. Moses was taking leave of them. His life tenure was over, and in these chapters to which I have called your attention, Moses prophesied more in detail the scattering of the nation of Israel among the nations of the world and the suffering that would ensue as a result of it. Other prophets took up the theme in the same manner, and the emphasis is placed with the same thrust.

Three Categories of Israel's Suffering

I would like to suggest, because we don't have time to look at all of these passages of Scripture, that we keep in mind that the sufferings of Israel, considering the entire scope of that suffering from 8 B.C.–that is, eight centuries before Christ when they were carried off into Babylon–and down in the 7th century B.C. when they were carried off into Assyria, down to 70 A.D., and down to this present hour, the sufferings, considering the whole scope, fall into three categories. I would like for you to notice those categories because we are going to talk about them. I am going to use three words that sound somewhat the same so that you will be able to remember them: proverbial, physical, and political. The sufferings of Israel fall into these categories: proverbial, physical, and political. The word “proverbial” may sound like a strange word to you to describe the sufferings of Israel, but it is a Scriptural term and that is the reason we use it.

Proverbial Suffering of Israel

In chapter 28 of the book of Deuteronomy, you will notice in verse 37, these words, after the warning that they would be scattered among the nations:

Deuteronomy 28

37And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.

Notice the word “proverb.” Part of the suffering that Israel has endured down through these years can be considered under this word “proverb” or the adjective “proverbial.” The word “proverb” is interpreted in the light of the two words, one preceding and one following–the word “astonishment” and the word “byword.” The nation of Israel has astonished the nations of the world. No nation has ever been treated as she has been treated, and no nation has ever reacted as she has reacted, and so she has become an astonishment. She has become a proverb because the Jew has been used as an illustration of many different things, and various slogans or sayings that are related to Jewish customs and habits have become the proverbs of individuals among the Gentiles. For example, oftentimes you have heard someone say, “It isn't kosher.” You may not have any idea why they said a thing like that. The reason they said it was that every corner of the world has been touched by the dispersed Jews; and Jews, because of the teaching of the Rabbis based partially upon the Word of God, do not eat various kinds of foods and do not eat any kind of food that is not properly “blessed” by the Rabbis. So if anything is not fitting, if it isn't proper, a proverb has developed–it isn't “kosher.” This has come from Israel's being scattered around the world. That is only one of many illustrations which we could give. You would be able to recognize others.

I would like for you to glance down at verse 44 of this same chapter and notice a bit more in detail what Moses said so long ago concerning Israel's being a proverb among the nations.

Deuteronomy 28

44He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

That is, the Gentile nations should be the head of the nations and the Jewish nation would be the tail of the nations. We are not failing to recognize, as we read this verse, that the money changers of the world are largely Jewish. We are not ignoring the fact that by and large the fortunes of the world are controlled by Jews, but we are speaking here of the fact that Israel, because she is dispersed among the nations of the world, will be the tail and not the head.

Deuteronomy 28

45Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed [this does not mean annihilated, as you will see, destroyed as a nation] ; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

Notice verse 46 because this is the primary reason for reading this paragraph.

Deuteronomy 28

46And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

The persecution which the nation of Israel has suffered since eight centuries before Christ has been a sign and a wonder to all the world. Any other nation suffering as they have suffered would have been annihilated. They have not been. Their suffering then has been proverbial. They have become a proverb to all the nations of the world.

Physical Suffering of Israel

Not only has their suffering been proverbial, but their suffering has been physical. The Word of God has something to say about that in chapter 28. You will notice the paragraph which begins with verse 65. As you glance there, may I reemphasize that many prophecies declare what I am emphasizing to you at the moment, but we are looking here in Deuteronomy because we are here and it is easily accessible to us. In verse 65:

Deuteronomy 28

65And among these nations shalt thou find no ease [in verse 74, they would be dispersed among the nations of the world. Moses continued then:] , neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
66And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:
67In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

We will stop our reading there because the next verse does not refer to the subject we are discussing at the moment. I do not know that I could find any better words to summarize the suffering which the nation of Israel has endured these thousands of years than these words right here. You will notice the emphasis upon the restlessness of the nation. They will have to flee from one land to another. The sole of their foot shall have no rest. They will have no certain security, a trembling heart, failing eyes, and sorrow of mind. They will never be sure of life for life shall hang in doubt constantly for them. They will live in fear day and night. Nothing could be more expressive than the words of verse 68:

Deuteronomy 28

68And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

Those are phrases which describe the utter futility individuals feel in relation to life when you can't wait for the sun to set and when the sun is set, you can't wait for the sun to rise. You are a person restless, persecuted, indeed.

Political Suffering of Israel

We said the suffering of Israel fell into three categories: proverbial, physical, and political. We would like to call to your attention the political category. Turn, please, to the book of Numbers, chapter 23. When you arrive there, you will recognize the prophecy that Balaam uttered because he was hired by Balak to do it. You will remember that Balak was a Moabite, and he was concerned about the progress that the nation of Israel was making toward the promised land and in the promised land itself, so he hired Balaam, who was a prophet for hire, to curse the nation of Israel, assuming that this could be done. But Israel was God's chosen people. God had a plan and a purpose for them. Every time that Balak opened his mouth to utter a curse against the nation of Israel, a blessing came forth and Balak could not understand it. But because Balaam was a prophet of God and speaking by divine inspiration, he said some things that even he himself did not understand. It is only as we look at these Scriptures from our vantage point of time and history that we are able to understand them.

Notice, please, in verse 9 of Numbers, chapter 23:

Numbers 23

9For from the top of the rocks I see him [this is Balaam speaking now, referring to Israel] , and from the hills I behold him [he looked down upon the encampment of Israel and he said, ”I see them from where I am.” And then he said something that no one of that day understood] : lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.

All during this time when Israel is sojourning in Moab, figuratively speaking, all of this time when Israel is sojourning among the nations of the world, politically, she shall dwell alone. Politically she shall not be counted among the nations. Oh yes, everywhere you go in every little village and every little hamlet, you may find a Jewish family, one, two, three or more, but you do not find a nation.

Of course, if you are thinking today, you should be able to recognize what I have often said: What a fortunate generation is ours that we are living in the generation where Israel is beginning to be reckoned among the nations, for Israel is in her homeland and a nation has been established and she is beginning to be reckoned among the nations. Now, because the time of the Gentiles is not completely over, she is yet but the tail of the nations, but the stage is being set for her to become the head of the nations. We are a fortunate generation to see the scenery falling into place.

Unrecognized as a Nation

I think another passage of Scripture which would set rather clearly the political condition of the suffering of Israel is found in the book of Hosea. You might like to turn there with me. Keep in mind that we suggested to you from the book of Numbers that part of her suffering was never to be recognized as a nation, just as individuals scattered about throughout the world. In the book of Hosea, chapter 3, notice verse 4. In the first three verses, God had told Hosea to take back a wife who had been unfaithful to him because he wanted a lasting illustration of how he felt about Israel. So in verse 4, you read:

Hosea 3

4For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
5Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

You will notice two phrases in both of these verses. One of them, “many days;” the other, “latter days.” These do not refer to a specific number of days. They refer to unlimited periods of time within the scope of the context. “Many days” of verse 4 refers to that period of time that began in the eighth century before Christ and has continued down to this present hour when Israel is without a sacrifice, without an image, without an ephod, without a teraphim. No religion. Oh, yes, they have their synagogue, and they have what is referred to as “Orthodox Judaism,” which is a watered-down form of worship. They do not have all the trappings of the religion that God set down before He scattered them throughout the world. They do not have a prince, nor do they have a king. This is their condition politically.

Israel's Return to God

Now, it will change, and we just mention the change without discussing it now. The change will occur in the latter days. The latter days, as we have emphasized to you at other times, is a long period of time. It actually began with the Cross of Christ, and it continues down through the present hour and on through the very end of this age. So whenever a reference is made to the latter days, the context determines which part of the latter days is under discussion. The part of the latter days that is under discussion in verse 5 is the end of the Tribulation period when Israel, because of her affliction, will turn to the Lord and David, her king. The nation that has not had a king and not had a central place of worship will have one.

Specific Historical References

Up to this point, we have been discussing with you Scripture which has already been fulfilled. This is not the figment of someone's imagination. This is fulfilled Scripture. As a supplement to the Scripture, prophecy concerning Israel's suffering as illustrated by Elimelech's family's suffering in the land of Moab, I thought it might be wise for you to refresh your mind with a few historical facts which verify the fulfillment of the Scripture to which we have made reference. Keep in mind that the suffering is horrible. Let's just say that. Historically, the atrocities which the Israelites suffered in the Babylonian and the Assyrian captivities in the eighth, seventh, and sixth centuries before Christ found themselves to be the fulfillment of the passages of Scripture which we have read.

Babylonian Captivity

We might use a number of illustrations. I can think of one that seems to me to be a horrible one. You recall a man by the name of Zedekiah. He was king of Judah. The Babylonians took him down into the land of Babylon as a captive. They treated him royally on the way down there, and then they said to him, “Wouldn't you like to see your boys, the boys that will naturally inherit the thone?” Of course, he said he would. So they brought his boys before him, and after they had greeted one another and embraced and perhaps thought maybe that this isn't going to be so bad after all, they separated the boys from the father and killed them before his eyes. The killing was not a merciful one. As he stood there heartbroken, his sons dead before his own eyes, they took a hot metal rod and put out his eyes and said to him, “Now, you will have an everlasting memory of what we think of Israel and its rulers, for the last thing you saw was the death of your own sons and it will be an eternal memory for you.” Now if you can find anything worse than that, you are at liberty to find it. Of course, suffering is always by degree, and it is never wise to select one incident as being any worse than another, but that certainly is an indication of the unreasonable suffering the Israelites have endured.

Destruction By Titus

You will recall in 70 A.D., Titus marched into Jerusalem and he laid the city of Jerusalem completely low. Ground up the dust of the city, so to speak; and at that particular time Josephus says that Titus' army, the one army, slaughtered one million, one hundred thousand Jews. From 70 A.D. until 135 A.D., any Jew that was found anywhere in the immediate vicinity was sold as a slave in Egypt until the market was so glutted that Jewish people were sold as slaves for a few cents apiece. Hadrain, the Roman emperor in 132 A.D., increased the number that were killed until the only Jews who survived were those who fled to the farthest corners of the Gentile world. If you pursue history, you know that every disease and every calamity, every misfortune was blamed upon the Jews whether they had anything to do with it or not so that their persecution was a consistent one.

Millions of Jews perished in the Russian pagrams . The word “pagram” is a Russian word which is translated by our English word “devastation.” In the Russian pagrams, of which there were numerous ones under the Czars, millions died. As a matter of fact, in one which was instituted in 1903, so terrible that Jews fled back to the land of Palestine from the land of Russia, Ben Gurion, one of the modern fathers of the Jewish nation fled Russia in that particular pagram to find safety in the land of Israel.

The Holocaust and the Floating Coffins

Of more recent vintage and more familiar, I think, to most of you are the atrocities that were performed under the authority of Hitler in Germany when six million Jews perished in the crematoriums of Hitler during that time. Something which is not always recognized, but which to my mind is a shame and a disgrace, might be referred to as the “floating coffins.” Those folk who are familiar with the persecutions under Hitler are not familiar as they might be with the persecutions that are referred to as “floating coffins,” because those “floating coffins” were created by Great Britain when she signed the White Paper of 1939, at the insistence of the enemies of Israel, limiting the emigration of the Jews into the land of Palestine to 15,000 per year.

It is difficult to think that a nation such as Britain would be guilty of an atrocity such as this, but I want to read a quotation, because I think it would be more effective than anything I could say, from a very interesting book along the line we are speaking. The title is Israel, The Eternal Ideal by Irving Miller. In describing these atrocities, he refers to the signing of the White Paper, and he said, “Soon afterward there followed the horror of the floating coffins–Jews fleeing from the torture of the concentration camps and crematoria of Hitler, packed themselves in filthy holes of tramp steamers, oversized tugboats, anything their friends could beg or buy and set sail for the freedom of Palestine. These pitiful craft were intercepted by British naval vessels and forced back to their point of origin in Hitler's Europe. Protesting, the refugees were dragged from the holes and then interred in Hitler's detention camp.” The sorrow, heartache, and persecution they suffered cannot find adequate words to describe.

That brings us down to the present hour and beyond because I mentioned to you that the Scripture related to the suffering of Israel was both fulfilled and unfilled. The fulfilled Scripture should guarantee in the thinking of any sensible person the fulfillment of the unfulfilled Scripture. I pointed out to you in Deuteronomy, chapter 4, the very early prophecy that the nation of Israel would be scattered among the far corners of the world and suffer untold agonies. We have seen that Scripture fulfilled.

The Tribulation to Come

I would like for you to notice in Deuteronomy, chapter 4, a passage of Scripture which we did not read, because it remains yet to be fulfilled. I call it to your attention now to encourage you to remember that if a portion of this passage has been fulfilled, then there is no reason for us to think that the unfulfilled will not be fulfilled. Deuteronomy, chapter 4, verse 30:

Deuteronomy 4

30When thou art in tribulation [let me pause and say that this word ”tribulation” does not refer to the continuous suffering which we have described during these thousands of years. It refers to a period of time that is yet to come upon the earth] , and all these things are come upon thee, [notice] even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

What Moses is saying in this early passage of Scripture is that the nation of Israel, after a period of suffering, described by the phrase, “many days,” will enter into a period of tribulation which is described elsewhere in the Bible as a period of time that will last for seven years, and it is described by various phrases in the Scripture which indicate that it will be a time when Israel will be persecuted as she has never been persecuted before.

Turn to the book of Jeremiah for an example, and notice chapter 30, verse 4:

Jeremiah 30

4And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah.
5For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.
6Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?
7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
8For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:

This period of time which is yet to come is referred to here as “the time of Jacob's trouble,” indicating, as we know from our study of the book of Revelation, that the world will suffer in a way that the world has never suffered before. Because of God's judgment upon the world for its disobedience, the nation of Israel will feel the actual brunt of this judgment. Turn, please, to Zechariah, chapter 13, and notice something Zechariah says about this period of time, verse 7:

Zechariah 13

7Awake, O sword, against my shepherd [this is God's call for judgment to come against Israel] , and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
8And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD [notice that phrase, ”in all the land.” This is describing the judgment of God upon Israel not while she is scattered among the nations of the world as she is now, but while she is gathered back in the land as she is now, but as she will be to a greater degree. In the land of Palestine, the judgment shall be so great that you read:] two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

This passage of Scripture says very plainly that when all the Jews are gathered back in the land of Palestine–not just part of them as they are now, but all of them–the judgment of God will fall upon the land so that two-thirds of the Jews will be destroyed. Of course, always a note of hope in verse 9:

Zechariah 13

9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

At the present time, Israel is not saying, “The LORD is my God.” But after a time of great tribulation, they will say it.

The Sign of His Coming

I think we have time for reference to another passage of Scripture, and I think we will turn this time to the New Testament, to a familiar portion, the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 24, which most of you know is a prophetic chapter. The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples went out of the temple where He had been teaching and His disciples came to Him to compliment the buildings of the temple because their national pride was such that they were glad to talk about it, and they said to Jesus, “Look at the beauty of all these buildings of the temple.” Jesus answered and said:

Matthew 24

2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

This was something that was as amazing to them as it would be to us if someone said with a tone of authority, “Tomorrow the White House is going to be burned down.” But He said, “There will come a time when there won't be one stone left upon another.” Immediately they said, “When will these things be?”; and they asked Him another question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” They believed the only time the temple would be destroyed was when Jesus Christ Himself came back. He answered their questions. The first question He answered by declaring that Titus from Rome would destroy the temple. In relation to His own coming, He said, “Before I come back, a great many things are going to have to occur. Those things are going to climax in the Great Tribulation.” I might mention to you that the tribulation is a period of time of seven years. It is divided into two parts of three and one half years each, the last half being worse than the first half, and it is called “the Great Tribulation.” The Great Tribulation is introduced with what Daniel called “the abomination of desolation.” Jesus said here in Matthew, chapter 24, that it is going to be bad, but in verse 15:

Matthew 24

15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Suffering Yet to Come

We will stop and understand, very briefly without referring to the Scriptures. Daniel, chapter 9, is the record when the Jews are safely gathered in the land of Palestine. The Antichrist will make a treaty with them and he will be their friend for three and one-half years. At the end of that three and one-half years, the Antichrist will say to the Jews, “How foolish can you be! I didn't mean a thing that I said.” To show his utter contempt for them, he will go into the temple, which will be rebuilt by that time, and take a pig and sacrifice it upon the altar in the temple. That is what the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet was. Some Bible scholars are of the opinion that the Antichrist will not sacrifice a pig upon the altar. Instead, he will set up his image in the temple as described in Revelation, chapter 13, and demand the the whole world, plus the Jews, bow down and worship that image.

Regardless of which interpretation you may make, things get bad after that. How bad they are is described in verse 16, when Jesus said:

Matthew 24

16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

They sat on their housetops, much as you would sit on your patios today. Jesus said that if the word comes, the Antichrist puts up his image, don't try to save anything. Run as fast as you can.

Matthew 24

18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

This doesn't mean that God is going to be especially against nursing mothers. It simply means that they will find it difficult to travel.

Matthew 24

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

The winter would make for difficult traveling. The Sabbath day, the regulations of Judaism, would be re-established. No travel is permitted on the Sabbath day, so pray that your need for flight will not be on the Sabbath day.

Matthew 24

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

You can read some of the atrocities that have been done by nations in the name of trying to gain peace. They are horrible. You hate to even think about them. They are sickening, nauseating. Jesus said, “What you have seen or read about is nothing compared to what will happen during this particular day.”

Matthew 24

22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

If God did not cut those days down to three and one-half years, no one could be alive. No one! But for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. The word “elect” in this chapter refers to the Jews. Those days shall be shortened. This should give you an idea of how much Israel has yet to suffer.

The Rapture of the Church

When we think about these things, I would like for you to keep in mind that we are not talking about Gentiles. We are talking about Jews. But naturally there comes to mind, “What about us Gentiles?” Let me say that you and I should have an understanding of what God's plan and purpose is for Jewry that we not fall into the trap of anti-Semitism that Satan would like for all Gentiles to fall into. Then we should keep in mind that the Tribulation is a great period of trouble that will affect Gentiles as well as Jews. It may not affect you, particularly if you are a born-again believer, because before that time–that great trouble–comes, the Rapture of the Church will occur. The Lord Jesus Christ will come for His Church, and you will be taken out of this world that you might not have to suffer the hour of trial that is to come upon the world. This is the reason it would behoove every person to know for certain that he has trusted Christ as Savior because as I mentioned to you, we of this fortunate generation to see the details of a stage being set to such great degree surely must believe that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. We need to be ready for Him when He comes.


Grant, Father, we pray, an understanding of the Word that will enable us to understand Thy people, Israel, and grant to us, our Father, the assurance of our own salvation. Should there be one of us that is unsaved, we would ask in the quiet of this moment that Christ might be received as Savior, that when the end of this age occurs, our hope will be in Christ. For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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