The Olivet Discourse and the Destruction of Jerusalem in Prophecy

     Consequently, we concur with the great Premillennialist Nathaniel West's characterization of Pretribulationism.   He described it as "the utterly unscriptural any-moment theory of our Lord's Second Coming; a theory which makes of Christ and His Apostles self-contradictory Teachers, and of the Scriptures wholly unreliable Oracles." 

     Nor did West stop there.   Though himself a Premillennialist, he went on to say of Pretribulationism: "No delusion more pleasing and sweet on the one hand; or more wild, groundless and injurious to truth and faith on the other — has ever captivated the minds of men than this one of an any-moment unseen Secret Advent, Resurrection and Rapture — a delusion condemned and exposed on almost every page of the Word of God."  

     Even among Premillennialists, many are Midtribulationists — such as J. Oliver Buswell.   Even more of the Premillennialists are Posttribulationists.   Such include: Godet; George Mueller; Biederwolf; Frost, Charles Erdman; Campbell Morgan; Bishop Houghton; A.B. Simpson; R.A. Torrey; Moorehead; Charles T. Cook; Thirtle, Reese, Bonar, Saphir, Varley, Baron, Soltau, Ockenga, Ladd; Barton Payne; and many others. 

     Even among Pretribulationists themselves, the "tribulation" is variously  located.  C.I. Scofield sees it in Matthew 24:15-28.   L.S. Chafer chases it down in Matthew 24:9-26.   Schuyler English extracts it from Matthew 24:4-28.   Epp extrapolates it from Matthew 24:9-22.   And the Gaebeleins glean it from Matthew 24:4-26. 

     The Bible itself, then, is not pretribulationistic.   Nor is the verdict of Church History.   Nor are even most Premillennialists — themselves constututing but a tiny minority among the generality of Biblebelieving Christians. 

     Now the three-and-a-half-year-long "great tribulation" of Matthew 24:21 would commence in 66.5 A.D. and terminate at Christ's A.D. 70 lightning-like and sudden yet invisible coming-in-judgment on the clouds of the sky.3093   Indeed, all of this would occur — before the passing away of that very generation of Israelites to whom He was revealing these predictions right before His death on Calvary.3094   Thus Albert Barnes and J.A. Broadus. 

     That coming of the Son of man, then, is not His Final Coming at the end of World History.   That coming was His invisible return at the head of the visible Roman armies, to punish the Judaists in A.D. 70

– for their rejection of Jesus during that generation.   On this point, see: Daniel 8:9-14; 9:26f; 12:1-7f; Matthew 10:23; Mark 13:1-30; Luke 17:22-37 & 21:20-27; John 3:19; Second Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 7:2 & 14:14-20; Josephus's Antiquities XVIII:3:3 & 5:2 cf. his Wars V:2:1 to VI:9:4f.   Thus too: John Calvin; the Geneva Bible; the Dordt Dutch Bible; Matthew Henry; Adam Clarke; Rudolf Stier, Albert Barnes; R.C.H. Lenski; Marcellus Kik; B.H. Carroll; and many others.    

     As the Geneva Bible comments at Matthew 24, on Christ's Prophetic Discourse: "Within fifty years after, Jerusalem was destroyed.   The godly were persecuted; false-teachers seduced the people; religion was polluted — so that the World seemed to be at an end." 

     Also Calvin's comments on that invisible coming of the Son of man — like lightning — are worthy of careful study.   "This passage" Matthew 24:26f — explains Calvin — "has been, through ignorance, tortured in various ways.   That the reader may ascertain the true meaning, he must attend to the contrast between a state of concealment and that extension of the Kingdom of Christ far and wide…which would be sudden and unexpected — 'as the lightning flashes from the east to the west'….    

     "The Disciples were thus reminded that they must no longer seek a Redeemer within the small enclosure of Judea — because He will suddenly extend the limits of His Kingdom to the uttermost ends of the World….  Indeed, this astonishing rapidity with which the Gospel flew through every part of the World, was a manifest testimony of divine power….   By holding out this vast extent of His Kingdom — He intended to show that the desolation of Judea would not hinder Him from reigning!" 

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