Matthew 24:9-10 (Tribulation and Falling Away)

Recall that Jesus is on the Mount of Olives on His return to Bethany after leaving the temple for the last time, forsaking it to those who would have their worldly spirit fill it rather than His Holy Spirit.  In answer to His disciples’ request for a sign that would mark His coming and the destruction of the temple that He had spoken of as He left, He warned them against being misled by false Christs who would war after the flesh in order to establish a worldly kingdom more appealing to the fallen nature of sinful man.  However, because His followers would not war with them to gratify their ravenous appetite for the world, but as sheep among wolves look to their Shepherd and His kingdom instead, they would be hated by all the kingdoms of this world for His namesake.  Standing in the righteousness and truth of His kingdom, their refusal to join with them would also as salt and light be a moral impediment that would prevent others from joining them as well.  As a result, they would be maligned as evil, subjected to tribulation, and even put to death in order to extinguish their light, which has been the experience of God’s true servants throughout history down to our own day; see Joh 3:19-20 and cf. Mat 14:3-5.  What do these things teach us about the notion held by some that before Christ’s coming God will “rapture” away His people to heaven so they will not experience tribulation?  See Mat 24:9,20-22,29-31.  Has that been the experience of His saints throughout history?  See Act 14:22, 1Th 3:4, Rev 7:14.  Are those whom God saves out of great tribulation preserved from it or delivered through it?  Cf. Mat 24:13 and the example of Noah in Mat 24:37-39; see also Psa 34:19.  In light of Mat 24:9 and Christ’s own example, does God’s promise to deliver His people through their tribulations necessarily mean they will not suffer affliction even unto death in this life?  See also Mat 23:34 and cf. Joh 16:33.  In contrast to this present evil age where men suffer tribulation warring after the world and put their lives on the line in order to kill their enemies and establish their kingdoms, what does Jesus’ own example remind us about the very different reason why His disciples suffer tribulation and how they put their lives on the line in order to establish His kingdom?  See Luk 6:27-36, Rev 12:11; cf. 1Pe 4:15-16, 2:19-20.

What additional sign of His coming does Jesus give in Mat 24:10?  Cf. 2Th 2:1-3.  What is the relationship between this sign and the tribulation He just spoke of that would come against His disciples?  Notice from the NAS text note that the Greek word used means literally to “be caused to stumble” and think: what is it that causes them to stumble so as to fall away from the truth?  Cf. Mat 13:5-6,20-21.  Besides causing them to fall away, why would the tribulation Christ predicts cause supposed Christians to betray and hate one another?  Notice also that the Greek word used is skandalizo from which we derive our word scandal, and which indicates the social stigma heaped upon Christ’s followers as criminals by the kingdoms of this world that results in their tribulation and the falling away of those who are not true; see 2Ti 1:8,12,16, 2:3,8-9, 4:9-10, Col 4:14.  Consider too that the cross was to that culture what the electric chair or hangman’s noose is to ours; i.e., the means of executing the very worst criminals; cf. Luk 23:32-33,35, 1Co 1:23 and think: what is the public’s general perception of those who are in prison or executed?  Throughout history what social stigma has been heaped upon those who have desired to follow Christ’s royal law and not take up arms to kill their enemies?  Think “traitor”, “sympathizer”, “draft dodger”, and consider that the first casualty of any war is the truth.  Hence those to whom Christ refers are caused to stumble over the offense of the cross and “fall away” for fear of being “stigmatized” or “scandalized” for the truth by the powers of the world; contrast Heb 11:24-26, and consider after the Scopes “monkey” trial how many accepted our modern world’s evolutionary dogma rather than be stigmatized as ignorant and unscientific.  What do these things remind us about the way God uses tribulations to test and strengthen the faith of His true followers while at the same time sifting out of His kingdom those who are not true?  See Mat 3:11-12, Luk 22:31 and cf. Psa 1:1-6, 1Pe 2:18-23, 4:12-14.  If then we are to be true disciples, what must be our response when confronted by such tribulations?  See Mat 24:13, Rom 12:12, Jam 1:12, Rev 1:9, 2:2-3.  How then should we come to view tribulation in this life?  Cf. Rom 5:3-5, Jam 1:2-4.

How does the social stigma that is used to scandalize Christ’s followers help us to understand why they would “be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends” (Luk 21:16)?  How does it also help us to understand how contrary the true gospel of Christ’s kingdom is to the kingdoms of this world that would cause His disciples to be delivered even by their own families to courts, to be flogged in synagogues, and to stand before governors and kings for His name’s sake as a testimony to them (Mar 13:9)?  What does this also teach us about the circumstances under which the true gospel that must be preached to all the nations and kingdoms of this world (Mat 24:14, Mar 13:10, Luk 21:13) is often presented to them?  Cf. Mat 23:34.  What did Jesus say His disciples should say at that time?  See Mar 13:11, Luk 21:14-15.  What did He Himself say as an example in such circumstances?  See Mat 27:12-14, Joh 18:36, Act 8:32, 1Pe 2:23; cf. Pro 17:28.

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