Understanding The Bible
Douglas B. MacCorkle "Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse"
CHAPTER FOUR - The Consummating of The Age

Chapter Four
The Consummating of The Age

In spite of the growing number of opposing voices, Messiah did have a fixed prophetic program which had not changed as late as this Olivet Tuesday of Passion week.

Some scholars run from complexity assuming that such a program as Messiah has set before Himself can be simple in its composition. When dealing with a whole world (Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-32) things are of necessity complex. Yet they are clearly understood when the whole counsel of the Word of God is focused.

We do not seek over-simplicity here but remind ourselves that we seek the mind of the Divine Author in the structure of His literature.

There are purposes connected with the consummation of the age referred to (Matt. 24:3) in the questioning. The age will come to a previously designed end (Greek sunteleia) as Matthew 24:6, 13, 14 indicate. The first purpose is suggested in Matthew 24:4-14. It is the bringing of the nation Israel into birth-pains. The schedule calls for a beginning and then for a consummating of these national birth-pains. Herein lies the meaning of the consummation of a particular age.

The beginning of birth-pains.
Matthew 24:8 provides us with an inspired identification of the content of verses 4-7. "All these things are the beginning of birth-pains." This identification tells the character of the period. If these verses are misplaced in the course of an age, then we have Israel in travail for an age. A birth is certainly in view.

Two elements dominate the picture of the beginning of birth-pains. They are deception (vss. 4-5) and disasters (vss. 6-7).

The deception described in verses 4-5 has to do with the leading of Israelites into doctrinal error in view of their historical record of having failed to recognize and receive the true Messiah. God is working on Israel during the birth-pains to bring it to recognize Messiah as Lord (Matt. 23:39). The Devil works to provide many claimants. Thus He confuses men but accomplishes his purpose of leading men into any error as long as it denies the true or genuine Messiah.

This deception is particularly revealing. It first of all reveals an intensity of deception. Secondly, it reveals a situation that could only develop before midweek in the tribulation period since one man alone will rise to the ascendancy during that last remaining half of the period. It will serve God's purposes nevertheless for it will separate the true from the false among the Israelites.

The disasters described in verses 6-7 are twofold and have a special relationship to the birth-pains of a regenerated nation Israel: There is the disaster of wars and the disaster of eruptions of nature. The wars are not the wars of our twentieth century but the wars of a period future to the rapture of the Church. The prophet foremost in mind in this discourse, Daniel, provides ample clues as to the nature of these wars (Daniel 2, 7, 11:40- 45). They are wars in which the final Antichrist will be moving toward his ascendancy over the nations. Some wars will be near Israel, others they will know about by reports (not rumors). All will be actual wars. This is how the pains toward national rebirth will start for Israel. That similarities and parallels may be found in history is not doubted. But similarities are not identicalities. This is not an historical but a prophetic frame of reference.

The consummation of the age.
The inspired identification of verses 9-14 is found in verse 14. "And then shall the consummation come." What consummation? The consummation of the age concerning which the question asked (v. 3), and whose consummation was not yet (v. 6), because it then was only the beginning of the consummation.

Between verses 8 and 9 the seven year, seventieth week is split in half. During verses 9-14 Antichrist is at the peak of his devilish dictatorship. This gives rise to the actions occurring in the verses. In the beginning of birth-pains the instruction was "see that ye be not troubled." Now the instruction is "he that endures . . ." There has been a change and the pressures are increased. The once protected Israelites are now persecuted. Once they were protected under the covenant of the false Messiah (Dan. 9:27); now they are objects of world wide hatred.

The closing birth-pains of the age are quickened by a special delivering up of Israelites into tribulation. Martyrdoms will take place. World wide hatred will be upon them. These three experiences will be theirs for Messiah's sake. This is a change indeed for the record shows Israel usually in difficulty for its own sake. But now it is nearing Messiah's Second Advent time and He is bringing Israel through His program unto repentance and regeneration.

The persecution of verse 9 triggers difficulty within the nation. Verse 10 reveals that many Israelites will be stumbled by the external persecution directed against Israel and shall turn their own people in through hatred of those who finally come to recognize and believe in Messiah.

The persecution will be fed by lying prophets (v. 11) who will be as successful as the prophets of Baal in leading many into doctrinal error. With this open sin abounding (v. 12) the professed love of the man shall grow cold. The one who abides under the pressures of this tribulation period will be saved that is, not be martyred but will physically enter the kingdom or millennial age.

The Gospel of the kingdom (v. 14) will be preached as a testimony during that period. It will reach the entire inhabitable world. It is the good news of personal redemption plus the announcement of the kingdom economy. The development of the kingdom aspect begins in the discourse at this point, but the development is extensive.

There is only a supposed difficulty in speaking of a kingdom in connection with the Gospel. Currently a person is saved and baptized into the Church (1 Cor. 12:13). He is individually saved and then incorporated into the Church. In the tribulation period there will be individual salvation and promised entrance into an earthly kingdom. This is simply a change of economy which is God's sovereign right.

Then there is the corporate aspect. The testimony will be proclaimed throughout the world. This does not mean that the whole world will respond. Quite the opposite actually happens. But the purpose is to make the world officially aware that the kingdom of heaven is about to be set up on the earth. What that kingdom is would be known from 2 Samuel 7:12-18 and Daniel 2. Why things are brought to their final consummation by the Gospel of the kingdom is evident when one understands Israel's need for regeneration (cf. Jer. 31:31 ff), and the covenant that guarantees it.

Instructions to the believers in the consummation.
In verses 15-28 the structure of verses 4-14 is viewed from another angle. Here instruction is given to show the believers of those end times how to adjust themselves to the temper of the times. This instruction touches the matters of desolation (24:15-20), decree (24:21- 22), deception (24:23-26), and deliverance (24:27-28).

The desolation spoken of by Messiah is to be taken in the light of Daniel's prophecy. It covers the last three and one-half years of the seventieth week and is introduced by the breaking of the false covenant made with Israel by Antichrist (Dan. 9:27). But "that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." The bowls of God's wrath will be poured upon both the desolation ' and the desolator (Rev. 16). The desolation is most obnoxious in its pollution of the sanctuary (Dan. 11:31), for it causes the desolation to spread over a wider range of objectives (Dan. 12:11). It is operated by Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-10; Rev. 13) and his false prophet.

When Antichrist takes up his position in the holiest place, believing Israelites are instructed to flee from the environs (24:16- 20). The variety of needs for flight (v. 20) are discussed, all of which insist on a Judean and Jewish context. It will be a difficult instruction for all to keep, especially those pregnant.

The decree concerning the scheduling of time is also to be seen in Daniel (9:24-27; 12:7, 11-12) and taken as yet future by reading Revelation 11:2-3; 12:12; 13:5. It is not that the days shall be shortened (A. V.); they have already been shortened by decree (A. S. V.). The speed with which God will bring Antichrist to his end is one of the chief subjects of Revelation 6-19.

The deception which everywhere in the discourse centers on the person of Messiah is a reminder of the Egyptian magicians who could counterfeit successfully, up to a point. The clue to the unmasking of deceivers is found in their secretive ways (vv. 23, 25). As these deceivers preach the second advent and apply it to their particular false Messiah, they will be providing the very clue to their falsity for the genuine Messiah will come in a sign-loaded manner (24:27-28) and every eye will be able to see Him where He must reveal Himself (Dan. 7:13). This is, of course, an explanation of the persistent deception of 24:4-5, 11. Thus deception is one of the key concepts of the end times.

The deliverance will be sudden (24:27-28) and smashing. The vultures will be invited to feed upon the carcasses (Rev. 19:17-18) of the fallen unbelievers who will die when Messiah manifests Himself (2 Thess. 2:8). Herein lies the hope of the tribulation saint. This hope will sustain his endurance (24:13) and crown it with life in the earthly kingdom which follows the return of Messiah.

The consummating of the age continues the development of the themes which were previously introduced in this exposition. It confirms the accuracy of Daniel's predictions and connects them with the second advent of Messiah. It shows an international scene in which the times of the Gentiles are shaped by God in His own ends even though intended by the Gentiles for a different objective. It reveals that the nation Israel is in view from 23:37 throughout and beyond this point in our ex- position. We are viewing the prophetic peaks of decree, desolation and deliverance. To this point, the emphasis has been on decree and desolation. Pivoting on 24:27-28, the emphasis will now be chiefly on deliverance. Herein lies the hope of Israel. Herein also lies the hope of the world of Gentiles beyond the rapture of the Church.

  [1] The Writings of Douglas B. MacCorkle (also see brief Biography)

Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse. Copyright 1968 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. Third Printing 1972. Printed by Careers With Christ Press, Philadelphia College of Bible, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.

God's Own VIPS, Copyright 1987 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc., Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.

Dr. MacCorkle's Books and Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without express permission.

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