Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or Here; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matt. 24:23,24)The Revelation of the Lord Jesus
Satan always takes advantage of every situation. In the midst of the great consternation that will grip the entire world during the Tribulation Period there will arise many false prophets and christs who will actually, by the power of Satan, perform great signs and wonders, leading astray if possible even the elect of God. We are to understand that these supernatural portents will be genuine, Satanic miracles. Some have erroneously considered them as sleight-of-hand tricks, but this conclusion is rather hasty.
As you will remember, when Moses appeared to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage he was empowered to perform miracles. When he presented himself before Pharaoh and performed these appointed wonders, however, the magicians of Egypt duplicated the first two, and their signs were just as supernatural and real as those performed by Moses! All the miracles, both those wrought by Moses and those by the Egyptian magicians, were genuine, supernatural manifestations of super-human power. The difference was that the power energizing Moses was that of the Holy Eternal God, whereas that which worked through the magicians was of the adversary of the soul--Satan.
Not only did our Lord foretell demonic machinations in the end time, but also the Apostle Paul spoke of these diabolical workings of Satan which will confirm the erroneous teachings of false prophets. To these Paul referred in 1 Tim. 4:1f. In 2 Thess. 2 he also spoke of the man of sin whose coming would be by the energy of Satan and who would perform lying wonders and signs to deceive the people.
In the midst of the Tribulation false prophets will arise who will declare that the Messiah has made His appearance. Some will affirm that He is in the city, whereas others will declare that He is in some secret place in the rural districts. Knowing that such deceptions will be practiced upon the people, our Lord warned His disciples so that they might not be deceived by such wild rumors. Christ declared that His coming would be like the flashing of the lightning across the heavens as it passes from the east to the west. From the Apostle John we learn that at the visible manifestation of His coming every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7). Reports of the secret coming of the Lord will be pure fabrications.
"Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together" (vs. 28) is a rather unusual prediction. What is its significance? There are two possible explanations. Remember that vultures or buzzards are attracted by the odors of a decaying carcass. Whenever they scent its presence they soar over the spot where it lies, and finally alight to feast upon it. What in the prediction corresponds to the carcass in this illustration? The answer probably is found in Deut. 28:26: "And thy dead body shall be food unto all birds of the heavens, and unto the beasts of the earth; and there shall be none to frighten them away." Reading the context of this passage, we see that the body referred to can be nothing except the body politic of the Jewish nation.
Then to whom do the vultures refer? Some tell us that the passage signifies Christ. Just as the vultures soar to a body or carcass, so our Lord will return to His beloved people, Israel, and will deliver them. This interpretation is possible but it is not the necessary one. Another version explains the carcass as referring to the body politic of the Jewish nation but compares the false prophets to the vultures against whom our Lord has just given warning. Just as the buzzards devour the carcass, so will the false prophets prey upon the deluded masses of Israel in the end time and take advantage of their credulity. This latter interpretation seems to me to fit the context a little better than the former one.
The Tribulation Period will be terminated by the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ here upon the earth. When the last bowl of God's wrath has been poured out by the angel, immediately the sign of the coming of the Son of man will appear in the heavens. Then, before the startled gaze of those who have survived the Tribulation, the mighty glory of the returning Lord will flash forth; but prior to this sign in the heavens there will be great convulsions of nature, not only among the heavenly bodies but also upon the earth. Everything will be thrown into confusion, for "the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (vs. 29).Disturbance in the Physical Realm
Behold, the day of Jehovah cometh, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger; to make the land a desolation, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine. (Isa. 13:9,10)
A glance at the context from which this passage was taken shows that the prophet was talking of the day of the Lord, the Tribulation Period. Joel also spoke of this event (2:10). This corresponds with Jesus' remarks in the Olivet Discourse as quoted here.
What is meant by the sun's not giving her light? Since we are logically bound to accept every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless there is evidence in the context to indicate otherwise, we are forced to accept the statement at its face value. Therefore we may expect at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation there will be some disturbance in the physical realm which will veil the sun and prevent its light from flooding the earth. Joel also tells us that the moon will be turned "into blood" (vs. 31) or, as in Rev. 6:12, the "whole moon became as blood." In other words, its appearance will be very red. At the same time stars will withdraw their shining. They will be veiled behind something.
The fulfillment of these predictions may be illustrated by the destruction of the earth as set forth in Gen. 1:2-5. The primeval order was wrecked by some great cataclysm. At that time darkness shrouded the world so the light from the sun, moon and stars did not penetrate to the earth until the fourth day. In all probability, something similar will occur to shut off the light from the heavenly bodies.
Jeremiah 4:23-26 confirms this. The conjunction for, which introduces vs. 27, indicates it is explanatory of vss. 23-26. The prophet spoke of the great destruction coming in the Tribulation in vss. 27-31.
Isa. 34:4 "And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fade away as the leaf fadeth from off the vine, and as a fading leaf from the fig-tree." The context of this verse shows the prophet was speaking of the time of the Tribulation Period when God will have indignation upon all the nations. Beyond question then, we understand from the context that Isaiah was speaking of the same cosmic changes which will take place during and at the conclusion of this period of wrath.
2 Peter 3:1-13: In this famous passage the apostle tells us that in the last days mockers will come, calling in question the possibility of the fulfillment of our Lord's promise to return. They will say there have been no changes in the physical earth from the days that the fathers or apostles fell asleep until the present and that things remain as they have been from the beginning of creation. Peter informs us, however, that the heavens and earth which existed prior to the Flood were destroyed at that time of disaster. That cataclysm was brought about by the Word of God--the Living Word--the Christ. The present heavens and earth are now being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
In vs. 8 Peter affirms that the Lord can fulfill a promise a thousand years after He has made it just as easily as on the day He uttered it. We should not make the mistake of thinking the longsuffering of God is unfaithfulness in fulfilling His promise to return and establish His great Millennial reign. On the contrary, the apostle affirms that the day of the Lord will come as a thief: "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Peter, in answering the mockers of the last days who reject the doctrine of our Lord's Second Coming, was speaking of the great destruction to take place throughout our present solar system during the day of the Lord.
In our Lord's utterance, He told us that the stars would fall from Heaven. How are we to interpret this language? The skies have been charted and the principal stars and constellations have been located on our great celestial maps. Because of the stability and regularity of the movement of the heavenly bodies, we know at the present time just where to find each. But in the Tribulation Period, especially toward the close of it when the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, many of these stars will fall or move from their present location in relation to the others. Such is the common-sense meaning of our Lord's prediction relative to this matter.
But some insist this language is not to be taken literally, but figuratively. It is altogether possible that the falling of the stars may be phenomenal language or, "the language of appearance." Frequently a meteor passes through our atmosphere and we immediately speak of it as a shooting star, although we know exactly what it is. Some scientists think this prediction concerning the falling of the stars will find its fulfillment in our earth's crashing into a shower of meteorites. To the observer, then, the phenomenon he sees will appear as the stars falling from the heavens. I have been informed that some scientists are telling us that our present solar system is moving very rapidly in space and is destined to crash into a mighty shower of meteorites. It is altogether probable that the Lord, knowing the end from the beginning, has timed the movements of the heavenly bodies so that at the psychological moment when He is to punish the world for its wickedness the earth will crash into this great shower of meteorites, upsetting the present cosmic order. When the world's cup of iniquity is full to overflowing--when it reaches the point that God can no longer endure it in love--His justice and righteousness will demand that He punish its inhabitants. Having timed all things from the beginning, at the psychological moment when the world will have plunged to the very depths of degradation, sin and blasphemy, the earth with its cosmic order will be thrown into utter confusion. Such seems to be the plain, common-sense meaning of the language spoken by the prophets and by our Lord.