The Scripture that some use to teach this concept is Matthew 24:22. Various translations use the terms “cut short” in quoting the words of Jesus Christ. For instance, the NIV states: “‘If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.'” Similarly, the NKJV renders this verse: “‘And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.'”
What days will be “cut short” or “shortened”?
In verse 3 of Matthew 24, some of the disciples asked Jesus: “‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'” Jesus answered them by revealing events far into the future, and He concentrated His response on the events of the generation alive at the time that the Father would send Jesus back to the earth to forcefully intervene in world affairs.
Jesus stated: “‘Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things know that it is near–at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but MY WORDS WILL BY NO MEANS PASS AWAY'” (Matthew 24:32-35).
Jesus is very clear in stating that what He has spoken regarding prophecy will come to pass–all of it! This includes even everything written in the Old Testament regarding the end time, as Christ is the “Word of God” — the Father’s Spokesman –, inspiring those writings (compare Revelation 19:13; John 1:1, 14). In the parallel record of Luke, we find this statement by Jesus: “‘For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled'” (Luke 21:22). Time and again, Jesus spoke of fulfilling the things written about Himself, and there is no record of Him not completing all that was written about Him (Compare Matthew 21:4; John 13:18; Matthew 26:56; John 19:28). Jesus emphatically stated that He fulfilled ALL that was written about Him: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me'” (Luke 24:44).
In very plain language, Jesus taught about His role, and He further declared that the Word of God would be carried out: “‘Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled'” (Matthew 5:17-18).
This comprehensive statement from Jesus applies to specific prophecies about Him for the time of His physical lifetime, and they apply to yet future events involving not only Himself but the entire Word of God!
From this we can understand that all of what God’s Word has recorded concerning prophecy will be fulfilled!
Some refer to 1 Corinthians 13:8, claiming that this passage says that certain prophecies will not be fulfilled. However, this is not what that passage conveys. It reads: “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail.” Later, in verse 13, Paul says: “And now abide faith, hope, love.” The contrast here is between something which will endure forever, and something which will only endure for a while and then vanish away.
Please note that Paul is using different words for “fail” in verse 8. In the Greek, the word associated with “love” is “ekpipto,” which means, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, “to fall off or away.” The Greek word associated with “prophecy” is, “katargeo.” It means, according to Young’s, “to make useless.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible gives, as one possible rendering, the expression, “vanish away.”
While love will always endure (as it is part of God’s character–in fact, God IS love), prophecies will cease. This could be a reference to inspired preaching by men (as there will come a time when all men will have been changed into spirit beings–or those who did not qualify for God’s Kingdom will have ceased to exist); or, it could refer to prophecies of the future. If the latter, then they will cease when the events prophesied will have come to pass.
Paul is not saying that some of God’s prophecies, if they are UNCONDITIONAL, will not come to pass. It is true, however, that God has given certain prophecies which are conditional; that is, they depend on whether or not man repents. Notice, for example, Jeremiah 18:7-11; or the entire book of Jonah.
What then is meant in Matthew 24:22? What will be “cut short” or “shortened”?
In the entire record of Matthew 24, Jesus presents an overview to His followers (that includes us in our own generation) of events in the world that will lead to His return. However, He specifically states that we will be only able to recognize the generation of His return (verse 34), but not the exact day (verse 36), nor the exact times or seasons (Acts 1:7), that is, the exact year or the season of that year. Horrific events of wars, earthquakes, persecutions and great tribulation will arise during the period leading to God’s intervention in human affairs. This time period will be unique for its misery and stark hopelessness, with the real certainty of life being eradicated from the earth (Compare Matthew 24:21-22)!
When Jesus does return to this earth, He will face the challenge of dealing with a planet that has been devastated! Isaiah 49:8 states that the coming Messiah would “‘…restore the earth.'” Great future damage will occur to the earth–much of it at the hand of mankind. We find this ominous statement in Revelation 11:18: “‘The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those WHO DESTROY THE EARTH.'”
We understand, then, that God will send Jesus Christ back to this earth to stop what mankind is doing. Through science, various nations have now gained access to the power of nuclear weapons, as well as biological agents, along with other unimaginably vile inventions capable of destroying life on the entire planet. Prophetic events yet to occur indicate that men will begin wars in which these devastating devices will be unleashed on such a scale that only the intervention of God through Jesus Christ will put an end to this coming suicidal madness! (Our writings consistently warn of these impending occurrences. “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord” deals with many of the specific prophecies in this regard; also, please see our internet video program at www.standingwatch.org.)
The answer to what will be “cut short” or “shortened” is exactly stated in Scripture: It is “the days” (Matthew 24:22), when all these terrible end-time events will take place. In other words, man’s time to completely destroy life will not be allowed to run its full course, as God will cut short the destructive actions of a world in rebellion against God–one that will even fight Jesus Christ at His return (Compare Revelation 19:11-21). None of God’s Word will be “cut short” or “shortened.” In fact ALL that God has prophesied unconditionally for the future will come to pass until the last jot and the last tittle are completely fulfilled!