WHY DOES MATTHEW 24:26 HIGHLIGHT THE “DESERT” AND THE “SECRET CHAMBERS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
As part of the Olivet Discourse, His famous end-times sermon, the Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 24:26: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” What is the significance of the “desert?” Exactly what are these “secret chambers?”
So as to shed light on the subject, we appeal to prior verses: “ And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many….  Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  Behold, I have told you before.”
The context, then, is false Messiahs, false Christs, false prophets—counterfeit preachers, fake “representatives of God.” Jesus warns His audience not to let these liars trick them. Verse 26 again: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” If someone tells them to go and see “Messiah” in the desert, they are to refuse. Also, they should not believe anyone who says “Messiah” is in the secret chambers. Both are counterfeit Messiahs, false Christs (verse 24). When Israel’s Messiah does arrive, it will be Jesus at His Second Coming. The Lord Jesus will not arise in some private or secluded way. Rather, He will be seen entering Jerusalem from the east. See Ezekiel 43:1-5. Signs in the heavens will precede that Second Coming (Matthew 24:27,29-30). It will be a public, noticeable, stunning return in power and great glory!
“Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth….” What is so special about “the desert” and Messiah? Isaiah 40:1-3 said this 700 years before Christ: “ Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.  Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Matthew 3:1-4, Mark 1:1-4, Luke 3:1-6, and John 1:23 apply this to John the Baptist conducting his ministry in the wilderness of Judaea in order to introduce Messiah Jesus to Israel. “And the child [John the Baptist] grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80). As Jesus went out to John in the desert, so false Messiahs and false prophets will, evidently, abide in the desert to appear to be fulfilling Bible prophecy. It is deception!
“Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Exactly what are these “secret chambers?” When Herod’s Temple was operating in Jerusalem 20 centuries ago, it had special rooms (lodgings) where traveling prophets could spend the night. According to the Lord Jesus, during the end times, false Messiahs would be introduced after first entering one of these rooms. While Herod’s Temple is no longer present, we can think of the future as involving false Messiahs claiming the rights and privileges of a prophet. Again, it is deception!
Moses, speaking in Deuteronomy chapter 18, says of Messiah: “ The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;…  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” According to Acts 3:22-23, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (cf. John the Baptist’s refusal to be called “that prophet” in John 1:21,25). Beyond our day, false Messiahs—especially the Antichrist—will surely attempt to apply this passage to themselves. They will claim to be genuine prophets. As with those in the desert (see earlier comments), those in the secret chambers will appear legitimate. Jesus told His audience not to believe either individual because they are all part of that massive deception surrounding the Antichrist’s ascension to power (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
We can move on to Matthew 24:27 for further light: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The coming of the Son of Man—His Second Coming—will not occur in the desert or secret chambers (verse 26). No, the Lord Jesus will return as lightning comes out of the east, and shines to the west. There will be spectacular astronomical phenomena at the Second Coming of Christ (see Matthew 24:29-30)—lights and sounds (thunder). His return will be unmistakable. They will know it when Jesus comes! “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus is the true Messiah, and the unique nature of His coming will prove Him to be quite different from the false Christs and false prophets of verses 5, 23, 24, and 26.