Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1968
NUMBER 35, PAGE 2b-3

What Are The Signs Of The Coming?

Leslie Diestelkamp

All over the world, when men and women are asked about signs of the second coming of Christ and of the end of the world, people turn to Matt. chapter twenty-four. "Wars and rumors of wars... earthquakes, famines" etc. are sure signs to most people.

But let us examine the chapter carefully, yet briefly, as follows:

1. Jesus did not begin to discuss his second coming nor the end of the world. He simply began to warn his disciples of the destruction of the temple upon which they were looking (v.2) Of course we now know that the significance of that destruction was not just the tearing down of a great stone building, but it was to mark the end of the Jewish state, the final elimination of every vestige of any special benefit to the Jews, and even the destruction of the great city of Jerusalem. Today we can look back into history and see the fulfillment completely accomplished in 70 A.D.

2. But the disciples could hardly think such a destruction possible except at the consummation of all things. Surely, they thought, the temple will only be destroyed when Jesus comes again and/or in the end of the world. So they asked three questions which they really meant as only one question, or at the most two. They were thinking: "If the temple will be destroyed at the end of the world after you have come, when will all of this be, and what are the signs for which we may look?"

3. But Jesus did not answer according to their arrangement. He divided their questions into two distinct parts: (A) "When shall these things be?" that is, when will the temple be destroyed? and (B) "What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?"

4. In answering the first question Jesus gave some signs to warn the disciples of impending persecution and destruction: (A) There would be wars, earthquakes, famine, etc., but these would be just "as usual" on the earth and not "special" for that occasion. These would indeed bring troubles, "but the end is not yet" and "these are the beginning of sorrows" (V.6-8). (B) Then there would be persecution, false prophets, great iniquity and widespread desertion of the faith (V.9-12).(C) But the gospel would be preached to all parts of the world (V.14). (See fulfillment: Col. 1:23.)

5. Jesus gave additional warnings about those times when the temple would be destroyed: (A) Pray for good weather for your flight (V. 20). (B) Pray that the flight would not occur on the Jewish Sabbath, for then the gates of the city would be shut, making escape almost impossible (V.20). (C) You should hope that the mother will not have to carry a baby for this would make the flight very burdensome (V. 19). (D) But don't tarry to gather extra possessions, for time would be very precious (V. 17,18). (E) And flee for your life, out of the city into the mountains (V. 16) when you see the destruction (Armies) coming.

6. Then Jesus showed that "Immediately after the destruction of the temple and the accompanying persecutions, the Jewish State and the religious system of the Jews would be eliminated (See symbolic language of verse 29.)

7. At the same time as the end of the Jewish system, the rule of Christ from heaven in his kingdom on earth would be gloriously and powerfully demonstrated and magnified (See symbolic language of verse 30,31.)

8. All the foregoing events would occur within the lifetime of some of them then present (V. 34).

9. Now, at last, Jesus turns to the last two parts of their question, which two parts he answers as one question only: What are the signs? He says, There will be no signs of His coming or of the coming or of the end of the world (V. 36).

(B) His coming and the end of the world will be without announcement and the world would not be expecting it (V. 37-41). (C) Therefore Jesus urges his disciples to "Watch" and to "Be ready" (V. 42-46).

By carefully, step-by-step considering the above brief outline, I believe Matthew chapter twenty-four becomes quite clear and in fact self-explanatory. If there is a question regarding the symbolic application of verses 29-31, then compare Isaiah chapter 13 which uses very similar language and very definitely suggests that it is a portrayal of the destruction of Babylon. Also, by comparing Matt. 24 with Mark 13 and Luke 21, one easily sees that the disciples considered their three questions as only one question (Mk. 13:4; Lk. 21:7). Likewise Luke 21:20 clearly shows that the "flight" Jesus spoke of in Matt. 24:15-22 was to be from the armies of an enemy, and that the desolation spoken of was that of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Now that we know that the prophecy of Jesus about the ruin of the temple has long since been accomplished, and that with it has gone the complete Jewish system, let us turn our attention seriously to the end of the world which will occur when Jesus comes again (Jn. 5:28,29; II Peter 3: 10-13), and to the Judgment day coming for all of us (II Cor. 5:10). Let us prepare for eternity for the future by faithfulness to Christ in the present.

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