“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)?
The Passover was at hand, yet Jesus sat peacefully resting in the Mount of Olives. As He rested, His disciples came to Him and asked three different questions in one sentence. It is entirely possible that Matthew was the one who asked the question, and if it wasn’t Matthew, we can be quite sure that he was sitting nearby, listening intently to His response. The first question was, “When” will the Temple be destroyed and when will you return? Their second question was, “What will be” concerning the signs of your return and the end of the age? His disciples were so convinced that His return and the end of the age would happen simultaneously, that they put the two events together. As we will see in our study, they are separate events in time. What precipitated their question? God’s Word tells us.
The bible records that as Jesus and His disciples walked towards Jerusalem from Bethany that Jesus was hungry. Spotting a fig tree that appeared healthy and inviting, He went to eat some figs but found the tree to be barren (a picture of Israel). Jesus cursed the fig tree and then continued with his disciples into Jerusalem (We will see the importance of the fig tree as we continue in our study). The city of Jerusalem was bustling with people, many of them had come from long distances to be a part of the Passover Feast. While there, the disciples were so inspired by the beauty of the Temple that they pointed it out to Him. To which He replied, “Do you see all these things” (the Temple foremost but also the city) “Truly I say to you, not one stone shall be left upon another which will not be torn down” (Matt. 24:2). The disciples were stunned, and they waited for an opportune time to question Him further.
As we move into our study concerning the return of Christ, it is important to note that biblical prophecy concerning near and distant events are often found in one sentence. God’s prophets prophesied in that manner because they rarely understood what was near and what was distant. That was not the case with Jesus. He knew with precision of the coming events as chapters twenty-four and twenty-five reveal. Yet there was something that He did not know. In His humanity He did not know the day and hour of His return. Looking back at history, it is easy to see that the prophecy concerning the destruction of the Temple was very near, while the rapture of the Church and the coming Tribulation were still some two thousand years in the future. Even so, the signs that Jesus gave His disciples were a wake-up call that judgment was just around the corner. How much more are those signs a wake-up call to us today? They give us undeniable evidence that the tribulation and His return are very near. We don’t have to be bible scholars to see that the rapture of the Church will soon take place, ushering in the last week of Daniel, or as it is better known, the Time of Tribulation. These events will soon take place, but one of the Lord’s prophecies has already taken place. Let’s take a look at the first prophecy concerning the destruction of the Temple.
In AD 70, a Roman General named Titus marched on Jerusalem, laid siege to it and razed it to the ground. The Temple was burned, and tradition records that the huge amounts of gold and silver that adorned the inside walls melted and ran between the cracks of the large stones that comprised the walls of the Temple. In an effort to retrieve the gold and silver, men pulled one stone from another until exactly as Jesus had prophesied, not one stone was left upon another. Jerusalem was completely wasted and almost all of its inhabitants, men, women, and children were murdered at the hands of Titus. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered causing the people to flee to the four corners of the earth. Only a small remnant remained in and around Jerusalem, fulfilling the Judgment prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:19). Israel was no longer a nation.
Consider that as Jesus began to answer the question His disciples asked, He knew that He would soon become the sacrificial Lamb of God. He also knew that Pilate would offer the people a choice. Their choice? Too set free a thief and murderer named Barabbas, or to free the sinless One, Jesus Christ. Heaven and earth recorded that Israel chose to free Barabbas. In ignorance they cried out, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27-25). Little did they know that God would grant their request and allow them to have exactly what they clamored for. There is a lesson to be learned here.
Knowing that His return to His Father was at hand and that His disciples would soon be without a shepherd, Jesus did not begin His answer with “When” or “What,” but rather, He began with a warning. He said, “See to it that no one misleads you!” The message is unchanging! Today there are many false teachers infiltrating the Church as well as false prophets who will appear during the Tribulation to mislead the nation of Israel. The spirit of the antichrist is no Johnny come lately, he has been present on earth since the death of Jesus on the Cross. His intent is to deny the Deity of Jesus. He delights in hearing Him called a prophet akin to Muhammed, or A son of God. He is doing everything in his power to keep the earth from knowing that Jesus is the Son, the only begotten Son of God. Very soon, a man will appear on the political scene who will entice the nations into believing that he has the answers to the world’s problems. He will be Satan’s strongman here on earth. Another man will also appear who will supreme power in the existing apostate church, performing extraordinary signs and wonders. Deceived, millions of people will give their allegiance to the antichrist. Together with the spirit of Satan, they will become an unholy trinity here on earth. The antichrist will present himself as the savior of the world and millions will choose to follow him. Jesus said, “Don’t be deceived.”
Lead by the Spirit, please allow me to close this teaching with a Truth: No sin of the flesh will send anyone to hell, it will be a sin of the spirit. Saying “No” to Jesus as Savior and Lord is the only sin that His atoning blood will not blot out. Do you know Him? Have you received Him? You need to be sure – – – your eternal soul depends on it.
Next week we will look at “What will be the sign of His coming.” Until then, be comforted that God is in control. As always, we welcome any prayer requests, questions, or comments. In Christ, Don & Penny Griffin. Need a phone number? 912-384-0141