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Bible: What Does Matthew 24 Teach Us About The Signs of Jesus' Second Coming to Earth?

Updated on August 20, 2016

Jesus, the Prophet/Lord




The Four Horsemen


Wars and Rumors of Wars


Natural Disasters


144,000 Jews


Events Fulfilled in A.D. 70?

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Matthew 24: "Signs" Leading up to Jesus' Second Coming to Earth

Jesus Prophesies the Destruction of the Temple

As Jesus is leaving the temple area, the disciples point out the temple buildings to Him (v. 1).

[Mark records that one disciple makes enthusiastic remarks about the stones and about the buildings being erected (13:1).]

Seemingly unmoved by their great size and beauty, Christ prophesies sadly about their complete destruction—an event that would occur in A.D. 70 at the hands of the Roman army (v. 2).

On the Mount of Olives, they—Mark records that Andrew temporarily joined the “inner circle” (13:3)—approach Him with two questions having three parts (or, as Charles Ryrie says, with three questions [New Testament Study Bible, 51]) [v. 3].

[An analysis of the chapter reveals that Matthew omits Jesus’ answer to their first question.

Luke pens Jesus’ reply to their question about the temple’s destruction (21: 20-24).]

The Lord answers the last question regarding the “signs” of the end of the age more fully than He does the query about the “sign” of His parousia.

The Beginning of Sorrows

Referring to them as “the beginning of sorrows” (v. 8), He describes the three-part, first stage of “signs”:

(1) Rampant spiritual deception will characterize that time (vv. 4-5);

(2) The prevalence of “wars and rumors of wars”—“nation . . . against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”—will signal the approach of the end, but not of its arrival (vv. 6-7a);

(3) Extensive (global?) natural disasters will prevail (v. 7b; cf. Rev. 6:1-8).

[The events in this first stage have been transpiring throughout the Church Age; however, they will intensify as the end approaches].

The Persecution of Jews

A second stage consists of the hateful, worldwide persecution of believing Israelites that causes violent reaction, betrayal, and murder (vv. 9-10; cf. Rev. 12: 12-17).

Jesus also mentions the proliferation of deceitful false prophets—an occurrence that differs from the earlier appearances of false Christs (v. 11; cf. v. 5).

Lawlessness (sin, cf. 1 John 3:4) means the condition of being without law.

With no restraints upon, and therefore no immediate consequences for, engaging in sinful behavior, many people will treat others with contempt (v. 12).

Those who endure the preceding horrors until the “end”—the coming of Christ—shall know salvation (v. 13).

[To which aspect of salvation does Jesus refer: physical, spiritual, or both?]

The Proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom

The worldwide proclamation of the “gospel of the kingdom” will take place concurrently with all of these events before Christ returns (v. 14).

[Those who preach the “gospel of the kingdom” will testify to the coming establishment of Messiah’s reign upon the Earth.

The 144,000 Jews (Rev. 7) will undoubtedly spearhead this campaign.]

Satan and the Roman Prince


The Remnant of Israel




Prophecy Written to Jewish Remnant in the Great Tribulation

Over thirty years have elapsed since Jesus referenced Daniel 9 and the prophecy of the “abomination of desolation,” and the apostles have yet to see it/him “standing in the holy place.”

Therefore Matthew adds, “Whoever reads, let him understand,” so that individuals would know that this prophecy remains unfulfilled (v. 15).

According to Daniel 9:26, "the prince who is to come"—a “Roman” leader—makes a covenant with Israel which they agree would last seven years (''one week").

However, he will break it off after three and one-half years--the Apostle John often mentions this very significant figure [or its equivalent] in the book of Revelation)-- and stop the Jews from continuing their sacrifice rituals in the rebuilt temple.

This Roman dictator sets up the "abomination of desolation" (see 11:31;12:11), which stays in place "until the consummation . . . is poured out," i.e., until Jerusalem's judgment is completely spent.

In light of this event, Jesus instructs the Jewish remnant who will be living during that time to leave Judea both immediately and quickly, so that they might survive the persecution that the setting up of this idol will provoke (vv. 16-20).

Not only will the Jews suffer because of the hatred of the dragon (Rev. 12:13-17) and the Beast (Rev. 13:7), but the whole world will then experience the “great tribulation”—the most horrific time of trouble ever to assault the Earth (v. 21).

“Those days will be shortened” does not mean that the great tribulation will last fewer days than originally intended, viz., 1260; the clause merely signifies that the end of the age will arrive, and trouble will cease with it (v. 22a).

God will pour out the various judgments (specified in Revelation), and they will run their course. Then they will stop so that the elect will be able to survive physically and enter the kingdom (v. 22b).

The Campaign of Armageddon

A third time Jesus warns the remnant beforehand about reports of miracle-working, spiritual counterfeits (prophets and messiahs) who will try to gather a following, even among the elect (vv. 23-25; cf. 24:4-5, 11).

The Son of Man will not appear in the desert or inner rooms (v. 26), but will come dramatically and visibly, manifesting Himself in a blaze of glory like lightning that will shock the armed forces which have gathered to fight in the Valley of Megiddo (vv. 27-28).

[The clauses “Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together” indicate a great feast for carrion birds (cf. Rev. 19: 17-18).]

Second Coming of Christ to the Earth


Rapture in Matthew 24?

Do you believe the Rapture occurs in Matthew 24?

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The Second Coming of Christ to the Earth

In the diminished light of those post-Tribulation days, the sign of the Son of Man (His shekinah?) will streak across the sky, causing “the tribes of the earth” to mourn when they see the Lord returning to Earth (vv. 29-30; cf. Rev. 1:7; Zech.12:10-11).

His angels will then gather the elect “from one end of heaven to the other,” and bring them to this site (v. 31).

[The trumpet is neither the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 (which mentions no gathering) nor the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians 15 (which signals the Rapture and resurrection of the Church).

The elect group assembled here enters the kingdom in their mortal bodies.]

Jesus illustrates with a parable how His elect will know His coming is near. Just as the appearance of leaves on the fig tree signals the arrival of summer (v. 32), so the appearance of all the preceding events trumpets the coming of the kingdom of God (v. 33).

Whatever generation of Jews witnesses these things will not die (“pass away”) before it sees all of them (v. 34); Christ, Whose words are eternally true, assures His audience of this fact (v. 35).

In His state of humiliation, Jesus does not know when He will return to set up His kingdom; only the first Person of the Triune Godhead knows when the Second Person (the Messiah, the Son of Man, Jesus) will come again (v. 36; cf. Phil. 2:5-8).

Daily "Life" Before Jesus' Return

His coming will find people complacently drifting through life, carrying on mundane activities as usual—namely, marriage (v. 38) and work (vv. 40-41)—as they were doing in antediluvian times (vv. 37, 39).

As the Flood “took” people and they perished, so Jesus’ return will “take” people into judgment (cf.13:30, 41-42, 49, and 50).

The Lord exhorts the remnant to “watch” (vv. 42-43) and “be ready” (v. 44) for the unknown hour of His return.

[Who does “the thief in the night” symbolize—Jesus? The rapture of the Church is imminent, so no one knows when it will occur.

However, is the “hour” of Jesus’ return to Earth also unknown?]

Heaven and Hell


Reward and Punishment

Those servants whom He finds faithfully executing their responsibilities when He comes He will reward handsomely (vv. 45-47); those whom He discovers behaving wickedly because of their want of vigilance He will chasten severely (vv. 48-51).

[The place this latter group ends up in sounds like what Jesus described earlier: Hell (cf.13:42, 50); however, the present text does not indicate that it is the same location. Similarity is not equivalent to identity.

Therefore, while it is possible that these latter servants may go to Hell, it is also possible that they may not.

These unfaithful servants may be believers who spend part of the millennium “in the doghouse."]

© 2013 glynch1


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