Read Matthew 24:1-41
If you read the passage today in a “red-letter” Bible (pointing out words spoken by Jesus), you saw how virtually every word in the text was uttered by Christ. Matthew 24 and 25 represent extended instruction that Jesus offered to His disciples on the subject of His return. Named after the location (v. 3) where He taught, these chapters are often referred to as the “Olivet Discourse.”
So, what will be the sign of Christ’s coming and of the end of the age (v. 3)? First of all, we must clarify what is meant by His coming. This is not a reference to His return in the air to snatch away genuine believers who represent His true church. That event, called the “rapture,” represents the next imminent event on God’s prophetic timeline.
No, the “coming” spoken of here is indicative of a later event where Christ returns to the earth to reign upon it as king. When will that happen? Here are some of the guiding thoughts that you hopefully picked up on:
- Be careful about precise predictions (v. 36). We cannot say precisely when Jesus will return.
- Don’t read too much into international conflict and natural disasters (vv. 6-8). These will indeed happen, but they are just part of the beginning.
- Recognize that tribulation precedes His return (vv. 9, 16-22). Christ’s return to the earth will follow a seven-year period of tribulation described in passages like Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 6-18.
- The “abomination of desolation” should cause people to sit up and take note (v. 15). At this event depicted in Daniel 9:27, the antichrist will seat himself in the (rebuilt) temple and demand worship (2 Thess. 2:1-4).
- Christ’s return will be unmistakable (vv. 23-32). People will not have to worry if Jesus returned without them knowing it. They should not respond to rumors of His presence. Instead, His coming will be obvious to “all the tribes of the earth” (v. 30).
Tomorrow we will take a closer look at some of the personal implications of His future return. For today, however, it is important to understand that He will come back. He will keep His promise. Jesus does not make promises that He does not fulfill. Even though the world may seem to be getting progressively worse, He will one day return and reign majestically and perfectly.