Christ’s Return Prophecies — the Signs of the End of this Age in Matthew 24

We hear some talk about how the current time may be the end of the age — that promised time when Jesus will return, as he prophesied. Through all the years, since Jesus’ walked on earth, each generation of Christians believed he would soon return, maybe even during their own lifetime. Obviously, they were all wrong.

Each generation views the world from their own perspective, not realizing how evil could possibly increase and become worse than it was during their own life. During Jesus’ time on Earth, the Jews were oppressed, controlled, and sometimes brutalized. They could not fathom what evil would descend upon humankind in the future. They lived in a bubble of sorts. Even today, I see people who can’t see beyond their own little enclosure of social and economic existence. They don’t know what is going on in the world, nor even wish to do so.

Jesus foretold of those end times, those final or last days of Satan’s rule, when evil would finally become so bad that the age must be brought to an end. But he promised that after that, there would be a Messianic Age of bliss. He taught that believers would inherit the kingdom (Matthew 25:34), the dead would be resurrected (John 5:25-29), the righteous would receive eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:6-10), and Satan would be removed (Revelation 20:10). He promised that pain, sorrow, and death would be eliminated and God would , once again, dwell with his people (Revelation 21:1-4).

Who wouldn’t want this? No wonder people looked forward to a paradise, where God and humans could commune as it was in the Garden of Eden, before evil entered into the world. It will truly be a new world of complete peace and harmony. But, if some people can’t see the possibilities of such a better future, or there is no resolve to work on themselves to receive it, they surely won’t obtain it.

Jesus wanted the nation to repent and return to God during his life on earth, but neither the religious leaders, nor most people would oblige. He discussed and debated with the leaders in the Temple, but they were deaf and blind to the truth. They had a choice to make, but their choice was wrong and that would bring condemnation. After his lament over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39), Jesus left the temple with his disciples who, themselves, did not fully understand.

Jesus had spoken of the destruction of the nation as well as the Temple and buildings, so his followers pointed out the spectacular buildings and Jewish Temple and asked how could a whole nation be destroyed? If Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, there would not be a nation for the Messiah to rule. Then, Jesus said, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2, ESV).1 Perplexed, they raised questions about what could possibly happen to cause everything to disappear? Specifically, his disciples then asked, “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).

Keep in mind that explaining the destruction of the Temple had more than one meaning, like many other prophecies in the Bible. First, it did physically happen during the siege of Jerusalem in the Jewish-Roman War of 70 AD. This was when the Jewish Second Temple was destroyed as the Roman army took back control of the city from the Judean rebel factions, who seized it in 66 AD, some 30 years after Jesus’ crucifixion.3

Second, destruction of the Temple is symbolic of the destruction of Jesus — his death. Third, “this catastrophe is itself a symbol of the end of the world and in one sense a coming of Christ in power and judgment.”4 Jesus had basically predicted the future.

The Signs of the End of This Age

Jesus, sitting on the Mount of Olives next to the Temple, answers the disciples’ question in more detail and you can read his words at Matthew 24:4–51, Mark 13:5–37, and Luke 21:8–36. We will examine the main points (mostly from Matthew) and consider their relationship to our own generation. These are not, necessarily, in chronological order. This is a brief overview, but there is some similarity to the seven seals in Revelation 6 and some Old Testament scripture.

You will be deceived. “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:5). Also see the similar verse, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:11). These deceivers will claim to be people of God or prophets and do good works and, seemingly, miracles, but their agenda will be evil. Today we see many who pretend to be good people doing good things, but they are really beasts waiting to pounce upon innocents and use them to their own advantage. Or, as Peter the Apostle said, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).

The Apostle Paul put it another way, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

These kinds of people have always been around, for Jesus found them leading the Jews and the Roman government during his time on earth. But with our increased population and modern technologies, they are more plentiful today. There are global governments using their powers for political manipulation, and how many preachers use their positions only for lining their own pockets, or for other reasons in obtaining your trust? How many are only interested in hawking their books, or CDs or DVDs or other projects — promoting their own importance? How many are telling you that their failure to preach the Gospel will be your fault, because you didn’t send in enough money?

There will be wars and rumors of war. There have always been wars, of course, but there is more that explains this prophecy. The Bible says nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, along with famines (and pestilence [Luke 21:11]) and earthquakes, all in many areas (Matthew 24:6-7). Now, ‘nation against nation’ means different peoples and ethnicities and races, while ‘kingdom against kingdom’ means different countries and territories and geographic areas. So, not only will world political factions wage war, but races and groups within these areas will fight among themselves, too. And famines come from these conflicts with the resulting economic and food shortages, and diseases shortly follow.

Earthquakes are caused by increases in fault-line and other seismic activity which are now occurring more than ever. The increase in reports of smaller earthquakes is, in one sense, because of an increased number of seismograph stations, but that doesn’t give the whole story. According to many seismologists, the occurring seismic activity is intensifying because the transmission of energy from plate tectonics has increased.5

Then, there is another warning. “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8). Jesus was letting his followers know that just as a pregnant woman’s birth pains indicate the imminent arrival of the new child, these events will indicate the forthcoming end of this age. And after they start, they increase in number as it gets closer to the final event.

There will be increased lawlessness and persecution of Christians. “Christians will experience the sufferings of men in general, but many other sufferings, too, because of their allegiance to Jesus. The very nations they evangelize will turn against them.”6 If you read or listen to the news, you know this is happening today. China, Africa, Europe, even here in the United States we see increasing attacks upon Christians.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14). Christians will become hated and many will fall away and their love of God will grow cold. This persecution is necessary though, for only after the spread of the Gospel happens will the end come. For many hundreds of years it was the pulpit and door-to-door missionary work that was utilized for this purpose, and it was very effective, but now the internet is the main driving force for accomplishing this work.

There will be an abomination of desolation. This indicates, in a sense, an object of moral or religious repugnance or anything in which estrangement from God manifests itself. Although this may include philosophical doctrine, it probably “does not denote mere physical or aesthetic disgust. The reference here is probably to the occupation of the Temple”7 [which must first be rebuilt8]. Most evangelicals believe this will be the Antichrist or his image being installed and worshiped. When this happens, great distress will occur; there will be a great tribulation. So bad will it be that “if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:22).

Immediately after this period of distress our Lord will return, accompanied by unusual displays in the heavens. Jesus explains that within the generation that sees all these signs taking place, many will live through that period and actually experience his return. That means some people will enter the new age without dying. But the precise moment of his arrival is not known to anyone, other than his father, so we must be continually prepared. It will happen quickly and unexpectedly, so be faithful and always ready for his return. (Matthew 24:36-51).

Be careful about what some are preaching

I’ve heard some churches twist these prophecies around and say they are only about the rapture of the Church. Even if there is to be some kind of rapture, this is not what Jesus’ predictions are all about. The Bereans, for instance, publically state there are no unfulfilled prophecies in regard of a rapture, because there never were any. Quoting Matthew 24:44, they say “if believers were to watch, wait, look for, and expect Christ at any moment, there could never have been any signs that had to be fulfilled before the Rapture.” They, and most others, believe these signs are for the Second Coming of Christ only.9

To protect yourself, you must be aware that spiritual conflict and deception are real. Although Jesus fought evil and won, as imperfect humans we cannot win unless we have help, so Paul gave instruction because he knew we must be aware and prepared. The Apostle Paul recognized the unseen powers and influences at work in the world’s governments and religious institutions.

He said, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13), and then describes the various pieces of Christian armor as though he is equipping a soldier for battle. For a study on this subject, see it listed in References & Notes.10

You are special to our Lord. Most everyone will be deaf and blind to the things coming before Jesus returns, but you have been elected to hear and to see what must take place. Just as Jesus told his close followers of the signs of his return, so he has done for you, too. We may be unable to pinpoint the exact time of his arrival, but he has unveiled to us the markers to indicate his approach.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke indicate the things you have read above, but there is much more. Revelation gives many details. One example, although the Bible doesn’t actually use the term ‘one world religion’, it does imply such a thing will arrive near the end of this age, as indicated in Revelation 13 and 17. So it wasn’t surprising to God’s people, when a recent announcement was published in the news, about a new unifying religious project.

An interfaith council has been formed to build the ‘Abrahamic Family House’, a combined Muslim mosque, Jewish synagogue, and Christian church, as a first step in a new world religion called ‘Chrislam’. This is for real, folks! It will be built on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The completion is expected in 2022, and was announced by Pope Francis and Sunni Muslim leader Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.11

Add to this report the current global sentiments for a ‘one world government’ and a ‘one world currency’ and you can see where we are headed. Most people are primed to accept all this, and more, as hallmarks of humanity’s progress, but God’s people will recognize it as Satan taking control. To Christian believers it is evidence that we get nearer to Jesus’ return.

I will be writing much more about what Jesus’ said in his revelation to John and have already written about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. That article is titled “When the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Ride — Revelation 6″ and is listed in References & Notes at the end of this discourse.12

There is a music video, concerning this subject matter of Matthew 24, titled “Signs of the End.” It seems rather dated and I couldn’t find information about when the song was written, only that it was uploaded in 2009. This music is upbeat for such a terrifying coming event, but I take it as a reflection of those of us that are looking forward to the wonderful uplifting new world ruled by Christ, contrasted with the dreadfully serious news events being reported. Enjoy this song which is listed in References & Notes.13 Selected lyrics are listed below.

False Christs and false prophets shall rise,
They shall show great wonders and signs.
It’s a sign!

Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars:
Behold, I have told you before
Nation shall rise against nation.

There shall be famines, and pestilence
Behold, I have told you before,
Time is near, even at the door.

All these things must come to pass,
Watch ye therefore!
The Signs of the End.

Copyright © 2020, Dr. Ray Hermann
OutlawBibleStudent.org

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References & Notes

  1. All scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The text has been used by permission. All rights reserved.
  2. Barbieri, Louis A. Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Eds.) J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), vol. 2, p. 76
  3. “Siege of Jerusalem (70 CE)”, (Wikipedia, Wikipedia Foundation Inc., 16 May 2020), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(70_CE)
  4. Robertson, A. T., A Harmony of the Gospels, (Bellingham, WA: Logos/Faithlife , 2009), Luke 21:5–36.
  5. Mann, Randy, and Harris, Cliff, “Is Earthquake and Volcanic Activity Increasing?” (Long Range Weather, retrieved 16 May 2020), http://www.longrangeweather.com/ArticleArchives/EarthquakeActivity.htm
  6. Chamblin, J. Knox, “Matthew,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Baker Reference Library, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), vol. 3, p. 752.
  7. Vincent, Marvin Richardson, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), vol. 1, p. 128.
  8. 3rd temple must be rebuilt: the Jewish Temple, destroyed in 70 AD, is currently being rebuilt in Jerusalem.
    Price, Randall, “Update on the Building of the Third Temple”, (Jewish Voice, retrieved 19 May 2020), https://www.jewishvoice.org/read/article/update-building-third-temple
  9. “Are there any more prophecies to be fulfilled before Jesus can rapture the Church?” (The Berean Call, 1 March 2004), https://www.thebereancall.org/content/march-2004-q-and-a-1
  10. Hermann, Ray, “Ephesians 6: Evil Cosmic Powers & the Armor of God”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 17 February 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/ephesians-6-evil-cosmic-powers-the-armor-of-god/
  11. Grinder, Geoffrey, “Catholic-Muslim Interfaith Council Announces New Chrislam Headquarters”, (SGT Report, 23 September 2019), https://www.sgtreport.com/2019/09/the-catholic-muslim-interfaith-council-created-by-pope-francis-announces-new-chrislam-headquarters-opening-in-2022-that-combines-a-mosque-and-church-according-to-signed-covenant/
  12. Hermann, Ray, “When the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Ride — Revelation 6″, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 29 February 2020), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/when-the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse-ride-revelation-6/
  13. “Signs of the End”, Lead Vocal: Mike Fischer; Music and Lyrics: Michael Fogarty; Album: The Lion, The Dragon, and the Beast, © NMG Group; (Bible reference: Matthew 24:3-7, 24-25, 33-34; Mark 13:35), uploaded 29 May 2009 – MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/29HFX8YD-go
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