When Will These Things Be?

December 22, 2021

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "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 disciples who asked these questions were Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3). Evidently, they had been discussing the horrific comments of Jesus regarding the destruction of the Temple as they left the Temple courtyard. Wanting to know more about this matter, they asked Jesus privately what He meant.

The disciples asked 3 questions: (1) when the destruction of the Temple would take place, (2) what would be the sign of His coming, and (3) what would be the sign of the end of the world. No doubt they thought of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. and the ensuing Babylonian captivity. How would the current Temple’s future destruction relate to Jesus’ promise of the coming Kingdom and their hope that He would reign over the nation of Israel?

If the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 are applied solely to a future fulfillment, they would have no meaning to the disciples at that time. If His words are applied solely to an immediate fulfillment, they would have no meaning to the Christian church after A.D. 70. This cannot be, for John the Apostle expounded on this prophecy and made future application of it in the Book of the Revelation, written ca. A.D. 95.

You will note the translation (rapture) of the Christian church is nowhere mentioned in Matthew 24. Why? Isn’t that part of our Lord’s program for the end of the age? Yes, it is. But Jesus was asked by Jewish disciples regarding the Jewish Temple and the future of the Jewish nation. The rapture of the church was a later revelation of the Lord to Paul and John. There was mention of, but no discussion of a Christian church prior to Jesus’ resurrection.

Matthew 24 and Mark 13 deal more with Jesus’ answer to questions 2 & 3, while Luke 21 deals more with Jesus’ answer to question 1. And yet, Jesus treats all 3 in the Olivet discourse. It would be wise to think of Jesus using the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which happened in A.D. 70, as a foreshadowing of His 2nd coming and of the end of the world. He blends, in apocalyptic language, the background of His death on the cross, the coming destruction of Jerusalem, His 2nd coming, and the end of the world, while touching on one, then another, then another. It’s not easy to separate these various elements. But the more important message of the discourse in all 3 Gospels is that of warning and being prepared for the coming judgment of God upon the wicked and unrepentant world.

“Lord Jesus, help us understand the signs of the times through the guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Open our eyes and ears and minds to the events of the say and then prepare us for either Your glorious return for us, or our glorious meeting with You through the Valley of the Shadow of death. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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