What Will It Be Like Just Before Jesus Returns?

Matthew 24:1-14

Jerry A. Collins

October 14, 2001


Ø Why did the disciples ask Jesus about a sign of His coming?

What are the signs of the coming of Christ?

Is this the Rapture or the Second Coming?

Each time a new season approaches we have signs that indicate its arrival. This autumn season has arrived and with the turn in the weather expected the next couple of days we will see signs of winter approaching. Jesus also says that there will be signs in the world that will herald His coming back to the earth. In what has been traditionally called the Olivet Discourse, so called because it was delivered to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus tells us what these signs are.


Jesus had spent all day Wednesday of Passover week in the Temple giving His last public teaching and pronouncing His final and most intense judgment on the false religious leaders and Israel. He now came out from the Temple and the disciples were pointing to it in admiration saying what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings (Mark 13:1; Lk 21:5). This was the temple King Herod had built 34BC-4AD and it had taken 46 yrs to build it (JN 2:20). Many of these stones were covered with gold plating on white blocks 12 ft in length which were spectacular in the AM or PM sunlight. Jesus responded with a prophecy that this very temple would be destroyed so completely that not even one stone would remain on another. When the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70AD, they massacred the citizens, built scaffolding around the temple burning it melting the gold & weakening the blocks. Most were probably broken up, others scattered in the valleys around the city. Some believe the Romans hauled the stones out to the Med Sea so the Jews would not be able to rebuild it. Leaving the temple they crossed the Kidron valley ascending the Mt of Olives. The disciples ask 2 questions in vs 3. (1) When will these things happen? (2) What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? They apparently believed this event would usher in the kingdom and that was important to them as Jews (LK 19:11). Even after the resurrection they still had this expectation (Acts 1:6). They were not thinking of Jesusí returning because they had no idea of His leaving. They were expecting Him to manifest Himself as Messiah presently especially after His resurrection. The word end refers to completion like the final play of a football game that would end that game. So their question was about the final completion of the events of this present world that would end this age and usher in the next, Christís kingdom. Jesus responds to these questions in reverse order.


We must make a distinction between the Rapture of the church not referred to here in Matthew 24-25 and the Second Coming of Christ which is the subject of this passage. The distinctions are as follows: RAPTURE: (1 Cor 15:51-52; Phil 3:20; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 1:10; 1 Tim 6:14; 1 Jn 2:28, 3:2; Jas 5:8; Acts 1:11)

1) All believers removed from earth

2) Christ never appears on the earth

3) Saints caught up; action is up

4) Christ claims His bride

5) Tribulation about to begin

6) An imminent event no signs

7) Message brings comfort

8) Related to the church

9) A mystery not revealed in OT

10) Believers rewarded

11) Creation unchanged

12) Takes place before day of wrath

13) Church taken into Lordís presence

2ND COMING: (Zech 14; Eze 38-48; Rev)

1) All unbelievers removed from earth

2) Christ appears to all the earth

3) Christ returns; action is down

4) Christ returns with his bride

5) 1000 year reign about to begin

6) Preceded by multitude of signs

7) Message brings fear & judgment

8) Related to Israel and the world

9) Revealed in both testaments

10) Gentiles & Israel judged

11) Creation is changed (Jerusalem)

12) Follows the day of wrath 1 Thess 5:9

13) Israel taken into the Kingdom

While believers today in the church age are to be watching for the Lord Himself, believers during the Tribulation are to look to these signs that precede His return to the earth to establish His kingdom. Most of the circumstances and conditions identified as signs have existed since the Fall. But these similar things will be unique in detail, sequence, scale and extent.

A. Deception by false Christís will increase 4-5 Here is a reference to widespread deception. There have always been false Christís but in the end their number and influence multiplies. John warns in 1 JN 2:18 that we will have antichristís even in our age. Satan will have his counterfeits in every generation because he knows too that an Antichrist will come and in anticipation of that since he does not know when that will be possible he will be ready with them. With disintegration of society, people will be extremely vulnerable, desperately looking for answers. Satan will have them with spiritual & moral influence of the church gone.

B. Dissension among the nations 6-7 This will be on a global scale among the nations. Noone will be exempt from war of the threat of it. Continents as well as regions will be in conflict with each other. Believers then, Jesus says, should not be frightened by this since it is certain evidence that Godís plan is unfolding.

C. Worldwide Devastation 7-8 Natural disasters will be of staggering proportions. Luke adds that there will also be plagues, terrors, great signs from the heavens (21:11). In various places and simultaneously. Some parts of the earth starve from famines others shattered by earthquakes. Rev 6, the 4th seal judgment seems to begin here and crops devastated worldwide, third of worldís shipping destroyed, people poisoned by contaminated water supplies.

D. Believers delivered to tribulation 9 An evil and ungodly world will hunt down believers, arrest them, persecute them, murder them. Hated by the nations because of Jesus name. Identified with Christ will cost freedom, rights, respect, lives. These will be those saved after the rapture, converted during the Tribulation many of them thru the preaching of the 2 witnesses Jesus will send for 3 1/2 yrs.

E. Defection of false believers 10-13 As persecution increases supposed Xians will defect proving they never really belonged to Christ. a) the cost will be too high like Judas become informers brother will deliver brother to death, a father his child, children parents having them put to death (MK 13:12; LK 21:16). b) the deception will be too convincing. False religions will be persuasive teaching lies as truth hating God and His people. c) defection for love of lawlessness. Not only civil lawlessness but moral. Evil multiplies rapidly, unashamedly, enticingly. Flaunting sin, gross evil will attract people (2 Tim 3:1-5). d) one endures will be saved. His endurance thru all of this proof really saved. Endurance demonstrates you belong to Christ (Jn 8:31; 1 Cor 15:1-2; Col 1:21-23; Heb 2:1-3; 3:14; 10:39; 12:14; Jas 1:2-4).

F. Gospel preached to whole world 14 Just before final judgments on earth God will supernaturally present gospel to every person on earth (Rev 14:6-7) Then the end shall came.