While Jesus was seated on the Mount of Olives, during what has been described as His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 the disciples came to Him privately and said, tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age? He responded by saying deception will be very widespread and many will be led astray.
He warned that there will be a great falling away by believers, wars, persecution of Christians, betrayals, the abomination of desolation, and society will be like the days of Noah and Lot. He also promised that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all nations and then the end will come. As Jesus presented His Olivet Discourse, He added an interesting observation:
Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that itis near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Matthew 24:32-34)
The second key event was prophesied by Jesus as recorded by Luke:
And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)
Now the question is: what things and what generation? To answer these questions we have to look at how the first half of this prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70; 40 years after Jesus had predicted. In that year the Romans, under the leadership of Titus, conquered Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews among the nations. Jerusalem remained under Gentile occupation for 1897 years –until June 7, 1967, when Israel won back the city of Jerusalem which another positive proof that we are indeed living in the time of the Lord’s return.
People have always said that all these things that Jesus talked about have been happening throughout history. The challenge is true, but it is not incomplete. Why? Because all prophecies that relate to the close of this age are due to the fact that Israel is a sovereign nation.
Secondly, Jesus said the end-time signs would be like “birth pangs” (Matthew 24:8). In other words, the signs would increase in frequency and intensity as the time draws near for the return of Jesus Christ.
Another prophet by the names of Daniel was given many prophecies by the Lord. The seventh chapter of Daniel has been described as the central part of the Book of Daniel just like the eighth chapter of Romans is to that epistle. The chapter gives the most precious and prominent portion of the sure word of prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah, therefore we are required to do a most careful prayerful study of Daniel’s prophecies.
His prophecies have been referred to directly or indirectly by the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and other apostles perhaps more than other Old Testament prophet. When Daniel received these divine revelations, those that related to his time were clearly understood by him.
He also understood prophecies that he was given that relate to distant times, such as the succession of Gentile empires that would ultimately culminate to the establishment of the revived Roman Empire. But what should be noted is that when it came to prophecies about the end times, Daniel did not understand what was revealed to him.
The Bible says he wanted to know what all these meant and he finally cried out to God: And I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, O my lord, what shall be the issue and final end of these things? (Daniel 12:8) The Lord responded to him by saying, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. (Daniel 12:9)
Therefore it was Daniel’s responsibility to deliver the prophecies, but not to understand them. In the next verse the Lord told Daniel that those who are wise shall understand. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:10)
At this time the wise are beginning to understand these prophecies which is evidence enough that are living in the days Jesus and the prophets spoke about.