When Jesus was giving His prophetic discourse, He gave His disciples a progression of events of the last days. Matthew records that as Jesus 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? The answer to the first question is recorded in Luke 21:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.
For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 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 21:20-24 NKJV)
Jesus says, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is near. This was literally fulfilled in A.D 70. The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem and surrounded it. In the end, thousands of Jews were killed and many towns destroyed by the Romans who successfully re-established control over Judea.
The Jews in Jerusalem who acknowledged the Lord Jesus understood the application of His prophecies. They fled Jerusalem to a town known as Pella on the eastern side of Jordan.
The Roman emperor Titus, gathered his armies together and continued to besiege Jerusalem and the whole city was destroyed including the beautiful Temple. The Temple was completely destroyed that not one single stone was left upon another exactly as Jesus prophesied. In the course of that war, two million Jews were killed and one million were sold into captivity as slaves throughout the Roman Empire.
The lesson to learn from is this: The people who gave heed to the words of Jesus saved their lives and those that didn’t lost theirs. The second question from the disciples was: And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? Jesus answered and said to them:
Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
Jesus warns that many false messiahs will come in His name and deceive many. This can happen to any one of us especially in this day and age of globalism. This deception will increase dramatically as this age draws to a close. In order to avoid being deceived we have to have passionate love and commitment to the truth of the Word of God.
As Jesus continues His discourse, He gives a progression of the events of the last days. What should be noted in this discourse of Jesus is the word then. He used this word several times in both Matthew 24 and 25. This word indicates a chronological sequence of events following one after another in a systematic way. Let’s try to look at the key verses where this word then was used by the Lord Jesus in His discourse in Matthew 24:
Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. (Matthew24:9)
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:10)
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Verse 11)
And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. (Verse 14)
“…..Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Verse 16)
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Verse 21)
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. (Verse 23)
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, (Verse 30)
And then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Verse 30)
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. (Verse 40)
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? (Verse 45)
In summary the following are some of signs of the times, sorrows that Jesus gives in His discourse as this age comes to an end.
- Wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences
- Worldwide persecution of Christians.
- Apostasy and betrayal among Christians
- False prophets with cults
- Society will be like The Days of Noah and Lot
- Lawlessness will abound and the love of many will wax cold.
- The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all nations
- The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.
- The Great Tribulation.
- The Coming of the Son of Man
When the events Jesus describes in Matthew 24: verse 7 happen, that is beginning of the birth pains. We all know when a woman is about to give birth, the birth pains increase in intensity before the baby is born.
In the same way Jesus says that once these birth pains start, they will become more constant and intense. That means the birth will occur. Which birth? The coming of God’s Kingdom on earth. Therefore as much as these birth pangs are very painful, we will still be involved in them. The choice would be to ask ourselves which is more important: The coming of God’s Kingdom on earth or not being involved in birth pangs? Jesus says,
For whoever wishes to save his life in this world will eventually lose it through death, but whoever loses his life in this world for My sake will find it that is, life with Me for all eternity. ( Matthew 16:25)