Teachings of Jesus on the Last Days
Pr. P. J. Daniel
The World is moving to the close of this age. We have come to the last minute of the last hour. The alarm sound of the coming of the Lord is being sounded. The sign of our Lord’s return is being manifested before our own eyes, which had been predicted by our Lord Jesus Christ at his Olivet discourse. Every sign and wonder are legitimate indications of the coming of our dear Lord. I attempt to demonstrate in this article, some of the events of the signs of his coming, predicted by our Lord Jesus Christ, during the last days of His earthly ministry. We see the description of these prophecies in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13. It is obvious from the narration of the Gospel of Luke that Jesus was preaching this message in the temple court (Luke 21: 1) while the gospel of Mathew was a private discourse with His disciples at the Mount of Olive (Matthew 24: 3) .
The background of Matthew 24 was stated there (24:1, 2), when Jesus and his disciples had a stopover in the temple of Jerusalem, the disciples were amazed as they observed the intricate carvings on the stones and pillars of the temple. In their astonishment, they were trying to show Jesus the beauty and majesty of the temple, which was built by Herod the Great with in a period of 46 years. But Jesus turned to them and said: “You see all these things, but I tell you certainly, there isn’t a single stone here that will be left standing on top of another, they will all be torn down”. After saying this, they went to the Mount of Olives. While they were sitting together, the disciples came to him privately and asked Jesus, “Tell us, when will these things take place, and what would be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Mathew 24:3) The disciples were sharing their doubts to Jesus, which is contained in three questions. (1) When will all these things take place? (2) What will be the sign of your coming? (2) What will be the sign of end of the age? Chapter 24 contains the legitimate answers to these three questions.
At the outset, we should consider that every prophecy has a passive and an active fulfillment, partially applicable in the first century and partly to the tribulation period in the future. For example, the prediction of the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem was fulfilled in the first century in AD 70 by Titus Caesar, the Roman Emperor. It was also a fulfillment of another prediction recorded in Micah 3: 12. “Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed up like field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, and the Temple Mount will become a hill overgrown with bush."
Before we consider our passage in Matthew 24, it is essential to know about the manner of the return of Jesus Christ. The return of Jesus has two phases. First of all, we should distinguish the two phases of the return of Jesus Christ. One is the rapture, in which Jesus comes only in the mid air and not to the earth. (1 Thess. 2:19; 4:13–17; Rev. 4:1,2). This will be an invisible appearance and it is exclusively for his saints. Unless Jesus gathers his saints to Him; He cannot appear with them in His visible return. The Bible vividly state that Christ will return to the earth with His saints. (Zechariah 14:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 3: 13; Jude v.14). These verses emphatically support that our Lord will come with His saints. If He is coming with his saints at his visible personal appearance, he must gather them to Him before He returns to the earth. Here comes the need of His appearance in the mid air. 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17 clearly solves this problem. Meeting does not indicate ‘receiving him back to the earth. The Bible does not give an idea of returning to the earth; rather it gives the idea of going with Him. It will be a secret and unexpected coming our Lord for His Saints (Mathew 24: 42 – 44)
The second phase of his coming is known as Parousia or Revelation, which is a personal and visible appearance of Jesus Christ, coming on mount Olive with his saints (Matt. 24:3, 27-51; Zechariah 14:1-5; Rev. 1:7,19: 11-27) This will be a public, personal and visible appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. There will be a period of seven years, in between these two appearances, which is known as the tribulation period. According to the prophet Daniel it is the seventieth week, or the last week (Daniel 9: 27). We have the reference in chapter 4:1, the heaven opened for the rapture of the church and in Revelation 19: 11 a second time the heaven is opened, where Christ comes with His saints. “The armies of heaven are wearing fine linen, white and pure, and they follow him on white horses” (Rev. 19: 14). The bride of Christ alone has the privilege of wearing fine linen, dazzling and pure” (Rev.19:8). Since the armies of heaven follow him in fine linen, it is obvious that this army is none other than the bride of Christ. Some argue that the usage of the word ‘armies’ is not suitable to the bride. Here the bridegroom comes on white horse as the commander in chief of the army of heaven to fight against the Devil and Anti-Christ. Therefore, it is appropriate to the bride to come with the commander, as the armies of heaven. When Solomon describes his bride, which can be a type of the church, “terrible as a army with banners”. It is quite fit for the church to be called as the armies of heaven.
Matthew 24 generally deals with the end time events. In it, we see a term ‘tribulation’ (24:21). It is not the common tribulation that people go through in the course of their life time, but it is a particular period of time and it is assigned for a particular nation. Prophet Daniel foretells about that nation. There shall be a time of great tribulation for the children of Israel, such as never was since the beginning of the world (Daniel 12:1) He also predicts that the anti-Christ will make a binding covenant with many for one week (seven years). But in the middle of the week, he will bring sacrifices to a halt. He will establish the abomination in the temple (9:27). So the period of tribulation is dispensed, which is seven years. This incident is quoted in Matthew 24: 15 and this will occur in the middle of the tribulation period. If this is the correct interpretation, then there must be a perfect harmony between this part of the Olivet discourse contained in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation. This book is divided into three divisions according to the book of Revelation chapter 1: 19. The first division is the vision of the sevenfold glory of the risen Christ, which John had seen in Chapter one. The second part deals with the present age - the seven periods of the Church (Ephesus to Laodicea). The third division takes place in the future (4:1 to chapter 22).