What Will be the Sign of the End of the Age?

At this time, they have reached the Mount of Olives. Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives “opposite the temple” (Mk. 13:3). “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’” (Matt. 24:3)? They asked him two questions. The first question is—“When will these things be?” The second question is—“What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

You might ask, “Isn’t the second question two questions?” No, it’s only one question. In the Greek, there is only one article, “the” (to), linking both nouns “sign” (parousias) and “end” (synteleias) with the conjunction “and” (kai)—“the” sign (1) of your coming “and” (2) of the end of the age—thus making it one whole question.[1] The disciples believed that Jesus’ coming will be the end of the present age and the beginning of the messianic age. (Edersheim; Constable) Jesus said earlier, “You will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt. 23:39). Thus, the end of the present age refers to the time when Israel will welcome the coming of Jesus just before the beginning of His messianic kingdom (Jer. 29:22; 51:33; Dan. 3:6; Hos. 6:11; Joel 3:13; Zeph. 1:3).

There is a story told by Dr. Joseph Stowell, President of Moody Bible Institute, as he visited a home for mentally handicapped children. While walking through the corridors, he noticed that the windows were covered with tiny little hand prints. He asked the director, what they were all about. The director replied, “The children here love Jesus and they’re so eager for Him to return that they lean against the windows as they look up to the sky.[2]

The disciples were eager to know when will be Jesus’ coming. Their questions cover the destruction of the Temple, the sign of Jesus’ coming, the gospel of the kingdom, and the end of the age. It has nothing to do with the church. There is no mention of the church or the rapture of the church. I stress this fact because many think that Matthew 24 is about the suffering of the church. No, it’s not about the suffering of the church, the body of Christ, but the tribulation of believers before the second coming of Christ. The church is not part of the story of Matthew 24.

For the disciples, the coming destruction of the Temple points to only one thing—God’s judgment on the last day. (Hagner) They were thinking probably of Zechariah’s prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the coming judgment of the Messiah (Zech. 14:1-4). In the past, Jesus connected His coming with judgment. “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27-28). In their frame of mind at the time, the disciples knew that the destruction of the Temple means judgment at the end of the age. Thus, they asked the questions, “When shall these things be and what is the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”

They wanted to know, not because they were curious. They wanted to know, not because they were afraid. Rather, they wanted to know the details so that they can be prepared for it.

Jesus then answered them in a discourse that came to be called, “The Olivet Discourse,” since it was delivered on the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ discourse covers Matthew 24:4-25:46, two chapters in all.

Are you ready for the judgment of God when Jesus comes again? Are you ready to face Jesus when He comes? Do you want to know how to get ready when Jesus comes? You can get ready by trusting Jesus today. You can get ready by repenting your sin today. You can get ready by accepting Him into your heart as your Savior. You can get ready by obeying Him every day.

[1] Granville Sharp’s Rule [S. E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Sheffield: JSOT, 1994), 110–11. Contra D. A. Hagner, the single article governs the twin issues of the sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age, and not necessarily the destruction of the temple.

[2] Text Illustrations, Sermoncentral.com. Cited June 10, 2017. Online: https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-david-daniels-stories-faith-763?ref=TextIllustrationSerps.

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