The Lord Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives with His disciples overlooking the great temple when He made some startling predictions that shocked them. He began to tell them what would happen in the future to the Temple and to Jerusalem itself. He also spoke about the things that would happen at the end of the age. As they were walking away from the Temple the disciples drew his attention to the buildings of the Temple.
(Vs. 1) “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when His disciples came up to Him to call His attention to its buildings.”
Now the temple in Jerusalem was the centre of the Jews religion and life. They could not imagine an existence without the temple. Religious people always find their security in religious buildings and structured man-made systems and the disciples were no exception. They were impressed with the size and structure of the temple and drew Jesus attention to its splendour. Then the Lord Jesus said something that totally devastated their preconceived notions about the temple. It was like a punch in the stomach.
(Vs. 2) “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
Like all of the Jewish people at that time the disciples could hardly believe what Jesus had said. To them the destruction of the temple would be like the end of the world. They could not imagine life without the temple. The Lord Jesus was saying that religious buildings and institutions do not impress God and that they were not to put their hope in the future of the organized religious system. He told them plainly that their religious system would be totally destroyed. It had happened once before in 586 BC when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and Jesus was saying that it would happen again and it did. Around 40 years after Jesus spoke these words in 70AD the Roman armies under Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple effectively putting an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system.
Crucified in weakness, raised in power!
The startling thing is that what He said foreshadowed the destruction of all organized religious systems by the Antichrist at the end of the age. Notice also He said that, “not one stone would be left on another but that everyone will be thrown down.” Christians are called “living stones” in the Bible and the Lord Jesus was alluding to the fact that the empire of the Antichrist would also decimate the faithful Church at the end of this age. The Temple of course was a representation of the Lord Jesus Himself the true Temple of God who would be killed and raised to life again. As He Himself said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” it goes on to say that the temple He referred to was His own body. In the New Testament all true believers are called, “the Body of Christ” and are living stones making up the “Living Temple of God.” What happened to the Lord Jesus in His last days will also happen to His Body the true Church in the Last Days. He was crucified in weakness but was raised to life in Power, likewise His body the Church will also be crucified in weakness but raised to life in Power! After Jesus had said these things about the temple the disciples went very quiet and it was not until they were sitting on the Mount of Olives that they plucked up the courage to ask Him some more questions.
(Vs. 3) “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ ”
The disciples asked Him three questions. When will the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of your coming? And what will be the signs of the end of the age? The Lord Jesus answered them in reverse order because He wanted them to see the reality of what the destruction of the temple meant for Israel, for the Church and for the world at large. So then the first question they asked was, “What will be the Signs of Your Coming?” He goes on to list specific signs that will be a conspicuous feature of the Last Days. While the signs he mentions have always been around they will increase in frequency and intensity as the age comes to a close. His warnings were given to His faithful followers and the warnings were for every true believer in every age.
Question1. What will be the Signs of His Second Coming?
Sign One: Spiritual Deception
(Vs. 4-5) “Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
Now the first thing the Lord Jesus warns us about as His followers is spiritual deception. In fact He mentions wars, famines, and earthquakes and in Luke chapter 21 He adds diseases. He warned about these things once but warns about spiritual deception four times. The Jewish Encyclopaedia itself lists over forty false Messiahs that have come to the Jewish nation before and after 70AD. One of the most famous ones was Simon Bar Kokhba in the Second Century who led a revolt against Rome. A famous Rabbi at the time called Rabbi Akiva stirred up the Jewish people to follow Bar Kokhba as the promised Messiah. Of course it ended in a blood bath and the Romans sacked Jerusalem and built a Temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. This was another “abomination of desolation.” The previous abomination happened in 70AD.
Peace in our time?
Today the nation of Israel is still being deceived by those nations that are supposedly working for Israel’s security. The supposed Road Map for peace in the Middle East that was forced on them some years ago now by “the Quartet” consisting of the United States of America, the United Nations, the European Union and Soviet Russia has never been dismantled or abandoned. Obama was one who fully supported this initiative of the Quartet. In the end Obama showed his true colours where Israel’s security was concerned. These nations pushed for a ‘two state’ solution at the time, a solution which is now well under way in Israel today. They wanted to divide the Land of Israel up between the so -called ‘Palestinians’ and the Jewish people. Today it seems that Israel wants peace at any price and there have been numerous peace treaties made in the past, however, in the end they have not worked and will never work until the Prince of Peace comes to reign on earth. Not so long ago the Obama Administration was pushing Israel to return the land and withdraw from the boundaries that they won in the 1967 six-day war. Of course this would make them more vulnerable to being attacked by their Islamic neighbours especially Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, not to mention Egypt, Iran and Syria and many other Islamic nations surrounding Israel. Even today the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Hezbollah do not want peace with Israel and a major antagonist today in this matter is Erdogan of Turkey, not to mention Iran’s genocidal agenda for Israel.
Peace treaties never last
Ultimately Israel’s leaders will make a peace agreement of some sort with the Superpowers and feel secure in that agreement; however, God calls this agreement, “a covenant of death.” Because Israel has not trusted in the Lord but trusted in these superpowers for protection and allowed them to divide up the land, they will reap the consequences of their actions. They will be abandoned by all nations and face their greatest trial that they have ever faced historically as a nation that the Bible calls, “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” This betrayal will open the way for the invasion by the Antichrist and his armies. Isaiah the prophet speaks about this event, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.” (Isaiah 28:14-15) Having said this in the end the surviving faithful remnant in Israel will be saved out of this Time of Jacob’s Trouble when, in their severe extremity, they turn to the Lord Jesus, their Messiah. (Jeremiah 30:1-8) (Zechariah 12:10-14)
A false anointing
Now let’s continue, When the Lord Jesus spoke about deception He was not only speaking about the deception to be perpetrated on Israel but also perpetuated on the Church in the Last Days just before He comes back. He was warning the faithful Church to be aware of spiritual deception from false Messiahs, false brethren and from false prophets and teachers. The people of the world already lie in the power of the wicked one the devil, however, the ones he’s after is you and me who believe in the Lord Jesus and seek to be faithful to Him. Not only will there be false Messiah’s claiming to be Jesus Himself but also prophets and teachers who have a false anointing. They will have an anointing to do all kinds of counterfeit signs, miracles and wonders and perform healings but their anointing will not be from God. We see this demonstrated in Moses encounter with the magicians of Egypt. Through the power of Satan these magicians were able to counterfeit the miracles Moses and Aaron at least up to a point. At the end Moses and Aaron won the day! A “false Christ” is “one with a false anointing.”
Are all supernatural manifestations from God?
Not all supernatural manifestations are from God. As this age comes to a close we are going to see counterfeit signs, miracles and wonders rapidly increasing in the professing Christian church. Even true believers will be in danger of deception. All kinds of counterfeit signs, miracles and wonders will precede and open the way for the worship of the Antichrist in Israel and in the professing Christian Church. Even today these things are a conspicuous feature in Christendom. Some of them are on television and too many to count plying their trade on the internet. The Apostle Paul told us this when he wrote, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9) So then the first thing the Lord Jesus mentioned was to watch out for spiritual deception.
Sign Two: Wars, Famines, Earthquakes and Diseases.
(Vs. 6-8) “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Luke 21 adds diseases.’)
Kingdom against Kingdom
There has always been warfare throughout the history of the world and it will become more frequent as this age comes to a close. Notice Jesus says, “Kingdom against kingdom.” In the last century there have been two major world wars. According to God’s word just before Jesus returns a major war will begin leading up to Armageddon. It is recorded in the book of Revelation in chapters nine and sixteen where we read, “The sixth angel blew his trumpet. And the four angels who had been kept for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulphur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came, fire, smoke and sulphur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.” (Revelation 9:13, 15-19) When you look at the weapons of modern warfare today what John describes is totally plausible.
World War III?
There will also be another war between the Kings of the North and the Kings of the South that will be fought in the Middle East. In all probability it will be fought between the Islamic nations and the western nations. Possibly the western powers will back Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the South while in the North you will have Turkey, Iran and Syria with a possibility of other Islamic nations joining them. ISIS may also be in their ranks. This Northern Alliance will form a coalition against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the western nations that have supported them. This war will see the immergence of the Antichrist himself who will eventually subjugate most of the third world and possibly parts of Europe. We have seen the Syrian refugees pouring into Europe. However, many are not Syrian but from other Muslim nations and furthermore it has been reported that ISIS have infiltrated the ‘Syrian’ refugees. The Antichrist’s empire will extend into the same region that historically was once the Empires of Assyria, Babylon, the Seleucid Greek Empire and the Eastern region of the Roman Empire. Within a decade much of Europe may well become the United European Continent of Islam.
Today in Turkey you have a leader who is calling for a revived Caliphate and of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Right throughout the nations of the Middle-East there is a cry to re-establish a global Caliphate. Just before the Lord Jesus returns another mighty army will come across the Euphrates River to join with the armies of the Antichrist. Other nations will ultimately join them on the plains of Megiddo. Their final objective will be the city of Jerusalem. The driving force of this army will be Satan himself working through the Antichrist and the False Prophet. This third world war will escalate into the final battle of Armageddon with the Lord Jesus and His Holy ones fighting the hordes of Antichrist. In Revelation chapter sixteen we read; “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God almighty. ‘Behold I come like a thief!” “Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed. Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:12-16) Today the River Euphrates is literally drying up making the way possible for the 200 million man army. The Apostle John heard their number.
“Heaven knows anything goes!”
So goes the lyrics of a popular song back in the 40’s. Heaven certainly knows what is going on down here! Notice in verse 16 that Jesus warns believers to stay spiritually alert and to be aware of spiritual deception and to keep their garments of Salvation on. Today in the Church in the west there is anything but spiritual sobriety as many Churches go “mad” with all kinds of excesses where anything goes. Whether it is the Toronto blessing, the New Apostolic Movement or the Kingdom Dominion movement with its Manifest Sons of God theology or the purpose driven agenda or the Faith Prosperity Camp or the Lakeland revival or Alpha it is all spiritual seduction and deception. The final culmination of all these events will be the second coming of Christ. By the power of His word and at His command the armies of the Antichrist will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel. (Revelation 19:11-21) (Isaiah 63:1-6) (Ezekiel 38 & 39) (Zechariah 12:1-9 14:1-4) In these passages of scripture you can read about the final battles the Lord Jesus will have with those nations that have ransacked Jerusalem. All of them are Islamic Nations today and the Bible specifically names them.
Nation against nation
Now notice what the Lord Jesus says in verse seven of Matthew twenty-four, “nation against nation.” The word “nation” in the Greek text of the Bible is the word from which we get the word “ethnic”. Jesus was telling us that there would be war between different ethnic races within nations. This will be the face of war in the last days and increasing in intensity and frequency. This is happening everywhere today in the world. No nation is safe today from ethnic tension and violence or terrorism. Already Ethnic violence and tension are escalating out of control. Look at what has been happening between the Shiites and the Sunnis all over the Middle-East. Remember Bosnia and Kosovo many years ago now. There are nations in Africa and in parts of Europe that have ethnic conflict and riots. If you look at the overall scene the one dominant power that is infiltrating the western nations is Islam. Right now Islam has their “Trojan Horses” in Europe, America, and England and in all the western democracies. The Lord Jesus was telling us that black would be fighting black and white fighting white and that even in religions there would be infighting within their ranks. With the current influx of Islamic refugees into Europe you will see a clash of culture and religion descending into chaos and outright civil war on the streets of all the European cities. This urban warfare will erupt in America and Great Britain very soon. One of the objectives of militant Islam is to actually destroy Rome and behead the Pope because of the crusades. Isis has made this abundantly clear!
Earthquakes are becoming more frequent and famines and diseases are happening on a scale never seen before in history. Yet things are going to become even more intense and frequent as the end of this age rapidly approaches. Notice also in verse 8 the Lord Jesus also said, “These are the beginning of birth pains.” When a woman goes into labour the contractions become more frequent and more intense as the birth of the baby draws nearer. Just before the baby is born the contractions start coming almost one on top of another. Jesus was telling us that in order for the “physical birth” of the Kingdom of God on earth there is going to be the “birth pangs” of wars, earthquakes, famines and diseases coming one upon another. These will be happening almost simultaneously on a worldwide scale just before Jesus returns. The Lord Jesus also told us that are His bond slaves to not be anxious when we see these things increasing in frequency and intensity but to look up because our redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:26-28)
The last great earthquake
Ultimately there will be one massive earthquake of global proportions causing multitudes of skyscrapers to collapse. This will see the final destruction of the Antichrist’s entire empire and his armies gathered against Jerusalem. As John tells us in Revelation, “No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.” (Revelation 16:18-19) and again Isaiah the Prophet says, “In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall.” (Isaiah 30:25b) Similar types of plagues that fell upon Egypt recorded in the book of Exodus will fall again on this world according to the book of Revelation. At that time every level of society will be affected. As Isaiah also said, “See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants— it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word.”(Isaiah 24:1-3) Everything that can be shaken that God has not established will be shaken. It will affect the Religious, political, social, domestic, the economic and business world. Everything will be shaken. (Haggai 2:6-9) Only those who are faithful to the LORD will not be shaken.