One of the main components of the “End Times” concept is that the end is very near. “Go turn on the news,” a well-meaning friend might suggest, “and you’ll see the signs of Matthew 24 unfolding right before your very eyes!” Or, as the late Billy Graham used to say, “Matthew 24 is knocking at the door.”
A fundamental failure of all eschatological (“end times”) interpretations of Matthew 24 is that they all involve some degree of neglecting of one of God’s great gifts to mankind: logic. In this case, this neglect results in the failure to acknowledge that the signs of Matthew 24 are occurring in our day because they have been occurring in every day.
As we begin a careful, honest examination of Matthew 24, let the sincere Bible student notice, first of all, that Matthew 24 contains the Lord’s answer(s) to three different questions asked by His disciples (see v. 3) in response to a statement He made about the future destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (see v. 2).* Here are their questions:
- “When will these things be?”
- “What will be the sign of your coming [i.e., of ‘these things’ (the destruction of temple)]?”
- “[What will be the sign] of the end of the world?”
Now that we’ve noted the three distinct questions, we must understand this: Beginning in verse 4, down through verse 35, Jesus is answering the first two of these questions. How can we know this? Because of the most important verse in the entire chapter, containing a crucial statement the Lord made in His conclusion to this section: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (34).
…to be continued…
* NOTE: That they asked three different questions is not to say that they were aware that they were asking three different questions. The disciples likely thought the only way the temple could, or would, ever be destroyed was if the entire earth was destroyed—hence the particular language of their inquiry. Despite their ignorance, however, their specific question(s) covered two different events.