As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"Matthew 24:3(NASB)
Jesus knew the time of His departing was near and wept over Jerusalem because the people were so deceived by the enemy's lies and blinded to the truth of the glorious Gospel of God. He rebuked the blind, hypocritical leaders of Israel, who refused to acknowledge His message and His ministry, for He knew the terrible consequences of rejecting their Messiah.
Jesus had wanted to gather His people together, as a mother hen safely gathers her chicks under her wings, but they were unwilling. These blind leaders had hidden the truth from the gullible people of Israel, and so He delivered a blistering prophecy to them, "Behold, your House - the Temple of God, is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on, you will not see Me, until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
Earlier, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the crowds appeared to fulfil a prophecy by shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!" But they expected to be saved from their physical, earthly rulers, who dominated them from Rome, and not to be offered salvation from their spiritual enslavement to sin and Satan, death, and hell.
The disciples continued to trust confidently, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They were looking forward to receiving important positions in His coming kingdom, while Jesus knew that the kingdom He came to establish would have to be postponed, until His second advent. It was as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, that the disciples came to Him privately, and asked about His prophetic world. "Tell us," they said, "when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
They asked some specific questions. One was to do with the Temple and the others were connected with the return of Christ, to set up His Messianic kingdom. The first question was about the destruction of the Temple. They had been admiring its magnificent architecture and were shocked to hear that the rebuilt Temple was to be utterly destroyed. "When will these things happen?" they asked. "When will the Temple be destroyed," was the thing they desperately wanted to know?
The second questions were to do with Christ's return to earth, to set up His Millennial kingdom. He had already told them He was going away to prepare a place for them, but that He would return... and they eagerly expected Him to come back soon - VERY soon. They did not expect a 2000 year gap between the destruction of the Temple and His second advent.
They did not expect there to be a new, Christian dispensation, nestled between Christ's first coming and His return to earth. Even in the book of Acts, as Christ was ascending into heaven, they continued to anticipate His any-day return. "Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at THIS time?" they asked! But it was not for them, nor is it for us, to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.
There are two questions they asked about Christ's second advent. They were not questions about the Rapture of the Church, for this truth had yet to be revealed to them... after the Spirit was sent at Pentecost. This was a future revelation that would be given through the New Testament writers. But the disciples were curious... "what will be the sign of Your coming, AND what will be the sign of the end of the age?"
Two questions were asked about Christ's return. 1) the sign of His return to earth, and 2) the sign of the end of the age. These are questions that specifically relate to Israel, who will have to go through the time of Jacob's Trouble. But, as prophesied, it is a time when Israel, as a nation, will REPENT of their sin, and call on the name of the Lord, by crying, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!"
While Christ's Olivet discourse relates to Israel and His Second Coming there is so much that is relevant to the Church, for we have been given a great commission to preach the good news of the gospel of the GRACE of God. We have been made ministers of reconciliation and are to tell the world that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Today we are His representatives on earth and are to act as salt and light in a corrupt and darkened world. We are to be used by God to restrain the evil of this world through prayer and praise - in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
But after the Church has been removed in the Rapture, Israel will once again be God's representatives on earth, and their great commission is to finish the work that God gave them to do and to, once again, preach the good news of the gospel of the KINGDOM of God. You believe in GOD? was Christ's question to Israel - believe also in ME. They are to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and call on His name.
While the Church will be raptured BEFORE the Great Tribulation, unbelieving Israel will have to go THROUGH this terrible time, but like Old Testament saints and Church age believers, they will be justified by faith in Jesus. And though many will be killed - He will bring them through. They will overcome evil by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.
We don't know when Christ will come for the Church, but in the time we have left, may we rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all things and tell out the good news of the gospel of the Grace of God to those that are lost - for the time is short.
Thank You, Father, that in Your grace You chose to reveal Your plan to redeem the lost race of sinful men, through the sacrificial offering of Your dear Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank You for revealing to Your people things that are to happen in the future, and what will be the signs of Your return to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation, when You come in power and great glory to rule and reign in righteousness. Thank You that as a member of the Body of Christ, I will not go through the great and terrible Day of the Lord, but for those who have to face Your wrath, I pray that many would recognise the signs of the time in which we live today, and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. Thank You that I am not appointed to wrath, but am saved by grace through faith in Jesus. But look down in pity I pray, on this lost world and bring many into Your kingdom before it is too late. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.