(Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36)
It was Tuesday before Jesus died on Friday. As He left the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, His disciples pointed out how wonderful the temple buildings looked. Jesus answered, "Do you see these great buildings? The days will come when there will not be left here one stone on top of another. They will all be thrown down."
Later, when Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives looking across at the temple, some of His disciples asked Him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what will show us that it is time for your coming and the end of the world?" The disciples seemed to think that the temple would not be destroyed until the end of the world.
So Jesus answered, "Be careful! Don't let anyone lead you wrong. For many people will come and say, 'I am the Christ,' and 'The time is near.' Don't follow them; they will lead many people wrong. When you hear of wars, do not be afraid; they have to happen, but it is not yet time for the end. For nations and kingdoms will fight, and there will be earthquakes and famines and diseases in different places-all these things are only the beginning of birth-pains."
"Then people will treat you badly and have you killed. People of all nations will hate you because of me. At that time, many believers will lose their faith, turn against each other, and hate each other. Many false prophets will come and lead many people wrong. Evil will grow and most people will let their love become cold. But the person who stays strong to the end will be saved. The Good News about God's kingdom will be preached to the whole world, so that people in all nations will hear. Then the end will come."
The Destruction of Jerusalem:
"So when you see 'the hatred thing that destroys,'* that the prophet Daniel spoke about (that is, armies surrounding Jerusalem), then you will know it is time for it to be destroyed. At that time, the people in Judea should run away to the mountains, the people inside the city should leave, and the people in the country should stay out. A person should not even take time to get the things out of his house. It will be bad for pregnant women and nursing babies! For at that time there will be great trouble. There will be more trouble than has ever happened since the beginning of the world. And nothing as bad as that will ever happen again. People will be killed with swords and taken as prisoners to every nation. Jerusalem will be under non-Jewish people until their time is finished.
The Second Coming:
"But in the days after that trouble, the sun will become dark, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. ** People will become afraid and worry about what is going to happen to the world. During that time the Son of Man will appear in heaven. Then all the tribes of earth will cry, and they will see the Son of Man coming on clouds with power and great glory. Then He will send our His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His chosen people from one end of earth to the other."
"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When it starts to put out leaves, you know that summer is near. So when you see these things happening, you know that He is near."***
"I tell you the truth. All these things will happen before the people now alive all die. Heaven and earth will come to an end, but my words will never come to an end. When that day or hour that they end will be, no one knows, except the Father, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son. So be careful that your hearts not become heavy with drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you like a trap. For it will come on everyone in the whole earth. So watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Therefore you must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. And what I say to you I say to everyone: Watch."
*The King James Bible translates "the hatred thing that destroys" as "the abomination of desolation." Luke makes it clear that this is the armies that surrounded and destroyed Jerusalem.
The King James Bible translates "great trouble" as "great tribulation." Many people today teach that "the abomination of desolation" and "the great tribulation" are going to happen in the future. Maybe they don't know that the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem in A.D. 66 and the war that followed was the time of great trouble: it was so bad that women even ate their own babies in hunger. All these things happened, just as Jesus said, before the people then living all died.
**These sayings about the sun, moon, and stars are a Jewish way of saying that kings and nations would be destroyed. See examples in Isaiah 13:1-17 and Ezekiel 32:2-11.
***That is, "when you see Jerusalem destroyed, you know that Jesus will come soon." In the next paragraph, Jesus said that the temple would be destroyed before the people then living all died. This happened in A.D. 70, just as He said. He then said that no one knows when heaven and earth will come to an end. But you may be sure that it will happen, just as He said. Are you ready for that?