Let’s read Matthew 24:1-5, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Now 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?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many’” (NKJV).

When Jesus foretold the coming destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, it prompted TWO questions from His disciples. The FIRST one, “When will these things be,” is a direct question regarding the prophecy just uttered by the Lord Jesus. The answer to this question is not given here in the book of Matthew, but it is answered in Luke 21:20-24. In that passage the primary sign is given in verse 20, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” This was literally fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman armies, under General Titus, besieged the city and eventually reduced it to rubble. Yet the destruction that took place then was a foreshadowing of another invasion and destruction of the city just before the Second Coming of Christ. The prophet Zechariah speaks of this in Zechariah 14:1-2, “Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

The SECOND question, “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” is answered in great detail in verses 4-29. The disciples were no doubt acquainted with the many Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the coming of their Messiah to establish His kingdom over the earth. They also knew that it would be at the close of the “Jewish Age,” the age when all the prophecies that were given to their forefathers would see their fulfillment (see especially Daniel’s great prophecy of the “70 weeks” in Daniel 9:24) and then the Kingdom Age would begin.  They combined both of these thoughts into their question. They asked for a SIGN; the Lord gave them many SIGNS. There would be:

1) False Christs and false prophets….verses 4-5, 11, 24-26

2) Wars and rumors of wars, including civil wars….verses 6-7a,b

3) Famines, pestilences and earthquakes….verse 7c,d

4) Betrayal by friends and family members resulting in imprisonment and death….verses 9-10

5) Proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world….verse 14

6) The “abomination of desolation” standing in the holy temple….verse 15

7) Great disturbances in the heavenly bodies (the sun, moon and stars)….verse 29

The first great sign, which is the subject before us today, is “false Christs.” This means there will be men who arise “claiming to the Christ, Israel’s Messiah.” Yet eventually ONE MAN will make this claim and the masses in Israel (and around the world) will receive him as such. Jesus had referred to this man in John 5:43, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me,’ if ANOTHER COMES IN HIS OWN NAME, him you will receive.” The Apostle John prophesied of him in 1st John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that THE ANTICHRIST IS COMING, even now many antichrists have come.” The Apostle Paul had this to say about him, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and THE MAN OF SIN is revealed, THE SON OF PERDITION, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God…the coming of THE LAWLESS ONE, is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9). You can also read more of this great “religious leader” who will fool most of the world in to believing he is the Christ, Israel’s Messiah and the Savior of the world, in Daniel 11:36; Zechariah 11:17 and Revelation 13:11-17.

Jesus went on to warn his readers with these simple and clear words: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it…Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert! Do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashed to the west, so all will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:23, 26-27). In short, He is saying, “Christ will NOT be revealed ON EARTH, for He will be revealed FROM HEAVEN!”  (372.3)  (DO)