By Nathan Jones
What three questions did the Apostles ask Jesus about knowing when the end times will come?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll look at the very first sign Jesus gave in Matthew 24 which tells us that we are living in the end times — the sign of false teachers.
Not Living in the Tribulation Right Now
Vic: Today, Nathan and I will be talking about deception and false Christ's spoken of in Matthew 24. Nathan, but first, I wanted to thank you for that very informative e-newsletter article you sent out regarding the Great Tribulation.
Nathan: Sure, Vic. I wanted to send it out to give people more information regarding our previous discussion of the Great Tribulation. A lot of people have been asking me if we are living in the Tribulation today because of all the evil going on in the world right now. I'd wanted to make it clear that we are not living in the Tribulation right now, just as you and I had discussed, and that's what I say in the newsletter.
Those interested can go to our our website and sign up for this e-newsletter free of charge.
Vic: Thank you, Nathan, for clarifying that for us, because it's important to understand as we continue on in our study that we are not at this time living during the Tribulation.
Jesus Answers 3 Questions
Vic: Nathan, would you read Matthew 24:1-3 and give a short recap?
Nathan: Certainly. The setting of Matthew 24 starts out with Jesus and His apostles at the Temple. Matthew 24:1-3 reads:
"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, which is across from the Temple Mount, the disciples came to Him privately saying, 'Tell us, when will we see these things? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?'"
Vic: Nathan, what an amazing passage! This Temple was one of the wonders of the world to the Jews at the time, and so it must have been so surprising when Jesus declared it would be destroyed.
The Apostles were asking three separate questions here. Would you explain what they are about?
Nathan: The Temple in Jesus' time was an amazing building. It was beyond belief to those poor fishermen. It could be compared to the Taj Mahal or Congress or a pro football stadium today. The Temple was the center of worship for Israel. It was where God dwelled.
So, here are the Apostles standing there just gapping in awe at the place, and Jesus just out of the blue says basically, "Do you know what? None of this will be here much longer. It will all be torn down. Every stone will be taken down and thrown away." You can just imagine the shock on the Apostles' faces. They couldn't believe it! This place was supposed to be God's home. Why would God abandon His home?
It wasn't until later that day that the Apostles finally built up enough courage to ask Jesus why He said this. When they arrived at the Mount of Olives which overlooks the Temple Mount, the Apostles asked Jesus three questions about this.
- When will the Temple fall?
- What will be the sign of the end of the age?
- What will be the sign of Jesus' coming?
Those three questions actually refer to three different time periods. Their first question was, "When will the Temple fall? This was near history for them because we know the Temple fell in 70 AD when the Romans completely destroyed it.
Second, they asked, "What will be the sign of the end of the age?" That's the end of the Church Age which we are living in today which will end with the Rapture of the Church.
Third, they asked, "What will be the sign of Jesus' coming?" In other words, what are the events that come just shortly before Jesus' Second Coming?
Jesus then answered their questions by giving the Apostle ten different sets of signs that they could watch for that would indicate when each of these events would come to pass.
As we go through time, starting with the Temple falling in 70 AD, the end of the Church Age which is now, and then the end of the Tribulation which is Jesus' Second Coming — all those signs that Jesus gave would happen more frequently and more intensely the closer time gets to each of these events. The signs started out gradually with the fulfillments of the signs in 70 AD, but they will become a lot stronger and there will be a lot more of them at the end of the Church Age. Then they will be all over the place tearing the world apart at the end of the Tribulation just before Jesus' arrives.
That is the setting and the background that brought the Apostles asking those three questions.
In the second part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the end times sign of false teachers, we'll learn how to use the Bible's litmus test to discern real from fake.