Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Signs of Jesus' Coming

This week: thoughts on the return of Christ.

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The disciples came to [Jesus] 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?"
~ Matthew 24:3

When they asked this question, the disciples surely believed they'd see fulfillment within their lifetime. The date of Jesus' coming is revealed to neither them nor us. I wonder if that's why Christians instead contend about whether the rapture occurs before or during the Great Tribulation.

Since most prophecy is not presented in chronological order, I can wish for "before." But I more strongly suspect "during." In Matthew 24, Jesus uses the word "then" (Greek tóte) nine times, and "immediately after" is used once. (Though "then" is used often in Revelation, it there refers to the order in which John saw events, not the strict timeline in which they unfold.)

One might infer that Jesus presents events in the order they actually occur.

Without further interpretation, here is a summary of Jesus' prophecy:

"Beginning of birth pains" (verses 5-8)
• false christs deceive people
• wars and rumors of wars, between nations and alliances
• famines, plagues and diseases, earthquakes in various places

"Then" general tribulation (verses 9-14)
• persecution and hatred "by all nations" of those named Christian
• among believers: offense, betrayal, hatred, false prophets
• Gospel preached and witnessed to all nations

"Then" the end (verses 18-28)
• "abomination of desolation" at Jerusalem, accompanying flight of Jews
• Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22)
• great signs and wonders by false christs and false prophets

"Then" the coming of the Son of Man (verses 29-42)
• sun and moon darkened, stars fall from heaven (v. 29)
• all peoples see Jesus "coming on the clouds of heaven" (v. 30)
• great sound of a trumpet, "angels ... gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31; 37-41)

"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!"
~ Matthew 24:32-33

Comments, questions, and respectful disagreement are welcome. Reply to comments, or e-mail buildingHisbody [plus]
Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Being ready at any moment ... whatever the timeline.

  2. in the New Testament it states that we are already in the last days. i was surprised when i read that. can't remember where though...

  3. David ~

    He promised quickly, not soon.

    I think it shall be soon enough, though. Just not as soon as His beloved might wish.

  4. Odie ~

    I'd LOVE for Jesus' return to be today. But I have not yet observed the signs He said would precede it, if I infer correctly that Matthew 24 lays out a chronological order.

  5. Susan ~

    Yes, I feel ready too. I wonder—oh how I wonder!—what our dear Lord yet waits upon.

  6. Bud ~

    In the NKJV, "last days" is a phrase which appears five times in the NT: Acts 2:17, 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:2, James 5:3, 2 Peter 3:3. [The OT uses "latter days" 16 times.] It can refer to this last era, of the Holy Spirit's reign on earth through believers since Jesus' death and resurrection, or it can refer to the very last days ("end times") before Christ's return.

  7. Oh, to see Him coming on the clouds! Can you imagine?

  8. I can't wait to see Jesus face to face and see Him fight that last battle!!! I see the pain and horrors going on (like the child sex trade) and I get infuriated, wishing He would cone now and stop it all. Then He reminds me that He is not slow in coming but patient, not willing that any should perish. A very good heart check for me... do I value the lost being rescued more than suffering ceasing.

  9. Snady ~

    I can't think too long about Him coming in the clouds or my heart starts to beat so fast I think I need to call 911.

  10. Laura ~

    You have a better heart than I do. I identify more with "Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)" (2 Peter 2:7-8). I'm patient because I have no choice. But you're right, I need to remember more often that the Lord is still waiting for some.


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