The Tribulation and the Signs of Christ’s Coming (Matthew 24)

Scripture reading – Matthew 24

Today’s Scripture reading is a parallel passage to an earlier devotional from Mark 13. The geographical setting of Matthew 24 is the Mount of Olives, and the passage of Scripture is known as “The Olivet Discourse.”

Jesus, having prophesied the destruction of the Temple, was asked by His disciples (Mark 13:3), “Tell us, when [what time; how long] shall these things be [i.e. when will they come to pass]? and what shall be the sign [token; i.e. distinguishing mark] of Thy coming [advent; return], and of the end [completion; consummation] of the world [age]?” (Matthew 24:3).

Christ answered the disciples’ questions with a sweeping prophecy that fills the balance of Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. Jesus identified eight signs as “the beginning [i.e. the birth pangs] of sorrows” (24:8) that will precede His Second Coming. There will be:

1) A great deception led by a proliferation of “false Christs” who will deceive many (24:5).

2) International conflicts: “wars and rumors of wars” (24:6-7a)

3) Universal, natural disasters: “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” (24:7b)

4) An increase in persecution, martyrdom, and hatred for believers (24:9-10)

5) A great apostasy and falling away of pseudo-believers (24:10)

6) An increase in false prophets who “shall deceive many” (24:11)

7) An allure of sin that will diminish a love for righteousness and Truth (24:12)

8) The universal declaration of the Gospel to all nations and people (24:14)

Far from the utopia liberal progressives have promised for more than a century, the world has grown more volatile and violent. We are witnessing the inevitable abyss of atheism and moral depravity (Romans 3:10, 23). And yet, the worst is yet to be.

Jesus warned, “For then shall be [shall come to pass] great [high; large; prolonged] tribulation [affliction; distress; trouble], such as was not since [from] the beginning of the world to this [until] time, no, nor ever shall be” (24:21).

The world will witness unparalleled sorrows as the end draws near (24:21) and believers in that day are urged to be cautious, knowing “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible [which it is not, because God will protect His people], they shall deceive the very elect” (24:23-24).

The saints in that day will be looking for the coming of Christ. Many “false Christ’s will arise” (24:24); however, when He returns, His coming will be unmistakable. He will come “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (24:27).

The end of the Tribulation will be marked by signs in the heavens. There will be the terror of darkness, when “the sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” (24:29a), and the solar system fails when “the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (24:29b). In that day, as the earth is shrouded in terrifying darkness, Jesus Christ, the “Son of man in heaven,” will be seen “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30). His coming will strike terror in the hearts of men as “all the tribes of the earth mourn” (24:30).

To those saints who believed in Christ during the Tribulation, His coming will be glorious, for He will “send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (24:31).

What a glorious day that will be! Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith