The End of the World, Matt 24:1-3

In this lesson on Matt 24:1-3, the main topic we will discuss is “the end of the world.”

In Matt 24:1-2, the disciples were marveling at the beautiful sight of the temple and the buildings of the temple.  You might imagine them acting like tourists with a tour guide beholding some of the ornate buildings and churches around the world.

Rather than comment on their beauty, Jesus said, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  And surely as he prophesied, Titus, the Roman military commander and eventual Emperor, besieged and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.  He accomplished exactly what Jesus said would happen.

In Matt 24:3, the disciples asked three questions:

  • When shall these things be?
  • What shall be the sign of thy coming?
  • What shall be the sign of the end of the world?

Jesus answered these questions in reverse order, answering the third question first, and the first question last.  We’ll answer them the way the disciples asked them.

When shall these things be?  Jesus answered this question in Matt 24:36.  “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only.”  In Mk 13:32, Jesus included himself among those that didn’t know the day and the hour.  And to this day, it is still true that we “know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh,” Matt 25:13, 24:42.

What shall be the sign of thy coming?  The sign of the Son of man appears in the heaven, Matt 24:30.  His appearance will be “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west,” Matt 24:27.  He will come after the Tribulation, Matt 24:29, when the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven.  When he comes, everyone will be able to “see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven,” Matt 24:30, Rev 1:7.  His angels will come with a great sound of a trumpet to gather his elect, Matt 24:31.  Note: the church will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. So, his coming is not the rapture; it’s his Second Advent.  Contrast 1 Thes 4:13-18. 

What shall be the sign of the end of the world?  When you hear the phrase, “the end of the world,” people are generally inclined to think about 2 Pet 3:10-13, when “the elements shall melt with fervent heat” and “all these things shall be dissolved.”  However, the end of the world is not about the destruction of the heaven and earth and the formation of “new heavens and a new earth.”  

The end of the world is the end of this world system currently under the “god of this world,” 2 Cor 4:4.  This world’s god is Satan. This world is ruled by “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” Eph 6:12. This world is on a course that is contrary to God, Eph 2:2.  All that is in the world is not of the Father, but is of the world, 1 Jn 2:15-17.  “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God,” Jas 4:4.

So, the end of the world is not the destruction of the heavens and the earth.  Rather, it is a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to rule over the kingdoms of this earth as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Rev 11:15, Rev 19:11-16, Is 9:6-7.

The signs of the end of the world are found in Matt 24:4-31.  These are signs leading up to the Tribulation, what Jesus calls, “the beginning of sorrows,” Matt 24:8.  And the signs include the terrible things that will take place during the Tribulation, like martyrdom, Matt 24:9-10, the rise of false prophets, Matt 24:11, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, Matt 24:14, the abomination of desolation, Matt 24:15, the flight of the Jews, Matt 24:16-21, etc.