Signs of the Last Days Part 3
- claims of false Messiahs
- wars and rumors of wars
- natural disasters
- Christian persecution
- People turning against the faith
- Increased wickedness
- Global witness
In this article, we’ll conclude with the final four signs recorded in Matthew’s Gospel.
Sign 9: The “Abomination that Causes Desolation”
What is the abomination that causes desolation? In verse 15, Jesus connects this concept with the prophet Daniel. In Daniel 9:27, we find, “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
This prediction refers to the covenant that the future Antichrist will make regarding peace in Israel during the future seven-year Tribulation. At the middle of this time, three and a half years, the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In addition, he will end the worship taking place in the temple and command all people to worship him instead.
By including this reference, Jesus clearly indicates this “end”—His Second Coming—will come after the Tribulation period. The judgment of this period will be “unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21).
Sign 10: Widespread Destruction
Verses 17-28 describe some of the widespread destruction that will take place during the second half of the seven-year Tribulation period. It will include:
- fleeing from Judea (v. 16)
- trouble for pregnant women and nursing mothers (v. 19)
- great distress (v. 21)
- false Messiahs (v. 24-25; similar to v. 5)
Verse 22 summarizes the devastation of this judgment: “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive.”
Sign 11: Darkness
Verse 29 reveals that just before Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation, there will be a time of darkness. This sign connects with similar words found in the Old Testament prophets and in Revelation.
For example, Isaiah 13:10 mentions, “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.” Ezekiel 32:7 adds, “When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun…”
Revelation mentions judgment through darkness in both 6:12-13 and 8:12. Similar to the darkness that served as a sign of judgment during the plagues against Egypt, darkness will again occur as a judgment prior to Christ’s Second Coming.
Sign 12: Christ’s Second Coming
Verses 30-31 conclude with “the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” The twelfth sign is the return of Christ. Unbelievers will “mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 30).
In addition, we are told what the angels will do during this time. They will sound a loud trumpet and gather the “elect” (Tribulation believers) from the earth.
Many post-tribulation interpreters believe this is the same event as described in Paul’s Rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. However, the Rapture and Second Coming are clearly two events.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Jesus raises believers who have died and all living believers to be with Him in heaven. At His Second Coming, Jesus comes with His angels and His people to defeat Satan and establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.
What about Today?
Jesus concluded His teaching on the signs of the last days by stating, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (v. 32-33).
These signs were mentioned both for those who will live during the Tribulation as well as for those of us living today. When we see our world moving closer to these events, we are compelled to live fully for Christ and to share Him with others. For believers, prophecy should prepare us, not scare us.
Jesus promised “my words will never pass away” (v. 35). His predictions will come true. Let’s live accordingly today, passionately following Him and boldly declaring His message.
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