Session #141 See See See
Scripture Matthew 24:15-31
Summary Christians generally agree that Jesus is coming back. But not everyone holds the same view of how the events leading up to His return may unfold. Or when. There are just so many different interpretations, theories and positions. Take heart. There is no need to be distracted, confused or fearful. In Matthew 24:15-31 Jesus shows us what we should be looking out for.
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:15-31.
In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked about the predicted destruction of the temple and for the sign of His coming. In reply, the Lord presented the general setting of what is to be expected and what is expected of them.
After that, in Matthew 24:15-31, Jesus proceeded to answer their question more specifically. As we read through the passage, we noticed that the word ‘see’ is mentioned three times in verse 15, 25 and 30. Clearly, it is not just seeing but seeing what Jesus wants us to see; that we may discern, understand and respond rightly as we expect His return.
The First SEE
The first ‘see’ in Matthew 24:15 refers to seeing with understanding and perception. Jesus refers to seeing the “abomination of desolation” prophesied in Daniel 9:27. He is predicting the fall of Jerusalem and the impending destruction of the temple (Luke 21:20). Believers of Jesus are to get out of Jerusalem when they see this take place (Matthew 24:16-20) as there would be great tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22, Deuteronomy 28:53-57). Historically, this took place in 70 A.D. when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and finally destroyed the temple. Jesus would return after the “tribulation of those days’ but He has not (Matthew 24:29). This means that there will be another abomination of desolation. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 speaks of the Anti Christ who will set himself up as God in the temple. Those who refuse to take his mark and worship him will be killed (Revelations 13:15). We are to see and understand that all previous abominations of desolation and present ongoing tribulation/persecution foreshadow this final future fulfilment. Before this, there will be a trigger event that involves the ‘temple’.
A popular view is a physical 3rd temple. At a certain time, the Anti Christ will make a covenant with Israel and break it after 3.5 years and desecrate that temple. Great tribulation will follow and when we see this we are to get out of cities into the mountains.
Another view is that this ‘temple’ is not a physical temple. The Body of Christ, comprising Jews and Gentiles, is the ‘temple’. The Anti Christ will be worshipped in this ‘temple’ – in churches, through another gospel and false doctrines, rendering the ‘temple’ unholy. This will lead to acceptance of the one-world religion and mark of the beast. Great tribulation begins and when we see this we are to ‘come out of Babylon’ i.e., to get out of the world system (Revelations 18:4).
Whether a physical 3rd temple or not, the point is to see, discern and understand how to respond. Instead of waiting for the trigger event to happen, we can begin to live rightly before the Lord and be ready for Jesus’ return.
The Second SEE
The second ‘see’ in Matthew 24:25 is in the midst of many ‘look’ (Matthew 24:23, 26a, 26b). It is about seeing to verify the accuracy of Jesus’ words. We are forewarned to be prepared and not be deceived. We are reminded that supernatural and power signs are not everything; nor do they always point to the kingdom (Matthew 24:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Righteousness is always the key defining trait and indicator of the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33, 7:21-23). We are to see and understand that Jesus’ coming will be visible and obvious; fast and unmistakable (Matthew 24: 27-28).
We have been forewarned that deception will be the order of the day. The challenge: is that deception will look and sound very much like the truth. The only safeguard is to know the King and His kingdom, to get into the Word of the King and be led by the Spirit of the King and hangout with the right kingdom crowd.
The Third SEE
The third ‘see’ in Matthew 24:30 is the sign of the Son of Man and seeing the return of Christ. We do not know what this sign is. We only know that it will be obvious and Jesus appears soon after the sign is shown and everyone will see Jesus come “on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Daniel 7:13-14) and God the Father gives Him the fullness of the everlasting kingdom. Before the sign and the coming of the Son of Man, a prelude of cosmic and earth-shaking proportions will take place “immediately after the tribulation” (Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:12-13, 8:12). Is it literal, a spiritual symbolism or a metaphorical description of God’s ultimate shaking? Whichever way we choose to interpret this verse, the main point is that the coming of Jesus will be so glorious and evident that everything else will be shaken. Everyone will see it (Revelation 1:7). In the Day of the Lord, there will be both judgement and salvation. Will we mourn Him with regret; or meet Him with rejoicing?
There are so many interpretations about the end-times. It is easy to be distracted, confused and even deceived. Are we seeing with discernment and understanding, that we may live rightly in light of the expected return of Jesus? As we see the abomination of desolation, the false christs and prophets and the coming of the Lord, we are to check our own alignment with Jesus and HIs kingdom ways as we see, discern, understand and respond.