Jesus said to His disciples, “You shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”Matthew 23:39
Jesus told His disciples on at least three occasions that He would die and rise again. He now says to them that this will be His last Passover with them until He returns. John also records Jesus telling His disciples that He is going away but that He would return for them (John 14:2-3). Now that His departure is imminent the disciples have a couple of questions for Him: When will He return and what sign will accompany His return?
Matthew 24 and 25 record Jesus’ response. He doesn’t give a date but He does describe conditions in Israel and the world more generally. The only date He relates is that which Daniel informs us is mid-tribulation (24:15 cf. Daniel 9:27).
The conditions during the first half of the tribulation are recorded in 24:5-8. They are similar to what we are experiencing now but during the tribulation they will be more intense and more frequent. It is possible that we are observing the prelude and build up to these conditions. Just as Noah warned people, we have God’s faithful messengers today warning people. Sadly most people reject the warning, as they did Noah’s warning, and carry on in ignorance (Matthew 24:37-44). Fortunately God is still rescuing people who will receive His word. They will be delivered just like Noah and his family.
At the mid-point of the tribulation the Antichrist will stand in the newly built temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be the Christ (24:15). From that day Israel will suffer unprecedented persecution (24:16-21). The world will be at war and Jesus says that war would end in annihilation of all mankind if He did not intervene (24:22). In order for God to fulfil His covenant with Abraham and King David, Israel must survive. This is why Satan has repeatedly attempted to destroy Israel. This last attempt will also fail.
The only sign that will precede Christ’s return is given to us in 24:27 & 30. This will be at the end of the tribulation and reminds us of Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul saw his experience as foreshadowing Israel’s experience when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 15:8).