Sign of the End

When the subject of the Second Coming is raised, inevitably, the question of what “sign” or “signs” will precede it is asked. And invariably, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, and similar catastrophes are pointed to as harbingers of the end. But Jesus himself gave us the definitive answer, namely, the COMPLETION OF THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH to proclaim his Good News to all nations.

After his final visit to Herod’s Temple, he predicted the destruction of the Temple complex and the city of Jerusalem. Because Israel had rejected her Messiah, “all these things shall come upon this generation. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. Truly I declare to you, there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” - (Matthew 23:34-39, 24:1-2).

In response, the disciples asked two questions. First, when will the predicted destruction of the Temple occur; and second, what will be the “sign” of the coming of the Son of Man and the CONSUMMATION OF THE AGE?


His immediate response was to issue a dire warning - Beware of false messiahs and false prophets that will deceive many. His disciples would hear of wars, earthquakes, international conflicts, and famines as deceivers pointed to such calamities as signs of the End’s nearness.

But such events are NOT indicators of the end. Disasters must occur but the “end is not yet.” And deceivers and false prophets point to these very events as “signs” of the rapidly approaching return of Jesus and thereby raise false expectations about that day’s imminence - (Matthew 24:4-8, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

Human and natural catastrophes happen regularly in the world, therefore, followers of Jesus must "not be alarmed" when they do occur. Such events are NOT chronological markers by which one can calculate the timing of the End. At most, they are a “beginning of birth pains,” harbingers of the inevitable end of this evil age.

Moreover, nowhere did Jesus predict that the frequency or intensity of earthquakes, wars and other disasters would increase as the End drew near.

To the first question, his answer is - within “THIS GENERATION” – the generation that was contemporary with him would see the utter destruction of the Temple. And this occurred when a Roman army destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70, exactly as he predicted - within one generation - (Matthew 3:7, 11:16, 12:34-45, 16:4, 17:17, 23:33-36, 24:34).


Regarding the timing of his “coming on the clouds,” no man knows the day or hour EXCEPT GOD ALONE, and therefore, his disciples must always be prepared for its unexpected and sudden arrival.

Knowledge of the “times and seasons” belongs to God alone, and any man who claims such knowledge arrogates to himself information that even the Son of Man does not possess - (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:33, Acts 1:7-9).

As to the requested “sign,” Jesus gave us one explicit goal that must be achieved before he returns in glory - the “PROCLAMATION OF THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM IN THE WHOLE HABITABLE EARTH FOR A TESTIMONY TO ALL NATIONS.” Only “then will the end come.”

The message of the Kingdom is Good News to all those who hear and obey it. But the church must bear witness to it to ALL nations before the Son of Man will arrive and gather his saints to himself and judge the nations - (Matthew 24:14).

In the Greek clause, the demonstrative pronoun for “THIS Gospel” (houtos) is emphatic. It is, “THIS Gospel of the Kingdom” that must be proclaimed; presumably, the same one preached by Jesus and his true and original Apostles.

And that is the task he assigned to his Church. His disciples must “go and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you; behold, I am with you even unto the end of the age.” This mission must be finished before the Lord returns to consummated God’s kingdom, raise the dead, destroy the “last enemy, death,” and so on - (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:6-8, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

And how do we know when that task is completed? According to Jesus, when the end does arrive! The fact that the “end” has not arrived is irrefutable evidence that the task remains unfinished.

The human desire to know when Jesus will arrive is understandable. The desire for certainty about the future drives our attempts to discern the “times and seasons” and calculate the date of his return. Nevertheless, all past attempts to do so have failed; date-setting always results in disappointment and failure.

The words of Jesus are clear. His Father alone knows the timing of the end. Not even the “Son of Man” has that information. In the interim between now and his “coming,” the Church must remain busy completing the task assigned to it. That is what matters far more than having accurate information about signs, “times and seasons,” and prophetic timetables.

And this both raises and answers the question – Why the (apparent) delay of over 2,000+ years before the return of Jesus?  Because the church has yet to complete its mission, and therefore, he is waiting for us to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to every nation.



The Suffering Servant

The Living Word