The 12 were overly impressed with the temple (24:1) even though Christ called it a den of thieves earlier and had just stormed out of it (23:37-39). So the Lord told them it’d have to come down stone by stone (24:2). The only buildings torn down like that had leprosy (Lev. 14:44), a type of sin. When the Lord left the temple and went to the Mount of Olives (24:3), that should have reminded Jews of how the glory of the Lord did the same thing in Ezekiel 10:18.
The end of the world the 12 asked about (Mt. 24:3) began 2,000 years ago (Heb. 9:26), but was interrupted by the dispensation of the mystery (Eph. 3:1-3).
Daniel said the “everlasting righteousness” of the kingdom would come after 70 weeks (Dn. 9:24) of years (cf. Gen. 29:29) when the Lord returns to establish it. You see, He meant the end of the world as we know it, the end of man being in charge of the world and Christ being in charge of it in the kingdom. It was supposed to start after Christ came 69 weeks later (Dn. 9:25), but didn’t. Daniel said that 70th week would be horrendous (9:25-27). We know Matthew 24 is all about that week for the 12 asked about the end of the world.
It will start with “many” a false christ persuading unsaved Jews who rejected Jesus that they are the messiah Israel’s been looking for (24:5). There’s always been wars and rumors of wars (24:6) so the Lord added there’d be “pestilences” (24:7). That word means sicknesses (I Ki. 8:37), specifically epidemic sicknesses. This has many thinking Covid-19 is a sign of the end. Many are also quoting Leviticus 26:14,25 to say God is judging us for our sins, but we’re not under the law of Leviticus 26 (Rom. 6:15)! When God starts sending pestilences a third of Israel will die (Eze. 5:12).
Others are quoting Psalm 91:3-8 to say God will spare Christians of pestilence even though He’s not! Nothing but disillusionment and shattered faith can come from claiming promises that God made to Israel if they obeyed Him.
When a third of a nation dies the world will think the end is near, but the Lord said that’s just “the beginning of sorrows” (24:8). The believers whom He said would be killed (24:9) are the 12 apostles, not us. He expected them to live to see all this (24:34; Mt. 16:28), but the mystery interrupted things.
That didn’t make Him a false prophet, for Hezekiah said something that didn’t come true (Isa. 38:1-5). But God told David if his sons were good that one would always sit on the throne (I Ki. 2:4). Hezekiah reminded God if he died childless that wouldn’t come true! So God knew all along Hezekiah would live despite what His prophet said, and He knew all along that generation would die and not see these things in Matthew 24, even though the Lord said they wouldn’t.
In the Tribulation, believing Jews will be “betrayed” by unsaved Jews (24:10) of their own families (Mark 1:13-15). It’s a cold day when even your wife might sell you out to the Antichrist (Micah 7:5,6), so the Lord said “the love of many shall wax cold” (Mt. 24:11,12). But they’ll have to endure till the end of the Tribulation without selling out to the beast if they want to be saved (24:13).
After the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world the end of the world will come (24:14). That gospel isn’t “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3,4). The 12 preached the kingdom gospel and didn’t know He’d die (Lu. 9:1,2; 18:31-34). The kingdom gospel was the good news He was their king and ready to give them their kingdom (Mark 1:14,15).
We know Matthew 24:15,16 is halfway through Daniel’s 70th week because it sounds like Daniel 9:27. The over-spreading of desolations has to do with the cherubim that overspread the mercy seat (Ex. 37:9). Antichrist will cause the sacrifices he reinstated to “cease” by dying and rising (Rev. 13:1-3) and claiming to be their fulfillment. The mercy seat will become “desolate” when Antichrist sits on it (II Ths. 2:7,8) because “desolate” means empty of inhabitants (Jer. 33:10) and God is supposed to inhabit the mercy seat (Ps. 99:1).
Tribulation Jews will have to move fast to escape the beast (24:17-29) and break the sabbath (v. 20). Worrying about that is more proof this isn’t about us who are not under the law!
Video of this sermon is also available on YouTube: One of the Greatest Prophecies in the Bible – Matthew 24:1-21