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by Wayne Blank
"they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months" (Revelation 11:2 RSV)
"So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates"
Jesus Christ warned His disciples, of the past, what was coming upon His disciples, of the future (although His disciples of the past obviously thought it would be in their time), in the time before His return.
"As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?" (Matthew 24:3 RSV)
Christ began His prophecy with a warning not to be deceived by the frauds who would claim to be Christian, or be alarmed by all of the wars and "natural" disasters that will happen then (note that Matthew 24:4-7 coincides with the "four horsemen of the apocalypse" of Revelation 6:1-8).
"And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My Name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.
Christ's true people will also face extremely difficult times then. From among them will be His "two witnesses" (Revelation 11:1-12) whose ministry will provide the "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations" as stated below.
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for My Name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Many prophecies will be fulfilled to their utmost during that time, including the "desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel," which is also known as the abomination of desolation.
"So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation [see The Great Tribulation], such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if any one says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand." (Matthew 24:15-25 RSV)
And then, just when the darkness reaches its extreme, the coming of the Light (see The Light Of Life).
"So, if they say to you, 'Lo, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out; if they say, 'Lo, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together." (Matthew 24:26-28 RSV)
Christ's return will be amidst great signs in the heavens. The first resurrection will happen that day (see When Will You Be Judged?).
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man 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 out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:29-31 RSV)
Fact Finder: In what way will "the end of the world" happen at Christ's return?