The Olivet Discourse is the key to understanding the prophecies concerning the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ as described in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. The Synoptic Gospels each present the teaching which is found in Matthew 24 - 25; Mark 13, and Luke 21. These passages have nothing to do with the Church Age which was still a mystery to the disciples (see Acts 1:6; Eph. 5:32). Let me set the stage:
WHO: Jesus is teaching Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mk. 13:3)
WHERE: On the Mount of Olives (Mt. 24:3; Mk. 13:3)
WHEN: Just prior to Jesus’ last Passover (Mt. 26:2; Mk. 14:1; Lk. 22:1)
WHAT: Jesus is responding to three questions from His four disciples (Mt. 24:3)
1. When will the temple be destroyed?
2. What will be the sign of Christ’s return?
3. What will be the sign of the end of the world?
The third question would be better translated “the end of the age.” The Greek word here is aion, which speaks of a time period, or a dispensation. Because the order of the second and third questions is not chronological, Jesus answers them in reverse order. The end of the age or dispensation takes place, and then Christ returns. Jesus does not answer the first question; Daniel already answered it (Dan. 9:24-27), and He had answered it in Matthew 23:36.
Question 1: When will the temple be destroyed?
According to Daniel 9:26, the temple would be destroyed after the Messiah was to be killed. It was destroyed in A.D. 70. However, another temple will be built because the abomination of desolation (Dan. 11:31,12:11; Matt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14) requires the Jews to be offering sacrifices when the Antichrist is revealed. This can also be clearly seen in II Thessalonians 2:4. The prophecy could not have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes two centuries before the appearing of Jesus Christ. The abomination committed by him was an example of some prophecies having more than one fulfillment. Christ coming two times is another: one to die for all mankind, and one to rule and reign over all mankind forever. Christ came as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, and He will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Jn. 1:26, 36; Rev. 5:5-6). Therefore, the temple the disciples were admiring is not the same temple in which the Antichrist commits the abomination of desolation.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will elaborate on the mystery of the Church Age.