I tend to look at Matt. 24 as Kik did (I think I remember that -- or maybe I am "misremembering"). Matt. 24 falls into two parts, following the question of the disciples "(1) When will these things (the things Jesus just mentioned -- the destruction of Jerusalem) be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" While the disciples probably thought this was all one complex event, Jesus divided it into two parts.

First is vs. 4-35, which deals with the destruction of Jerusalem. Note the time marker in vs. 34 -- "this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." The only verse in that section which I believe doesn't deal with the 70AD events is verse 27: "As the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." But in the context that makes sense. Jesus is warning the disciples not to listen to those who will falsely say Christ has returned during their own generation, saying He has come secretly and is hidden in the wilderness or in some secluded room (vs. 26). To paraphrase vs. 27, "Listen -- when I come back, I won't do it secretly. The whole world will know about it, just like when lightning lightens up the whole sky. There will be no way to miss it when I come back, so don't listen to those who say I've secretly returned."

Then there's a shift in vs. 36 -- "but concerning THAT day and hour now one knows..." Jesus has just given all kinds of signs for the disciples to watch for -- false Christs, Jerusalem surrounded by armies, etc. The destruction of Jerusalem would be accompanied by many signs, and would happen in their lifetime. Not so His return and the end of the age. No signs there, no warnings beforehand -- people will be living normal lives just like in the days of Noah. Jesus will just appear, like when a thief comes unannounced. Therefore, we are always to be ready for His coming, since we don't know the time.

That just seems to be a plain, reasonable framework for understanding Matt. 24, and things seem to fall into place and make sense on that basis.

Rod Kirby, Ph.D.
Cherokee Christian High School
Woodstock, GA