The end of the age
I have always thought it odd that the disciples would point out the greatness of the temple to Jesus, as they do in verse 1. It makes me wonder if He chuckled to himself as these things were being pointed out to him. In verse 2 the Lord predicts the destruction of the temple that would take place in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was sacked by the armies of Cestus Gallus. In verse 4 the disciples ask two questions. The first one is "When shall these things be? and secondly, what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" The second question takes us beyond 70 A.D. because we have not come to the point in history where all of these things are fulfilled.
In verses 5-25 we are given the following signs that apply not only to the destruction of Jerusalem but also to the whole span of Christian history:
1. Deception within the church
2. People claiming to be Christ and also false brethren that come in His name
3. Wars and rumors of wars
4. Earthquakes in various places
5. Famines and troubles
6. Persecution and martyrdom of Christians(mainly applying here to the disciples)
7. The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet(already fulfilled)
8. Verses 15-20 are direct warnings to the Christians in Jerusalem of the Roman invasion.
9. False signs and wonders
10.Deception in the church will increase
11.In verses 24 and 25 we see the reference to the sun, moon and stars-this in not a literal reference but refers to the fall of political powers(See Genesis 37 and Revelation 12)
13.In verses 26 and 27 our Lord returns visibly(no rapture here) and gathers His elect(for all Arminians, you are elect too, you just refuse to believe Scripture) from the four corners of the earth.
The problem most Christians have with this passage is when they try to make all of the events listed apply to one specific time period at the end of the age, which has no scriptural warrant. It is a shame that so many in the church are so focused on that little stip of land over in the Middle East we know as Israeli(which has no connection to the Israelites of old, except in name only) that they cannot see the wonderful fufillment of bible prophecy(especially the books of Daniel and Revelation)that has unfolded in the past 2,000 years of Christian history. I urge all Christians to read about the prophetic beliefs of the Reformers and please, please throw away your copies of Left Behind books.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts...(2 Peter 1:19)