Revelation - Lesson 10

By Stafford North

The "Signs" of Matthew 12

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can draw a chart depicting the pre-millennial view of last things.
  2. The student can use key scriptures to show the fallacy of the pre-millennial view.


  1. If you choose to use them, have ready your visuals-overhead projector and transparencies, PowerPoint, or chalkboard.
  2. Have enough copies of the chart of pre-millennialism to provide them to any not at the previous class meeting. It is on a separate document for downloading.
  3. Have copies of the Worksheet for Lesson 10 available for any not present last time or who did not bring theirs back to class.
  4. Have copies of the test ready. The test has two parts-Part 1 is the Lesson 9 test version of the chart with some words missing which the students are to fill in. The words they are to supply are indicated by a space marked on each side by a parenthesis. Tell the students that if the space is too small to write in the word, write it elsewhere and draw an arrow. Part 2 of Test 9 is on a separate page at the end of this lesson.
  5. Have pens/pencils ready for use.
  6. All students should have access to a Bible.


Having reviewed the general outline of the pre-millennial view, we are now examining several elements of that view and comparing them to scripture. Today we will look at the question of signs to warn that the end is near.

Lesson Plan for Conducting Class

Introduction: (10 minutes)

  1. Make the test available to students as they enter, if you wish.
  2. Call the roll, welcome visitors, and may any necessary announcements.
  3. Songs (as desired)
    1. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
    2. His Name is Wonderful
    3. O Worship the King
  4. Prayer for thanksgiving that we can be in God's kingdom and a request that we can live faithfully for our king.
  5. Give answers to Test 9. Use this as a time for a brief review as you check the answers. Part one will be answered by looking at a completed chart. Part 2 answers are as follows: No. 1-John 6:15. No. 2-kingdom; world. No. 3-Colossians 1:13. No. 4-Roman Empire
  6. Ask students to get their worksheets and Bibles ready.

Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)

  1. Visual. Review the chart briefly to show where signs fits into the pre-millennial story. (If you want to use it from PowerPoint, it is on a document by itself.)
  2. Now we are ready to approach our topic for today-signs by which one may know when the end of the world is soon to come. The primary source of this view is Matthew 24 so open your Bibles to that passage. To set the stage for chapter 24, we look at the Matthew 23:29-39. Q: To whom is Jesus speaking here? (Teachers of the law, Pharisees.) Q: What is His charge against them? No. 1. (They decorate the graves of killed prophets but are about to become the chief prophet killers.) No. 2. Q: What does Jesus predict is going to happen? (vv. 37-38-their house, the temple and city of Jerusalem, is going to be left desolate.) No. 3. Q: Upon whom does He predict this will happen? ("upon you," "will come on this generation." Obviously Jesus is saying that the destruction will come on the people to whom He is speaking whom He calls "this generation.")
  3. This message was being delivered in the temple courtyard and as Jesus begins walking away, His disciples call His attention to how beautiful the buildings were. And they were magnificent-much use of marble and gold. Herod had built one of the most beautiful buildings in the ancient world. It seems they were wondering if Jesus really meant that all of this would be destroyed. Let there be any doubt, Jesus speaks about it again. No. 4. Q: To what extent does Jesus say these buildings will be destroyed? (not one stone left on another.) Q: Did this actually happen? (yes) No. 5. Q: When? (When Titus and the Romans destroyed the temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Q: Did Titus leave any record of this destruction? (The Arch of Titus still stands in the Roman Forum. Inside the arch of this monument, Roman soldiers are seen carrying off the golden candlestick and the table of showbread and other objects from the temple.) An article in the June 2001, issue of the Biblical Archaeological Review makes a strong case for the spoils of the temple providing the money for building much of the Roman Coliseum. So Jesustells the Jewish leaders and His disciples that, because of the prophet killing the Jews are about to do-Jesus and many of His followers-their temple and their city will be destroyed. And, He says, it will happen to the generation of people to whom He is speaking.
  4. Jesus and His disciples leave the temple area, probably through the eastern Golden Gate, cross the Kidron Valley and ascend the Mt. of Olives. From there they can look back down on the beautiful temple mount with its temple and colonnades. Now the disciples bring up the subject again. No. 6. They ask, "When will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? As shown in the parallel passages in Mark 13 and Luke 21, they really ask two questions: when and what will be signs by when we can tell when? Their use of "end of the world" here seems to be, then, how they described the fall of Jerusalem. So Jesus now undertakes to answer their questions-when will the prediction He just made about the destruction of the temple take place and what signs will warn of this event.
  5. He has already said that it will happen to the people then living, who will be the ones to kill him and other Christians. Look at verse 34. No. 7. Q: When does Jesus say that all the events prior to verse 34 will happen? (before this generation passes away.) Q: Who is "this generation?" To help us understand this, look back at 23:36. Q: Whom did Jesus call "this generation" on this same day and in this same context? (you-those to whom He was speaking-v. 35) So Jesus makes it clear that all of the events He predicts will come in the verses prior to verse 34 are events to happen within the lifetime of those to whom He is speaking. This is a very important marker to help us understand this passage. The answer to the "when" question, then, is during the lifetime of those who were then listening to Jesus-during that generation.
  6. In 24:4 Jesus begins to answer the "sign" question of the disciples. Q: With what warning does He begin? ("Watch out that no one deceives you.") He has just predicted the temple will be destroyed in their lifetimes. He fears that they will live in constant fear because there will always be some kind of trouble going on. To relieve some of this anxiety, He tells them not to be fooled by all the troubles that will be going on-false Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and even persecution of Christians. Q: In what year was Jesus speaking these things? (probably 30 AD) Q: In what year did the destruction come? (70 AD) So during the intervening 40 years, Jesus does not want His people to be living in constant fear. No. 8. So He says there will be various events happening which might deceive you into thinking that thedestruction of the temple is immediately upon you. But don't be fooled by these events. The will be happening but from them you cannot draw any conclusions about the destruction of Jerusalem.
  7. In 24:15, however, Jesus gives a sign by which they can take some action. Q: What is the sign given in this verse? (So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel." Someone read Luke 21:20-the parallel verses in the Luke account. Q: Putting these two verses together, what does Jesus give as the real sign? (When you see an army coming which is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9:27, then you have the sign of which I am speaking.) So they might hear of earthquakes, or wars, or persecution, but these were not events that would give them any indication of when the destruction of the temple was coming. No. 9. But, when they saw an army coming to surround the city of Jerusalem, that was an event on which they could do something.
  8. No. 10. Q: In verse 16, what does Jesus tell them to do when they see this sign? (Flee to the mountains) Q: Is that good advice for the end of the world? (no) Q: Is that good advice if the city of Jerusalem is about to be surrounded by an army that will eventually destroy it? (Good advice. And, Josephus says, Christians followed this advice and escaped in time to avoid being trapped inside.)
  9. No. 10. Q: According to verses 17-20, how quickly shall they leave once they see the sign and decide to flee? (Very fast. If you are on the roof of your house, go down the outside stair and do not even go inside to get anything. If you are in the field, leave from there.) No. 11. Q: What conditions does Jesus say might make a quick departure more difficult? (A woman's being pregnant or having small children, that the flight might be in winter or on a Sabbath Day. Obviously a pregnant woman or one with small children would find it more difficult to leave in a hurry. Also if the time is in the winter, it would be harder to leave without packing more clothes. And there were Jewish restrictions on travel on the Sabbath day, such as gates being closed.) Q: How useful is this advice for the end of the world? (Not at all. Do we need to flee to the hills then? Will it matter then if one has small children or if the end of the world comes in winter?) So all of this section applies very well to the end of Jerusalem, but not at all to the end of the world. And it is before verse 34 which tells us that these events will happen to those in the generation to whom He was speaking.
  10. In verse 36, after the limitation of verse 34 is over, Jesus begins to discuss the end of the world. Q: What are some ofthe ways He describes this event? (No one knows when, not even Jesus.) No. 12. Q: Did Jesus know when the fall of Jersualem would be? (Yes because He said it would come in their lifetimes, but now He speaks of the end of the world and says He does not know when.) Q: Why will the end of the world be similar to the days of Noah? (no warning) In verses 43, Jesus likens His return to the coming of a thief and that is a very common comparison made. No. 13. Q: What does Jesus mean for the the "thief" analogy to suggest to us? (That His return will be unexpected, no warning.)
  11. So what have we learned about "signs of the end of the world." Q: Are the events listed in 24:4-14 intended as signs by which we can tell when the end of the world is coming? (No.) Q: Is the discussion here about the end of the world? (No.) Q: Is this a list of signs by which the Jews could tell when the destruction of Jerusalem was soon to come? (No.) This is, rather, a list of events which would be going between 30 and 70 AD but by which Christians were not to be deceived. Q: What was the real sign by which they could take action? (the coming of an army to surround the city) Q: Did early Christians understand and act on this? (yes) Q: What were they to do? (flee to the hills) Q: How quickly? (Very quickly.) Q: Does this advice fit the end of the world? (No) Q: Does Jesus discussion of the end of the world at the end of the chapter suggest that there are signs by which we can be warned of when Jesus will return? (No.)
  12. So, the passage often used to suggest that there are signs by which we can tell when the end of the world is approaching does not teach this. And we should keep in mind the most common teaching about the second coming-that it will come like a thief. No one knows when, even Christ. So in this point about signs to warn, the pre-millennial theory is not in harmony with scripture.

Application: (4 minutes)

  1. No. 14. Q: What advice does Jesus give us about the coming of the end of the world in verse 42? (Watch)
  2. Q: What are some ways we could put this into practice?


  1. Study the worksheet you have completed and be prepared for the test next time.
  2. Read 1 John 2:18-29; 4:1-4 and 2 John.


  1. Test over the material at the next class meeting.
  2. Oral Review

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