There are numerous passages in the Bible that deal with the whole subject of eschatological events or end-time happenings, or the 2nd Coming, and probably one of the fullest is found in Matthew chapters 24 and 25. The New Testament just like the Old Testament looks at the end of history by using contemporary occurrences. Jesus is going to use the destruction of the temple by the Roman general Titus to foreshadow the typical events of the end times. This chapter is so difficult to understand because Jesus answers 2 questions at the same time (cf. Matt. 24:3), and never really tells us where the 2 are separate. He talks about His own body being destroyed and He’ll rebuild it in 3 days (cf. Jn. 2:19; Matt: 16:21). But the context here seems to be that the temple itself is going to be destroyed and those events are going to happen soon after His death. But then he also talks about the events that will precede the end of the world, and both of these are kind of mixed together, where it’s very hard to know which event occurs at which time. This whole passage in the Bible is apocalyptic and prophetic language which is always difficult to interpret, e.g. the sun turned into blood; stars fell are (cf. Matt: 24:29) apocalyptic language. The whole book of Revelation is apocalyptic language; a lot of numbers, a lot of animals, and a lot of colors. 1st and 2nd Thessalonians parallel Matthew 24 and these are all apocalyptic literature.
There are 3 major things that all of these passages seem to tell us: Number 1, the exact time is uncertain, but the event is certain. Jesus is coming again. He is coming in bodily and physically. I don’t know when but I know He’s coming again. Number 2, we can know the general time, but not the specific time. Number 3, the event is going to occur when it is unexpected. Now, that tells me it’s not going to occur right now because everybody is speculating about end-time events. There’s an anticipation in the world right now about the second coming of Christ, therefore that is not when He will come. He will come just at the moment when no one (including believers) are expecting Him. He will come extremely suddenly. The New Testament words are like the “fluttering of a gnat’s wings or the blinking of an eye. Because of the suddenness and unexpectedness of that event, the Bible relates several things that we ought to be doing as believers. One of them is quit predicting/speculating when He will come, just be ready. Number 2, be prayerful; and lastly be faithful to your assigned tasks. BE READY, BE PRAYERFUL, AND BE FAITHFUL.
It is very interesting to note that the author of Revelation is drawing on some Old Testament symbols, prophecies, and background material primarily from Daniel, the first part of Zechariah and Ezekiel, but he’s changing the meaning of some of the symbols and using them in appropriate ways in his day, and that’s what causes the confusion. Obviously, there are so many Old Testament allusions made by the author but not one Old Testament quote.
There are 4 major views on the book of Revelation. The first is called the Preterist, and basically it means this group sees the book as primarily or exclusively dealing with the 1st century Church in the Roman province of Asia, so it limits everything in its interpretation to the past. Number two is the Historicist, this group sees the book as an overview of history primarily Western civilization. Often the letters of the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 are used as a period of different segments of church history. there are two different groups within the Historicists; one sees these as basically being cyclical, and one sees them as being chronologically sequential but basically it focuses the book of Revelation as laying out the history of the church primarily the Western European church, that kind of thing. Number three is the Futurist, and this group sees the book as referring to the events in the time or history immediately preceding the “Parousia” which will be literally and historically fulfilled. Number four is the Idealist, this group sees the book as totally symbolic of the cosmic eternal battle between good and evil that will one day be ended by God Himself, and so they see no historical fulfillments. I think there’s some truth in each one of those areas, and that little truth is what’s so difficult – to deny or advocate one of those. I think all of men’s systems are inappropriate in interpreting this book, because the dilemma can be likened to a family picture album, but somebody has taken out some of the pictures and changed the order of the other ones that are left, and so what we have are true glimpses of the end-time but when we try to put them in chronological order or sequence it, it gets more fallen human presuppositions than scriptural revelation. I think the Bible does not present a systematic eschatology. It does present that God is going to break into history again, visibly and bodily in the person of the Messiah for the second time and set up a new age of righteousness. That’s what really matters!