Recall that just as Ezekiel saw God’s glory depart from Solomon’s temple and rest upon the mountain east of the city (Eze 11:23), so has the hidden glory of Christ forsaken Herod’s temple and repaired to the Mount of Olives which offered a panoramic view of all Jerusalem and especially the temple mount. Apart from His Spirit, all the glory of man is but vanity, and so He rightly predicted upon leaving that not one stone would be left upon another of Herod’s magnificent edifice (Mat 24:2). His disciples associated this destruction with the Lord’s coming and end of the age, and asked for a sign that would indicate when such things were about to take place. In response Jesus warned first and foremost about the great deception that would precede that time as false Christs would arise appealing to people’s sinful desires for a fleshly leader who would give them a worldly kingdom rather than a servant leader who would give them the kingdom of God. As it has always been for those seeking a heavenly country (Heb 11:15-16,35-38), Jesus warned His disciples that they would be hated by the kingdoms of this world and suffer tribulation even unto death. At the same time they would be tempted to fall away from the truth into harlot religion by false prophets. These twist God’s words into a peace and safety message that winks at sin and deceives people with a false security that they will be saved. This in turn acts as a catalyst for the multiplication of lawlessness so that the love of most who claim to follow Christ grows cold as true godliness is degraded to a mere form or appearance of godliness (2Ti 3:1-5). In what way are these same signs increasingly present in our own time? As such signs in the first century warned of the impending destruction of the temple in Jerusalem that was the pride of their worldly religion and that marked the end of the age of the Jews, what might these same signs today portend for our present Church age and the pride of its own worldly temple? See 1Co 3:16, Rev 17:1-2,15-18; cf. Luk 21:24, Rom 11:25. What do these signs Jesus gives also remind us about the nature of His coming about which His disciples inquired in Mat 24:3? See 1Th 5:2-4 and think: when the day of the Lord comes “just like a thief in the night”, is that a good thing? Does it mean, as some suppose, that He is coming to secretly snatch away to heaven those in a worldly Church? See Rev 3:1-3, 16:15 and consider the similarity of such a belief to that which the Jews in 70 a.d. had who perished in Jerusalem, supposing the Messiah would miraculously deliver them from the Romans.
As a result of the perilous times that would precede His coming, how many did Jesus say would fall away? See Mat 24:10. How many false prophets did He say would arise in those times, and how many did He say they would deceive? See Mat 24:11. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of how many did He say would grow cold? See Mat 24:12. How many is “many”? Notice that the Greek word used is the very one from which is derived our English term “hoi polloi” that refers to the general public or masses of ordinary people, to the “common herd”. What does this remind us about the “many” who are on the broad road to destruction, led by the false prophets who appeal to their fleshly desires? Cf. Mat 7:13-15. In contrast, what does it remind us about how many enter through the narrow gate that leads to life? Cf. Mat 7:21-23. In contrast to the false prophets who proclaim otherwise, what does it also remind us about the cost and difficulty Jesus spoke of to enter the kingdom of God? See Mar 10:17-27, Luk 9:23-24,57-62, 13:23-24, 14:25-35, 1Pe 4:17-18. Is it possible that we could be among the “many” who are seeking to enter, but will not be able? Are we striving to enter through the narrow door? Note that to strive means literally to “agonize” from the Greek word agonizomai; it means to labor earnestly (Col 4:12), even as an Olympic athlete prepares to compete in a difficult contest (1Co 9:25); it is the word Paul uses when he encourages Timothy to fight the good fight of faith in order to take hold of eternal life (1Ti 6:12) , and that he used at the conclusion of his ministry to say that he had fought the good fight (2Ti 4:7). If we walk, talk, and act like the “hoi polloi” and have the same goals and pursuits in life as the “many” that Jesus warns His disciples about in these verses, should we vainly imagine that we are on the narrow path that leads to life, or should we soberly consider that we could be on the broad road that leads to destruction? Likewise, shall we suppose that the Lord’s coming will be for us peace and safety, or that His coming will be like a thief in judgment? What sort of people then ought we to be? See 2Pe 3:9-12, Luk 21:34-36.