This visible sign-event refers primarily to the future desecration of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by the antichrist (see Dan 9:27; 1 John 2:18). The antichrist or man of sin, will set up an image of himself in God’s temple, declaring himself to be God (2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev13:14-15). The following are important facts concerning this pivotal event.
(1) The “abomination of desolation” will mark the beginning of the final stage of the tribulation, which culminates in Christ’s return to earth and His judgment on the ungodly at Armageddon (Mat 24:21, 29-30; see Dan 9:27; Rev 19:11-21).
(2) By noting the time of this event (“When ye therefore shall see” Mat 24:15), tribulation saints can know with a high degree of certainty when the tribulation will end and Christ will come to reign on earth (see Mat 24:33). The time span between this event and the end is given four times in Scripture as three-and-a-half years, or 1,260 days (see Dan 9:25-27; Rev 11:1-2; 12:6; 13:5-7; see Dan 9:25-27)
(3) Because of this strong expectancy of Christ’s coming (Mat 24:33), the faithful must be aware that any report that Christ has returned is deceptive (Mat 24:23-27). The “coming of the Son of Man” after the tribulation will be observable and known to all who are in the world (Mat 24:27-30)
Another sign will be the appearance of the false prophets who, as ministers of Satan, will perform “great signs and wonders” (Mat24:24)
(1) Jesus admonishes all believers to be especially alert for these professed Christian prophets, teachers and preachers who are, in reality, false, and yet who perform miracles, healings, signs and wonders and who appear to have great success in their ministries. At the same time, these false prophets will distort and reject the truth found in God’s Word (see Mat 7:22; Gal1:9; see article on The Age of the Antichrist).
(2) Elsewhere Scripture urges believers to continually test the spirit energizing all teachers, leaders and preachers (see 1 John 4:1). God allows deception accompanied by miracles in order to test believers as to their love for Him and their loyalty to the truth of Scripture (see Deut13:3). This period of deception will not be easy, for Jesus states in Mat 24:24 that during the last days religious deceit will be so widespread that it will be difficult even for “the very elect” (i.e., committed Christians) to discern truth from error (see 1 Tim 4:16; Jas1:21).
(3) Those among God’s people who do not love the truth will be deceived. They will be given no further opportunity to believe the truth of the gospel after the antichrist comes (see 2 Thes 2:11).
Finally, the great tribulation will be the ultimate expression of accumulated evil in history and of God’s judgments against an antichrist world, a specific period of terrible suffering and distress for people in all the world. Observe:
(1) It will be worldwide (see Rev3:10). (2) It will be the worst time of religious persecution and distress ever to occur in the history of humanity (Dan 12:1; Mat 24:21). (3) It will be a terrible time of suffering for the Jews (Jer30:5-7). (4) The period will be dominated by the “man of sin” (i.e., antichrist; cf. Dan 9:27; Rev 13:12); see article on The Age of the Antichrist. (5) The faithful of Christ’s churches are promised deliverance and “escape” from God’s wrath during the tribulation time (see Luke21:36; 1 Thes 5:8-10; Rev3:10). (6) During this time, there will be both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved (Deut4:30-31; Hos5:15; Rev 7:9-17; 14:6-7).