At the close of the three and a half years of terrible persecution, the Jews as a nation will come at last to realize their awful mistake in never seeing that the One Who came to them as the lowly carpenter, but Who for three years went among them preaching the kingdom of heaven, has come near; the One Who healed the sick, made the blind to see and the deaf to hear, the One Who raised up the dead to live again, was indeed the One the nation had been waiting for, for centuries, and was their Messiah. He was the One promised them by God in the Old Testament prophecies. We read in Zechariah chapter 12 of Israel's belated repentance of having that Messiah put to death by the Roman ruler, the ignominious death of a slave. Small wonder they wail and beat their breasts.
... they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him ... In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem ... In that day there shall be a fountain opened ... for sin and for uncleanness (Zech. 12:10 to 13:1).
The false signs and wonders which are associated with the false Christs and prophets in Matthew 24:24, are described in Revelation chapter 13 and Paul's second Epistle to the Thessalonians chapter 2:
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth ... And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live (Rev. 13:11-14).
And then shall that Wicked be revealed ... Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders (THE LIE), And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:8-10).
Then there are to be two 'gatherings together'; Matthew 24, verse 28 where the word 'eagles' should be 'vultures', and verse 31, where the angels will be sent to 'gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other'. So surely no one need be deceived. Look at the difference between 'Behold, He is in the desert', and 'Behold, He is in the secret chambers' (verse 26), and the world-wide, open and manifest shining from 'the east ... even unto the west' (verse 27). Besides, neither the beast nor the false prophet can cause the sun to be darkened, nor the moon to cease to give her light, neither can they cause the stars to fall from heaven, nor the powers of the heaven to be shaken.
But these momentous things will take place immediately before the Lord does come down to rescue His earthly people Israel from the surrounding Arab nations seeking to annihilate the Jewish people and seize their land. Satan and his dupes will be able to imitate the Christ's divine power over death and disease and the elements, as we read in Revelation chapter 13 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. Paul, writing to the believers in Thessalonica, warned them that before the Lord's return there would come a falling away first. In chapter 24 of Matthew's Gospel, his words are, 'as it was in the days of Noah' e unbridled apostasy. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 we read those ominous words:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
In Matthew 24:15 we read:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.
This awful blasphemer is the antichrist who, as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10 comes with the power and authority of Satan. He will be able to perform signs and lying wonders, 'all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing' (N.I.V. translation). Verse 11 continues -- 'For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe (not a lie) the lie'. How good to know that when these signs appear, those who are faithful and endure to the end (telos) will not be deceived!
The close of the answer to the question concerning the signs, merges into the answer to the first -- 'When shall these things be?'. What shall be the date of the Lord's return? We read that the Lord says in Matthew 24:36, 'But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only'. Again in Acts 1:7, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power'. There can be no doubt whatsoever that any attempt to fix a date for the Lord's return is futile. Such definite statements of Scripture are conclusive, yet we can say that in one sense His coming is dated, for we read in Matthew 24:29 that He will come immediately after the tribulation of those days. At that time when the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken,
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (verse 30).
The key to prophecy has always been Israel and Jerusalem, as we have already read in Zechariah's prophecy in chapter 12:9 to 13:1 -- 'I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem ... In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem ... there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem'.
So here again is an indication of the coming of the Day of the Lord. The nation of Israel will be back in their land, and already many of them are there, but many nations are endeavouring to annihilate them. In their desperate plight and with none to help them, they will realize that their forebears had rejected the One Who had come among them and had Him put to an ignominious and painful death, and realize that that One, whose name was Jesus of Nazareth, was none other than their Messiah, the Christ of God. Cut to the heart, they will repent as a nation, they will mourn for their evil deed and turn to Him for mercy and deliverance from their impending destruction. He will then come and deliver them.
Those believers who are living on the earth in the last days of this dispensation will not know the day or the hour of Christ's coming, but there will be signs that focus upon it. What the Lord does do is that He urges watchfulness and readiness to obey until the time comes. 'Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh'. Those words of the Lord conclude the parable of the ten virgins, five of whom failed to take a reserve supply of oil for their lamps (Matt. 25). When they returned after going to the nearest shops, they found the door locked. They banged on the door, but His words were. 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you'! (N.I.V.)
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (Matt. 24:42-44).