The Olivet Discourse of our Lord is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We cannot now attempt a detailed exposition of these highly interesting and important chapters, but would simply single our from them a few things which throw light upon our present inquiry. At the beginning of Matt.24 we find that three of His disciples asked our Lord, |Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?| (vs.3). What then was the answer which our Saviour returned to these questions? Did He reply saying that the Age would end with the universal triumph of the Gospel? Did He tell them that the Sign of His coming would be a converted world that would be eagerly awaiting His return to it? If so, this clearly decides the issue once for all, for there can be no appeal against the declarations of the One who was truth incarnate.
As we read the verses which record our Lord's reply to the questions of His disciples we find that instead of Him painting a picture in bright and attractive colors, He portrayed a set of conditions which were pathetic and tragic in their bearing and nature. Instead of intimating that things on earth would improve during the time of His absence, He showed that they would get worse and worse. Instead of promising an era of peace and prosperity, He predicted a time of blood-shed and famine. Instead of telling the disciples that truth would be universally diffused and received, He forewarned them of the coming of false prophets who should deceive many. Instead of teaching that His followers would grow more zealous and faithful to Him, He announced that because iniquity should abound the love of many would |wax cold.| Instead of saying that He should come back here to be received with an open-armed welcome, He predicted that on His return |all the tribes of the earth shall mourn.| It is true that He said, |This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations,| yet a little further down in the same chapter He very plainly intimated that it should meet with an almost universal rejection - |For as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be,| proves this.
It is therefore well nigh impossible for us to imagine anything more directly opposed to the post-millennial theory than what we find here in this address of our Lord's. It would appear from His utterances as if He, with omniscient vision, foresaw the very teaching which is so common in our day and that He designedly and deliberately anticipated and repudiated it. In verses 29 and 30 of Matt.24 we read, |Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall 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.| The |tribulation| here spoken of is described in verses 21 and 22 of this same chapter -- |For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.| How different this from the glowing pictures painted by the post-millennialists! That the things here mentioned cannot possibly have reference to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is evident from the fact that |immediately after the tribulation| of those days the sun was not|darkened,| the moon did not|cease to give her light,| and the Son of Man was not seen |coming in the clouds of heaven.| No; these verses describe conditions which are to prevail at |the end of the Age.| Observe particularly that it is said, |Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened| etc., and that |then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven.| The conditions then which are to immediately precede the Second Advent of Christ are not those of Millennial blessedness but those of unparalleled tribulation.