Here is my understanding of Matthew 24, also called our Lord Jesus' Olivet discourse. It is given in 3 parts, Matt.24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, as all 3 must be considered. It is linked to the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation and where Apostle Paul warned brethren about the events to come at the end of this world.
24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
They sat on the mount of Olives which overlooks the temple mount. His disciples remark about the temple buildings on it and Jesus warns the day is coming when there won't be one stone on top of another standing there. Even today, there are still huge stones standing on top of another there, called the Wailing Wall. The orthodox Jews pray before it daily. The wall was part of the support for the temple mount complex. The Romans in 69 A.D. destroyed the city and the temple buildings, but not that Wailing Wall.
Therefore, the prophecy our Lord Jesus said for Jerusalem of not one stone standing upon another is not yet complete today. It is a type of dual-fulfillment prophecy, similar to the "abomination of desolation" prophecy in Daniel 11, which historically one can easily compare to what Antiochus IV did in 170-165 B.C. Jerusalem, having almost fulfilled Dan.11 to a tee.
Matt.24:3 And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
Then His disciples asked Him 'when' that would occur, and what would be the sign of His 2nd coming.
Some abuse that phrase "the end of the world", solely trying to key on the Greek word for "world", which is Greek aion, meaning age. We know Jesus was speaking of the literal end of this world when His 2nd coming will happen. In Matthew 13:39-43 He used the same idea of the end of the world (aion) when He spoke of the Harvest at the end of this world. So we can be sure Matt.24:3 is also speaking of the literal end of this world, especially since they asked Him about the time of His 2nd coming, which the Christian Church for over 2,000 years has agreed will occur on the very last day of this present world as written (here at Matt.24:29-31 for one example).
In the next Matthew 24 verses Jesus gives seven main signs for the very end of this world leading up to His 2nd coming. They parallel the events of the Seals of Revelation 6. I will draw that parallel here to include Mark 13.
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, "Take heed that no man deceive you.
That is our Lord Jesus' very first warning, and sign, i.e., deception by some man proclaiming that He has come (same as in Mark 13:5 and Luke 21:8).
The Revelation 6:1-2 Seal of the rider on the white horse is the parallel. In Revelation 6:1 we are not told which Seal that is; it is assumed to be the first Seal. The rider wields a bow of cheap fabric per the Greek, and he has a victory wreath as a crown upon his head. Per Revelation 19, our Lord Jesus returns upon a white horse, and wields a sword that cuts both ways, and on His head are many crowns. We are to contrast these two descriptions and realize this one in Revelation 6:1-2 is the cheap 'knock off', i.e., the "another Jesus" Paul hinted at in 2 Corinthians 11.
If you are not aware there is a fake Jesus coming first at the end of this world, before the true 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus, then you are way behind in Bible prophecy for the end of this world, for that is what this contrast here is about between Rev.6:1-2 and Rev.19.
5 For many shall come in My name, saying, "I am Christ"; and shall deceive many.
This is part of the 1st Seal also, and is the idea of another trying to deceive others into believing they are our Lord Jesus. With this warning our Lord Jesus is warning of "many" trying to play Him. But in Matthew 24:23-26 He is speaking of a singular coming false one that could, if it were possible, deceive even His very elect servants.
Matt.24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Our Lord Jesus then warned about hearing of wars and rumours of wars, but what did He prescribe? He said don't be troubled at that, for that must happen, but the end is not... yet, meaning what? Many preachers I've heard simply leave that last phrase out of, "but the end is not yet".
The idea is that as long as we hear of wars and rumors of wars, the very end of this world is not yet. What kind of time then is the opposite... of wars and rumors of wars? The opposite is a time of world peace. These seven signs our Lord Jesus is giving here in Matthew 24 are for the very end of this world, which will be a time of world peace. This is also what Paul showed in 1 Thessalonians 5 when he said that when they shall say, "Peace and safety", then "sudden destruction" will come upon them. So our Lord Jesus gave us a major sign with this Matt.24:6 verse, because when the time of world peace comes with all wars and rumors of wars having stopped, then you know His enemy has finally taken complete control over the whole earth, something we still have yet to see in our time.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
This Matt.24:7 verse goes with the previous 6th verse about wars and rumors of wars. They both parallel the 2nd Seal of Revelation 6:3-4 about the one on the red horse, a war horse. These events for the end are only the beginning of sorrows. They are not the time of the actual "great tribulation" which Jesus warns of later here.
These events of wars and famines, earthquakes, pestilences in Matthew 24:6 & 7 actually are covered in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Seals of Revelation 6:
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Matt.24:6, Mark 13:7, Luke 21:9, and the above already covered the red war horse and wars and rumors of wars events.
Rev.6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
The 3rd Seal is about a time of famine, which parallels the events of Matt.24:7 famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, etc. A measure of wheat for a penny is equivalent to working all day just to buy a loaf of bread. That's what the balances here is about. But notice it says to not hurt the oil and the wine? What are those symbols for in God's Word? The wine is a symbol for God's Truth, and the oil is a symbol for The Holy Spirit. God's Message in that is that He will not let His Truth wain for His servants during that time, nor will The Holy Spirit leave us in that time.
Rev.6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
This also is part of that time of the beginning of sorrows per Matt.24:6 through 8. "Death" is the name of the rider on this pale horse. Who would have a proper name like "Death"? Satan of course, the one to whom the power of death has been assigned. "Hell" follows with him. And power is given to "them" over the fourth part of the earth to kill with 1) sword, 2) hunger, 3) with death, 4) with the beasts of the earth.
Remember, Jesus has not warned of the "great tribulation" just yet here. He has only warned of the "beginning of sorrows". These events so far have been happening in our generation today. They really picked up in the 19th & 20th centuries, especially when Israel became a nation again in 1948. We have not reached that event when we no longer hear of wars and rumors of wars though, which will be a time of 'world peace'.
What movements exist today that want world peace? One of the largest factions is the United Nations organization, which is actually the reason they claim for their existence. World Communism also has claims to world peace when their so-called 'Revolution' is finally over. We can hear the same rhetoric from world Socialists, both Eastern and Western Socialists. So the Bible student should not be ignorant of these world movements, because they will set the stage for the very end of this world when they shall proclaim Paul's time of "Peace and safety" (1 Thess.5:3).
In that same respect, these 4 things on the 4th Seal that Satan and his servants are given to kill with involve the apparatus used by the movers and shakers of the world peace movement. Their powers are divided up into 4 main categories: 1) sword = military, 2) hunger = world commerce (the balances, remember?), 3) with death = religion (spiritual death which is worse than flesh death), 4) beasts of the earth = not literal animals, but by the "brute beasts" Peter warned of, the children of darkness, the devil's own servants that hide behind the scenes and create havoc.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
All these Matt.24:9-14 events are tied to the Revelation 6:9-11 verses about the 5th Seal when many of Christ's servants will be delivered up to be killed as the slaughtered servants were in past history. This will begin when the NWO system finally comes to complete power and the deceived proclaim "Peace and safety".
This "witness" is the "testimony" of Rev.6:9 they give to all nations with The Holy Spirit speaking through them by the cloven tongue, the same cloven tongue that was manifest on Pentecost in Acts 2. Peter quoted from Joel 2 about it, and Joel 2 is about events for the very end of this world just prior to the day of The LORD (i.e., Christ'
s 2nd coming). In Matthew 10, Jesus tells His on that day to not premeditate what they will speak, but to speak whatever The Holy Spirit gives them to speak. This Testimony for Christ will be heralded to all nations at the end of this world during this time of being delivered up. Every brother and sister in Christ Jesus should be aware of this.
15 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:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
When the "abomination of desolation" is setup in Jerusalem for the end, that is what events these verses are about, and is the actual start of the "great tribulation" events. Why not the previous events also?
It's because the worst thing that can happen in that time is not... flesh death, but spiritual death. And the way spiritual death will come is by deception in that time to a false one, thinking that false one is our Lord Jesus when it will not be. That is why our Lord Jesus' very 1st Sign here was to not allow any man to deceive us, and the 1st Seal was about a fake Christ riding on a white horse like how our Lord Jesus returns.
This is the time when Archangel Michael will make a 'stand' in Heaven and war against Satan and his angels as per Revelation 12:7 forward, and they are then cast out of Heaven down to this earth, de facto, here in person, and go to persecute Christ's Church who keep God's commandments and have the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
This event in bold is about Satan and his angels being cast down to this earth at the very end of this world to begin the time of "great tribulation". In Daniel 7 thru 11 we are told the end of this world will involve a symbolic period of "one week" equaling 7 years, and in the middle of that 7 years the "vile person" or "little horn" will end the daily sacrifices and instead place an idol abomination in the holy place at Jerusalem. That is what our Lord Jesus is warning of here in Matthew 24 at this point.
The 6th Seal about stars falling to earth as a fig tree that casts her untimely figs is about the idea of a winter fig. In fig horticulture the winter fig grows in winter but fall off in the spring. It represents the fake and not the true. Here it parallels the appearance of the Antichrist in Jerusalem for the end of this world and his placing of an abomination idol in the holy place at Jerusalem. At then end of Rev.13 it's called the "image of the beast" which all will be commanded to bow in false worship to.
Thus the pseudo-Christ, which Jesus is getting ready to mention in the next Matthew 24 verses, is coming on the 6th Seal.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, "Lo, here is Christ, or there"; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, "Behold, he is in the desert"; go not forth: "behold, he is in the secret chambers"; believe it not.
Many preachers fail to notice that section of Matt.24 Scripture is about a singular false one, not the many who say they are Christ back in the 5th verse. The KJV phrase "false Christs" is actually the Greek word pseudochristos which means 'a pseudo-Christ' or a fake Christ. Our Lord Jesus is talking about the "vile person" of Daniel 11 here, the one who causes the "abomination of desolation" idol to be setup in Jerusalem. That's why this same description of one who is to come working those "great signs and wonders" is also shown in 2 Thessalonians 2 by Paul, and in Revelation 13:11 forward through Apostle John.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 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:
30 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.
31 And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Just as we can see lightning shine from east to west, that is how obvious to all on earth our Lord Jesus' 2nd coming will be. No one will have to come up to you and say, "Lo, here is Christ, or there". All nations on earth will see His coming in the clouds.
This example of the gathering of His saints is about the gathering of the 'asleep' saints in heaven that had already died. In the Mark 13 example He shows the gathering of His saints that will be still alive on earth. So His Olivet discourse follows exactly what Apostle Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 4 about the events of Christ's 2nd coming and gathering of His Church of asleep saints, and His Church still alive on earth at His return.
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
16 And said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him That sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
The wicked on earth definitely will not see Christ nor our Heavenly Father in Heaven until the veil of flesh is removed from off all men on the last day of this world by God's consuming fire. That is when these above Rev.6 verse will occur, and is why those will wish for the mountains and rocks to fall upon them because of Christ suddenly appearing in the clouds at His return.
So there it is, the SEVEN SIGNS of the END that Jesus gave His servants to be watching leading up to His 2nd coming. They are a direct parallel to the Seals of Revelation 6, showing further that He was teaching His disciples and US, about the events for the end of this world leading up to His 2nd coming.