In my Matthew 24 article, I denote several different meanings of the phrase "His coming" and the "Last days."
It's also worthy to note that Jesus speaks not of the Second Coming here, but the "sign of His coming" -- in my view the only sign of His coming that we can know for sure is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This is also one of the signs of "the last days" spoken of by the prophet Joel according to Peter.
"His coming" can mean in various places:
1. His coming through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
2. His coming in judgment on Jerrusalem in AD 70.
3. His coming in Revival and Spritual Awakening through history.
4. The bodily Second Coming of Jesus.
Check out the specific context to see which interpretation makes the most sense in each case.
The knowledge explosion of Daniel
In my articles on Daniel, I interpret this as follows:
http://forerunner.com/daniel/X0010_Inte ... of_Da.html
12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
The time of the end is the time when these prophecies shall be fulfilled. In my view that was at the time of Christ since the entire book of Daniel is to point the Jews to the coming (first coming) of the Messiah.
Essentially, the angel is saying simply that world history is going to go on and the nations are going to grow and progress until the time of the Messiah. At that time, people are going to have the key to interpreting Daniel. As did Jesus when he referred to Daniel in Matthew 24.
From our perspective today, an understanding of Daniel is paramount to understanding the Mount of Olives Discourse in Matthew 24, Luke 20 and Mark 13. In two of these passages, Jesus refers to the "abomination of desolation referred to in the prophecy of Daniel." In Mark 13:14, the author inserts the aside: ("let the reader understand"). "Understand what exactly?" one might ask. Obviously, from the context, we must understand this passage of Daniel. And unless we have the correct interpretation of Daniel, we will not be able to understand the Mount of Olives Discourse.
Therefore, a historical approach to Daniel is necessary for understanding the purpose of the book of Daniel. Daniel was a prophecy given so that the restored Jews would know the times and events surrounding the coming of the Messiah. That is the main purpose of Daniel chapters 2, 7-12.
We should note that in the book of Revelation the words of the prophecy are not shut up but left open. Why?
Because John lived in the time when the prophecy of Daniel was opened.
I haven't written my commentary on Zechariah. I don't see it as an eschatological book even though John draws from its imagery with the four horses.
The Rebirth of Israel in 1948
Again, see my article on Matthew 24.
The dispensational premillennialists teach that "this generation" in Matthew 243:4 refers to our generation today and that this
generation is the last one; that we are very close to the Second Coming of Christ; and that we are literally in the "last days" of history. They also believe that there is ample proof of this. This view of eschatology points to Israel becoming a nation-state again in 1948 and uses the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-34 as the proof text.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (Mat. 24:32,33).
The dispensationalists interpreted "the fig tree" to be the nation-state of Israel which reemerged in 1948. They linked the restoration of Israel to the following statement of Jesus:
"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Mat. 24:34).
They said that "this generation" was the forty year period after that time or 1948 to 1988. Although many looked for Christ's return in one generation after the restoration of Israel, these "prophecy experts" were disappointed when their time-table turned out to be wrong, such Edgar Whisenant and his 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.
Let's face it, too many Christians are more attracted to sensationalism, than sound doctrine. Whisenant was asked on a radio show by listener in the fall of 1988 who wanted to know: "What are you going to do if your prediction is wrong?" What he did was to adjust his base date and republish the book under a new title: 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1989. It seems that the prophets of doom are really more concerned with the profits of doom!
But beyond the fact that Jesus didn't return in 1988, a generation after the restoration of Israel, any interpretation of Matthew 24:32-34 as an "end-times" event is weak for a couple of reasons. First, as it is claimed, Israel is not always represented by a fig tree in Scripture. Most often, Israel is represented by an olive tree. Second, when we compare Luke 21:29, (the parallel passage) we see that Jesus in the same parable, includes not only the "fig tree," but also "all the trees." Clearly this passage is a parable and not an allegory. An allegory uses a "this stands for this" symbolism. A parable merely illustrates a point. The fig tree isn't meant to stand for anything, not Israel, not any country, not any thing. "When you see these things happening know that the end (the destruction of Jerusalem) is near." Note that this event already occurred in 70 AD, less than one generation from the time of Christ's prediction (about 30 to 31 AD). Thus the destruction of Jerusalem occurred exactly one generation from Jesus' prophecy. It is not a future event.
Up until this point, Jesus is speaking of first century events, but then the focus of the Olivet Discourse shifts towards the literal end of the world:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Mat. 24:35,36).
The word in Greek for "age" used in Matthew 24:3, aeon, is also frequently used to mean "world." I believe Jesus is here finally answering his disciples main concern over the end of the world, or eschatology, the "last things," (i.e., the Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the final judgment).
Christ's narrative throughout this passage (Matthew 24:35 through chapter 25) describes how He will progressively remove unrighteous people out of the world slowly at first and more rapidly as we see the kingdom advance in the world.
Matthew 24:35 through the end of chapter 25 do not refer to "all the evil things we see happening today," but to judgment progressively falling on the wicked to remove them from the world as the kingdom of God advances.
Also compare these passages with Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
The sign of the end of the world is not a great tribulation; that had already occurred by 70 AD. This is implicit in the text of Matthew 24:6-28 and 24:32-34. The "sign of the end of the world" is the victory of the Church in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, not defeat and tribulation.
Thus a sound interpretation of Matthew 24 includes elements of Preterism (events happening before 70 AD pertaining to the disciples' first question: vv. 4-28); Historicism (the gospel advancing in the world as a sign of Christ's coming v. 31); pertaining to the disciples' second question, and both Idealism and Futurism to interpret Jesus' answer to the disciples' third question (vv. 36-51 to the end of chapter 25).
Today's futurists make the same mistake as the disciples by assuming that they were just asking one question, when these events are unrelated from a historical viewpoint.
At this point, you might be asking: "So what does this chapter have to do with the Great Tribulation and the timing of the rapture?"
In fact, Jesus speaks of taking His disciples out of the world not once in this passage nor in the parallel passages of Mark 13 or Luke 21 In fact, the only time Jesus speaks of taking his disciples out of the world is in John 17:15,16: "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one."