Matthew, Chapter 24, a recorded prophetic declaration of Jesus Christ, includes a conflation of four big ideas into one significant historical juncture in time (AD 64 to AD 70). The following are included: (1) a period of great tribulation for the Chosen of God, (2) the destruction of Palestine and Jerusalem by the Romans, (3) the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in rescue of the persecuted Church and judgement of their enemies, and (4) the ending of an age (specifically, the Old Covenant). This unique juncture in time does not specifically include what is commonly referred to as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. However, because both (AD 64 to AD 70 and Christ’s Second Coming) are correctly referred to as a “Day of the Lord” event, there may be many similarities.
As I explained in my book Eyes To See the Revelation, Judaism had a special status under Roman law (religio licita). As long as the Jews offered a daily sacrifice to the Emperor and Rome, they were allowed the freedom to practice their faith. Between around AD 30 to AD 64, the Christians were viewed as a sect within Judaism, and therefore, the Christians were protected under Roman law. As an example, when the Advocates of the Old Covenant stirred up trouble against Paul in Corinth, Paul was brought before the Proconsul Gallio. In response to the dispute between the Advocates of the Old Covenant and Paul, Gallio said that the issues were “questions about teaching and persons and your own law,” and that they should “see to it yourselves; I am unwilling to judge these matters” (Acts 18:15). The Proconsul Gallio refused to get involved in an internal religious dispute. However, after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, Nero wrongly blamed the Christians for the fire in order deflect the people’s belief that Nero himself was responsible (which he was). Great numbers of Christians were killed and persecuted. Starting in AD 64, both the Advocates of the Old Covenant and the Romans joined in the persecution of the burgeoning Church.
Jesus prophesied, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves. But be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in the synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:16-18). As recorded in Acts, Paul’s missionary journeys were full of examples of persecution by the Advocates of the Old Covenant and various local pagan groups. After AD 64, the persecution of Christians was an official act of Nero and the Roman Government. In Rome, great numbers of Christians were killed by Gladiators or wild animals for Roman entertainment. Others were crucified. Some were burnt as human torches at Nero’s parties. The Romans destroyed the leadership of the Jesus movement. Both Peter and Paul were executed by the Romans. The movement of the Christ-followers was in serious jeopardy. As is evident in the Book of Revelation, the persecution of Christians even extended to Asia Minor. John, the Elder, was exiled; some were imprisoned, and Antipas was killed (Rev. 2 and 3).
Matthew, Chapter 24 explains how God came to the rescue of His persecuted people during this time. In order to properly interpret the language of Matthew, Chapter 24, we must have a lot of exposure to the Old Testament, to include the language and Biblical imagery of the Old Testament. Our learning never ends. As I explained in my book Eyes to See the Revelation, Revelation 1:7 is the key interpretive verse for unlocking the Book of Revelation. In the same way, Biblical imagery is the key to understanding Matthew 24. Both Revelation 1:7 and Matthew 24:30 describe Jesus as the Divine cloud-rider. Revelation 1:7 states, “BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH CLOUDS.” The image of Jesus coming in the clouds has its roots in the Old Testament. This is an image of Jesus Christ as the God who controls history. Riding on the clouds, He brings both blessing and judgment. He judges both Israel and the nations of the world. As an example, over 2700 years ago, Isaiah pronounced God’s judgment on Egypt. Isaiah declared, “Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt. The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence” (Isa. 19:1). As was sometimes the case, God judged Israel or other Gentile nations by using an invading foreign military power. At Joel 2:11, the Lord was described as being at the head of a great invading army. Such was the case when Jesus said, “[T]hey will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:3). This was a metaphorical way of describing how God is the hidden, invisible force behind world history. Human beings make their free will decisions, but God never loses control of His creation. For example, men were guilty for their role played in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, an innocent man, but God predetermined the crucifixion to be the means of saving humanity. As it is sometimes stated, if Satan had understood that God was going to save mankind by offering His Son on a Roman cross, he, Satan, would not have encouraged Judas to betray Christ by handing Jesus over to the Romans. We creatures cannot out think the Creator.
Consistent with the language of the Old Testament, the coming of Jesus Christ in AD 70 was not a literal or physical appearance. However, it was proof that Jesus (an alleged criminal crucified on a Roman cross) was, in fact, the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father, who has ultimate control over world history.
As another example, the great believer David, during a time of distress, prayerfully called out to God for help. The answer to David’s prayer was described metaphorically at Psalm 18:9-14 as follows:
He also bowed the heavens down low, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; And He sped on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds. From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, and lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
At Matthew 23:37-38, Jesus Christ prophesied, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold your house is being left to you desolate.” After the crucifixion of Jesus, Jerusalem had 40 years to repent. Instead, the Advocates of the Old Covenant stubbornly continued to persecute the Church. Eventually, Rome joined in the persecution. Jesus Christ came in answer to the prayers of the persecuted. He delivered His people and judged the persecutors. Jerusalem was destroyed, the Roman Julio-Claudian Dynasty came to an end, and Rome was divided by a civil war. God brought relief to the beleaguered Christians.
The featured artwork on this page is titled “The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70” by David Roberts, c. 1850 CE.
 Smith, T. Kenan. Eyes to See The Revelation: A Spiritual Journey. WestBow Press, 2019.
 As a reminder to the reader, the “Advocates of the Old Covenant” is the name that I apply to First Century Christians and Jews who put an undue emphasis on continuing the ritual practices of the Old Testament law. The Advocates of the Old Covenant included Jews that believed in Christ and Jews that did not accept Christ as the Messiah. Also included were Gentile believers who put an undue emphasis on the Old Covenant.
 Bell, Jr., Albert. Exploring the New Testament World. Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998, p. 65.
 Bell, Jr., p. 65. Additionally, for more information, the reader is encouraged to read my blog post on this website: “Peter in Rome to the Chosen.”
 Bockmuehl, Markus. Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory. iPad Ed, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2012, pp. 102-111 of 204.