One of the most powerful descriptions of the end time was given by Jesus Christ to His apostles just days before His crucifixion. This prophecy is arguably the most famous warning ever uttered by the Messiah. It is recorded in great detail in three of the four gospels (Mt. 24, Mk. 13, Lk. 21).
When Jesus gave this prophecy, He was in Jerusalem preparing to keep His final Passover. While there, His disciples were showing Him the temple, and they commented regarding how magnificent it was. The gospels of Mark and Luke indicate that the disciples were marveling at the stones of the temple (Mk.13:1; Lk.21:5). Jesus then made a pronouncement that must have rocked these men. Notice what He said:
And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things (the stones the disciples had just shown him)? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Mt. 24:2)
This prediction by the Messiah is even more remarkable when you consider how massive some of the stones of the temple were. The great Jewish historian, Josephus wrote of single stones in the temple that were 40 cubits long and pillars that were 25 cubits high. (See Josephus, War of the Jews, Book V, Ch. v.i.). And in one sentence, Jesus proclaimed that they were all coming down.
When the disciples heard these words, they couldn’t contain themselves. They followed Jesus out of the city, across the half-mile wide Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. It was there that they pressed Him to expand on His shocking statement. The disciples began by asking Jesus a very pointed three-part question.
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? (Mt. 24:3)
What would follow on that spring day in Judea were words of uncanny precision and insight. Jesus laid out a picture of life in the last days that could be read in any newspaper today and scarcely draw a raised eye. But the Messiah spoke these words over nineteen centuries ago and when doing so acknowledged He was describing the end of the world. His words reveal a genuine reason for this particular generation to be deeply concerned. They included a series of warnings concerning religious, political, social, and environmental conditions that would grow worse in intensity until they would reach a state that would threaten human survival.