The Olivet Discourse is one of the most abused passages anywhere in Scripture. Some interpreters relegate the whole discourse to virtual irrelevance by claiming that all the prophetic words in this section of Scripture were completely fulfilled in AD 70 when Roman armies sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple (That view if known as preterism.) At the opposite extreme, there are those who seem to think today’s newspaper is key to understanding the Olivet Discourse. They scour the daily news for “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24.6); “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (verse 7); heavenly signs and wonders (verse 29) – or other echoes of this passage. Of course, they never fail to discover fresh reports that seem to fit the passage. Some seem to think the whole discourse is an extended puzzle containing a code that gives a hidden answer to the disciples’ question, “When will these things be?” (verse 3). Almost every decade, some false prophet comes along who claims to have figured out precisely when the Lord will return.
From: Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told by John MacArthur (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2015), p. 125.