After many confrontations with the religious leaders and even his own disciples in the several passages leading up the chapter 24 of Matthew, Jesus now is talking about signs, His return, and major events that will comprise the future of our world. Scholars have called this the Olivet discourse because he gives this apocalyptic speech on the Mt. of Olives. Throughout the discourse, he time and time again uses Old Testament language.
The rest of the chapter is about the events leading up to and including the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This makes perfect sense given the context. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus says the temple will be destroyed and the disciples ask Jesus when will these things be. So we can see that this discourse by Jesus is in reference to the question by the disciples, “When will these things be?” When will the destruction of the temple take place?
Even though this discourse is most likely addressing the fall of Jerusalem, which would be the short-term fulfillment, as with most prophecies, Jesus could have been talking about his return which would have been the long-term fulfillment.
But this passage seems to focus more on the immediate future and what things to look for that will reassure them that Jesus will still reign. This will be the beginning of the end for Jerusalem, but the Kingdom of God will continue to expand and reign because Jesus will continue to sit on his throne.
So the lesson is that the aforementioned things will be the sign that the end is coming; that the destruction of the temple will follow inevitably.
Look at what verse 33 says, “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” In the Greek, the subject is often implied. So you might have a verb, you have near and the verb is with no subject. You can translate it with he, she, it. So in the original Greek, it actually makes more sense and so it can be translated, “The destruction; the fall of Jerusalem is indeed near.”
Jesus ends by using the fixed order of creation as a guarantee for the permanence of his promise. It would be easier for the whole universe to explode than my words not to come true.
Isaiah 13:10, “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.” This is referring to the destruction of Babylon.
Ezekiel 32:7 talks about the judgment on Egypt, “When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light.”