Matthew 24 is best viewed as a response to chapter 23. Jesus is, of course, the purpose of the Jewish Nation and the Old Testament (Galatians 3:24). Jesus pronounces 7 "woes" on the Jewish establishment in Matthew 23:13-33:
1.Shut up the kingdom of heaven against men (13)
2.Devour widows' houses, pretense make long prayers (14)
3.Make proselytes twice as much a son of hell as themselves (15)
4.Only keep oath sworn by gold of Temple (16-22)
5.Neglected justice and mercy and faith (23)
6.Full of extortion and self-indulgence (24-28)
7.Sons of those who murdered the Prophets (29-33)
He then tells them that He "wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" - Matthew 23:37
After this statement about their unwillingness to come to Him He declares that their "House" will be left "desolate". It is beyond doubt as to what "House" He was speaking of, because His Apostles then began to show Him the buildings of the Temple (Matthew 24:1). In response to this He tells them that "not one stone will be left upon another that will not be thrown down" - 24:2. He is telling them that the Temple and all its buildings would be completely destroyed. Their questions reflect this, "When will these things be?". They also asked, "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?". In His response He answers all of these questions.
Matthew 24:4-44 is easily divided into 2 sections and we must be careful of the language that He uses. 4-35 speaks regarding the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 while 36-66 speaks of the very end of time. Verse 34 is a valuable "key" in understanding the passage which will help immensely in understanding the passage if we will simply interpret the passage and not seek to fit the passage into our paradigm. Such a thing causes us to try to make Jesus say "this generation" does not mean this generation. Jesus was very clear and, how else would He have needed to say this if He was meaning that generation that was on the earth at that time? The people that He was among at that time, the very ones which He spoke the 7 woes to, would "not pass away until all thee things had taken place".
Let's notice a few things on each side of verse 34:
4-34: Identifiable signs of the events, events of "those days", time of unusual events, advance warnings given, escapable local judgment, example is of a fig tree which put out leaves as a sign of ripening.
No identifiable signs of event, event is referred to as "that Day", a time of normal events, no advance warning given, inescapable universal judgment, example is of a thief in the night which has no prior warning.
Some view verses 27-31 as speaking of final judgment because of the language used, but this is an unnecessary interpretation.
Verse 27, "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." He is instructing them not to listen to the false prophets (v. 23-26), because His coming in judgment on Jerusalem will be sudden and obvious, like lightning.
Verse 28, "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together". This type of language had been used many times throughout the Old Testament to refer to judgments of God on a nation. For example: Judah (Dt. 28:26; Jer. 7:32-34; 12:9; 16:3-4, 9; 19:7-8; 34:20; Hab. 1:8); Israel (Hos. 8:1); Moab (Jer. 48:40); Edom (Jer. 49:22); Egypt (Ezek. 29:5; 32:3-6). Also, the standard of roam was the eagle, hence destruction of Jerusalem by that Nation.
Verse 29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Once again, grand language, but also common in the Old Testament to talk about God's judgment on an earthly nation. Consider: Judgment on Babylon (Isa. 13:10, 13), Edom (Isa. 34:4-5), Judah (Jer. 4:23-24, 27-28), Egypt (Ezek. 32:7-8), Judah (Joel 2:10, 31), Israel (Amos 8:9). This is simply apocalyptic language, meant to draw attention as if to say, "Listen to this!".
Verse 30, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." This type of language is used throughout the Old Testament a well, depicting God as coming on the clouds to do certain things: Judgment on Egypt (Isa. 19:1, 4; cf. Ezek. 30:1-5, 18-19; 32:7), Judah (Joel 2:1-2; Zeph. 1:14-16), Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (Jer. 4:11-13; Ezek. 34:12-13), Israel and Judah (Mic. 1:2-7).
Verse 31, "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Here, the language is definitely suggestive of the 2nd coming, but the language does not demand it. There is mentioned Angels, trumpets, and the gathering of the elect. "Angels" simply means "messengers" and the context must dictate whether it refers to "Heavenly messengers"(Jn. 1:51; Rom. 8:38; Heb. 12:28) or "Human messengers" (Mt. 11:10; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 7:24, 27; 9:52; Jas. 2:25). "Trumpets" were associated with the return of the remnant from Babylonian Captivity (Isa. 27:12-13). "Gathering" is the OT language of blessing (Dt. 30:3-4; Isa. 43:5-6; Jer. 32:37; Ezek. 34:13; 36:24; Hos. 1:11). "Four winds" denotes universality (Dt. 30:4; Psa. 22:27; Isa. 11:11-12; 27:12-13; 45:22; 56:8; Jer. 49:36; Ezek. 37:9; Zech. 2:6; Rev. 7:1). Notice how it is put in the parallel passage Luke 21:27, "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Certainly, the second part, verse 36-44, speaks of final judgment, but the first part speaks of a limited, temporal, escapable judgment that is precluded by signs and is escapable. Hope this helps.