Rev. Sudha Mehta©
Temple photo from scripturesight
Luke 21: 5 And while some were talking about the temple, that it was decorated with beautiful stones and vowed gifts, He said, 6“As for these things which you are observing, the days will come when there will not be left one stone upon another, which will not be torn down.”(NASB)
In those days Israel was not free. It was ruled by the Romans. What people longed for was freedom. Many of Jesus’ followers thought that He would announce Himself as Messiah, free them from foreign occupation and establish His own Kingdom with Himself as King. Even the disciples thought so at first but by now they had been told that was not the plan at this time.
When they marveled at the beauty and majesty of the Temple, Jesus shocked them with the statement that foretold the destruction of the Temple. I am sure they were dumbfounded as I would have been. They walked and talked in the Temple and I am sure some of this was heard (but not understood) by people around them.
Photo from freebibleimages
Jesus led them out and away from the Temple across the Valley of Kidron on to the Mount of Olives from where the temple could be seen clearly.
This would likely have been what they saw when they continued the conversation.
Luke 21: 7 They asked Him questions, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”(NASB)
Mark 13: 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4“Tell us, when will these things come about, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” (NASB)
Matthew 24: 3And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”(NASB)
Note the difference! In Mark and Luke two questions are asked, whereas in Matthew, three are asked. All three ask when and what signs, but only Matthew reveals that the question of signs had also to do with His second coming, and they asked about the signs indicating the end of the age. Also note that what starts in Luke in the Temple itself, is continued in Matthew where we are told the disciples came to Him privately, no longer a public audience. Mark goes even further to say that only four (Peter, Andrew, John and James) were asking questions.
1 When will these things happen?
2 What will be the sign of Your coming?
3 What will be the sign of the end of the age?
So, the answer Jesus gave is the lengthy message we know as the “Olivet Discourse”. Luke’s account begins from the Temple itself and includes details that are different from the other two. Some have said that these are two different conversations, while others maintain they are one and the same. I will point out the differences and the commonalities. Both accounts are important. This is the pivotal message of prophecy that we will breakdown and understand in the next few posts.
Let us just address the first question today. In Luke 21 the details given are very pertinant to the this answer, so let’s read it:
Luke 21: 10 Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be massive earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrible sights and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, turning you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors on account of My name. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will provide you eloquence and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to oppose or refute. 16 But you will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all people because of My name. 18 And yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are inside the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of punishment, so that all things which have been written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those women who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.(NASB)
While Jesus speaks of terrible things in verse 11 and 12, He makes it clear that verses 12-24 will happen BEFORE all these things. This is notable different than the accounts in Matthew and Mark. Verses 12-24 were fulfilled in AD70 just as Jesus said.
The disciples were well aware that Jesus was the Messiah. When they decided to follow Him it was because they understood and accepted Him as the Messiah that all Israel was praying and waiting for. They had been training for three years under Him. Most of that time was spent learning to be and to do like Him. Everything He did was a lesson to them to do likewise, everything He said was a lesson for them to learn and in due course share with others. In all history there has been no college or university better able to prepare 12 men for the work that lay ahead. These men were responsible to carry all they learned Worldwide.
The disciples understood that Jesus was to leave as He had told them. They understood to some measure that He would return yet a second time to establish His kingdom. He had just told them that something catastrophic was to happen to the Temple that was the showpiece of Israel and the central place for all worship of God. It would be torn down so badly that not one stone would be left on top of the other. So they frame the questions within that understanding.
Jesus tells them of His sure return, but that His return will be heralded by certain signs and conditions not just in Jerusalem, but in the World that will definitely be horrific.
In Luke He gives these details above starting with the destruction of the Temple itself.
jerusalem falling 70AD photo from tony’s musings
The only way Israel could see such a horrific destruction would be via a catastrophy like war. That did happen forty years later. Israel’s cup of iniquity had run over. God himself had to judge them. In the Old Testament, when it reached such a point, God removed His protection and allowed an enemy to attack. So it would be this time.
The warnings were harsh to prepare them for what was to come within their lifetime but also to tell ahead what would happen before His second coming. It would be easy to see from His reply why they would not know that between the destruction of the Temple and the Second coming would lie two thousand years . . . wouldn’t it?!
An important note in understanding prophecy is to know that although God says He will never do anything without revealing it first to His servants the prophets, the prophets wrote everything by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit without understanding a lot of things. They were obedient to write, and some things were known to them immediately and were fulfilled within their lifetime, while others were recorded for the future. They didn’t always have the concept of time. For instance when Isaiah spoke of the Messiah’s suffering in Isaiah 53, he had no way of fully comprehending what he was writing or when it would happen. Think abut this, this is what makes the Bible even more noteworthy and proves the authorship of God Himself, for men wrote of events well into the future without understanding what they were writing, and yet it all came true. How else could you believe the Word is inspired! And God watches over His Word to preserve it through the Millennia.
Now, Divine Judgment is never easy to go through. People may object and call God wicked, and mean, but here is my thought: when people have been warned numerous times regarding their behavior or thinking, and they refuse to correct themselves, rather they turn away from correction as rebellious children, wasting, squandering all blessings on bad things; when they mock and scoff their Creator, turn and walk away rejecting all the blessings and sacrificial love lavished on them, is it not reasonable for them to find themselves in trouble?
Certainly if your child rejects you, your love and correction, there comes a time when as a parent you have to decide on discipline/ punishment; and sometimes just back away and let your child learn some hard lessons in what is commonly termed as “the school of hard knocks.”
The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24) is one such example that Jesus gave. Yet even in that story the ending is surprisingly wonderful for the rebellious son. After he had learned some hard lessons having gone through very difficult times, when he does come to his senses, he is restored fully in his father’s love. He did however, lose his inheritance previously given by his own foolish choices.
progigal son returns from freebibleimages
This father found himself in a very difficult position with his child. He had no choice but to allow him to go through some very difficult situations and learn some really tough lessons in life, but he NEVER, NEVER stopped loving his child. Forever watchful, this father waited for him to come to his senses, and as soon as he saw his son take the step in his direction to return home penitent, he ran to embrace, hold fast in loving arms, and welcome his child.
I think you would too.
This is how God loves Israel and yes, you and me as well!
God’s patience rightfully ran out when Israel’s religious leaders rejected His one and only Son, and forced the hand of Rome to crucify the Son of God who was their righteous Messiah. This too had been known to God and revealed via His prophets. Isaiah 52 and 53 give much detail of every facet of the Messiah’s death at the hand of His own people. There are at least 350 prophetic utterances in the Old Testament that reveal every facet of Jesus life in human form at the First coming, including all the details of His death. Nothing was a surprise, every prophecy was fulfilled. Nonetheless, God knowing and foretelling does not remove human responsibility.
Finally, I will remind you, the first time God mentioned this was in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve disobeyed by listening to Satan and as a result losing their own future along with that of their progeny and bringing a curse upon the Earth. In fact God knew before He ever created Adam and Eve, or laid the foundations of the World, that the Creator would have to give His own Life for His creature one day. (1Peter 1:18-21)
God saw that although Adam and Eve had disobeyed, it was Satan who had deceived them. He understood the battle was really with Satan who would stop at nothing and was out to destroy humankind from the beginning. Killing the Messiah and destroying the hope for all mankind forever is what Satan wanted, and he thought he succeeded in his plan at the Cross!
How wrong he was!! Christ Arose from the Grave!!!
Back to the Q and A between Jesus and His disciples in the next post . . . stay tuned!
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