Sunday, April 01, 2007



In chapter 22 of Luke we come to a controversial passage regarding things prophetic:

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."

"Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"

He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."

The question, “When will these things happen?” and, “What will be the sign that they are about to take place?” both speak of the end of the world. The Temple was magnificent, so anything that would be coming into Jerusalem to destroy it would be massive. And, the destruction of Jerusalem is like the end of the world.

Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me.

First, Jesus makes it clear that the initial concern ought to be how to handle the religious system of the day that will be threatened and will treat you badly. Then, there will be several cataclysmic events that will indicate the end is near and the Temple will be destroyed. There will be a world war where nations will rise up against nations throughout the world. There will be earthquakes, famines and pestilences along with other fearful events.

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

Jesus wants His followers to know that worrying about the end times will not be helpful. However, He will give the words and wisdom necessary to withstand whatever comes at you. His protection will be extensive, so stand firm and you will win life.

Now, after dealing with the signs of the end of the world, He finally gives an answer to when this will happen and what to look for as a sign of the destruction of the Temple:

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

This is exactly how the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple occurred. The Roman army, headed up by Titus, set siege to the city and surrounded it. That was the sign. Then Jesus says something curious. He says to get out of the city once you have seen this sign. Well, now how can you get out of the city, if the city is surrounded by the Roman troops? Titus underestimated what it would take to overtake Jerusalem, so the Roman army went into a mini-retreat in order to re-supply. During this break in the action of setting siege to Jerusalem, it is reported that the followers of Jesus did heed Jesus’ words and were able to get out of the city safely.

Jesus goes on to say that the city of Jerusalem would be trampled under foot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There are lots of ways to understand His words here. I think this refers to the city of Jerusalem and even the nation of Israel being under the domination of the Gentiles for some pre-determined time. The Jews and their city of Jerusalem at this time had been run by Gentiles until Israeli independence in May of 1948.

So, what Jesus said would happen did happen, just as He said it would. There is a powerful lesson here. We’ve talked about this repeatedly. “Whatever Jesus says to do, do it.” His accuracy, even in prophetic things is incredible.

I’m slowly getting it! Jesus is looking for someone, anyone, who will stubbornly follow Him and ruthlessly trust Him. I like what He says earlier, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” His strength and power—His words and wisdom are all I need.

We who are following Jesus are in a boat. There are two ways to handle our boat. We can row like crazy to get where we want to go. Or, we can put up our sail and He will send the right wind at the right time to send us in the right direction. I’m tired of rowing. How about you?