As Jesus was leaving the temple, His disciples called His attention to Herod’s Temple, which was quite magnificent–not like Solomon’s, but still a feat for that time. Jesus’ response wasn’t what they were expecting! Privately, they asked Him about when its destruction would happen. WE know it happened 40 years later in 70 AD. Jesus also broadened His prophecy to include what would happen to them (verses 9-11) and events leading up to His Return. Let’s look at some of them:
Nation Against Nation- Even though these events picked up steam throughout the next two millennia, it isn’t time for His Return. Earthquakes and famines abound even today, but they are “the beginning of birth pains.” v.8
Before Governors and Kings- Jesus wasn’t having to look very far into the future to see the floggings. They happened to Peter and John several days after Pentecost (see Acts 5:40). The key verse is 10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” This verse must be fulfilled before Christ returns. Note that there are 195 countries today whereas there were 153 known countries in Jesus’ day (based upon the number of fish caught by the disciples in John 21:11). The Gospel is reaching more and more people groups through the internet and radio than ever imagined. It is possible that we could reach the entire word population with the Gospel very soon! Every person who will respond to the Gospel WILL “HEAR” the Gospel in some form or fashion. When that happens, THEN Christ will come. In the meantime, the Gospel must be preached everywhere. Before kings and magistrates is one way to get the Gospel out quickly and overtly–whether they accept it or not! SOMEONE is always listening and ready to spread the word. I love this:
11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Wow! That’s walking in faith and in power, His power!
Family against Family- We have seen this happen personally, haven’t we? Jesus said that He did NOT come to bring peace (the peace spoken of by the angels at His birth was in reference to peace with God through Christ’s coming sacrifice) but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The Gospel would and does pit family members against each other. It is the proverbial “line in the sand,” and sometimes a great gulf between brothers. Jesus gives this encouragement, “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” v13.
The Abomination that Causes Desolation- Daniel prophesied about him in 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11. One of these was Antiochus Epiphanes:
Scholars generally agree that the first reference of these prophecies is the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel with such violence and contempt that they rebelled against him. When he came to suppress the rebellion, his forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of or altar for Zeus, and apparently offered swine there as a sacrifice. The Abomination that Causes Desolation
Since Jesus was referring to a coming abomination which hasn’t happened yet, we can draw the conclusion that when the next temple is built (preparations are already being made for it), the anti-christ will set up a throne in it and accept the people’s worship for himself.
The verse to hang onto is 20, “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” There are two ways to look at this verse:
- Persecution will get so bad that Jesus returns before all believers are wiped out.
- The world is about to blow up and He comes back before it does. When we look at the destruction in Revelation, we see the world continuing on its demise that began with the Great Flood. Jesus will stop it before it destroys itself, just as He did during the Flood (see Genesis 8:1-2).
Our encouragement is that He Does Come Back!
This Generation- The key to this verse is the word “generation.” It can also be translated as “time” “age” and “nation”. IF Jesus was talking about the state of Israel, then the return of Israel as a nation in 1948 is significant. IF Jesus was talking about that particular generation, then He had to be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Both are within biblical guidelines.
“Heaven and Earth will pass away”- Compare these two verses:
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Mark 13:31
18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:18
Jesus ties it all together right here. The Words of the Law are HIS WORDS!
The Day and Hour Unknown- This verse is a reference to a wedding where the Father makes the decision as to when the bridegroom leaves to get his bride. The key is, “Be on guard! Be alert!” v33 and “Watch!” v37
Those of us who study the Scriptures and enjoy constant fellowship with the LORD are being alert both for His Coming and also His command to go and speak and give testimony and be His witnesses wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether at our neighbor’s house, the courthouse, prison, or the execution block. IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM.
NOTE: Lord’s Supper tonight at 6:30. See OKC Brookwood on YouTube, or Brookwood Baptist Church on FaceBook.