We continue our examination of how Jesus answered the two questions put to Him by the disciples on Mt Olivet.
10. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
- Note the change to the 3rd person. All of these things would take place within the lifetimes of the apostles as we read in Acts and many Letters of the NT.
11-12. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
- many: there would be much apostasy, hatred, false prophets, deception, lawlessness, whereas the ‘one’ of v.13 to be saved from the terrible tribulation about to come.
13. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
- the end. Jesus did not talk about the end of time. Believers of his generation would endure suffering and were warned to be faithful to an ‘end’ which they could foresee and survive.
14. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
- This gospel: it isthe gospel of the kingdom which was already proclaimed at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as we read in the early chapters of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
- world: Grk ‘oikomene’= inhabited world—this was accomplished by the apostles before the end, the end of the Mosaic age –see Rom 1:8, 10:18, 15:19, Col 1:6, 1 Thess 1:8.
- Then the end will come: Jesus answered the disciples’ when-question, so that they would be able to discern ‘the end’. Note what Jesus did not prophesy, not the end of time or the world.
- Nations: Grk ‘ethne’, here means people groups, not as our modern concept of nations.
15.“Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
- Abomination of Desolation: Jesus referred to the abomination which Daniel spoke of (Dan 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) –a most critically serious event to be repeated and then at the end.
- the reader: The unique and fascinating writer’s note to his readers (bracketed in most translations) underscores the seriousness of the situation and that it is connected to the sign of the end and the deliverance of the faithful from the coming tribulation. This proves Jesus’ words were remembered and recorded and were deliberately intended to be read by believers of that generation and acted upon before the end of the age as we can see from history (AD 66-70) and by them escaping “to the mountains”.
- It is clear Jesus was not prophesying about some event far in the future but soon events to people of his generation. So let the modern reader understand—history!
- Here are two more time markers: 1st, when the disciples see this, and 2nd, what they must do.
16. then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
- This was the signal to the disciples to flee to escape the coming great tribulation which Jesus will refer to next (v.17).
- The geographical description is local, Judean, not global, and cannot support some distant future event. History shows they fled to Pella, a city of the Decapolis in Trans-Jordan.
- Luke adds that when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, they would know its destruction was near (21:20)—He instructed that “those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.” (21:21) If they don’t flee they will be the ones left behind!—see v.28.
- Luke further adds “because these are the days of vengeance that all things written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22). It is vengeance against the apostate nation of which Moses forewarned long ago (please see Deuteronomy 28:34-68; 29:22-28).
17-19. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
- For those who hear and understand what Jesus has just said, there will not be time to go back for anything, so serious is the imminent threat of the destruction—they must flee.
- This warning comes straight after the “abomination” reference allowing time to escape.
- The scene is local, rural, Judean and does not fit any end of the world context. Jesus did not prophesy the end of the world—there would be no one ‘fleeing’ anywhere then!
20-21. But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
- The warning is for the people of the generation he is addressing—it is ‘your flight’. Jesus was not warning people two millennia hence, but to people who observe the Sabbath, Jews.
- To imagine that Jesus was referring to an event in the distant future is to question the truth of his prophecy which forsaw “yourflight” and observers of the Jewish Sabbath.
- Jesus does not know the timing of this (see v.36) so he warns these disciples accordingly. The warning applied only to his disciples of his own generation.
- There will be utter devastation and terrible suffering then. The eyewitness historian Josephus confirmed the terrible depth of horror of the incomparable events of 68-70 AD, having no restraint describing the chaotic, dreadful events in his famous ‘Wars of the Jews’.
- Jesus’ term nor ever will shows this will not be the end of the world—again, no fleeing then!
- Luke 23:27-31 shows us that Jesus, on the way to the cross, said to the weeping crowds and women “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.For behold, days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are those who cannot bear, and the wombs that have not given birth, and the breasts that have not nursed.” They must be very concerned for terrible events would happen in their own generation.
To be continued . . . . . . .