Signs of the End of the Age
1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever 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.
12“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If 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. 21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24“But in those days, following that distress,
” ‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
26“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
32“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ “
All Things New
This is a huge passage that we’ll cover a section at a time, but I’d still like for us to first read the entire passage at once to give the full context. I also want to avoid going over each detail – partially because that’s beyond the scope of this simple website, partially because I am not a scholar on this topic. So instead, we will go over this passage issue by issue, so let’s start with the first two verses:
The passage begins with a strange conversation – someone is pointing out the local sights to Jesus (as if he didn’t know about the temple!), marveling at its grandeur and size. And somehow, the topic then shifts to talking about signs of the end of the age?? What is the importance of Jesus’ comment on the destruction of the temple, and what do we take away from it? What does this have to do with what he talks about later?
First, this is not just a metaphoric statement, but a prophecy, because this actually takes place in 70 A.D. Only a few decades after the resurrection, the temple is besieged by the Romans and completely demolished. So Jesus is prophesying as to an actual event that is to take place in the future. As if we haven’t had enough hints to this regard – Jesus is supernatural. He healed people supernaturally. He knew things supernaturally. Scholars try to put him in a box and make him a great teacher, but the text refutes this again and again and again – Jesus was God on earth and nothing less.
Secondly, Jesus is pointing out how short-lived and passing even the most established and grandest things are. As short-lived human beings, we often assume that things will always be the way they are – there will always be America. There will always be supermarkets. There will always be jobs. There will always be police – we just assume that these are unalienable parts of life! But the truth is that they can be destroyed in a second. Think about Hurricane Katrina, how one act of nature wiped out all sense of order and government and civility in a single day! None of these things can be counted on to always be there, but are by their very nature transitory, and can be wiped away in a moment.
But there are things that are not transitory, that can be counted on every single time: God. His promises. His Word. His Love. And it is in these eternal things that we should place our trust instead!
Lastly, this huge upheaval of the temple points forward to the coming, greatest upheaval…the end of time. This is not something that we talk about often, but we can’t ignore it because Jesus didn’t ignore it. We’ll talk about it more in the next few devotionals, but begin to let the reality of it sink in…
1. What is one thing in your life that you assume will ALWAYS be there, no matter what?
2. Has there ever been something in your life that you assumed would always be in your life…but found out that this wasn’t true?
3. We’ve been coming back again and again to Jesus’ identity, that he was more than a teacher or even a prophet. Why do you think it is so important to establish the divine aspect of Jesus’ identity?
4. If Jesus were coming back tomorrow…what would be the first thing you would do??