“Things to Come” : Luke Chapter 21 (Part 2)

“Things to Come”: (Luke 21:20-36) Part 2.


God wanted a people separated to Him from idolatry and the wicked ways of the nations. Israel, given their name by God thorough the Patriarch Jacob, was to be a nation that would lead the other nations of the world into the ways of God. Through Israel came the patriarchs, the prophets, the priests, the kings, the covenants of promise, the Torah and the Messiah Himself our Lord Jesus, the writers of the New Testament who were all Jewish and His body the faithful corporate Assembly of New Covenant believers (the Church). Down through its long and troubled history Israel as a nation by and large turned away from God and when the Messiah our Lord Jesus came into this world and started His public ministry at the age of 30 Israel was in a spiritually backslidden state and under the heel of Pagan Rome.

After the death, the resurrection and ascension of the Messiah our Lord Jesus 50 days later on the Day of Pentecost He poured out His Spirit upon a 120 Jewish Messianic believers who after that by the Spirit’s power turned Jerusalem upside down and as a result those who were being saved started to take the gospel of the kingdom to the nations. Many Jews were saved on the Day of Pentecost and many after that in Jerusalem and throughout Israel. By 70AD Israel spiritually backslid, having by and large rejected an opposed the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus and had been persecuting them. By 70AD all of the apostles as far as we know were dead except for the apostle John. Time and time again in the Old Testament times God had sent prophet after prophet to turn His people back to Himself and they had for the most part stoned and killed the prophets that God had sent. The apostles did not fare much better neither did the first century Body of the Messiah.

After 70AD, when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple, Israel as a nation for the most part went into exile. After this the Bar Kokhba revolt came, a large-scale armed rebellion initiated by the Jews of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire in 132 AD and lasting until 136 AD, it was the third and final escalation of the Jewish–Roman wars. After this there was another exile of the Jews and Israel ceased to be a nation but was considered a province or part of the Roman Empire. After this, God turned His saving grace towards the Gentile nations.  However, according to the Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament they all prophesied about a time at the end of this present age when God would once again turn His saving grace back towards His ancient people Israel. In 1948 the nation was reborn or resurrected but was still a nation in unbelief in the Messiah which God is still to rectify (Ezekiel 37:1-10). He has a remnant in Israel chosen by His grace, sealed by Him with His Spirit, and redeemed by the Messiah’s blood who will come to faith in the Messiah our Lord Jesus in a time of global trouble or great tribulation that will be unlike anything that has happened in past history or to be equalled in future history (Zechariah 12:10-13:1) Isaiah 10:22) (Romans 9:6-7; 11:5) (Jeremiah 30:1-10) (Daniel 12:1-2; 7b) (Matthew 24:21-22).

Now as we look at what the Lord Jesus said from verse 20 He turned His focus primarily on Israel and its future. While He spoke about the events at Jerusalem that would occur around 40 years later in 70AD, when Israel would be surrounded by foreign armies and the city captured and the temple destroyed, He was also telescoping to the end of the age when Jerusalem would once again be surrounded by the armies of the nations. just when it looked like the nation would perish, God would save them, and a remnant come forth who would inherit the Messianic kingdom having been sealed by God for salvation (Zechariah 12:1-9; 14:1-5) (Revelation 7:2-8). Once this has occurred and the Messianic kingdom established the Body of Messiah will be complete! The Messiah has only one bride and this redeemed bride is the Israel of God and they will co-reign with the Messiah on earth (Revelation 5:10). Having said this in no way does it do away with God’s end-time prophetic purposes and promises for Israel as a nation. This remnant will be all who have been spiritually circumcised in heart by the Spirit, the Israel of God, true Jews (Romans 2:28-29). The Olive Tree (Israel) will be intact and the natural branches (believing Jews) and the engrafted branches (believing Gentiles) will be spiritually sustained by the root of Jesse the Messiah our Lord Jesus in the Messianic kingdom to come! With these matters in view let’s now look at the text…

Luke 21:20-36: Exposition

(Vs.20) “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”

In verses 1-19 the Lord Jesus had described the conditions that would be a distinctive mark globally of the end of the age that would see the whole earth devastated by false messiah’s, prophets and teachers. It would be ransacked by wars, rumours of wars and revolutions and civil and international wars and persecution of faithful believers and by great earthquakes, famines and pestilence and even the constellations being somehow shaken. He also foresaw that time in the future when Israel would be surrounded by foreign armies and that when it happened those who had believed His Word would flee from Jerusalem. The Jewish wars with Rome really kicked in around half way through 66AD during Nero’s reign. In 70AD, three and a half years later, Jerusalem fell to the Romans and the temple destroyed. The Messiah’s followers who believed His Word prepared themselves to escape when they foresaw the armies of Rome starting to raise the siege against the City of Jerusalem.

The Lord Jesus told them 40 years before that they would be able to escape with their lives as quickly as possible and take nothing with them except virtually with the clothes on their back as time would be of the essence. In the Book of Acts we see the believers at Jerusalem knowing this destruction was coming started to share their possessions and meeting each other’s needs knowing that the things of this world that they had in Jerusalem would all perish (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35). The Lord Jesus was also predicting what would happen to Jerusalem at the end of this present age when foreign armies would once more surround Jerusalem hell-bent on their destruction. In Matthew’s account in Matthew chapter 24 he clearly places his emphasis primarily on the end of the age. We also need to keep in mind that even though the Lord Jesus was speaking about Israel He also had the Body of Messiah in mind who would also still be in this world but under severe persecution by the beast empire of the Antichrist (Matthew 24:9-13) (Revelation 13:5-8). We need to realise that what happens to Israel also happens to the Body of Messiah because Gentile believers have been spiritually engrafted into the Commonwealth of Israel through saving faith in Israel’s Messiah our Lord Jesus (Romans 11:17-18) (Amos 9:11-12) (Acts 15:12-19) (Ephesians 2:11-22). And then we read…

(Vs.21) “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. “

The apostle James was the chief apostle overseeing the assembly at Jerusalem but he was killed with the sword by Herod in 44 AD (Acts 121:2). It was Simeon who replaced James as the head Bishop at Jerusalem. When the Roman armies under Titus surrounded Jerusalem and laid a siege against it the followers so the Messiah our Lord Jesus knew instinctively that it was time to get out of the city. According to what the Lord Jesus had said 40 years before there would be the possibility of escaping from the city but no time to grab anything but to get out as quickly as possible. Matthew picks this up when he records Jesus’ words; “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:15-22).

Now when the armies had surrounded Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation was about to occur there was a very brief lull in the siege due to a political situation that had arisen at Rome and the Roman armies stopped for a very brief time attacking the city. Simeon, the head bishop along with the followers of the Messiah made their way by stealth through the Roman lines supernaturally protected by God and to safety. Once they had passed safely through the Roman lines the siege continued and the city fell. The abomination of desolation then occurred when the Roman soldiers erected emblems to Zeus on the ruins of the Temple Mount and worshipped them. At the end of this age the armies of the nations will surround Jerusalem once again and the Antichrist will go into the rebuilt temple structure and proclaim himself to be God and demand to be worshipped as God (Daniel 11:36-37) (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

For three and a half years the whole world will be plunged into the time of great distress, trouble and anxiety unequalled in past history and never to be equalled in the future. It will be the world’s worst nightmare! This did not occur in 70AD but it will occur at the end of this age. The situation will deteriorate to the point where God must cut those days short suddenly and without warning for the sake of His elect saints and for the very survival of the world because if He doesn’t no flesh would survive (Matthew 24:21-22). The Lord Jesus was speaking about 70AD but not only to His followers at this time but also to the generation of believers that would be present on earth at the end of the age when these things would occur, keeping in mind that to escape would mean not holding on to the things of this life but being ready to flee under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is why fellowship around the Word of God, around the Lord’s Table and sharing the gifts of the Spirit, providing for the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah and looking expectantly for the Lord’s return, and by not being attached to the things of this world, are all vital for our spiritual survival in these last of the last days. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.22) “For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written.”

The Messiah our Lord Jesus knew that judgement was coming to Israel and it grieved Him beyond measure because they had not only rejected the Word of God but had rejected Him as their Messiah and only saviour and Lord and judgement was hanging over Jerusalem and Israel like a very dark cloud. When He was carrying His cross to be crucified we read that a large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him and that Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children for the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:27:31). In other words He saw what was ahead for the people of Jerusalem and that it would be more blessed not to have babies and children because of the terrible judgement to come because the nation by and large and the people at Jerusalem during his trial had demanded Him to be crucified and put a curse on themselves and their children. As they said to Pilate at the trial of the Messiah; “All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25).

Earlier in His ministry as He sat on the hillside overlooking Jerusalem He cried out; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37-39). This is why Israel has suffered more than any other nation, however, in these last days God is going to spiritually restore Israel after they have passed through His refining fire (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Zechariah 12:10-13:1). As Hosea the prophet wrote; “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence. So let us know—let us press on to know the LORD. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3).

Let me say clearly at this point that God has not finished with Israel!!! At the cross the Curse of the Law was broken when the Messiah shed His blood to atone for sin (Galatians 3:13). When any Jewish man, woman, boy or girl turns back to God through repentance and saving faith in the Messiah as their Passover Lamb and as their saviour and Lord, that curse is broken over their life by the power of the Messiah’s blood applied to their heart and life by the Spirit of God. Having been redeemed by His blood their sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). At the end of the age Israel as a nation “will possess their possession” and “possess the gates of their enemies!” (Obadiah 1:17) (Genesis 22:17). Right now there is a remnant chosen by God’s grace and foreknown to Him who will receive the Messiah as their saviour and Lord and become the foundation of a fully restored Israel both nationally and spiritually in the Messianic age to come!!! To this the Hebrew prophets and the apostles testify! Having said this, what happened in 70AD was a foreshadowing of what will happen again at the end of the age. Now let’s see what else the Lord Jesus told us…

(Vs.23-24) “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.”

History has a way of repeating itself. In 586 BC Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. The siege lasted for more than a year as the Jewish people endured the effects of the blockade. The moral among the Jews plummeted as famine set in and because of their poor state; various plagues began to afflict them. Finally, the food was depleted and their misery increased as many of them were reduced to cannibalism. Their resistance didn’t last for long as the Babylonians broke through the walls. Pillaged and looted the city in July 587BC. Many Jews were murdered. The walls, the temple, and the whole city were raised to the ground. Those who were not slaughtered were taken as captives to Babylon. The poor ones, however, left behind. Everything that remained of Jerusalem was ash and ruins.

Pregnant and nursing mothers suffered terribly and there was great distress throughout the whole Land of Israel as the Babylonians in their ruthlessness even chopped down trees. The land itself was stripped as if locusts had descended upon it on mass. Joel the prophet wrote about this referring to this invasion but he also telescoped to the end of the age.

Now in 70AD this fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome occurred on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the same date that Jerusalem fell in 586BC to the Babylonians. The fall of Jerusalem was also accompanied by significant loss of life. Josephus provides an account of the carnage, stating that the Romans killed many of the city’s inhabitants. The exact numbers are disputed and likely exaggerated in Josephus’ account, but it is clear that the scale of the massacre was substantial. Those who were not killed were taken as slaves, with many sent to the mines of Egypt or sold in slave markets. The city of Jerusalem was thoroughly sacked by the Romans. Buildings, homes, and walls were torn down, leaving the city in ruins. The level of devastation was such that Josephus claimed that those who visited the city after its destruction could scarcely believe it had ever been inhabited. The Romans also carried off the treasures of the Temple as spoils of war. The fall of Jerusalem had dire immediate consequences for the Jewish people. Thousands had been killed during the siege, and those who survived faced enslavement, exile, or life in a ruined city. The loss of the Second Temple was particularly devastating, as it was not only the centre of religious worship but also a symbol of national identity. It marked the beginning of a long diaspora for Jewish people. With the city in ruins and the Second Temple destroyed, many Jews were displaced, sold into slavery, or chose to leave the region.

Another siege of Jerusalem and exile is coming. God will have gathered the nations to fight against Jerusalem. We are told that the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city (most likely East Jerusalem where the Temple Mount is located) will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city (Zechariah 14:1-2). It is a very serious matter when God’s people turn away from Him, reject His Word and resist the salvation that can only be found in the Messiah our Lord Jesus (John 14:6) (Acts 4:12). This is true for Jew and Gentile alike. As Rabbi, the apostle Paul wrote; “God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism (Romans 1:6-11).

Now this time when the city is attacked and it looks like Israel is about to be conquered as a nation we are also told by Zechariah; “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You (the surviving Jewish remnant) will flee by the valley of My Mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (Zechariah 14:3-5). In that day the Messiah will destroy all opposition and those Jews still alive at Jerusalem will see their Messiah and be saved (Zechariah 12:10-13:1) (Romans 11:25-29). After this the Messianic Millennial kingdom will be established (Zechariah 14:6-21).

Since 70AD Jerusalem has been trampled under the feet of the Gentile nations. However, in 1948 the nation was reborn in a day after almost 2,000 years of exile. From that time until today Israel has been thriving and has experience a partial national restoration but as yet by and large is still estranged from their Messiah and from their covenants of promise that can only be fulfilled in Him. Today the nations are still trying to ‘trample’ Jerusalem underfoot especially with western and Arab national leaders calling for their two-state solution from hell and the pressure is on especially as we see Israel’s immediate hostile Islamic neighbours in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Turkey and in Iran all calling for Israel’s annihilation as a nation. Even now Turkey, Iran and other Islamic nations are forming an alliance as we see the possibility of the Ezekiel 38 invasion starting to assemble. How far down the track the invasion is we cannot know but it will come and it will be horrific. However, God’s retribution on those nations that attack Israel will be more horrific than any human mind can imagine. The blood of the Islamic armies and other armies of the nations that have joined them will flow outside of the City of Jerusalem for about 180 miles and as high as a horses bridle (Revelation 14:17-21).

So then in this section of the Messiah’s discourse concerning the last days He has focused primarily on Israel, not only what would happen in 70AD but telescoping to the end of the age when once more Jerusalem will be under siege. In 1948 the times of the Gentiles and Gods dealing with them concerning salvation started to subside, even though millions are still being saved in the Gentile nations. Today He has started to turn His grace back to Israel as we see the times of God dealing with the Gentile nations coming to an end. Israel is still to a degree being trampled underfoot by the Gentile nations but this is changing. While God still offers salvation to all men and women regardless of their ethnicity since 1948 His attention has been increasingly focused on working for the full and complete spiritual and national restoration of Israel. After this He then spoke again about how the nations would be affected by His Second Coming and how we as New Covenant believers should respond in light of His Second Coming. Let’s continue…

(Vs.25-27) “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

In Matthew’s account of the Olivet discourse he writes that immediately after the time of Great Tribulation just before the rapture of God’s elect saints that the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken (Matthew 24:29-30). Isaiah the prophet also wrote; “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land desolate; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the Lord of hosts in the day of His burning anger” (Isaiah 13:9-13).

And again Isaiah writes; “For the Lord’s indignation is against all the nations, And His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter. So their slain will be thrown out, and their corpses will give off their stench, and the mountains will be drenched with their blood.  And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree” (Isaiah 34:2-4).

When these things start to happen the leaders of the nations will be in confusion, turmoil, and racked with fear as they realise that the judgement has come from heaven. Anxiety and perplexity will be rampant as the nations are tossed like boats in the raging tossing sea of God’s vengeance as He tosses the nations about in His maelstrom! At this time they will see the Messiah our Lord Jesus coming back on the clouds of heaven with His resurrected saints and His powerful angels (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) (Jude 1:14-15).

In the Book of Revelation we see the same scenario described in vivid detail where every level of society is affected. The apostle John writes; “I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the [m]commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the [n]presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17).

And again Isiah tells us that this shaking of the nations that occurs immediately before the Second Coming of the Messiah will affect the religious world, the domestic world and the business world globally. No nation will be spared because the day of their wrath has come. Isaiah writes; “Behold, the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants. And the people will be like the priest (the religious world), the servant like his master, the maid like her mistress (the domestic world), the buyer like the seller, the lender like the borrower, the creditor like the debtor (the business world). The earth will be completely laid waste and completely despoiled, for the Lord has spoken this word” (Isaiah 24:1-3). And then Luke writes…

(Vs.28) “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Just before the Lord Jesus comes back, and we see men fainting from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world and the heavenly bodies starting to shake what are we to do as the blood redeemed saints of God? Well the Lord Jesus tells us what we should do. He said when we see the things He has mentioned starting to take place we are to not bow over at the knees with fear but to stand up straight with our heads held high and looking up at the sky with expectant faith for the rescue that is about to come! We know that while we are destined for tribulation in this world, which we will be experiencing at this time when the ‘birth pains’ start to kick in, we are not destined for God’s wrath and that just before the wrath of God comes down we will be snatched up to meet the Lord in the air at His Second Coming (Matthew 24:29-31) (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 3:3; 5:9-10).

When the children of God were in Egypt the judgements of God started to fall on the Egyptians but the Israelites were divinely protected. However, when the wrath came down upon the Egyptians at the Red Sea the Israelites were out of Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land. We are destined for tribulation but not for wrath if we have been born again by faith in the Messiah, cleansed by His blood, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise for the day of our redemption (Ephesians 4:30).  Now the Lord Jesus then focused once again on Israel and on the nations in relation to Israel.

(Vs.29-31) “He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

The fig tree is Israel (Hosea 9:10). All the trees are the nations. Since 1948 Israel has economically prospered as a nation and economically been a blessing to the nations. They have received Noble Prizes in all six of the Nobel Foundations awards. These six fields are in the area of Chemistry, Economics, and Literature, Working for Peace, Physics, Psychology or Medicine. Today within the world of high technology including Artificial Intelligence and military weaponry Israel is also excelling and the nations are benefiting from Israel’s prosperity. Because we see this happening we also know that the Kingdom of God is soon going to be established on earth. And then the Lord Jesus went on to say…

(Vs.32-33) “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

The generation He was speaking about was not his own generation but the last generation that would be here on earth just prior to His Second Coming to establish the Messianic kingdom on earth. Israel’s prosperity is a major sign of this coming event because Israel is central in God’s end-time prophetic purposes for the nations. He added that the heavens and earth will pass away when there will be new heavens and earth created, however, as for His Word, it remains forever because He is the eternal Word of God Himself, who has always existed and will always exist, and the one who became flesh and tabernacled among us. His name is called the Word of God (John 1:1-2, 14) (Revelation 19:13). Everything that the Lord Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the Second Temple happened just as He said it would, and what He said about the ‘birth pains’ has also happened down through history and will continue to happen and if what He prophesied came to pass 100% in their accuracy then what He said about the end of this present world will also happen.

Already we see the signs of His Second Coming and Israel’s restoration and prosperity is today a major sign that His return is coming soon. Of course we know that Israel is to pass through the Time of Jacob’s Trouble where they will be brought to the place of a total dependence of God to save them from annihilation as a nation. Two thirds will perish in the land of Israel but a third will pass through the fire but be protected and spiritually refined and come to salvation in the Messiah (Jeremiah 30:1-10) (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Romans 11:5, 21-29). In the Messianic kingdom Israel will be the chief nation of all the surviving nations and Jerusalem the capital city of the whole world under the reign of the Messiah (Isaiah 2:1-5) (Micah 4:1-5). After everything He said concerning the end-times He issued a warning to His disciples, a warning not just to them but to all believers in Him down through the ages, but especially in relation to this end-time generation He mentioned which is our generation today. Why do I say this? It is because Israel after almost 2,000 years of exile has now been a nation again for 75 years and is economically prospering and the nations are enjoying the economic benefits of doing business with Israel even though by and large the nations do not like Israel and will eventually send their armies to attack Israel and lay siege to Jerusalem. The fig tree is ‘sprouting leaves’ economically and so are the nations dealing with Israel. Noe the warning to us is clear and all the writers of the New Testament also warn us about how we should be living in light of the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus. Let’s now look at this…

(Vs.34-35) “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap, for it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.

The first warning the Lord Jesus gave was that as His followers we are to “Be careful” that is “to be given over to, or addicted to, and to devote ones thought and effort to a specific matter with a specific end in view. For example, such as a ship that is navigating a course and will stay the course until it reaches its destination.” It is “to turn one’s mind to a matter and to be attentive to it.” He mentions the heart, as the heart is the seat of the affections, and we are told in the Book of Proverbs that we are to “Keep or to guard our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). What then can weigh down our heart and affect us spiritually? He mentions “dissipation and drunkenness” The words denote “a giddiness or dizziness, resulting from being drunk with too much wine” and something that leads to a lack of self-control and to drowsiness in spiritual matters. When one is drunk their judgement is affected and their minds unclear. These words combined also denote sensual pleasure, that which titillates the senses and appeals to the lusts of the fleshly nature unbridled.

Today in many churches we have seen their leaders acting like drunks and with their ‘flock’ out of control such as we saw with the laughing revival and the so called “Holy Ghost Bartender” leading the unruly crowd! Also there are many within the Body of Messiah who are treating Bible prophecy with a lightness or glibness of heart and almost with a cavalier attitude towards it. The apostle Peter warned us about this kind of attitude and its consequences for those persisting in it. In fact he calls them scoffers; “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:3-8).

For many they just do not want to know where things are heading prophetically. Carelessness in spiritual matters, such as failing to maintain a regular devotional time, and fellowship and studying God’s Word with due diligence, is an epidemic within wider Christendom which for the most part likes to be entertained in these last of the last days. It is so easy to sit in the circle of the merrymakers which were very prevalent in the days of Jeremiah, however, he could not sit among them knowing what was coming upon Israel and knowing on the inside what the judgement of God would bring on spiritually backslidden Israel (Jeremiah 15:17). The parable of the wise and foolish virgins speaks to this matter of not staying spiritually alert and filled with the Spirit, but being insensitive, careless and neglectful in matters related to spiritual things. Many today within the wider Body of Messiah are careless to live in light of the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus. His Second Coming should be the catalyst that facilitates holy living (2 Peter 3:10-14).

The Lord Jesus also mentions that the anxieties of this life will also weigh us down and make us insensitive to spiritual matters. Anxieties can be fostered by an almost fixated desire for money, fame, fortune, a career, human relationships, business achievements, marrying and giving in marriage, feathering ones nest as it were with the things of this life, and all without God on the throne of the life. The unsaved live like this and many professing Christians as well today. The end of such a lifestyle given over to fleshly indulgence will find that the day when the Lord returns will close over them like a trap unexpectedly and there will be no escape possible from the consequences (Romans 8:5-9). This trap will come upon all of the unsaved living in this world that have rejected the gospel and ignored the fact that the Lord Jesus is coming back, not as the saviour but as the judge!

This is why as New Covenant believers we should not be too attached to things or to our possessions because they will weigh us down spiritually if we allow them to control us. Clearly He is speaking about a global judgement where no one will be passed over. Only those who have the oil of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in the lamp of their spiritually regenerated inner spirit man will be ready for the bridegroom when He comes for His bride! Only through being justified by faith in Jesus to save us, and by that same faith sheltering under His blood that has redeemed us, can we be protected from the wrath to come (Romans 5:9). It was only the blood of the lamb sprinkled by faith upon the door frames of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt that saved them from the destroying angel. Many churches today have a ‘bloodless religion’ where they do not really acknowledge or teach much about the efficacy and spiritual power that there is in the blood of Messiah. The only way we can get the devil off of our backs and to deal with sin is to by faith confess what the Bible says the blood of Jesus does for us and to seek by God’s grace His empowering not to love our lives in this world even if it means martyrdom (Revelation 12:11). This is totally the work of God once we have surrendered our will to Him. If we find ourselves unwilling are we willing to be made willing?

(Vs.36) “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

We are to “be always on the watch” which conveys the idea of “staying alert, to be sleepless and avoid drowsiness and to be circumspect, attentive and ready to go into action at a minutes notice.” Added to this we are to pray and that without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But what are we to pray? Well the Lord Jesus tells us two things that should permeate our praying. Firstly then, we should be continuously praying that we may be able to escape all that is about to happen which the Lord Jesus has been speaking about in this discourse. But is it to escape from a situation or to be kept in and through that situation? Let’s look at this. The word “escape” used here in the text is to flee out of or to flee away from a situation, to seek safety in flight. It does not necessarily mean to be taken out of a certain situation but to flee from it, to not allow it to affect you or to be drawn into it by what that situation offers.

In the Book of Revelation we see what the Lord Jesus said to the assembly at Philadelphia about this matter of escaping what is coming upon the world. “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation3:10). Now the word “to keep” can mean to be kept in and through a situation and not from it. It also implies metaphorically to keep one in the spiritual state in which he is in a certain situation or circumstances he finds himself in. It is to undergo something and not to be taken out of it. The same Greek word is used when the Lord Jesus was praying for His disciples that they be kept in the world and not taken out of it (John 17:15). In Revelation 7:14 we see believers coming out of the Great Tribulation either by martyrdom or by the rapture itself, however, to come out of something you have to be already in it. Having said this we cannot be raptured until we know who the man of sin is who is persecuting the saints (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) (Revelation 13:5-8a).

So in the context of Luke 21:36 and in light of John 17:15 and Revelation 2:10 we are assured by the Lord Jesus that we need to be praying that He will keep us in the circumstances that will mark the Time of Tribulation that is coming upon the whole world. If we allow our hearts to be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and with the anxieties of life and by the pursuit of material things, then on that day when the Lord Jesus returns suddenly and unsuspectingly, we will not be ready. We must be watching, staying awake and spiritually alert, and praying unceasingly in the Holy Spirit that we might escape from being entangled in the world and enticed by the things the world offers so that we might be able to stand before the Son of Man at the judgement seat of Messiah to receive our eternal reward!