Scripture: Luke 21:5-11
5 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." 7 And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" 8 And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once." 10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
Meditation: How would you respond if someone prophesied that your home, land, or place of worship would be destroyed? Jesus foretold many signs that would shake peoples and nations. The signs which God uses are meant to point us to a higher spiritual truth and reality of his kingdom which does not perish or fade away, but endures for all eternity. God works through many events and signs to purify and renew us in hope and to help us set our hearts more firmly on him and him alone.
First signs of the end times
To the great consternation of the Jews, Jesus prophesied the destruction of their great temple at Jerusalem. The Jewish people took great pride in their temple, a marvel of the ancient world. The foretelling of this destruction was a dire warning of spiritual judgment in itself. They asked Jesus for a sign that would indicate when this disastrous event would occur. Jesus admonished them to not look for signs that would indicate the exact timing of impending destruction, but rather to pray for God's intervention of grace and mercy.
Jesus said there would be many signs of impending conflicts and disasters - such as wars, famines, diseases, tidal waves, and earthquakes - which would precede the struggles of the last days when God's anointed King would return to usher in the full reign of God over the earth. In that day when the Lord returns there will be a final judgement of the living and the dead when the secrets of every heart will be brought to light (Luke 12:2-3; Romans 2:16).
Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem
Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem was a two-edged sword, because it pointed not only to God's judgment, but also to his saving action and mercy. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem's temple was determined (it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D.), there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus said: "I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved" (John 10:9). Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about true freedom, peace, and victory over the powers of sin, evil, and death - not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all - both Jew and Gentile alike -– who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ?
We need to recognize the signs of God's judgment, mercy,
and grace to save us
Sometimes we don't recognize the moral crisis and spiritual conflict of the age in which we live, until something "shakes us up" to the reality of this present condition. God reminds us that a future judgment and outcome awaits every individual who has lived on this earth. The reward for doing what is right and pleasing to God and the penalty for sinful rebellion and rejection of God are not always experienced in this present life - but they are sure to come in the God's day of final judgment.
The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God's invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be your only chance before that final day comes.
"Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom."
10 Say among the nations, "The LORD
reigns! Yes, the world is established, it shall never be
moved; he will judge the peoples with equity."
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: First signs of the end times, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)
"Perhaps you are anxious, brothers and sisters, at the fact that
we hear constantly of the tumult of wars and the onsets of
battles. Perhaps your love is still more anxious since these are
taking place in our times. The reason is the closer we are to the
destruction of the world, the closer we are to the kingdom of the
Savior. The Lord himself says, 'In the last days nation will rise
against nation and kingdom against kingdom. When you see wars,
earthquakes and famines, know that the kingdom of God is at
hand.'This nearness of wars shows us that Christ is near." (excerpt
from SERMON 85.1)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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