The Temple, The Tribulation, and The Tree. Look Up (Part 1)

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series The Gospel of Luke

“Stop the world, I want to get off!”

The “Brexit”, ISIS, Email Servers, Trump, Clinton, Taxes, Obamacare, The supreme Court, Gun Control, Hunger, the Zika Virus, The planets lining up, Four “blood moons”, War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, Tensions rising in the far east, Russian jets doing flybys of our ships, earthquakes in Japan, LA, Ecuador, and all over the globe; Islamic terrorism, Tornados, Tsunami’s, Hurricanes, Famine, and on and on the list goes. Then we’ve got our own little personal crisis we go through. How are we supposed to respond when the world seems like it’s unraveling?

For the Christian, the answer is very different than for the non-Christian. While the non-Christian might reasonably wring their hands in fret and worry; Quite simply the Christian is told to Look Up, not in a “Defy the world” kind of way, but in an eager expectation of our coming king. Christians, we are not given the pass to fret and worry. With every day we draw closer to the culmination of all things in Christ!

In today’s extended passage from Luke 21:5-36, Jesus uses three items to speak about his impending return and he gives us a framework for our reaction to His return as well as the state of affairs leading up to His return. He takes the question of the disciples about the Temple, then he speaks of the end times which we refer to as the Tribulation – a period of seven years of God’s wrath coming upon the earth as depicted in the book of Revelation. Finally he uses the illustration of a tree to teach us to open our eyes so that we are prepared to live in light of His return.

This is Temporary

It is Wednesday, April 1 33 AD. Jesus has just had his controversies with the Religious leaders. He has watched a widow deposit her gift into the Temple treasury, and he has indicated his understanding that She in her poverty had given more than anyone else that day, for she gave in faith all that she possessed; while all others who deposited more money gave merely out of their excess – after their bills had been paid.

It seems that the disciples were taken somewhat aback and likely voiced the opinion that the temple in which they stood was amazingly magnificent, and indeed cost a very pretty amount to build. Surely this widow’s gift is not the sum total that we should pursue? See how high and powerfully built this great temple is Jesus? Shall we not at least recognize its beauty? Look around you Jesus at all that we have built and be amazed! Aren’t you proud of this great edifice?

We ask the same question of Jesus when we consider our accomplishments, whatever they are. But Jesus, the maker of the entire universe, knows that in just thirty-seven years this temple – however glorious- will be torn down.

Civil war would erupt in Rome after Emperor Nero’s suicide. The Jews would also rebel against Rome, and in the year AD70, the new Emperor’s Son, Titus – the roman general would lay siege to Jerusalem and ultimately destroy it. The Temple would be obliterated in the process.

Luke 21:5-25 really depicts what is for us ancient history, but which was for the disciples – events yet to come. This is crucially important because the follow up passage serves to give us information about a future still yet to come.

Not only will the temple be destroyed, but this world will as well. In fact, the universe will be destroyed. It is written in verse 33, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Heaven and Earth will pass away.

The Signs are pointing to Jesus

When? How? What are the signs? That’s what the apostles wanted to know. In the end, Jesus points them to a tree (Luke 21:29-30). When it’s spring and the leaves burst forth on the trees you know that summer is fast approaching. Even so there are signs which Jesus lists here that point us towards that eternal summer.

  • Wars (and rumors of wars) (V9,10)
    In the 37 years following Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection – the Roman empire was a civil war; rebellions and rumors of wars echoed from various parts of the empire. Throughout all of history war has been a nearly constant companion around the globe. The First world war was supposed to be the war that ended all wars, as was the second. Vietnam, Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on the list goes. There are wars we know of and many we do not understand they are rumors and echos of wars fought far away.
  • Political upheaval (disturbances), (V9,25)
    Intrigue is the standard of things. The political wars in the USA are nothing compared to the bloody rebellions, revolts, and revolutions that have shaken the nations for centuries.
  • Natural Disasters (v11, 25, 26) (famines, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Celestial signs (v11, 25) “Terrors and great signs”, “Powers of the heavens shaken”., Sun and moon and stars… (describing much more than natural phenomena like red colored moons, and solar eclipses.)

It doesn’t take much of a tour through the Internet to see that these events are all occurring, and that many more are on the cusp of the future. People are afraid, indeed fear grips people most when these events strike near, but even today when they strike far away they are brought into our homes.

Look briefly at the 24 hour news cycle. It is no longer a source of information, but rather a source of sensationalism that is high on emotionalism and fear.

But the greater signs are not yet happening – they will increase, as Jesus said in Matthew, the way that contractions increase in a pregnant woman about to give birth. But in much the same way that those birth pains signal that something wonderful (a child) is coming; the pains of earth signal that Christ is coming.

All of history is racing to the moment revealed in verse 27: “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27, NASB95)

Mind you, that the end is about Jesus – not about us. The letter to Titus calls the appearing of Jesus “our blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). North American Christianity has given birth to the idea that the end times is the story of us. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is about Christ being revealed as the holy and righteous judge of the earth.

Dear Christian, be encouraged when these signs increase. We will look deeper into our response next week (as the Lord permits) but for now see in verse 28 our response:
“…Straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Series Navigation<< Luke 20:27-40 God of The LivingTHE TEMPLE, THE TRIBULATION, AND THE TREE. LOOK UP! (Part 2) >>