“And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.
“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”Luke 21:20-28
I said in the last Gem, “The phrasing [of Luke 21:2-28) makes it clear this will happen in the listeners’ lifetime. I was planning to give you some details of what happened in this Gem but Michael beat me to it and sent the following. So I figured why do it twice. We will act as a tag team this time around. Here is Michael’s contribution.
About 40 years after Jesus spoke these words in Luke 21, Jerusalem was surrounded by several legions of the Roman army. Josephus , a personal witness to the events, wrote a detailed account of the siege, and what happened after the Romans finally broke into thecity. When the Romans were coming to begin the siege, the Christians in Jerusalem fled, as Jesus had told them to in the Olivet Discourse. Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple completely leveled — “not one stone left on another.” Josephus wrote that the sufferings of the Jewish people at this time were the worst to befall any people since the beginning of the world. Almost sounds like he’s quoting Jesus. Josephus claims that over 1,100,000 people were killed, of which a majority were Jewish. 97,000 were captured and enslaved, and many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Titus, the Roman general in charge of the war against the Jews, reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, as there is “no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own god.” During the siege, there was mass starvation in which cannibalism widely occurred with, according to Josephus, some mothers even devouring their own children. After Jerusalem was destroyed, the Romans crucified so many Jews that wood became scarce in the area.
So Jesus’ words “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies” in Luke 21 primarily refer to that event, which occurred within a generation of Jesus’ words. If Jesus’ words will have a future fulfilment, we’ll just have to wait and see. The greatest Bible scholars in the 1st Century didn’t come close to properly discerning the First Coming of Messiah. And I doubt that the greatest Bible scholars of the end generation will do any better at figuring out His Second Coming! But He’s coming, that’s for certain!
One aspect of all this which I find interesting is that in the light of the signs Jesus has given us and the unfolding details of history related to the signs, it is very easy to think these signs apply in each succeeding generation. Maybe Jesus meant it to be that way so that we would always be on our toes, waiting for His Second Coming as though it could be today. I totally agree with Michael’s comment above: with all our recent knowledge and discoveries, the greatest Bible scholars will do no better than the Jews of the 1st Century AD did in recognizing His Coming. Be warned! Live as though He is coming today.
Now I would like to add one more aspect to stimulate your brain cells. It is a perspective on why the passage in Luke is hard to harmonize the two elements:
- that which points clearly to what will happen soon in the life of the disciples
- the closing segment clearly referring to the End Times and Jesus coming in the clouds.
Allow me to do a cut and paste and then sum it all up in the next Gem. Let it stimulate your brain cells for the moment.
Clipped from Gem 223 on Romans 11:11 –15 :-
Have the Jews fallen beyond recovery? No, of course not says Paul. This has happened so that we Gentiles may be grafted into the family of God. . . This has happened so that it would spur Israel to do something about their plight. God wants to make His people jealous so they will come back to Him. It is like the clock in a game of chess. Israel’s clock has stopped while the Gentiles have their turn. But don’t think for one minute the time for the Jews has passed. As Paul says this is the time for God to offer salvation to the rest of the world. When the time comes for their (the Jews) acceptance it will be even more wonderful. It will be like life from the dead. Like the rejoicing that surrounded Lazarus’s coming out party.
The time for Israel is still to come. Suffice to say the chess clock will switch to Israel again. Those who think that the time for Israel is over and the church is now the new Israel are wrong. Israel will have her time again.
Clipped from Gem 226 on Romans 11:25-26 :-
What does Paul mean “all Israel”? A number of people responded on the matter of chess clock for Israel. One reader followed up with more questions. “Hi Ian, in light of what you say, could you please answer these questions for me.
Who is a Jew? Or should I say where… no longer one location, those in Israel being a Diaspora returned. No longer all resident in the land, but dispersed. No longer religious but secular,What do you understand the word ‘Israel’ to mean today.If the clock is to start ticking again, whom will it be for, and where?
The best way to answer these questions is to examine the textual issue of what Paul means by “all Israel”. Allow me to list for the theories that abound and then you can decide where you align on it all. You don’t expect me to do your thinking for you, do you?
- Some commentators think Paul is referring to the “true spiritual” Israel. (viz Rom 9:6-8)
- Some think in line with the verses that follow that Paul is meaning the Jews as an entire race.
- Others take this to be a parallel to the “full number of the Gentiles” – meaning all those who come to faith and experience God’s righteousness in Christ.
- “Israel” plus “fullness of Gentiles” equals “all Israel”. That is the true Israel which includes all the true children of Abraham, the man of faith. Jew and Gentile.
In the time of Paul the Rabbis talked of “all Israel – except those who were not included” because of their sin or hardness of heart.
Now you have the spread of ideas and opinion on this it is time to make up your mind. Go ponder. Suck it like a sweetie as Prof Brown used to say.
Clipped from Gem 227
It is clear Paul is talking about the full number of the Gentiles who will come to faith and enter in to the kingdom of God. Does this mean all Gentiles will come to faith? No! It is a parallel to “all Israel”. Remember the meaning of the 153 fish in John 21:11. The number indicates the perfection of the number of those saved at the end of time. God knows all who are His and none will be lost. The same can be applied to this concept. The full number of the Gentiles means those whom God has determined for salvation. He knows beforehand those who are His and none will be lost. Thus there is a progression. When the full number of the Gentiles predestined for salvation is complete then the focus / the clock switches to Israel again.
It is interesting to note in the text that Paul starts the clause related to “all Israel” being saved with “and thus . . .”. Or as above “and so all Israel will be saved”. This clause doesn’t open verse 26, it closes verses 25. Once the fullness of the Gentiles has been completed this will usher in amazing blessing for the Jews. Their hardness, callousness will be ended and their hearts will be open. Note their hardening is limited. Limited how? Limited in time certainly, but also possibly limited in extent. There are some Jews being saved but they are one by one against the tide. There is a time coming when multiple numbers will respond. So the effect will be over all of “Israel” in all parts of the globe. Because, as one of my readers pointed out with the question yesterday those who are in the nation of Israel at the moment are a remnant of the Diaspora or Jews. Jews are still scattered all around the globe. There is a time coming when there will be an outpouring on all Jews and many Jewish hearts will turn to their Messiah in repentance.
Remember too Paul comments related to the full meaning of Israel in Rom 4:16 “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to ALL ABRAHAM’S OFFSPRING – not ONLY to those who are of the LAW, but ALSO those who are of the FAITH OF ABRAHAM.” You need to harmonise your thoughts with this verse in your final conclusion on this passage.
I am aware this is all somewhat confusing, bits taken from numbers of places but I hope it gives you some background to put it all together. I will return to the matter of the juxtaposition of Jesus comments in Luke 21 related to the events soon to occur after Jesus left the disciples and the events related to His Coming on a cloud with great power and great glory. Why are these sandwiched together and often lead to confusion on what this passage is all about – The Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 or the Second Coming of Christ?
Time to stop this Gems is already too long.
Difficulties not only places a demand on your faith, but also reveals the depth of it!Anon
Those who create the future are criticized from those who wish to protect the past!Anon
What you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you say. What do you communicate before you say a word?Ralph W Emerson
Life doesn’t happen TO you.. It happens IN you!Brian Houston