“Watch out for yourselves! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.Luke 21:34-38
This segment continues the discussion related to End Times issues. However in this case the “yourselves ” is in the emphatic position in the sentence. Jesus reminds the twelve disciples that they themselves need to be careful that they too don’t succumb to the terrors of the moment and lose their spiritual sensitivity to the things going on around them. Both in terms of the imminent fall of Jerusalem and in terms of End Times. Of course for the disciples the events related to the fall of the Jerusalem is a live issue. The disciples and the End Times is not a live issue for them but a principle to be applied to all disciples across the Ages who imagine they are living in the End Times. The warning applies to all whether they personally will go through the End Times or not. “That Day” is likely to refer to the Parousia, the coming again of the Son of Man in judgment. All disciples need to live as though “that day” could be soon. Take care lest your heart be weighed down, become dulled and preoccupied with the events of the moment and you lose your ability to be able to discern what is going on.
That time is when men’s hearts will fail them by virtue of the terrors surrounding them. The word heart is used which can refer to the emotions of the moment but is more likely to mean the thoughts that we have in those moments when reason fails us because of fear. The use of the word [kraipale] is an interesting one. The word refers to carousing as a result of a being drunk, the drunken hangover or headache that comes which leaves one dizzy and disoriented and unable to think straight. What a strange thing to say to the disciples. Is it that the disciples had a secret drinking problem? Were they prone to drunken excess? Hardly likely. The dizziness that comes from drunken binges and leaves one disoriented and not functioning properly is possibly a good way of describing the fears and disorientation which hits with excessive terror and fear at a time like “that day”.
Don’t let “that day” catch you by surprise. Always stay connected to spiritual reality so that you don’t lose sight of reality in such moments. Jesus used strong language of drunken reactions to warn the disciples of the kinds of pressures that would come upon them which could make them lose all sense of reason and connectedness to reality. Times when worry and anxiety about what was happening around them could make their hearts fail and cause them to do things that were out of character. The anxieties for life itself may drive them to strange behaviour. The word [biotikos] means earthly affairs – the things related to the basics of life. “That day” will bring out all sorts of base reactions, primal instincts to survive – concerns for the basics of life – food, shelter and clothing. Such times bring out the primal urges in mankind. Don’t let it happen to you. Keep your spiritual perspective and understand what is happening around you.
The day will come upon you unexpectedly. Like a trap Jesus says. It will come to all of those who are going through the process of living – eating and drinking. The construction here is an interesting one. It can simply refer to all those dwelling on the earth or it could be an allusion to those who were or are taking life easy. Thing back to when that happened in Scripture. At the time of the flood when disaster came upon them, people were eating and drinking and making merry. At the time of Belshazzar’s feast people again were making merry when the hand appeared to write on the wall and catch them completely by surprise. You have been weighed in the balance and found to be inadequately prepared for judgment. Is this any different in this case – the fall of Jerusalem or the End Times. No, mankind will always be caught out simply because they lose spiritual perspective and neglect the things that matter. So when judgement comes upon them they return to their primal animalistic selves. Every man for himself. Is there a link in this to the other references in Luke’s gospel to eating and drinking and making merry? I am not sure but it is possible. You ponder that one along with me.
Watch out for yourselves, disciples and don’t let it happen to you. The warning in verse 36 repeats the warning at the opening of this section but is couched in positive terms rather than the negative senses of the early verse. Be spiritually aware and awake. Don’t be taken in by the terror of the moment. Keep alert and prayerfully aware at all times. The element “at all times” could be linked to the watchfulness or the praying or both. Such circumstances as the terror of judgement require our utmost attention to our readiness to handle tough times and maintain our spiritual perspective on what is happening around us.
This is all so that we have the strength to stand firm and unshaken. These times will shake all on the earth. Don’t let yourself be taken in. Pray that you would have the strength to escape and be able to stand before the Son of Man (worthy). This is an interesting construction. Some see this as an indication that Christians will escape the coming terror and not have to face the trials of the tribulation. i.e. They will escape. “Be strong, hold your faith in tough times and you will escape the terrors” some say. Some manuscripts have [kataxiotethe] which means to “be accounted worthy” which the KJV picks up on. But by far the strongest reading is [katischusete] – “that you may have strength”. The word escape can more appropriately be translated “come through”, “pass this time safely” and stand before the Son of Man. That the followers of Jesus would be able to endure such times and survive the coming terrors, not that they will escape the terrors and be raptured out before the tribulation comes on them. As I have said before, far better to assume you will go through the terror but your faith will hold firm because you are aware of what is happening around you. You have to have a healthy perspective on the suffering and why it is happening. Not that you place all your hopes in the fact that you will be raptured out and escape the terrors. Not realistic at all. The ultimate goal is to stand the Son of Man. To stand before the Judge at that time and be credit with salvation. To possess the hope of your faith – your salvation. To come through it all intact.
Now we have a curious ending to this chapter found in verses 37 and 38:
Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.Luke 21:37-38
This coupled with the opening to chapter 22 which reads:
The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching.Luke 22:1
What do you make of these verses and how they fit the judgement / End Times segment before it?
Take time to ponder this before we face the close of the chapter in the next Gems.
A man said to his pastor, “It must be hard leading an exemplary life, handling all those pressures, people waiting for one sign of weakness so they can jump on you. How do you handle it?” Smiling, he quipped, “I stay home a lot!”Anon
If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you’re willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.Harvey Eker
No matter how tough your situation is, don’t give up! By perseverance the snail reached the ark.C. H. Spurgeon
When life gets too hard to stand… KneelAnon