In order to easy compare those texts on "Signs of the End of the Age" as they are written in three gospels, I put them all together in a separate window. -->
In that way they can easily be used as we walk through "the last things."
Comments, Questions, Answers and Thoughts on
The speech about the Signs of the End of the Age
The disciples came up to Jesus to call his attention to the buildings of the temple.
Then Jesus says: “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
The disciples are curious and want to know when that will happen to that temple.
They also assume that this will coincide with Jesus coming and the end of the world. (The Greek word used here for world is: aaioon. This means era or century).
It strikes that Jesus doesn't give a direct answer. Only much further-on He does go deeper into their demand.
Jesus answer was as follows: "Let no one give you the idea that I, the Christ, just come without you noticing. If people say I am the Christ, believe them not, or if people say, see, there is the Christ or here, don't believe them.
When I come, all will know from first hand.
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come."
Why would they be worried or anxious when they hear of wars and unrest?
They knew the prophets. And one of those prophets spoke in particular about these events. It's Joel.
2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand-- 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. 3 Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste--nothing escapes them. 4 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5 With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. 7 They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. 9 They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 11 The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?
This mighty army conducts war! It is a devastating army. if you know these armies are coming, It is logical to be afraid.
Joel shows us that the day of the Lord will be a terrible day. The sun and the moon will change and the stars will be different on that day.
Jesus speaks about the same events as well. He shows exactly when that will happen.
“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘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.’
So there will happen terrible things and then the Lord will send his forces. Then there will be also signs on the sun, moon and stars.
If the Lord reassures the disciples on wars and rumors of wars, then he does this to make them clear that there will be wars, but not directly related to the great war that will happen on the day of the Lord.
Later Jesus returns to this and tells which events will happen before that war comes, which will be at the time of the day the Lord.
But first Jesus goes further with prophecy of events that will happen before 'the end'.
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
All these are the beginning of birth-pains.”
As a pregnant woman who has to endure pains before her child will be visible, so also the world -the whole creation- has to endure painful things before the sons of God, with Jesus as firstling, will become visible.
Luke 21:11b adds the part about those earthquakes, pestilence and famine with: “and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Without doubt this is Joel 2:30 and 31: “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood”
“But”, says Jesus, “before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you”, “and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
Jesus speaks to the disciples, they are Jews. Jews and Christians will prosecuted.
Jesus is talking about: “You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.” Synagogues are Jewish institutions.
You could of course translate synagogues with: church.
The whip might as well be done with words and with the whip. In that case it can also point on Christians worldwide. Think about the scourge words that some had to endure when they told in their traditional church that they wanted to be baptized by immersion.
Although this spiritualization of this text is possible, I still prefer the literal text to follow.
“This will result in your being witnesses to them.
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand on how you will defend yourselves.
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say”.
In this texts Jesus shows that the addressed are people who have received the Holy Spirit, so that can be Christians and Messianic Jews.
Jesus continues to tell of some very unpleasant things, that can surely happen.Matthew 24:10
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me”.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”.
wickedness = transgression of the law
Transgression of the law?
What law? The law of obligations and regulations? The Ten Commandments?
This is something to think about. This sounds Jewish, but if we think that all these texts are for the church too, what do we do with this comment?
Jesus promised: “but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Which gospel is this: The gospel of the kingdom?
Is this gospel really preached? Do we preach the gospel of the kingdom?
The Great Tribulation
Jesus comes, after his comments on the end, back to a period, an event which is before the end.
Jesus has spoken a number of prophecies that will happen before the 'end', but clearly not belong to the 'end'. They are only the first contractions.
Then Jesus continued his prophecy about people who will be turned over and tortured and some even slain.
Huge oppression. The love of most will chill, but who persists to the end, will be saved.
'The end' and 'obtain life’ (Luke) are clearly the latest events.
When Jesus then speaks about ‘the abomination that causes desolation’, then He wants the disciples, and through them us, because we live now in the last days, explain a certain period a bit more.
Jesus want to be sure that there is sufficient knowledge to recognize certain events to the time on the clock of God's plans.
“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.”
Matthew and Mark have almost the same text, but Luke adds another specificity to it.
All three say: "let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."
But before Matthew and Mark pass this incentive, they talk on the
"the abomination that causes desolation" who will be seen in the holy place.
Lucas, however, speaks about: “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”
Jerusalem being surrounded is obviously at the same time "the abomination that causes desolation" will show himself in the holy place.
The positioning in the aforementioned text, which follows the call of the "the abomination that causes desolation" and surrounded Jerusalem, i.e. Judea, indicates two things:
- This is about Jerusalem which is in Judea. So no possibility to see this spiritual.
- The Holy place will be in jerusalem.
When "the abomination that causes desolation" will be in the holy place, Jerusalem will be surrounded, or will be soon surrounded.
“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Let no-one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house.
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.”
This is clearly spoken on a geographically defined place. What we have here, is the place Jerusalem in the region of Judea.
Similarly, from the various descriptions Jesus would like that this time would be recognized without any doubt. And that time is coming so fast that there is not even time to go into your house to get something.
This text is also meant to say: Do not hold to your property, the fact that you can escape is more important than what you lose on material things.
“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.”
The pregnant and nursing will find it difficult to flee. Of course they are less mobile.
Jesus advised to pray that the flight will not be in the winter and not on a Sabbath.
God's people must keep the Sabbath and may not travel on the Sabbath.
Again I get the impression that this whole prophecy, to a large extent, is for the Jews. It all takes place in the capital and in their country and under their laws.
They are recommended to pray that their flight does not fall on a Sabbath. For who else then Jews is such a recommendation? Christians do not keep the Sabbath, do they?
Or does Jesus assume that the Sabbath is kept by everybody?
Something to think about. See the study Sunday or Sabbath.
Jesus is not talking about a period during or shortly after his life, but over a period that will be just before his return. Compare the texts: "For then there will be great distress" and “Immediately after the distress of those days “
Now we arrive at a striking point.
Matthew and Mark tell the words of Jesus as follows:
“For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equalled again.”
While Luke tells it like this:
“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.”
Matthew and Mark are talking about a great distress. They don’t say a word who is going to suffer. While Luke talks about "wrath against this people", so, the Jews.
They will fall by the sharpness of the sword and be taken away as prisoners to all the nations. And this will last until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
At this time Jesus comes back.
By comparing these texts you can draw the conclusion that the great distress, if not entirely, is at least for one important part for the people Israel.
The wrath, where Lucas is talking about, is not of God. For a little clearer insight we need to read Revelation 12.
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.
15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
9 “The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
13 “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.”
The woman who gave birth to the male child is Israel. That child is Jesus.
After these verses we read about the beast from the sea. By comparing these texts
with Daniel, we can see, that this beast from the sea, is a world power. That world power will slander God for forty two months.
Forty two months is three and half years, but also: a time, times and a half-time. The great distress will be that long. The world power. will be led by another beast that leads over the first beast.
And this beast, that leader will set himself into the temple to show that he is a god.
That time will be horrible. “If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
Then we read again the warning against of Christ’s.
"“For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible.
See, I have told you ahead of time.”
“Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
The son of man does not come secretly. His arrival will be clearly perceptible as the thunderbolt.
“Where, Lord?” they (the disciples) asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Does Jesus mean the body of Christ, the church? Are the vultures demons?
Or is the people of Israel mentioned and are the vultures the nations who will attack Israel?
None of both is the right answer for me...
More clear are the next verses:
“Immediately after the distress of those days“ ‘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.’
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
The timing to these texts is clear.
What is described will happen "immediately after the great distress".