“And these are the signs that you are to look for before I return. The sun and moon will be eclipsed, the stars will begin to fall to the earth, and the heavens themselves will shake. The people here on earth will be terrified by the natural disasters that come upon them, great earthquakes and tsunamis. When all these things have come to pass, after the days of great trouble that are to come on the earth, My sign will appear in the heavens. All the people on earth who have not believed in Me will cry out in anguish, and you will all see Me coming down to you on the clouds of the heavens with all the power and glory of God. I will sound My trumpet, and send out My angels to all the earth to gather My people to Me. When you see all of these things, be ready, because on that day you will be taken up with Me to live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. But do not speculate as to when this will occur, because nobody knows the day or the time of My return – not the angels in Heaven, nor even I! Only My Father knows. Because you will not know when I AM returning for you, be ready for Me at all times! Do not lose hope, and do not forget the lessons I have taught you. Live each day as if it were the day of My return.”
Matthew 24:29-31, 36; Mark 13:24-27, 32-33; Luke 21:25-28
“Please, heed My words: If you hear rumors of My return, people gather together and speak excitedly of going to see the Messiah at this synagogue or on that hillside, do not go! All you will see and hear will be false teachers, trying to lure people away from God with smooth words. When I return, there will be no question, no mistaking it for something else. It will be fast and sudden, like lightning splitting the sky from the east to the west. The false teachers will gather people together as birds of prey circle their victims, but I will come to gather together My own to save them.” Once again, Jesus speaks of what is close at hand, namely the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and what will come at the end of time. He looks around at His apostles and tells them, “You read signs in nature to see what is coming. When blossoms begin to form anew on the fig tree, you know that summer is close at hand. In this same way, you must watch for the signs of My return. The generation that sees these things will not completely disappear before everything foretold comes to pass. Remember, even when Heaven and earth are but mere memories, My Words will still remain.”
Matthew 24:23-25, 32-35; Mark 13:21-23, 28-31; Luke 21:29-33
Note: My intention in writing this blog is to tell the Bible story in a fresh way, not to interpret it in any specific way. I did not feel that I should write this passage in such a way that it would sway anyone to my belief about it, but I would like to express that belief here. From the studies I have done, I believe that this passage tells us that the end times are very close. The fig tree is often used as a metaphor for the nation of Israel, and in my various readings on the subject, it seems that Jesus may be referring to the rebirth of Israel as a nation here, when He speaks of the blossoming of the fig tree. It is the baby-boomer generation that saw the rebirth of Israel, and because He says that this generation will not all pass away before He returns to earth, I believe that may mean Jesus will return before all those born in that generation have passed away. I will not attempt to narrow that down at all, because He specifies that nobody knows the day or the hour in which He will return. And I could be completely wrong about all of this. I just wanted to share my own opinion, in case anyone else who may have studied this more in-depth would like to weigh in on it.
I also want to say that I just scheduled the day and the hour of the posting of this message and it felt wrong.
Jesus closes His eyes for a moment, His head lifted toward Heaven. It seems as if He is watching the events He is now describing, for His face is grim and He looks as if He is in pain. He alone knows the full scope of the prophecy He is giving to His apostles, and that the events will occur both very soon and again at the very end of time. He collects Himself and goes on to say, “The prophet Daniel foretold that a man of great evil will come to Israel. He will hate the Jewish people and My followers. He will put an end to worship in the Temple and will desecrate it. He, a Gentile, will enter the Most Holy Place in the Temple and will sacrifice a pig on the altar. Then Jerusalem will be besieged by many armies. When you see this happen, flee! Do not look back, do not stop to pack your things, simply get out of Israel as fast as you can. It will not go well for those who cannot move quickly, for pregnant and nursing women or the elderly or infirm, and they will need assistance. And if this happens in the winter, or on a Sabbath day, it will be even worse for you, so pray that this is not the case! Because this event will usher in a time of horrors like the world has never seen before, or ever will again. Those who are still in the city when this comes to pass will be tortured and killed, or sent off to far away countries to live as slaves. Israel will be taken over by the Gentiles and all of the religious practices of the Hebrew people will be outlawed, until the time of the Gentiles is finished. If God did not have pity on His people and put a time limit on this period, nobody would survive. But for the sake of His people, He will only allow this to go on for a short period of time.”
Matthew 24:15-22, Mark 13:14-20, Luke 21:20-24, Daniel 11:31, 12:11
“When all these things begin to happen, you will see trouble like you have never imagined possible. There will be those whose faith in Me will not survive the trials and temptations that come, and these people will turn against those whose faith is strong. The faithful will be turned over to the authorities and tortured and killed for their faith. You will be hated by the whole world because of your devotion to My Name. Brothers and sisters will turn on each other, families and friendships will be torn apart. People claiming to be teachers will come, telling everyone that they come in My Name, but seeking only to lead many away from Me and the Life I give, and they will be successful in many circumstances. There will be chaos, utter disregard for the law, and many people will abandon their faith because of this. But whoever stays strong in their faith until the end will inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Do not worry about what is going to happen; only trust in Me and you will be given all that you need to endure. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak to your accusers, and that will be an opportunity for you to tell them about the Kingdom of Heaven. The Good News that I AM here to bring to you all will be spread throughout the world at that time. Everyone will hear of My Name and the eternal salvation that I offer to all who call upon it. When all the world has heard My Good News, then the end times will be upon you.”
Matthew 24:9-14, Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:12-19
Jesus sighs and tells them, “You will have to be very careful. Many people will come, claiming that their way is the only way to God. They will fool many people into giving up their souls to false religions and false Messiahs. But I AM warning you now, so that you and your disciples will not be fooled. It will be a time of violence throughout the world. War will break out among many countries, and you will hear talk of wars likely to begin in others. But don’t let this trouble you, because all these things must happen, and well before the end of time. There will be suffering all over the world – shortage of food will cause many to starve to death; diseases will ravage many civilizations; great earthquakes will come and kill whole villages; kingdoms and nations will go to war against one another. All of these things are just signs that the end is coming soon.”
Matthew 24:4-8, Mark 13:5-8, Luke 21:8-11
As the afternoon wanes, Jesus and His apostles begin to make their way across the Temple courtyard. They will spend another night in Bethany with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The apostles are examining the Temple buildings and exclaiming over their architecture. “Rabbi, isn’t the construction awe-inspiring?” Nathaniel asks Jesus. Jesus looks at him and smiles, but shakes His head. “Everything you see here, all the buildings, including the Temple itself, will all be destroyed. There will not be one stone left standing upon another.” The apostles are shocked. They stop and stare around at the buildings again, their hearts saddened at the thought of it being destroyed. Coming out of their momentary stupor, they see that Jesus has continued on, and they hurry to catch up to Him. They walk to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus decides to sit and rest for a while, knowing that His apostles are full of questions. Sure enough, as soon as they are settled on the mountainside, Peter asks, “Rabbi, when is it going to happen? How will we know when You are coming back to usher in the end of this world?” The apostles believe that the destruction of the Temple will come when the end times come.
Matthew 24:1-3, Mark 13:1-4, Luke 21:5-7
Jesus calls His apostles to gather around Him. “Do you see that woman there? She has just given two pennies to the Temple treasury.” Judas looks indignant at this announcement. As the apostles’ treasurer, he is displeased at the thought of someone offering such a small amount. But Jesus goes on to say, “Listen and heed My words. This poor widow, in giving two pennies, has sacrificed all of her money. She now has nothing with which to support herself. What great faith she has shown today in giving all that she had to God! All the others, the rich, haughty men who have paraded through may have given much greater sums than she did, but it was only a small percentage of their great wealth. They do not give out of faith, but only out of obligation; it is not a sacrifice for them, but more of a business deal.”
Mark 12:43-44, Luke 21:3-4
Jesus has been teaching in the Temple near the treasury all day. Now He pauses and watches the people walking by, each putting money into the offering box. The money is kept in the Temple and used only for things deemed Korban, or set apart to bring the giver closer to God. This includes Temple upkeep, the purchase of sacrificial animals to sell to pilgrims, salaries for priests and other Temple workers, purchase of the spices used to make the Holy incense, etc. Jesus watches as several rich men deposit large sums of money into the treasury. But then He sees a poor widow come by. She is dressed in a ragged robe and barefoot. In her hand, she clutches two pennies tightly, as if she is afraid to lose them. Her eyes are cast down, but filled with determination. When she reaches the offering box, she lifts her eyes to Heaven and breathes a quick prayer of thanks. She drops her coins into the box and quietly walks away.
Mark 12:41-42, Luke 21:1-2
“The Pharisees and lawyers condemn their ancestors for killing the prophets of old, but in their words and deeds they convict themselves of the same thing. But for them it is exponentially worse, because they, as experts in the Law of Moses, should know that their deeds are evil. They are, indeed, children of their wicked ancestors, and will not escape judgment on the last day. They are like the culmination of generations of evil men. Prophets and scholars of God’s Law and seekers of His Truth will come to them and they will kill them all in the most horrific fashions, just to save their own place in the hierarchy of the rulers of Israel. And so they will also reap the punishment for spilling the blood of all those who have come to the leaders of Israel in the Name of God, from beginning to end. I tell you the Truth, this generation will bear the punishment for all who have gone before them, because instead of turning from doing evil and running to God, they outdo their ancestors in their wickedness.”
“The Pharisees and lawyers are like intricately carved and painted mausoleums. They are beautiful to look at from the outside, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead. The Pharisees appear to be righteous on the outside, but inside their hearts are dead. They look after the tombs of the prophets of old, and proclaim to the world that they would never have behaved like their ancestors, who killed the prophets. And yet their actions show that they would have done just that, because of their hatred toward John the Baptist and toward Me. At the day of judgment, they will be condemned for the filthy condition of their hearts and their corresponding actions.”