This morning I looked at my Bible reading schedule and saw that today’s passage is Luke 20. So, I promptly proceeded to read Luke 21. 😊
Maybe it was my subconscious directing me to the wrong chapter because Luke 21 is a parallel passage to Matthew 24, where Jesus gives us a description of what it will be like in the last days before His return. If you know me or follow my posts at all, you know that I’m drawn to eschatology. That’s a big word that simply means theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world and humankind. I talk about it, read about it, think about it, and pray about it a lot!
A lot of Christ-followers believe that end-times prophecy isn’t worth studying, that we can’t really know what all those mysterious passages at the end of the Bible mean, so we should just focus on living for Jesus now and not worry about the future. I agree with the last half of that statement; we should be focused on living for Jesus. And yes, there are many things Jesus tells us that are hard to understand. But I disagree that it’s not important to talk about and for our pastors to preach and teach us about.
Paul tells us God will reward those who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). We are not in darkness like the ungodly and unbelieving, and the day of the Lord should not take us by surprise (2 Thessalonians 5:4). Jesus warns us that we ought to be alert and watching for His return, able to recognize the “signs of the times” according to the revelation He has given us, both in His own words in the gospel, and by the word of His prophets and apostles, like John in the book of Revelation.
Luke 21 gives us a lot of details about what will be happening in the world near the time of Jesus’ return. False teachers will abound. Wars will increase (kingdoms, nations and ethnic groups will be fighting). Earthquakes will increase in amount and intensity. Plagues will spread (virus, anyone?), famines will grow, and there will be signs in the heavens (eclipses, blood moons, asteroids, disturbances). Other scripture passages are very clear that the world will be drawn into a global, one-world system that controls every aspect of human life. (I will say this…If you don’t understand that we are progressing toward that goal so fast our heads are spinning, you must be completely out of touch with reality.) It’s not just the Christian “conspiracy theorists” (those are air quotes!) that are bringing attention to this; the secular world is announcing it openly, clearly stating their goals for everyone to easily understand.
Persecution of those professing faith in Christ will also increase. No longer will it be profitable and socially acceptable to claim allegiance to Jesus; families will turn on one another (if you see something…say something), betraying their own blood relatives to be killed. Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemy armies and be overrun by Gentiles (non-Jews). Men will faint from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world (21:26).
Why do I find it comforting to read about such things that are coming into our world?
One reason alone. I have hope in the soon appearance of my Savior. When things in this world are at their absolute worst…far worse than any of us have ever seen or could imagine…according to Scripture, Jesus is at the door.
Jesus gives us reason to hope. He tells us the truth – there will be persecution and martyrdom for those who love Him, but we are not to fear. Not a hair of our head will perish (21:18). That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer or lose our lives, but our security is in what comes afterward.
Jesus defeats Satan.
Jesus punishes His enemies.
Jesus restores all things to the glory of God.
Do you avoid reading and studying prophecy because it’s too hard to understand, or because it makes you fearful? That’s not the approach Jesus Himself took. He wants us to be prepared and know what to expect so that we can look forward with anticipation to meeting Him face to face, and be more urgent about sharing the good news with those who haven’t yet come to faith.
As John tells us, those who read and study prophecy will receive a special blessing. We will not be caught by surprise and fall away because we do not understand what is happening. We will live with endurance by the power of the Holy Spirit, with great expectation and joyful anticipation that God is making all things new – and we get a front-row seat to watch it happen.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.Revelation 1:3
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.Luke 21:32-36