In Luke 21 Jesus is clearly speaking of two different time periods. First, the imminent destruction of Jerusalem where he gives warning to believers to be ready for this and to flee the city. Secondly he describes the end of the age where He will return in great glory to judge the nations of the world and bring all things under His control. There are very clear time indicators and proofs within the verses to show this. If you study the chapter you’ll see Jesus speaks both locally and globally. One is the imminent threat which will happen locally in Jerusalem, the other is the end of the world that happens globally.

 

After revealing to his disciples the destruction of the temple, they ask him about when these things will happen. Matthew 24 records this same event and the full question the disciples ask Jesus which also includes when Christ will return and the signs of the end of the age. So these two main questions being the end of the Temple and the end of the age is what Jesus goes on to answer. In some cases he is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and in others he is referring to his return and the end of the age.

 

In verse 8 and 9 Jesus speaks to his disciples about things soon to happen:

 

8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

 

He then pauses, and then goes on in verses 10 and 11 to speak of global events affecting the whole world just before the end of the age.

 

10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”

 

Then is verse 12 - 24 he refers back to his disciples and to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.

 

12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death.17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

 

The first part of verse 24 describes Jerusalem and many Jews being led away captive into all nations. The second part describes the time span from when Jerusalem is trampled until the return of Christ - that being “the times of the Gentiles”.

 

Then verse 25 and 26 describes what will happen globally just before the return of Christ and verse 27 is this Second Coming (which certainly did not happen in 70 AD). These events line up with what Revelation reveals as the days just before Christ’s Second Coming during the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments.

 

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

Then verses 29 - 36 sound like Christ is speaking about the imminent threat to Jerusalem but actually this is referring to the end of the age and the coming of His kingdom where all the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of Christ and he the King of kings will reign over all forever. (Revelation 11:15-19).

 

29 Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.30 When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.

 

Verse 32 and 33 is not referring just to the generation of Jews alive at Christ’s time on earth. Jesus is referring to the whole race of Jewish people and is giving a promise that they will not be wiped off the face of the earth before Christ’s return.

 

32 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

 

The Day referred to in verse 34 is not the day that the armies of Rome surround Jerusalem but to the final Day of God’s judgement. Verse 35 reveals that this is a day that will affect “those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”

 

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

 

Then finally in verse 36 Christ is not only speaking to his disciples but people throughout every generation to be ready for His return. To escape “all these things” is not just what was about to come upon Jerusalem but includes the final Day of judgement. To be counted worthy and to stand before Christ when he comes is not about escaping the Roman armies, it’s about overcoming this world through faith in Christ.

 

36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

This is exactly what the apostle Paul is referring to in 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 11. He speaks about being ready for the Day of the Lord, of which he described previously in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. If you read both portions of Scripture you’ll see these are the same events Christ is referring to and simply cannot be limited to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

 

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do,but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18

 

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

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