Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. – Luke 21:5-11
Jesus prepares His disciples for the end. For which end is He preparing His disciples? Either their end individually or the end in general. The end comes for Jesus’ disciples either individually through death or generally through His Second Coming. Jesus prepares His disciples for their end individually by forgiving their sins and reminding them that eternal life awaits them. Jesus prepares His disciples for the end in general by telling them that certain signs will precede or accompany His Second Coming. What signs precede or accompany Jesus’ Second Coming? Is it imperative or necessary for Jesus’ disciples to recognize the signs?
A sign gives information: for example, a billboard, road sign or street sign. Jesus gives information, too. What information is Jesus’ giving His disciples when He says that certain things will happen before or during His Second Coming? Jesus specifically mentions certain events. The Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed (verse 6). His disciples will be deceived (verse 8). False Christs will appear (verse 8). There will be wars and rumors of wars (verse 9). There will be earthquakes, famines and pestilences (verse 11). There will be terrifying signs in the sky (verse 11). There will be terrifying signs from the sea (verse 25). Why does Jesus specifically mention these events? And, by doing so, what information does He give to His disciples?
The Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed because it is no longer needed for the forgiveness of sins. Those who follow Jesus for the wrong reason, including those without His Spirit, will be led astray by false Christs, thus separating them from the true believers. There will be wars because God is using sinful mankind to destroy sinful mankind. There will be earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and terrifying signs in the sky and sea because God, Himself, is destroying His sinful creation. By telling His disciples what He does, Jesus is saying that everything that God created for Himself or for mankind will be destroyed, either by mankind or by God, Himself. There will no longer be any need for God’s sinful creation. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.
What if Jesus’ disciples do not recognize the signs that will precede or accompany His Second Coming? This is a possibility. Why? The signs that Jesus mentions have already happened, or are happening today. The Temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed once already, has been rebuilt once already, and has been destroyed again. Jesus’ disciples have been deceived by false Christs ever since the days of the New Testament, and are still being led astray today. There have been wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, strange occurrences in the sky and strange occurrences in the sea throughout history. What if Jesus’ disciples do not understand the information that He gives them? Will they miss His Second Coming? Will they be left behind when He comes? No. Jesus prepares His disciples for this situation. He does it by coming the first time to forgive their sins and promise them eternal life. When Jesus comes the second time, He doesn’t just come to bring destruction on the earth. He comes to retrieve those who are forgiven. He comes to give His disciples eternal life.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” – Luke 21:25-28