Lesson 46 of the Discipleship Making process.
I left you last time with these questions, “When will this time of false prophets and birth pangs be?”, “What will be the sign of your coming?” and “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”
Just prior to His crucifixion Jesus took the disciples aside, on the Mount of Olives, and prophesied many things that would happen after His death. Bible theologians refer to this as the Olivet Discourse. Along with the prophecies, Jesus issued several commands His disciples were to follow regarding the upcoming future events.
Before any of us, as Jesus’ disciples, can obey Him we must have a basic understanding of what He is talking about concerning these events. Many Christians in today’s world are confused when it comes to the future so we will use this lesson to clarify the contexts in which Jesus spoke and look closely at what He said. So let’s begin.
Confusion starts because most popular Christian teachers and writers today declare that Jesus’ discourse was given on the Mount of Olives in response to two questions that His disciples asked Him. But after careful study of the Scripture passages involved we can see that the disciples asked Him a total of five questions. 1) Jesus responded to two questions asked by His disciples as they are leaving the Temple. And after crossing the Kidron Valley 2) Jesus responded to three more questions asked by Peter, James, John and Andrew when they came to Him privately while He was seated on the Mount of Olives.
Parts of the Olivet Discourse are contained in all three of the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. When read individually the texts seem to be saying similar but different things so the reader can become confused. However, by studying the separate texts in side-by-side comparison a clear picture of future events unfolds.
Confusion surrounding future events also occurs when the reader fails to consider personal pronouns. Who is Jesus talking to or about?
To make it easier for you the reader to understand what Jesus is saying we have taken the liberty of combining the three gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse. It is divided into two scenes: 1) Leaving the Temple Mount and 2) Sitting on the Mount of Olives. The five questions that Jesus is asked by His disciples are addressed, I would ask that you please note the personal pronouns used within the text. Following what Jesus has to say about future events, I’ve included the Apostle Paul’s commentary on these same events. At the last part of this study is a sequence of end time events comparing Jesus and Paul with the book of Revelation.
Scene 1: The Temple Mount – (Matthew 24:1-28, Mark 13:1-23, Luke 21:5-24)
- Those Present
- All of his disciples.
- Walking out of the Temple, after having observed the widow putting her two mites into the treasury (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4).
- The Disciple’s Questions
- When will the Temple be torn down?
- What will be the sign when the Temple is about to be torn down?
- “going away”: Jesus had left the Temple and was probably exiting through the eastern (Golden) gate headed for the Mount of Olives, which lies directly across the Kidron Valley.
When? - The Apostolic Witness: Mark 13:9-11, Luke 21:12-19
What Will Be The Sign? – Desolation of Jerusalem: Luke 21:20-24
- “Jerusalem surrounded by armies”: Roman legions under Titus, the eldest son of the Roman emperor Vespasian, conquered the city of Jerusalem and tore the Temple down on the ninth of Ab (late August) in 70 AD.
- “those who are in the midst of the city depart”: when Titus and his Roman legions temporarily withdrew from their siege the Christians fled the city and went to Pella, a city on the eastern side of the Jordan River in current day Jordan.
- “wrath to this people”: according to Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian, 1,000,000 Jews were slain and 97,000 were carried away captive as slaves by the Romans in the war of 66-70 AD.
- “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”: the city (Jerusalem) remained under foreign (Gentile) control until June 5-10, 1967 when it was liberated from Jordan in the Six Day War.
- When will this time of false prophets and birth pangs be?