Luke Chapter 21 can be a difficult Chapter to read and study. What is Jesus actually talking about and what does He really mean when He speaks these words to His disciples? This Chapter also deals with the place of Israel, and the significance of Israel, in the plans and purposes and economy of God. Our understanding of Israel is crucially important. This is a longer study because there is no way this passage can be divided. Read it most carefully and understand what Jesus is revealing.
After speaking about the danger of deception, wars and revolutions, natural disasters and increased suffering as consequence, and persecution and using such times as opportunities to witness and testify, Jesus speaks about armies surrounding and overthrowing Jerusalem.
All this happened, some thirty years later and we know that those who fled when Rome overrun Jerusalem were saved from onslaught.
It pays to give heed and attention to the prophetic words of Jesus. Their lives depended upon acting upon the words of Jesus.
Verse 24. We read of Jerusalem being trampled. That indicates that it is out of Divine order. God never means anything to be trampled upon. All this was fulfilled literally. Notice that word ‘until’. We often see this in prophecy. Such and such a thing will happen ‘until’. There will be a scattering of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘until’.
In verse 29, we read of the fig tree reappearing and growing in its own soil; growing in its own land and coming into leaf. The fig tree. as a symbol of Israel, reappeared in 1948, having been absent for 2,000 years. We cannot go into all the details here. There are many excellent books on this. Lance Lambert and Derek Prince and David Pawson explain all of this, most thoroughly and comprehensively. Then in 1967, Israel began to re-govern Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years and the trampling was over. We Gentiles had trampled over that city and 2,000 years is a long time.
We want things to happen within two weeks or two months, and certainly within two years. For Israel, she had to wait 2,000 years, but God brought her back.
Jerusalem always flourishes under Jewish control, and languishes under Gentile control. You only have to look at photographs of Jerusalem before 1967 and after 1967. You would not think it was the same city.
Now, from what Jesus says, the liberation of Jerusalem from Gentile control and domination points to the close return of Christ.
When the fig tree, or any tree, sprouts leaves, it is springtime and you know that summer is near. It is not yet summer, but summer is around the corner. When Israel reappears you know that the Coming Again of Jesus Christ is near. It will not happen just yet, but it will happen soon.
Verse 22. The time of punishment is over. Note that it is Jesus Who uses the word ‘punishment’ and ‘wrath’ in verse 23, and ‘perplexity’ in verse 25. Perplexity means ‘no way out’.
Anguish, fainting and fear – are all central themes as Jesus speaks to the disciples, and because He is speaking about His Coming Again, He tells the disciples to stand up and ‘lift up your heads’, and know. Don’t doubt or wonder or question. God wants us to know. There are certain truths which God wants us to know and have a clear understanding.
There is a parallel here. Just as very few believed Jesus about the destruction of Jerusalem, so a comparatively few people, even within church circles, believe what Jesus says here regarding His Coming Again. This is where Jesus issues another warning. Jesus issues warnings!
Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close in on you unexpectedly like a trap.
Don’t go overboard. Watch your step. Don’t give in to indulgence. In other words, discipline yourself. How terrible it would be, if on that day when Jesus Christ comes again, we were not ready for His coming, and we were caught unawares, and taken by surprise.
Jesus says, watch and pray, so that you can stand before the Son of Man. Be alert and prayerful. Be aware of everything that is going on around you.
Jesus is giving His disciples all this for a purpose; so that we will know what is going on in the world and not be deceived or afraid, and so that we will not be taken in by false prophets or follow false Christs, and so that we will not be swayed and over- influenced by current trends fashions values and standards. This will keep us from giving in to certain pressures to compromise.
Jesus is very clear, very precise, and very practical, and it always pays to pay attention to the words of Jesus.
It is significant that this teaching is recorded in Matthew and Mark too.
Last week that question arose which is answered in Zechariah Chapter 12, and I ask you to read that Chapter too in this connection and understand the significance of what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is saying.
All the nations of the earth will be gathered against Jerusalem. Three times he says this. Jerusalem is going to occupy a central place on the world’s stage. It will be a focal point of controversy, conflict, and war. Its status and destiny will become a cup of wine into which has been poured a poison, and anyone who meddles with Jerusalem will find they poison themselves and paralyse themselves. It will be like a heavy stone, which if they attempt to lift it, the result will be that they rupture themselves, and their lifting days are over.
God will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication, and they will “look on me, the one they have pierced”. Jesus Christ is the key to all of this.
Yes, this is a more difficult Chapter but it is worth all the serious study. Do you recall my saying many months ago that people suggest that if only the Church would stick to and keep to the words and teaching of Jesus? Well, these are the words of Jesus.