What in the world is going on? Is this a sudden drive for nationalism and democracy in these Arab worlds’ or is there something more sinister? Is it in scripture? Did God warn or try to alert us to such happenings? As Christians we are not to be negative, add to the fire and fear or be personally fearful regardless of whatever is going on. At the same time, we need to be alert and prepared. Let me explain.
Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 are parallel chapters. These three different books discuss the same topics; Jesus’ teachings and prophesies, AND, end times. This is not a time or place for discussing doctrine such as pre, post, mid, or “a [non]” anything. However, the Bible does tell us to be alert and the signs of end times will be as obvious as are the seasons. Alert to what?
Disclaimer: All three of these “synoptic” books in the New Testament attest to Jesus’ insights as he teaches one last time prior to his crucifixion. This time is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount [of Olives]. He answers questions posed to him by his disciples on issues of prophecy. Good men today disagree as to the timing of events on this earth, mankind and end times, but the fact remains, Jesus states emphatically that these end times will come. Believers will disappear from the face of the earth, chaos will result, and the people remaining on earth will try to return to a normal life; but it won’t happen!
Every serious student of prophecy is typically able to defend or make a strong case for his or her particular view of the sequence of end times, but once again… well, let’s look at it from The Book of Luke. Luke 21:7-8 states, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What will be the sign that they are about to take place.” Jesus is quick to reply and rather than directly answer the questions of his disciples he offers a caution: “Watch out that you are not deceived. Many men will come in my name claiming ‘I am he.’” [When this happens] “The time is near. Do not follow them.”
His answer is in contrast to being direct. Jesus gives us a strong clue as to what will be going on around us at the time we “draw near” to the end times. “Watch out…” But, he doesn’t stop here. The contrast to a direct answer to the disciples’ questions is Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32; only the Father knows when.
This does not change the fact that events will happen to give us clues as to when the end time is drawing very near. Jesus says these things MUST HAPPEN; Luke 21:9b. But the first part of this verse is what we as Christians can universally hang our hat on; “When you hear of *wars and revolutions, do not be **frightened.” As a theologian and researcher I find the word “fright or frightened” interesting. In the King James we find the phrase “fear not” 74 times and “be not afraid” 46 times. In the Greek it can mean to “cause one to fall.” To fall? Might this relate to being faint or weak-hearted? You decide but don‘t dismiss it. It is a caution from Jesus himself.
*Wars [Greek: polemos] a single or multiple conflicts; upheavals; revolts.
** Frightened [Greek: ptoeho] to draw back as when one is frightened; cause one to fall
This is very assuring when we read Luke 21:14a; “make up your mind (when? NOW!) not to worry.”
Luke 21:25 states, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” This isn’t intended to drive you to the Weather Channel but it is a thought. Jesus is again the author of these words. Different translations say it a multiple number of ways but all come to the same conclusion; something is or will be quite wrong and unusual.
It is particularly fascinating to read the next two verses in Luke 21; [v26] “Men will faint in terror, apprehension of what is coming of this world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” [v27] “AT THAT TIME they will see the Son of Man coming” [where?] “in the clouds.” Nothing is stated here that Christ will plant His feet on earth… “they will see” [Greek: optanomai] as in gaze in awe with wide open eyes. Who is ‘they?’ From my best guess [J.I.V.] it is those who did not either expect or believe in Jesus Christ, or his return.
It isn’t the purpose or intent of this article to “preach” or teach a certain doctrine. It is to point out that Jesus himself said in Luke 21:34-35 “Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and anxieties of life. That day (end times or Christ’s coming?) will close on you like a trap. Be always on the watch, and pray that YOU MAY BE ABLE TO ESCAPE ALL THAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.”
Perhaps this last statement in verse 36 is why Jesus prefaced his answer to the disciples’ questions with Luke 21:9 “When you hear of wars and revolutions, signs in the sun, moon and stars. These things must happen first.” This doesn’t in any way mean to gather in some jungle in South America or some mountain top and wait. Jesus does say at the end of verse 9 “…but the end will not come right away.”