Vv 1-3: "And now he and his disciples had departed from the
temple. Once more they lingered in sweet retirement on the mount of Olives. The
purple light on the mountains of Moab was fast fading out. Across the city the
sinking sun cast a rich glow over the pillared cloisters of the temple, and over
the silent courts as they rose terrace upon terrace. From where they stood they
could see over the closed Beautiful Gate, and right to the entrance of the holy
place, which now glittered with gold; while the eastern hills and the deep
valley below were thrown into a solemn shadow, creeping, as the orb sunk lower,
further and further towards the summit of Olivet, irradiated with one parting
gleam of roseate light, after all below was sunk in obscurity. Then it was and
there that the disciples, looking down upon the temple, pointed out to the
Master: 'What manner of stones and what buildings are here!' The view from that
site must have rendered belief in the Master's prediction even more difficult
and more sad. A few years more and it was all literally fulfilled" (Temple
AS HE WAS LEAVING THE TEMPLE: The Glory of God departs
from the city via the mountain on the east: Eze 11:23 (cp Acts 1:11: his final
WHAT MASSIVE STONES: According to Josephus, huge
stones, 70 ft long, 10 ft wide, 8 ft tall, in walls. 40-ft high white marble
pillars -- "whited sepulchres". "Goodly stones" (Luk 21:5). Titus, etc, caused
"Zion to be plowed as a field" (Mic 3:12). (Luk 21:5 adds "beautiful
Cp Mat 21:21: "Mt removed and cast into sea".
NOT ONE STONE WILL BE LEFT ON ANOTHER: Certain stones
were even pried apart in order to collect the gold leaf that melted from the
roof when the temple burned. Excavations in 1968 discovered many such stones
thrown down into the valley.
True of temple building itself, but not true (as yet?) of the
great foundation stones of the Temple Mount.
AS JESUS WAS SITTING ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES: Instances
of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer,
and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3;
28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15;
WHEN WILL THESE THINGS HAPPEN...?: The disciples, of
course, expected that Christ would "come" as King, with a royal presence, and to
remove the Romans and thrown down the corrupt temple, all at the same time and
False Messiahs: "(1) Josephus says (War, b.ii.c.13) that there
were many who, pretending to Divine inspiration, deceived the people, leading
out numbers of them to the desert, pretending that God would there show them the
signs of liberty, meaning redemption from the Roman power: and that an Egyptian
false prophet led 30,000 men into the desert, who were almost all cut off by
Felix. See Acts 21:38. It was a just judgment for God to deliver up that people
into the hands of false Christs who had rejected the true one. Soon after our
Lord's crucifixion, Simon Magus appeared, and persuaded the people of Samaria
that he was the great power of God, Acts 8:9,10; and boasted among the Jews that
he was the son of God. (2) Of the same stamp and character was also Dositheus,
the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses. (3) About
twelve years after the death of our Lord, when Cuspius Fadus was procurator of
Judea, arose an impostor of the name of Theudas, who said he was a prophet, and
persuaded a great multitude to follow him with their best effects to the river
Jordan, which he promised to divide for their passage; and saying these things,
says Josephus, he deceived many: almost the very words of our Lord. (4) A few
years afterwards, under the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea,
impostors of this stamp were so frequent that some were taken and killed almost
every day: Jos Ant b.xx.c.4,7" (Clarke).
EARTHQUAKES: The May 1984 National Geographic shows
through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped
out the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The explosion of Mount
Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men
and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil.
They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gases. Even family pets suffered the
same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of
that terrible day. The saddest part is that these people did not have to
Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record -- weeks
of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume
of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only
they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!
There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare,
earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and
moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming Day of
Judgment. People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape
to those who will heed the rumblings.
COUNCILS... SYNAGOGUES... GOVERNORS... KINGS:
Act 4:1-22: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 5:17-42: Apostles at Jerusalem.
Act 6:11 -- 7:60: Stephen at Jerusalem.
Act 12:11: James and Peter before Herod Agrippa.
Act 16:19-40: Paul and Silas at Philippi.
Act 17:5-9: Jason and others at Thes.
Act 18:12-17: Paul before Gallio at Cor.
Act 19:29-41: Gaius and Aristarchus at Eph.
Act 21:27--23:11: Paul in Jerusalem.
Act 24:1-21: Paul before Felix in Caesarea.
Act 25:6-12: Paul before Festus.
Act 26:1-32: Paul before Agrippa.
SYNAGOGUES: Synagogues were used not only for school
and worship, but also for administration and trials.
The Jewish plot: to wreck the developing ecclesias from
within: 2Pe 2:1; 1Jo 4:1; 2Co 11:26.
Cp Rev 2:10; Heb 10:36,39.
THE ABOMINATION THAT CAUSES DESOLATION: The // passage
in Luk 21:20 has: "Jerusalem being surrounded by armies"!
LET THOSE WHO ARE IN JUDEA FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS: To
Pella (Tes 48:25,26). Cp days of Lot (Gen 19:17).
"To advise anyone to flee from a city already encircled by a
besieging army sounds the height of absurdity; nevertheless this was the
instruction, which the saints of those days received from their Lord. Nor was
there any absurdity, for throughout the siege Titus, the Roman general, seems to
have been actuated by an earnest desire to keep destruction of both life and
property to a minimum -- so much so that, according to Josephus, in the early
days of the siege there were several opportunities for flight. At one time, for
example, the siege of Jerusalem was as good as raised for a period of four days,
so casual was the watch maintained by the Roman army. In another place Josephus
writes (2.20.1): After the first attack upon the city many of the most
considerable of the Jewish folk forsook it as men do a sinking ship. Eusebius,
the Christian historian, has this similar narrative: 'The whole body of the
church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine Revelation given to men
of approved piety there, before the war removed from the city, and dwelt in a
certain town beyond Jordan, called Pella; there those that believed in Christ
having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal
city itself, and the whole land of Judea, the divine justice for their crimes
against Christ and his Apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the
whole generation of those evil-doers from the earth' (Eccl Hist 3.5)"
LET NO ONE ON THE ROOF... ENTER THE HOUSE: But rather
descend stairs on outside of house -- ie in extreme haste (LB 43).
IN WINTER: When the wadis would be swollen with
DISTRESS UNEQUALED FROM THE BEGINNING: "A time of
trouble such as never was" (Dan 12:1; cp Joe 2:2; Jer 30:7; Amo 8:8; Zech 14:4;
CUT SHORT THOSE DAYS: The civil wars of Jewish factions
inside the city shortened considerably its siege and suffering. The city fell in
only 5 months.
SUN... MOON... STARS: Symbols used to describe Israel:
Jer 31:35,36 (also, Gen 37:9,10; 15:5; 22:17; Amo 8:8; Mic 3:6; Song 6:10; Isa
24:23; Jer 33:20-26; Joe 2:10,30-32; Act 2:20; Rev 6:12; 8:12; 12:1). Or, more
literally: 2Pe 3:7,10; Isa 24:18.
CLOUDS: The Divine glory revealed in Israel as cloud
(Exo 13:21,22; 14:19,20,24; 16:10; 19:16-19; 20:18; 24:15-19; 33:18-21 with Exo
34:4-7; 40:34-38; Num 10:34; 12:5,10; 14:9,10,14,21,22; Deu 31:14,15; Psa
105:39; 1Co 10:1,2). The same Shekinah glory appeared to Abraham (Gen 15:17; Act
7:2), David (Psa 18:6-15), Ezekiel (Eze 1:4; 10:4); Elijah (1Ki 19:11-13), Job
(Job 38:1), apostles (Luk 9:34,35). Judgments of God in last days are manifest
in this cloud (Dan 7:13; Joe 2:2; Zep 1:15; Eze 30:3; Isa 19:1; 25:5). Jesus
will so come from heaven (Act 1:9,11; Luk 21:27; Mat 26:64).
FIG TREE: Luk 21:29 has "fig tree and all the trees":
"Fig tree" = unsatisfactory covering: Gen 3. Fig sym Israel: Mar 11:13-21; Luk
13:6,7; Jer 24; Hos 9:10; Mic 7:1. "All trees": Intense national pride;
proliferation of nations in Middle East: Psalm 83 lists 10 nations -- giving
their ancient names -- which will join together in their determination to
destroy Israel as a nation in the Last Days. Likewise, recent Mideast history
has seen ten Arab nations, occupying generally the same territory as the nations
of Psa 83, gain their independence during the same generation (1922--1971) that
saw the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. There are currently, in the
area occupied by the old Roman Empire, exactly 10 such independent Arab nations.
This scenario even allows for the infamous eleventh "horn" of Dan 7, which
arises after the others and acts as a catalyst in the defeat and persecution of
Israel -- the incipient "nation" of Palestine. Not yet independent, will this be
the eleventh horn which comes up among, and after, the former ten?:
1. Egypt (1922)
2. Saudi Arabia (1932)
3. Iraq (1932)
4. Lebanon (1943)
5. Syria (1946)
6. Jordan (1949)
7. Kuwait (1963)
8. Bahrain (1971)
9. Qatar (1971)
10. United Arab Emirates (1971)
11. Palestine (?)
TENDER: In ct to the previous fig tree (Mar 11:13),
cursed by Christ, this tree puts forth tender branches (the first sign of
THIS GENERATION: "This is generation of them that seek
your face" (Psa 24:6 and context). "Genera", in general, a race (NIV mg; the
Jewish race: Luk 21:28,29), but sometimes a single generation. Possibly, "this
present evil order of things", which continues until Christ returns.
NOR THE SON: Notice that Jesus had Daniel to read.
Thus, Daniel alone is not enough to predict the time of the Kingdom accurately!
"If Jesus could not use the book of Daniel to know the precise time of the end,
what hope for anyone else?" (LD 15).
// Isa 26:20,21.
WHAT I SAY TO YOU, I SAY TO EVERYONE, "WATCH!": What is
entailed in watching? Jesus answers this question elsewhere, in the parallel
account: "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation,
drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you
unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face
of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to
escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the
Son of Man." (Luk 21:34-36).
I just had an interesting letter from an old friend -- we
haven't corresponded in some time, and so we're "catching up". He writes: "It's
kind of funny; I used to be so diligent in watching the signs of the times, but
I'm not sure it was much more than seeking for knowledge, rather than watching
to make sure I was doing the right things. Now, I'm more interested in how I'm
living the Truth, whether I'm 'living right'; how what I do affects my family;
how I'm able to help others to hold on to the Truth and how I might be able to
interest others in finding life, instead of the certain death that awaits so
I told him I appreciated that point of view; he made a good
point quite concisely.
I have a favorite cartoon (actually, several favorite
cartoons, but I'll mention one in particular): It involves Woodstock, Snoopy's
bird friend, one of the lesser known characters in "Peanuts".
in one of Snoopy's elaborate play-acting schemes, his doghouse
is the fortress and Woodstock is standing guard. Snoopy, the captain, leaves him
instructions: "Watch out for the enemy!" So Woodstock starts marching back and
forth on top of the doghouse, but because he's so concerned about the "enemy"
"out there" somewhere, and trying to look every direction at once, he doesn't
keep his eyes on where he's going... and takes about three serious falls off the
ends of the house. When Snoopy finds him, dazed and a bit worse for wear after
the last fall, he helps him stand upright again, puts the helmet on his head,
and the gun in his hand, and then leaves him with a final instruction: "Maybe
you'd better just watch out for yourself!"
We all have a duty to be "watchmen"... but "watching" can take
several forms. And I do not mean to denigrate any of them: there is "watching"
the "signs of the times", "watching" for the welfare of the brotherhood,
"watching" for the needs of one's family and close associates, etc. But it's
always a desideratum (JT word: "the thing greatly to be desired") to "watch" out
for oneself... how one walks, how one lives, how one speaks, how one
And we should all take care, lest while we are "watching" in
15 different directions, and doing that many different things, we don't make
serious missteps personally, that may do spiritual damage to ourselves, and to
those whom we are trying so hard to help.