When it comes to questions regarding the end of the ages, the last days, the tribulation, judgement day & Jesus’ second coming – there are lots of questions and abounding interpretations.
Chapter 13 starts with one of the disciples remarking to Jesus how amazing the architecture of the temple in Jerusalem was. Maybe surprisingly to them Jesus replies prophesying about the imminent destruction of the temple (which happened in AD70) and launches into a discourse that teaches them regarding this imminent tribulation in Jerusalem & also instructs the disciples and us on the end times.
When we read sections like this in Scripture, may I suggest an approach. Focus on the imperatives – the crucial action items, the things we are urged to do.
Its a bit like driving in thick mist. Most years around this time of year when I and my family travel down to another part of the country at night, there is a section of the trip that almost invariably poses the challenge of really thick mist at night. The national speed limit is 120km/h but on those night long sections of driving safely require a speed as low as 20-30km/h. There is just too much that can’t be seen, questions as it were; is there an oncoming bend in the road (with dangerous cliffs), is there a truck or car just around the corner? In moments like this, apart from slowing down, I choose to focus not on what I can’t see, but to focus on what I can see! I can see the yellow line on the left margin of the road & I can see the middle line of the road. So I focus on those and know that what’s imperative is for me to stay between those two lines in order to stay on the road and to stay on my side of the road.
Passages like this are similar. Sometimes they uncover more questions than answers, provide more mystery than revelation. They are difficult to reconcile with other passages at times… However they also contain yellow & white lines – the imperatives.
Read again through this chapter and look for every imperative, everything you can do, are instructed to do.
What’s the overall impression you have now of what Jesus is telling you regarding the end times?
- “Be on your guard” 3x
- “Don’t be anxious” 1x
- “Persevere” (implied from ‘the one who endures to the end will be saved’ vs13) 1x
- “Stay awake” 3x
We are to be watchful & alert, not fearful, we are to persevere knowing Jesus will come for His ‘elect’ (vs20&27)! Come Lord Jesus come. Choose your focus!