Discourse on Events of the Future
98. Discourse on Events of the Future
In this section, Jesus speaks to three things: he predicts the coming confrontation with the Romans and the destruction of Jerusalem; he talks about the end of the world; and finally gives some instructions to his disciples after he is gone.
It is a long passage, so we will take it a few paragraphs at a time.
And as Jesus went forth out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings?
And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.
And as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to be accomplished?
In the first paragraph, Jesus foreshadows the coming destruction of Jerusalem. In the second paragraph, his disciples ask him the timing and indicators of these events.
And Jesus began to say unto them, When ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled: these things must needs come to pass. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: there shall be famines and pestilences. These things are the beginning of travail: but the end is not yet.
But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains. And let them that are in the midst of Jerusalem depart out. And let not them that are in the country enter therein. For these are days of vengeance. Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight shall not be in the winter. For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be.
In the first paragraph in this section, Jesus tells of events that foreshadow the destruction of Jerusalem: wars and the rumors of wars. But it is when the disciples see “the abomination of desolations standing where he ought not” that it is time to flee. This is a reference to Roman soldiers standing in the temple.
Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished.
Here Jesus predicts that the destruction of Jerusalem would take place during the lifetime of the current generation. He was off just a bit. The destruction did not happen until about 60 years after Jesus’ death.
The days will come, when ye shall desire to see the Day of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, Lo, there! Lo, here! go not away nor follow after them.
Take heed that no man lead you astray. For many shall come, saying, I am the Christ; and, The time is at hand. They shall lead many astray. Go ye not after them.
The phrase “Son of man” is the subject of much scholarly debate. Some argue that it is a synonym for the apocalyptic messiah. Others, Sharman included, argue that it refers to the human race in general. “The Day of the Son of man” is a phrase used to denote the end of the world, the destruction of the planet. Jesus is saying that when the confrontation with Romans reaches boiling point, expectations will run high among the Jews that apocalypse is at hand, bringing with it the Jews salvation. But, says Jesus, such will not be the case, and he tells his disciples to beware the appearance of false messiahs.
For as the lightening, when it lighteneth out of the one part under the heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall the Son of man be in his Day.
As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the Day of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise, even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
After the same manner shall it be in the Day that the Son of man is revealed.
In that day, he which shall be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away: and let him that is in the field likewise not return back.
In that night, there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left: there shall be two women grinding together; the one shall be taken, the other shall be left.
If the Day of the Son of man will not coincide with the destruction of Jerusalem, when will it occur? In this passage, Jesus places the Day of the Son of man at (for him) some far distant time -- his reference to lightening an eerie foreshadowing of atomic destruction. Let’s project on how he might have arrived at this vision of the future.
Jesus clearly believes that the Jews have a destiny to bring light, or knowledge, to the rest of human kind. He also believes that the Jews will lose that destiny if they do not take the next step and move beyond laws, customs and tribalism to become aligned with God’s will (a will which demands the totality of love – God, yourself, your neighbors, your enemies). Now let’s connect the dots: If the Jews are not able to fulfill their destiny, then there is the possibility that this knowledge will never be integrated into the human species, and we will remain ignorant of our true function (to love). It is probably not difficult for someone with Jesus’ penetrating intellect to see that eventually such human ignorance would be coupled with advanced human technology -- threatening not just the survival of a single nation (Israel), but the planet at a whole.
As in previous apocalyptic events – the flood at the time of Noah, the destruction of the city of Sodom -- life will have all the appearance of normality. People will be getting married, having babies, going off to work. Just look at us today: even though the threats of various cataclysmic events linger on our horizon, we continue with our lives as if nothing will disrupt our comfortable, repetitive patterns.
And they answering say unto Jesus, Where, Master?
And Jesus said unto them, Where the carcass is, thither will the vultures also be gathered together.
Perhaps the carcass is symbolic of ignorance. Wherever there is ignorance, the vultures of destruction and death gather.
But of that Day knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed: for ye know not when the time is.
It is as when ten virgins took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For the foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there is a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came.
None of us knows the hour of our death. For that reason, Jesus seems to be saying, there is a preparation for death that needs to occur beforehand, or we will not be ready for the transition. All of his teachings are about how to live life; but there is also in them the preparation we need to die.
Take ye heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in synagogues shall ye be beaten; and before governors and kings shall ye stand. I shall turn unto you for a testimony.
And when they lead you to judgment, and deliver you up, be not anxious beforehand what ye shall speak: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children shall rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men. In your patience ye shall win your lives.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
A disciple is not above his teacher. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his teacher. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household!
There is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed: and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light: and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God. But the very hairs of you head are all numbered.
Fear not: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Every one who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me.
In this section Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is to come, and he offers advice and guidance. In a nutshell, he is telling them to get ready for hard times, and continue the mission. “What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light.”
For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, and to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.
Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his master’s money.
Now after a long time the master of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them.
And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Sir, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents. His master said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things.
And he also that received the two talents came and said, Sir, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents. His master said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things.
And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Sir, I knew thee that thou are a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter: and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou has thine own. But his master answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.
Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents.
To whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.
We have encountered this parable before. See the parable on “Time of the Kingdom of God (13-79).”