And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”
They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘ I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”
Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Prophecy is one of the best apologetic tools. These verses show the legitimacy of Jesus. They put to rest any question of his authority. Unfortunately, the way futurists use them draws suspicion on Christ. Verse 32, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.”
They try to explain it away with linguistical contortions. “This generation” was a future generation that would see all these things. Others have tried to understand it by examining “all things.” The “all things” were all the things Jesus spoke of.
Why can’t we read it and let Jesus’ words speak for themselves? the reason is simple. Most Christians do not know early church history.
The easiest understanding of verse 35, is its most plain, and simplest understanding. “This generation” refers to Jesus’ contemporary generation. “All things” refers to the immediate context. i.e. verses 6 to 36
Jesus said it. Jesus meant it. It came true. This Proves Jesus’ authority. If we look at history we find everything happened as Jesus said it would. Everything Jesus described happened in 70 AD. It was within Jesus’ contemporary generation.
The resistance is because people try to apply this to Jesus’ final coming. It is not. It is about the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Book of Acts records the Christians thrown in prison. They were dragged before the synagogues. They were brought before kings and governors. This was because they proclaimed Jesus.
In 70 AD Rome sacked Jerusalem. During the siege starvation was extreme. There was much suffering. When the Romans broke through the walls of Jerusalem. They killed everyone and everything. The Temple was completely destroyed. There was no place safe in the city. The only safe place was the mountains. This is where Jesus told his disciples to go.
But what about seeing the coming of the Son of Man in a cloud and signs in sun, moon, and stars? There are historical records of that too. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote about it in War of the Jews Book 6 chapter 5. Josephus was not a Christian. He was a Jew. He was writing a historical account of the War of the Jews for Rome. He wrote of repeated signs in the heavens. Here is one excerpt,
Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. …Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.Flavius Josephus wrote about it in War of the Jews Book 6 chapter 5.
…on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”Flavius Josephus wrote about it in War of the Jews Book 6 chapter 5.
So there were signs in the heavens. The Son of Man was seen in the clouds.
Jesus’ word is trustworthy. Often times we allow our preconceived notions to prevent us from seeing the plain truth of the word of God.