Welcome to part 3 of a 5-part study of Jesus' most in-depth teaching about His second coming, the resurrection and the judgment. The events we are studying occurred two days before Jesus' crucifixion.

Here are links to the previous parts of this post:

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This is the 21st post in my series on rethinking Christian eschatology. The posts build on each other. I invite you to begin reading here in order to get the maximum value and full context.

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We resume with section 17 of 25 with Jesus' answer to the four apostles, Peter, James, John and Andrew regarding signs of Jerusalem and the temple's destruction. This section comprises the heart of this study.

Let's dive in...

Here is where we are within the overall day's context:

  1. Lesson from fig tree
  2. Jesus' authority questioned
  3. Parable of two sons
  4. Parable of murderous tenants
  5. Rejected stone
  6. Religious leaders angered
  7. Parable of wedding banquet
  8. Leaders ask about taxes
  9. Sadducees question Jesus on resurrection
  10. Greatest commandment
  11. Jesus asks about ancestry of Messiah
  12. Woes of Matthew 23
  13. Lament over Jerusalem
  14. Widow an example
  15. Temple to be destroyed
  16. Disciples ask questions
  17. Jesus tells of signs
  18. Exact times unknown
  19. Jesus urges watchfulness
  20. Wise and foolish virgins
  21. Parable of talents
  22. Concerning last judgment
  23. Jesus foresees crucifixion
  24. Priests and elders conspire
  25. Judas agrees to betray

17.) Jesus Tells of Signs 

Combined Text

Jesus answered them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah; I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' [They] will deceive many. Do not follow them.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed or frightened. Such things must happen and these things must happen first, but the end is still to come—[it] will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. These are the beginning of birth pains.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And so you will bear testimony to me. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand what to say. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. You will be hated by all nations because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

"If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Messiah!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; see, I have told you everything ahead of time.

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the wilderness,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

“But in those days, immediately after the distress of those days,
‘”the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then, at that time, all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with great power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig trees and all the trees. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things happening, you know that it is near—the kingdom of God is near, right at the door.

“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Observations

These words of Jesus present a wealth of important information to study. Therefore, we’ll break section 17 into the subsections listed below. We'll cover subsections 1-12 in this part and 13-18 in the next.

Subsections

  1. "You" Who?
  2. Imposters Would Come
  3. The End to Come
  4. Earthquakes in the First Century
  5. Persecution of the Apostles
  6. Gospel Preached to All Nations
  7. Abomination of Desolation
  8. Evidence of a Localized Event
  9. Fulfillment of Everything Written
  10. Days of Unequaled Distress
  11. Those Days Cut Short
  12. Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars
  13. Signs in the Heavens
  14. Coming on the Clouds
  15. The Loud Trumpet Call
  16. Gather His Elect from the Four Winds
  17. More Evidence of a Near-term Fulfillment
  18. Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away

(17.1) “You” Who?

“Watch out that no one deceives you. … You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.”

Keep in mind that Jesus was speaking directly with Peter, James, John and Andrew here. So when Jesus said “You,” He is referring to these four individuals—and, at times, generally to the 12 apostles. Jesus was not referring here to you and me or events in the 21st century. Sometimes this important detail gets lost when we zoom in on specific statements. Context is critical here.

Also, remember these apostles’ specific questions that Jesus was answering.

(17.2) Imposters Would Come

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name…”

Imposters were recorded in the book of Acts. For example:

  • Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9-10 deceived those in Samaria with his magic.
  • A Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, Bar-Jesus (also called Elymas), deceived people in Paphos (Acts 13:6-11).
  • Theudas convinced 400 to follow him, but died; Judas the Galilean did likewise and suffered the same fate (Acts 5:36-37).

(17.3) The End to Come

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars… these things must happen first, but the end is still to come—[it] will not come right away.”

The "end" Jesus mentioned here was the end of the old covenant and of the end of the age. As we studied in "Did You Know Jesus Said THIS about His Second Coming?", this is the same end that was discussed in Matt. 10, which Jesus said would happen during the time that the apostles were going through the towns of Israel. (He also said this "end" would occur alongside His second coming, as I previously discussed, per Matt. 10:22-23.)

This "end" is also the same "end" as the one discussed in Daniel 9:

26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
(Dan. 9:26-27 NIV)

(17.4) Earthquakes in the First Century

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. These are the beginning of birth pains.”

Earthquakes were mentioned multiple times in the Scriptures after Jesus spoke these words. And they didn’t take long to begin, either. The first occurred just two days later as Jesus died on the cross (see Matt. 27:51). The second was on the first day of the week when Jesus arose from the grave (see Matt. 28:2).

There was the earthquake mentioned in Acts 16:26 that miraculously loosed the chains on Paul and Silas in Philippi.

And earthquakes are mentioned four times in Revelation (see Rev. 6:2; 8:5; 11:13, 19; 16:18).

In addition to earthquakes mentioned in the NT Scriptures, the first century Jewish historian and eyewitness Josephus reports awe- and fear-inspiring storms during the Jewish war with Rome between 66-70 A.D.:

“…for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.”
(War of the Jews, b.4, c.4, s.5)

(17.5) Persecution of the Apostles

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And so you will bear testimony to me. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand what to say. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. You will be hated by all nations because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The persecution Jesus spoke of here happened during the first century after Jesus' ascension. These things were recorded in the book of Acts. We'll discuss this more in a future post.

The end that is mentioned here is the same end that was under discussion from the beginning—the end of the old covenant, of physical Israel and the temple.

(17.6) Gospel Preached to ‘All Nations’

“And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. … And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

In the NT, the places referred to as “all nations” and “the whole world” were either:

  1. The nations comprising the Roman Empire.
  2. The nations where the Jews had been scattered.

These two were basically the same places.

Here’s how we know this is the case.

Luke 2:1 says:

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
(Luke 2:1 NKJV)

The word “world” here is the Greek word οἰκουμένην which means “the inhabited (Roman) world.”

HELPS Word-studies says of this word, “literally means ‘the inhabited (land).’ It was ‘originally used by the Greeks to denote the land inhabited by themselves, in contrast with barbarian countries; afterward, when the Greeks became subject to the Romans, “the entire Roman world;” still later, for “the whole inhabited world” ’.”

And this Greek word is the same word that is found in Matt. 24:14, which says:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
(Matt. 24:14 NIV)

Similarly, in Acts 2:5, we read:

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
(Acts 2:5 NKJV)

Shortly thereafter, we have a list of these places:

8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
(Acts 2:8-11 NKJV)

So these Jews were from “every nation” and the list is comprised of nations under Roman rule.

This helps us understand why Paul could truthfully say to the Colossians, “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world” (see Col. 1:6).

What this means is that this prophecy isn’t saying that “the end” would only come after the gospel was preached in America and Australia, North Korea and every South American village.

Rather, what Jesus was saying is that the gospel had to be preached in all the nations where the Jews had been scattered, which was the Roman Empire, before the end of the old covenant could come.

Why?

Because the final judgment upon physical Israel which GOD had long foretold would make a distinction between the wicked and the righteous, and GOD is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. As Malachi had prophesied:

17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
(Mal. 3:17-18 NIV)

GOD wanted to give all Israelites the opportunity to hear the good news and turn to Jesus. And that was the mission of the apostles. As Jesus previously said:

16 “I am sending you [the 12 apostles] out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
(Matt. 10:16-23 NIV)

(17.7) The Abomination of Desolation

“So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Daniel mentioned the abomination that causes desolation three times.

26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
(Dan. 9:26-27 NIV)

We have already studied Dan. 9 and the vision of the seventy sevens. There is no doubt that Daniel 9 referred to the time of Jesus and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Note that Daniel's vision referred to this time period as “the end.”

Here is the second reference:

29 “At the appointed time [the king of the North] will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. 30 Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. 32 With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 34 When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. 35 Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.
(Dan. 11:29-35 NIV)

Again, despite the cryptic language, we see that this prophecy involves an army and occurs at “the time of the end,” indicating its connection with the first abomination of desolation reference of Dan. 9.

And here is the final reference:

9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.
(Dan. 12:9-12 NIV)

Once again, Daniel was told that these things referred to “the time of the end.”

(17.8) Evidence of a Localized Event

“So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' … then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

The underlined phrases above are clear indications that Jesus was speaking of a localized event in Judea in these statements. This should be anticipated as these four apostles had just asked Jesus about signs that the temple was about to be destroyed.

If Jesus were discussing a planet-wide event here, people across the globe would be praying against one another. It cannot be summer in one hemisphere without winter in the opposite. It cannot be Saturday in one time zone without it being Friday or Sunday in another.

History tells us that the Christians in Jerusalem followed Jesus’ instructions. Church historian Eusebius (c. 260-340 A.D.) wrote:

“The people belonging to the church at Jerusalem had been ordered by an oracle revealed to approved men on the spot before the war broke out, to leave the city and dwell in a town of Peraea called Pella.”
(Ecclesiastical History III:5)

(17.9) Fulfillment of Everything Written

“For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.”

The Old Testament is full of prophecy against Israel and regarding this judgment. From the Song of Moses to Daniel to Malachi and everywhere in between, these things are foretold.

Peter told the Jews of the first century:

Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days.
(Acts 3:23 NIV)

This statement Jesus made (in fulfillment of all that has been written) is very strong. We should strive to understand what He meant.

(17.10) Days of Unequaled Distress

“...those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.”

This statement Jesus made sounds eerily similar to one in Daniel’s final vision. We will look at Daniel’s final vision in more detail later in this article, but for now just note the similarity to Jesus’ words:

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.
(Dan. 12:1 NIV)

(Remember that we have already repeatedly connected Daniel’s visions with “the time of the end,” which was also under discussion in the prophecy of Jesus we are currently studying. The two [Daniel and Jesus] were referring to the same events.)

It is important to point out that, although this text centers heavily on the events at Jerusalem, the Jews everywhere suffered and were persecuted during the Roman war.

Here is one example of this suffering as reported by Josephus:

“Now the people of Caesarea had slain the Jews that were among them on the very same day and hour [when the soldiers were slain], which one would think must have come to pass by the direction of Providence; insomuch that in one hour's time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Caesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys.”
(War Of The Jews, b.2, c.18, s.1)

Josephus wrote the following in the Preface to War of the Jews:

“Accordingly, it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews are not so considerable as they were; while the authors of them were not foreigners neither. This makes it impossible for me to contain my lamentations.”
(War Of The Jews, preface, s.4)

The suffering during this time was bad. Everywhere.

(17.11) Those Days Cut Short

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, those days will be shortened.”

Again we return to Daniel:

1 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. … 7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”
(Dan. 12:1, 7 NIV)

If “a time” equates to 1 year, “a time, times and half a time” equals 3.5 years, the length of the Jerusalem siege.

Consider again the following from the Song of Moses:

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
and their doom rushes upon them.”
36 The Lord will vindicate his people
and relent concerning his servants
when he sees their strength is gone
and no one is left, slave or free.
(Deut. 32:35-36 NIV)

This sounds a lot like Dan. 12:7, which sounds a lot like Jesus’ prophecy about the days being shortened, doesn’t it?

(17.12) Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars

“But in those days, immediately after the distress of those days,
‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.”

In order to understand what these phrases mean, we have to go back and look at where GOD used this language before and see what it meant there.

What we find when we do so is that, in the Prophets, GOD used this language to describe a coming judgment upon a people. The sun, moon and stars going out represented the fall of nations and their leaders. Let me show you some examples.

1 A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:

Note: Isa. 13:17 tells us that GOD was going to stir up the Medes, who ultimately defeated Babylon. This is how we know this prophecy is against Babylon.

2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
shout to them;
beckon to them
to enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle;
I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath
those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,
like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
like nations massing together!
The Lord Almighty is mustering
an army for war.
5 They come from faraway lands,
from the ends of the heavens—
the Lord and the weapons of his wrath—
to destroy the whole country.
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

Note: In Scripture, there are multiple days of the LORD. Every one of them referred to a day of judgment upon a people.

7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,
every heart will melt with fear.
8 Terror will seize them,
pain and anguish will grip them;
they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other,
their faces aflame.
9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.
(Isa. 13:1-13 NIV)

Whereas Isaiah 13 was a prophecy of destruction against Babylon, Isaiah 34 was against Edom. Note the similar language to that of Jesus here:

1 Come near, you nations, and listen;
pay attention, you peoples!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it,
the world, and all that comes out of it!
2 The Lord is angry with all nations;
his wrath is on all their armies.
He will totally destroy them,
he will give them over to slaughter.
3 Their slain will be thrown out,
their dead bodies will stink;
the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
4 All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
like withered leaves from the vine,
like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
5 My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
see, it descends in judgment on Edom,
the people I have totally destroyed.
6 The sword of the Lord is bathed in blood,
it is covered with fat—
the blood of lambs and goats,
fat from the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah
and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
(Isa. 34:1-6 NIV)

And here is an example against Egypt:

2 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:

“‘You are like a lion among the nations;
you are like a monster in the seas
thrashing about in your streams,
churning the water with your feet
and muddying the streams.
3 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘With a great throng of people
I will cast my net over you,
and they will haul you up in my net.
4 I will throw you on the land
and hurl you on the open field.
I will let all the birds of the sky settle on you
and all the animals of the wild gorge themselves on you.
5 I will spread your flesh on the mountains
and fill the valleys with your remains.
6 I will drench the land with your flowing blood
all the way to the mountains,
and the ravines will be filled with your flesh.
7 When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens
and darken their stars;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
and the moon will not give its light.
8 All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you;
I will bring darkness over your land,
declares the Sovereign Lord.
(Eze. 32:2-8 NIV)

Lastly, remember back to the "last days" lesson where we looked at Joel 2. Notice again the language GOD used there against Israel:

1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
3 Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.
4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
(Joel 2:1-11, 28-32 NIV)

In the Old Testament Scriptures, GOD repeatedly used the same type of language as Jesus used here with these apostles to describe coming days of judgment and suffering inflicted upon a nation(s), often by an army.

The sun, moon and stars going out represented the fall of nations and their leaders.


Continue to the next post, where we resume with subsection 17.13 looking at the signs in the heavens that Jesus predicted. We will conclude section 17 and cover section 18.

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Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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