There are two inevitable outcomes to your life: death, and the end of the world.
Death happens often. It’s not enjoyable to think about, but it’s a common event. In fact, by the time you finish reading this whole entry, about 500 people have died.
The end of the world is not a frequent event, however — it will happen only once. Unfortunately, this is also an unpleasant event, especially for people that are planning on hanging around to see the whole thing unfold (as opposed to the followers of Jesus that will inevitably be swept up). No one knows when the end of the world is going to occur. Jesus does make it clear, however, that we’ll notice when the time arrives.
1) There will be posers everywhere. (v. 8-9) You remember those false teachers from last chapter? They’ll be all over the place, making bold predictions about the end of the world. They’ll also say they’re Jesus Himself back for an encore. Jerks.
2) Wars and revolutions will be reported. (v. 9) Both of these fun events have occurred for several centuries, but in this case, everyone is going to know about them. The internet has the ability to make that happen.
3) Great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences. (v. 10) Again, not unique events, but Jesus is emphasizing the greatness of them. It does seem like the catastrophes unfolding worldwide are more severe than ever, and are gradually getting worse.People might argue that media coverage makes the difference, but death tolls and destruction are certainly higher.
4) Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. (v. 20-24) Jesus is speaking of two events at the same time: the downfall of a Jewish-occupied Jerusalem in AD 70, and the future Day of the Lord where nations will be armed toward Jerusalem. It’s no secret that since Israel’s re-establishment in 1948, armed conflict has been commonplace. The surrounding Muslim nations, regardless of what their creed or scripture might purport, do not like Israel because they represent an oppressive western world (thank you, ourselves). Hatred, money, government upheaval, and eastern support are pouring into nations like Egypt, Libya, Iran, and Syria. The temple is still an object of contention. Jesus’ prediction is already coming to life.
* A note about this particular prophecy: Jesus alludes to a “time of the Gentiles.” Gentiles are any non-Jewish people. Jesus says Jerusalem will be “trampled” — does this mean foreign occupation?
5) There will be signs in the sky. (v. 25) The book of Revelation explains much of this. But Jesus is saying you can look into the sky and see signals that the end is near. He even encourages the disciples in v. 28 to “look up” and “lift up your heads”. Christian, if you are discouraged, know that your end contains hope and redemption.
6) People will be distressed and perplexed. (v. 25-26) Not talking about why your boss won’t give you a raise or why you received a D+ on your term paper. This will be a general feeling embedded in an entire world — kinda like that feeling we get because we don’t understand why some dude pursuing a PhD would open fire in a crowded movie theater.
7) Jesus will show up. (v. 27) Jesus said “BRB”. It will have taken him at least 2000 years, but what’s a few years to God?
Don’t listen to people that predict exactly when this will all go down — they’re lying and trying to get attention. Jesus follows up with an illustration using a fig tree, because everyone has one of those. The leaves typically show us what season it is — which second grade kids can determine pretty quickly. While the signs and the time it takes for this to unfold will be gradual, Jesus says it will all go down “like a snare” — it will be surprising, and there will be no way out of it.
So what are you going to be up to when He shows up?