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?” Luke 21:7
A good journalistic question. When and what. Certainly the disciples wanted to know when something as stunning as the future leveling of the temple would occur. It’s important from the outset to be aware that Jesus’ words here apply to days near and far. The “no stone left upon another” would occur just around the corner timewise, but many of his references in Chapter 21 will be manifested in the latter days before Christ’s return. Trying to cram everything into the 70 A.D. timeframe requires the contortions of a gymnast.
As an aside, it’s also important to realize that Jesus was with them at the time. It was within the realm of possibility in their minds that he would pull off something dramatic during his visit to Jerusalem. He did just that, but it was not what they expected, but he had forewarned them of his fate on prior occasions (Luke 9:22).
Also, our natural inclination is to look for a sign, or an “attesting miracle.” Jesus does offer a few clues in this chapter, but they must be sorted out and weighed.
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.” Luke 21:8
Fully expect charlatans to come after Christ. They will try to mislead you. They’ll say they represent God. They’ll even claim to be the Messiah! Only one person in all of time is qualified to utter “I am!” Jesus. “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.” Luke 17:23
“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.” Luke 21:9
Count on a “doomsday” message with accompanying histrionics in the future. Discount the hysteria and don’t be alarmed or terrified upon hearing rumors of war or insurrections–this sounds mild these days! It’s absolutely essential to remember whose side we’re on. We are more than conquerors!
Jesus doesn’t deny that chaos will ensue once he’s gone or that the drumbeat of war will grow louder and closer with time. But don’t fall victim to paralyzing fear fueled by skewed and ginned up secular “news” so readily and instantly available today. It’s distinctly possible we can become as addicted to it as some are addicted to illicit material.
Far far better to have your nose in the Scriptures. Godly preachers should teach eschatology loud and clear, but staying true to the numerous prophecies in the Old and New Testaments. Remember, he says himself “these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” Let us be astute in our approach to the “end times,” but at the same time redeeming the time we have been given.
We must patiently wait for fulfillment, but be discerning in the meantime.