10 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. Luke 21:10–13 (NASB95)
Just before the Lord returns, there will be an increasing number of nations roused into states of antagonism against each other. This is always the case to a degree, but we can expect this phenomenon to intensify to levels not yet seen on earth. The scene must be one of intense unrest on all sides to create a yearning by all for one leader to bring about peace. This will be the perfect setting for the anti-Christ to arrive to fill the void.
There will also occur physical manifestations in nature that will be unusually intense, again by far more unusual than ever experienced before, in unusual places.
Famine and disease, likely severe, will pop up in places all over the earth, most certainly bringing about fear and trepidation in the minds of those not yet impacted. We now know all too well how this will work.
Lastly, there will be incredible and terrifying signs in the skies above to signal the Lord’s imminent return. The Greek word for terror here is phobetron, the root from which we get our word “phobia.”
All these things will occur in the “run up” to this event, the so called “seven year tribulation.” Everything else in the past will be pale in comparison. We know this because Jesus clarifies the timeframe by saying, “but before these things,” and then begins to foretell of the persecution the disciples would soon be facing at the hands of men, prior to the fall of Jerusalem, applying as well to all believers like you and me in the here and now.
Here are some takeaways from this look ahead. What we might be noticing now is just a shadow of things to come. It does not have to get a lot worse as many are fond of saying for the Rapture to occur, which is not discussed in this passage. Conditions will indeed need to massively deteriorate prior to the Lord’s return to earth. Secondly, we will all face in some form or fashion the persecution that Jesus is about to describe in the following verses. Thirdly, since Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D. just as Jesus foretold, should we not believe him now about the things to come?