Jesus starts out talking about the Temple and how it will be destroyed. The Apostles ask when it will happen. In response, Jesus goes on to warn the Apostles about trials and suffering they will undergo. He also tells them, using apocalyptic prophetic style, what the signs are that this is about to pass. Since we don’t ever use that style of speaking in grand images and pictures to depict things, especially God’s judgment, we often think this must mean the end of time. However, verse 30 says plainly that all of this will come to pass before that generation passes away. The reference to the abomination that causes desolation is from three different passages in the book of Daniel. The mention of the sun and moon being darkened are from Isaiah. Following on the criticisms of the Jewish leaders in chapter 12, Jesus is showing that they will not escape their failings. God’s judgment will come as the prophets foretold in the past, and in that generation’s present.
Even though I understand that passage to refer to Rome’s eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, it does still have value and significance for us today. Daniel, Isaiah, and now Jesus all speak of times when God judges people and cultures who fail to be faithful. These examples show us that God often works in patterns, doing in this day what he has done in times past. But even those who are faithful will undergo trials, as Jesus plainly tells the Apostles in this chapter. He tells them that they will be arrested, tried, and go through persecutions. What’s important is to know that God is in charge. He will take care of the Apostles when they undergo persecution. Jesus is providing warnings to care for his people during the time of judgment to come.
God is in control. Even when it seems like he isn’t, we have to know that he is. He ends this section with a simple instruction, “Watch!” With all the questions currently circulation about the end of times, the wrong questions are being asked. It isn’t a question of “When” but of “Are you ready?”
I am comforted by v31. All kinds of things come along in life that demand your attention and we feel often demand our loyalty, this verse helps keep things in perspective. Heaven and earth, and everything in them, will pass away. All of your stuff will be kindling for the great big bonfire at the end. God’s Word will never pass away. If you find yourself being pulled this way and that by the things of this world that demand your attention, keep them in perspective.