Luke 21:5-19: How to Live in the Last Days
Sermon 102: Luke 21:5-19: How to Live in the Last Days
Prepare for deception
Prepare for upheaval
Prepare for persecution
At the website raptureready.com there is something called the rapture index. This is a measuring device to help you know when the rapture is more likely to be near. In explanation it reads, ‘The Rapture Index has two functions: one is to factor together a number of related end time components into a cohesive indicator, and the other is to standardize those components to eliminate the wide variance that currently exists with prophecy reporting.
The Rapture Index is by no means meant to predict the rapture, however, the index is designed to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture.
You could say the Rapture index is a Dow Jones Industrial Average of end time activity, but I think it would be better if you viewed it as prophetic speedometer. The higher the number, the faster we’re moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.’1
The various measurements are:
‘100 and Below: Slow prophetic activity
100 to 130: Moderate prophetic activity
130 to 160: Heavy prophetic activity
Above 160: Fasten your seat belts.’
And where are we today? Well according to the rapture index we are at 187 points, well into the fasten your seatbelt side of things. Things like the oil price, inflation, floods, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, the potential win by the Democrats in the US, Putin as Gog invading the Ukraine all tally up to raise the number. The end of the world and how can we know it is close is a matter that Christians have thought about throughout the centuries. We come now to that part of Luke’s gospel that talks about the last days and the end of time.
Jesus has confronted the religious leaders, he has pronounced his judgements against them. In our last sermon we shows how Jesus in Matt 23 prophetically cursed the leaders and the chapter ended with the sad lament over the judgement that must come upon this generation of Jews. The tone moves now into discussing this looming judgement.
Let us give the setting, v5, ‘And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said.’ Jesus has been spending His days in the temple in this final week. This has led to come discussing the temple itself. Herod’s temple was a marvel in the ancient world. Herod took Zerubbabel’s temple and renovated it, he doubled its size and there were many adornments added. Refurbishment began in 19 BC and was only finished in 63-4 AD. Jewish historian Jospehus writes, ‘The whole of the outer works of the temple was in the highest degree worthy of admiration; for it was completely covered with gold plates, which, when the sun was shining on them, glittered so dazzlingly that they blinded the eyes of the beholders not less than when one gazed at the sun’s rays themselves. And on the other sides, where there was no gold, the blocks of marble were of such a pure white that to strangers who had never previously seen them (from a distance) they looked like a mountain of snow.’2 Roman historian Tacitus said that the temple was ‘immensely opulent.’ It is not clear which noble stones are being referred to. It could be the blocks of marble some of which were 67 feet long, by 18 feet wide and 12 feet thick; or the gemstones donated by the wealthy to adorn a massive vine sculpture. The offerings were likely the large gold and silver plates gifted by the wealthy that adorned the walls. As you can well imagine the temple would have been a source of national pride. If you had a friend arriving from overseas and you were driving around Auckland you would point out the Sky Tower, in the same way the Jew would point out the temple.
It is at this point that Jesus talks about judgement, v6, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Jesus was a prophet and He has spoken about God’s judgement coming upon Israel, Luke 13:33-34; 19:41-44. Once again He foretells coming judgement.
Now I want you to imagine that you are a Jew, let me ask you, is there ever a day when the temple might be destroyed? If you thought about it, the answer would be yes, at the end of time. In other words, some time a long way away. If you are a Jew you are first expecting the Messiah to come, set up a millennial reign, bring about world peace, etc. So if you heard these words, you would be thinking about the end of the age. So the disciples ask some questions, v7, ‘And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” They thought they were asking safe questions about the end of time, but they get so much more in the answer than they were expecting.
It is to these answers that we now turn. They wanted information about when the end is going to come and what signs will announce it. Jesus predicts a double judgement, the judgement that must fall upon Jerusalem, v20-24; as well as the judgement of the end of the world v25-28. But there is more, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows what His sheep need so He warns them of several realities that they must be prepared for. Before we get to the juicy parts that everyone is interested in with regards to judgements and signs we want to look at v8-19 under three headings, prepare for deception; prepare for upheaval; prepare for persecution.