THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
JESUS REVEALS THE FUTURE
LESSON FIVE: JESUS ANSWERS 1ST & 2ND QUESTIONS
Since the Messianic Kingdom will be delayed, the apostles must have wondered what would happen to them as they waited. Sometimes we think we would like to know in advance what our future holds. If we could look into the future, we would have to accept the bad with the good. Undoubtedly there would be trials and tests and hard times along with successes and good things. Life is never as easy as we might hope. The apostles had imagined a glorious future as “cabinet members” serving King Jesus in His glorious Kingdom. Now they will learn what their future really holds. The news is surprising.
DAY ONE: LUKE REVEALS EVENTS OF APOSTOLIC AGE.
READ: LUKE 21:12-19
A. LUKE DEALS WITH THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.
Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse takes us back to the 1st century. Before Jesus answered the first question regarding the sign for the destruction of Jerusalem, He told the apostles what they would personally experience. Luke begins with the words – “But before all these things…” This refers to the things he had just recorded regarding the birth pangs at the end times. Before the end times, there will be important work to be done by these men.
B. THE APOSTLES’ MINISTRY WILL BE DIFFICULT.
The apostles learned what will happen to them after Jesus departs. Luke’s list is long and hard but necessary to give birth to the church:
- (v. 12a) They will be rejected by the Jews and taken before synagogues and taken to prisons.
- (v. 12b) They will be rejected by Gentiles as they appear before kings and governors for questioning.
- (v. 13) They will undergo persecutions, but persecutions will open doors for testimonies.
- (v. 13) They will succeed in spreading the gospel.
- (v. 14-15) They will be given divine utterance when they are brought before authorities.
- (v. 16) They will be rejected by family members and some will be martyred
- (v. 17) They will be hated by all men.
- (v. 18) Their salvation is assured.
- (v. 19) They will be able to stand firm and gain life for many.
C. THE APOSTLES MINISTRY WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.
Luke later wrote the book of Acts that describes the fulfillment of these prophecies. The apostles had been warned by Jesus and well equipped by Him so they were not taken by surprise when Jesus did not return quickly or when their lives were difficult.
D. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- What did Jesus promise to His followers:
- Matthew 16:18
- Matthew 16:24-25
- Matthew 16:27
- Matthew 19:26
- John 14:16
- John 15:18-19
- What was their assignment? (Matthew 28:18-20)
- How were they able to carry it out successfully?
- Luke 24:46-48
- Luke 24:49
- How have you experienced Jesus’ comfort?
- How has Jesus equipped you for service?
DAY TWO: JESUS ANSWERED FIRST QUESTION & GAVE A WARNING.
READ: Luke 21:20-24
A. LUKE RECORDED THE SIGN OF JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION.
The beautiful city of Jerusalem that Herod built will indeed be destroyed. The sign that this is about to happen is now given. When they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, they will know her destruction is at hand (Luke 21:20).
B. JEWS ARE WARNED TO FLEE.
They are told to flee because many will be killed and others captured to be led to other nations. Jerusalem will be continually trodden down by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. We might wonder – won’t it be too late to escape when the armies are already there? This is the story:
“This prophecy was fulfilled in a very marvelous way. In the year A.D. 66, the first Jewish revolt broke out against the Romans. When the revolt first began, the Roman general in the Land, Cestus Gallus, came with his armies from Caesarea and surrounded Jerusalem. The surrounding of the city marked the sign that Jesus had promised, and the Jewish believers knew that Jerusalem would soon be destroyed. Jesus had commanded the Jewish believers to desert the city when they saw this happening. However, it was impossible to do so while the Romans were surrounding the city. Then Cestus Gallus noticed that his supply lines were not secure. He did not have enough supplies to maintain an extended siege, so he lifted the siege of Jerusalem in order to go back to Caesarea. On the way, he was attacked by Jewish forces and killed. Temporarily, the city was no longer surrounded by the armies, so every single Jewish believer was able to leave Jerusalem. They crossed the Jordan River and set up a new community of Jewish believers in the town of Pella in the Transjordan. They were joined by Jewish believers from Judea, Galilee and the Golan. There they waited for the prophecy of Jesus to be fulfilled. In the year A.D. 68, a new Roman general by the name of Vespasian and his son, Titus, again besieged the city, and in the year A.D. 70, the city and the Temple were destroyed. All together, 1,100,000 Jews were killed in this final onslaught, but not one Jewish believer died because they obeyed the words of their Messiah. Since that time, Jerusalem has indeed been trodden down of the Gentiles and continues to be so to the present day. Jerusalem will not be free of Gentile nations treading upon her until the Messiah returns.”2
C. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- Why do you think God allowed His city and temple to be destroyed?
- What happened to the unbelieving Jews who survived?
- How important is it to obey every word Jesus spoke?
- What attribute of God describes His knowledge of the future?
- How does fulfilled prophecy prove that God is God?
DAY THREE: JESUS BEGAN TO ANSWER THE SECOND QUESTION REGARDING HIS RETURN.
READ: Matthew 24:9-14
A. JESUS REVEALED EVENTS OF FIRST HALF OF THE TRIBULATION.
Jesus will now give the events leading up to His return. After the birth pangs begin, he uses the word “then.” Seven years of tribulation will follow. Daniel 9:27 reveals that the tribulation will be divided into two equal parts. The tribulation will begin with the signing of a peace treaty between Antichrist and the Jews. Then the Antichrist will begin his campaign to conquer the world and make it his own.
- (v. 9-10) There will be tremendous persecution of the saints by the one-world religious system called Ecclesiastical Babylon (Revelation 17:1-6) This will cause many to turn away and betray others.
- (v. 11) Many false prophets will rise and deceive many people.
- (v. 12) There will be a rise of sin and iniquity. Evil will no longer be restrained. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7)
- (v. 13) The Jews who survive will be the remnant that is saved. They are the ones who will flee to a safe place in the desert.
- (v. 14) The gospel will be spread worldwide by 144,000 Jews (Revelation 7:1-8). Revelation 7:9-17 records that a great multitude of Gentiles will come to faith in Jesus as a result of this evangelizing.
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- What is the dictionary meaning of tribulation?
- What does 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 say will happen before this Day of the Lord?
- The Day of the Lord is a time of great judgment. How is God’s grace evident in the midst of this judgment? (Revelation 7:1-8)
- How would you explain the perfect balance between God’s just judgment and His grace?
- How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?
DAY FOUR: JESUS REVEALED EVENTS OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE TRIBULATION.
READ: Matthew 24:15-28
A. ANTICHRIST WILL BREAK THE TREATY.
The birth pangs will become hard labor as the end is nearing. We learn that the event signaling the beginning of the Tribulation will be the signing of a 7-year peace treaty between the Jews and Antichrist. (Daniel 9:27) Now three and one half years later the labor will intensify as Antichrist turns against the Jews.
The event that begins the second half is given in Matthew 24:15. The abomination of desolation will be seen standing in the holy place. This was prophesied in Daniel 9:27. Some image regarding Antichrist will be set up in the temple to be worshipped instead of God. This will happen after the Antichrist has tried to put an end to Jewish worship by eliminating sacrifices and offerings. He will break the peace treaty and begin an intense persecution of Jews. Satan’s final attempt to annihilate the Jews will begin with full force.
B. A TEMPLE WILL BE PRESENT.
This brings up a question. Where did the temple come from? A Moslem Dome of the Rock shrine and a Moslem mosque (El Aqsa Mosque) now dominate the temple mount. There has been no temple since A.D. 70. Obviously some time prior to this mid tribulation event a temple will have been erected. This may have resulted from the 7-year treaty. There are four passages in Scripture that confirm the presence of a third temple often called the Tribulation Temple.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
C. JEWS ARE WARNED TO FLEE.
The abomination of desolation will be a signal for Jews to flee with the highest sense of urgency. They were to pray that it doesn’t happen when the weather is cold or on a Sabbath when all public transportation is shut down.
There will be greater persecution than has ever happened or ever will happen again. Some Jews will survive, but only a remnant (v. 22)
False christs and false prophets will abound, causing widespread deception. There will be rumors of Christ’s secret return, but they are not to be believed. When He comes it will be seen worldwide. He will return where the remnant of Jews has gathered.
D. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- What is the likely place where the remnant will be protected? (Micah 2:12-13, Isaiah 63:1-6, Isaiah 34:1-7)
- Habakkuk 3:3 mentions Teman and Mr. Paran in connection with His coming. What does Habakkuk 3:13 say will happen here at this coming.
- How many Jews will lose their lives? (Zechariah 13:8-9)
- How would it be possible for Jesus’ coming to be seen worldwide?
- What does I Thessalonians 4:13-18 say about the blessed hope of Christians?
- What great promise is given in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10?
DAY FIVE: JESUS GAVE FINAL ANSWER TO SECOND QUESTION.
READ: Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-26, Luke 21:25-2-7
A. TRIBULATION ENDS WITH DARKNESS.
The Tribulation will be a time of cleansing in preparation for the Messiah. The second half will be a most difficult time for the Jews. It is called a time of unequaled distress:
“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning
of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days
had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the
elect those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:21-22
B. PEOPLE WATCH AND WAIT.
Now Jesus begins to answer the second question – What is the sign of your coming? Just before He returns there will be darkness over the earth. The sources of light will be blocked. (Matthew 24:29) People on earth will be frightened and panicked. The heavens will be shaken as people wait to see what is happening. My children’s kindergarten teacher used to suddenly turn off the light to get the attention of all the students. God will use this same technique. The whole earth stops and waits and watches in darkness.
C. THE SIGN WILL APPEAR.
The Shechinah Glory of God will then light up the sky and the whole world will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. There will be no doubt that this is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This is the Son of Man who is also Son of God, returning to reign with His saints. With a loud trumpet call He will gather His elect from the four winds of the earth. It will be a glorious day for believers.
Jesus still has information to give his followers. We will learn more in the next lesson.
D. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- Describe other times when God has used darkness to accomplish His purposes:
- (Exodus 10:21-23)
- (Matthew 27:45-46)
- How does Jesus describe the reaction of people on the earth? (Matthew 24:30)
- How does Jesus describe his personal appearance? (Matthew 24:30)
- Jesus said a special crown will be given to those who anticipate his coming. What do you look forward to when Jesus comes again?
- Jesus warned about being deceived in Matthew 24:4, 24-25. How can you avoid being deceived regarding end times?
Jesus has now answered all three of the disciples’ questions:
1. What is the sign of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple?
- When they see armies surrounding the city.
This happened in A.D. 66-70.
2. What is the sign of the beginning of the last days?
- World wars accompanied with famines, pestilences and earthquakes will be the early birth pangs. This will be followed by a period of tribulation and the rapid rise of an evil dictator. The generation that sees the beginning of this tribulation will still be living to see the second coming itself.
3. What is the sign of the coming of Jesus?
- A darkness will come over the earth. The Shekinah Glory will break through the darkness and the Son of Man will be visible to the whole earth.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
Jesus has given enough information for believers to watch and be ready.
Think of ways that you can be more fully prepared for Jesus’ coming. Follow through with lifestyle changes.
[ii] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G.: THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MESSIAH. (Ariel Press, San Antonio, Texas, 1982) Revised Edition, pp. 96-97.
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