Giotto scrovegni, giudizio universale

Daily Bible Reading Devotional [Luke 21:12-24] December 23, 2017


Jesus Speaks of the End Times


12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

 


Observations & Reflections


In the passage for today Jesus is still telling of the signs of the end times…what will happen when Jesus come riding on the clouds with glory. However, it appears that the events Jesus is speaking of will have a separation of time. Between the suffering of the disciples and the 2nd coming, their is an unknown period. However, it is unclear if Jesus is telling them that they will be killed or not.

Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.19 Stand firm, and you will win life. (Luke 21:17b-19)

We know that the disciples were eventually murdered as martyrs so was Jesus referring to a final perishing and not a physical perishing? It’s hard to know but both Mark and Matthew omit the line “but not a hair on your head will perish”. It would seem that Luke may have used slightly different sources or added some of his own to the prophecy.

Another fascinating aspect of Luke’s telling of Jesus’ prophecy is the prediction that the Gentiles will trample Jerusalem until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled. This does not appear in the other gospels but it does appear to be indirectly mentioned by Paul, who (coincidentally) was a companion of Luke’s. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he states,

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25)

This would seem to coincide with Luke’s inclusion of the following line,

Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)

There is a time allowed to the Gentiles according to Paul and Luke which God will use to bring all non-Jews (or as many as possible) into the fold. They will be grafted into the vine. However, this time period is finite. It will not go on forever. Eventually time will be up. Until we must soldier forth with the work of bringing as many to Christ as we can.


[Featured image by Giotto scrovegni, Titled “Last Judgment” (giudizio universale)]

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