Summary: We must focus more on our witness than end-time prophecy.
Don’t Just Read the Signposts, Witness!
Everyone wants to know about the end of time. Books have been written about biblical prophecy. Many have stated days for the Lord’s return which have long passed. But Jesus Himself warns us not to get preoccupied with times and seasons which are in the Father’s authority. Only He knows the time. Yet we get a glimpses from Jesus of the end times. This morning’s passage is one of them.
Jesus had just commented of the widow’s two mites which she had cast into the treasury. Others had put in coins of gold and silver into the treasury. The ring of gold and silver coin, and many of them, stood in stark contrast to the widow’s offering of two tiny copper coins. Jesus had commented that others had given out of their abundance, but this widow gave all. We like to use that passage to preach on giving our all, even if it is a little, but this somewhat misses the point of the story. When the widow woman gave those two coins, she had nothing more to live on. She was going home to die. No one came to aid that poor widow, even though the Law commanded such. What happened to all that gold and silver coin?
The answer to this seems to be that they used it to furnish the Temple. It was a magnificent work of art. The gleaming and gilded marble, giant bronze doors and the votive decorations made for quite a spectacle. The disciples were totally taken captive by the splendor. But behind the gold and marble was a dirty little secret. It was the sepulcher build over the bones of dead men and woman. The bones of that widow woman were about to be added to the carnage, although I think Jesus took care of that woman like the Lord through Elijah intervened for the widow woman at Zarapath and her son.
They tell Jesus of the awe of the place. But Jesus was clearly unimpressed. His blunt reaction was to tell them that the time was coming that there would not be left one stone left upon another. It was about to be overthrown. This is not the first time Jesus had told them this. He wept over the city as He entered the city on Palm Sunday. Even though the crowds were cheering, He knew that they would be crying out for His death in just a few short days. He told them that their rejection of Jesus would result in the siege and overthrow of their city.
The stunned disciples blurt out two questions: “When will this happen?” And what sign will announce that this is about to happen?” These questions are our questions also. We must first realize that Jesus was answering the disciples’ questions here primarily. This means the immediate context is the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and NOT the second coming of Christ. Most of these disciples would be dead by this time, but John and others remained. The first thing Jesus warns them is not to be deceived, a lesson we should also learn. For them it was a warning that false Messiah’s would arise, claiming they were to deliver Jerusalem. There was even one of these in the city at this time by the name of Barabbas. This one would deceive the Jews to the point they asked for him rather than Jesus. On our part, we need to be on guard not to be deceived by prophecy “scholars” who claim to have cracked the code and predict when Jesus shall return. We can think of the Millerites, Russellites and other Adventists who have deceived many. They say “I AM” and that the time is near. Jesus clearly says not to follow such leaders. Remember, someone who claims to be a prophet, and their prophecy fails to come to pass is a “false prophet.” This is a very serious charge.
Although there are parts of the prophecy which relate to the disciples and the destruction of Jerusalem, there is also a fulfillment which is still in our future. The catastrophe which destroyed Jerusalem is also a type of the destruction which will come to earth just prior to the return of Jesus. There will be fearful and wondrous signs from heaven. The earth will be shaken. There will be famines and pestilences. There will be numerous wars and rumors of war. People will be frightened. But the question I have is this? When has there not been these troubles? In many ways, I read this as business as usual. Certainly, there may be an increase in these things, but many sincere people have been wrong before. In the times of the Emperor Justinian, a distant volcanic explosion cooled the earth. The dust darkened the sun, and the moon was blood red. The bubonic plague erupted and killed many. Many felt this was the prophesied end of the world. The time of the Reformation also appeared to be the end. But the end was “not yet.” World War 1 happened in the year 1914 which Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Predicted. But the end was not yet. So we need to be cautious about interpreting the signs in light of today’s events.