Don’t you hate waiting? I’ve spent a lot of time in a doctor’s waiting room. Sometimes it ended good, but sometimes it didn’t. However, whether it’s anticipating something good or bad, waiting patiently is often one of the most challenging aspects of life.
Luke 21 is one of the most challenging passages of the gospels to understand. Keep in mind that this was a message of Jesus given to Jews by a Jew about the future of the Jewish nation. It’s a prophecy about the Jewish Temple and the Great Tribulation. As Christians, we weren’t around when the Temple was destroyed and we will be gone during the Great Tribulation. So, why study this?
Though the primary interpretation of Luke 21 isn’t about us, we can apply the principles us. Jesus was giving instructions for Christian Jews during the horrible time of the destruction of the Temple and the Great Tribulation. His instructions can help us in our lives when we go through trials, troubles, and persecution. Jesus gave four commands that should help us while we wait during any tribulation: (1) Don’t be afraid; (2) Don’t be deceived; (3) Speak up; (4) Get ready.
What do we do when we have to wait during trouble?
But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: (Luke 21:9a)
Jesus mentions many things that can cause fear: persecution, sickness, natural calamities, wars, etc. Jesus tells them not to be terrified because these things must come to pass, but it’s not the end yet.
When I was a kid, I was afraid of the dark. I would stay up all night fearful of the things under my bed. But as soon as I got in my mom & dad’s bed, I was fine – no longer afraid.
One of the fears we may have as we go through problems is the fear that God has abandoned us. We wouldn’t be going through this problem if God was with us. But often the very reason we are going through a problem is because we are obedient to God. We have the promise Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil, for the good shepherd is with us.
As you walk through a dark valley of life, remind yourself “Jesus is with me.”
And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. (Luke 21:8)
Jesus warns His disciples that there will be false Christs after He is gone. He also says they will give false witness to the timing of Jesus’ return (“the time draweth near”). During tribulation, we need to be especially careful of deception.
A few years ago, a man called my mother-in-law and said he was from Social Security and needed her banking information. She gave it to him and soon she robbed of several hundred dollars. She kept saying, “But he said he was from Social Security.” She was deceived.
Sometimes those who are the most inquisitive about the things of God are also the most in danger of being deceived. The two areas that we need to be especially aware of false teaching are the person of Jesus and the prophecy of the Bible. Those can be very deceptive.
Be on guard to what others are teaching about Jesus and prophecy.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:13-15a)
Even if persecuted, the disciples were told to be a witness. Times of tribulation can be times of witness. Jesus said He would give them a mouth and wisdom to confront any adversaries (v. 15). Wisdom to know what to say and a mouth to say it. Persecution will carry us into the highest circles. We are not there to defend ourselves but to be sure everyone knows about Jesus.
John Stott was a well known British pastor and speaker. The last night of evangelistic meetings at a university in Australia he lost his voice. A group of students prayed healing for him but nothing. He had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak out the gospel – no inflection, just a monotone, scratchy voice. There was a far greater response that night than any other night. He returned to Australia at least 10 times, and each time someone comes up and says, “Do you remember the night you lost your voice? I was converted that night?” God doesn’t need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice. Speak up.
If Jesus gives us the words to speak, do we need to study? Yes. When you are able to prepare ahead of time, you should. When you aren’t, He will prepare for you. Walk confidently.
Talk about Jesus wherever you go.
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. (Luke 21:20)
Jesus gives specific instructions for leaving Jerusalem. In fact, historians believe that the majority of people who escaped the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD were Christians who fled to Petra. The same warning is available to those in the Tribulation Period. The warning is that when these signs begin to appear, get ready. The time is close. When we go through tribulation, we need to take it as a warning to get ready to meet Jesus.
Judy and I went to my grandmother’s funeral and we had everything ready, or so I thought. I left my suit. As soon as we pulled in her parents’ driveway and unloaded, I took off back to our house (4 hours) and picked up my suit and headed back down (4 hours). While you’re waiting, get ready.
Though we should not be deceived into thinking that all these tribulations mean Jesus is coming back soon, we still need to be ready just in case He does.
Are you ready?
Did you see the Kentucky Derby this year? Rich Strike was an 80-1 longshot and in 17thplace in the final turn. But if you watch the replay, the field just opened up and some back and forth moves put him in first place. It’s not how you start the race of life, but how you end. Wait for God’s timing in your life.
Don’t wait to receive Christ. A few years ago I went to visit a man who had cancer. When I asked him if he was ready to trust Christ as Savior, he said he wanted time to think about it. He wanted to wait. Then he said something I will never forget, “When I get ready, you will be the first to know.” A week later he passed away. I pray he didn’t wait too late.