Luke 21:5-38: Birth pangs of the coming of Messiah

JeffYeshua repeated warned His disciples to “be ready” for the Day of the Lord. Take note that Yeshua said, “When you see the abomination of desolation” and refers His listeners to the book of Daniel. Yeshua is warning us that the “abomination of desolation” was not a one-time event.

The first abomination of desolation came to Jerusalem and the Temple when Daniel was a young man, taken away by the Babylonians. It happened a second time during the time of the time of the Maccabees. It happened a third time under the Romans, and Yeshua warns it will happen once more before He comes.

The main reason those temples were desecrated and destroyed was due to syncretism — blending of belief systems. The reason God destroys the Temple is not because each were and will be flawed but the hearts of the people were flawed. Let’s learn from history and not repeat it.

What does it mean to “be ready” for the Day of the LORD (see Lk. 21:5-38; Mt. 24:1-26:2; Mk. 13:1-14:2)? Yeshua repeated warns His disciples to “be ready.” Be ready for what? How do we make ourselves ready? We talk about having “enough oil”? Do we use the light to see what our brother and sister need? If we can’t see the needs around us, and focus our attention on knowing Biblical trivia and minutiae, then Yeshua might say “I did not know you.” 

We read that in the last days, “love will grow cold.” God can actually do His will in spite of us. There are people who God will use to heal people yet God doesn’t know them. Think of the example of Balaam. He blessed Israel even if he didn’t want to. Another example is the High Priest Caiaphas who predicted that Yeshua’s death would be one death for many. He could speak God’s words even though he didn’t really know or understand God. 

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

“Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (Dan. 9:24–27)

Wow, it’s as confusing to read this in Hebrew as it is in English. There are seven different events that are to occur during this 70 week period. This is one of the great Messianic prophesies. When Herod the Great asked his advisers when the Messiah was supposed to come and they were able to tell him that it was to occur very soon, it’s because they knew this prophesy. 

The Hebrew word for weeks is שִׁבְעִים shavuim (Strong’s lexicon No. H7620) which means sevens or 70. It comes from the verb שָׁבַע shava’ (H7650), which means to complete or make an oath. These “sevens” are considered to refer to year, because 483 years — seven sevens of years = 49; 62 sevens of years = 434 — after the Persians decreed to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. 

This prophesy not only covers the coming of the Messiah but the destruction of the Temple as well. 

Some consider these 70 years to be continuous without a break. In that view, Messiah arrived a thee end of the 69th seven, confirmed after the “new covenant” for the 70th seven, when Yeshua was cut off and rising from death in the middle of this final seventh period. 

This could be supported by Isaiah’s prophesy of the suffering servant being “cut off” in Isa. 53:8. Yeshua repeatedly compared His own body to the Temple that would be torn down and rebuilt, as predicted by Haggai. 

Some view the final seven of the 70 to be “cut off” and instituted at a separate time when the Anti-Messiah makes a false deal with God’s people and then puts an end to sacrifices in the rebuilt temple after 3 years. 

I am not hear today to tell you which one is right or wrong. Instead, I want to answer the question about which generation will see the things Yeshua warns of in Luke 21:5-38 and other texts. 

Let’s look first at Dan. 11:29-35. Daniel 11 recounts a battle between the “kingdom of the North” and the “Kingdom of the South”, viewed historically as the post-Alexandrian kingdoms of Syria, ruled by the Seleucids, and Egypt, who were ruled by the Ptolemies. The “fierce” king of the North mentioned in Daniel 11 fits historically with the Seleucid emperor Antiochus IV. This is the era that people commonly call the Maccabean Period, with the defilement of the Temple and its reconsecration, which is commemorated in the Festival of Dedication, or Chanukah. When you read 1st Maccabees 1-4, you will see very quickly how Antiochus IV used Hellenism to oppress the Jewish people. 

Take note that Yeshua said, “When you see the abomination of desolation” and refers His listeners to the book of Daniel. What is He saying? These things will happen over and over for a lot of the same reasons. We need to discern the pattern. 

One pattern that repeats is the danger of syncretism. The Torah tries to teach the danger of this in the lessons of not mixing wool with linen or mixing seeds in the same field. Syncretism sunk the First Temple. Paganism blended into the true worship of God so completely. This has been discovered in archaeology when they have found many figurines inscribed with “YHWH and His Ashtoreth.” Archaeologists dig these up and say something like, “See, the people of Israel weren’t really monotheists.” God rebuked the people for this syncretism by sending the Northern Tribes away to permanent exile and destroying the First Temple sending the southern tribes into exile for 70 years. 

By the time of the Maccabees, they had learned that lesson sufficiently that they had put fences around the Torah to keep idolatry and syncretism at bay but by the time of the 1st Century, syncretism was creeping back in. In part, this is because these fences around the Torah had been used as bludgeon to control and exercising power over people. 

Whether we will see a literal third temple or not is not the issue. The reason God destroyed the Temples is not because the Temples were flawed but the hearts of the people were flawed. 

If you get one thing out of this today, this is something that repeats itself. When we blend pagan systems with God’s system, we are creating another God. That is blasphemy. That is very dangerous. Let’s learn from history and not repeat it. God, wake us up, wake other people up. Show them the compassion you have shown us. We want to be ready when You come. Amen. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

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