72 – Apocalypse
Where: Mount of Olives, Judea
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After spending the day in the temple, exposing the injustice of the temple cult’s strict legalism without love, and forcing the religious leaders to choose to change or to act against him, Jesus and his disciples prepared to leave.
Herod the Great had begun to rebuild the temple in 20 BC. It was the third temple to stand on this precise place. The original temple built by Solomon, and then the temple of Zerubbabel after the exile, had also been built here over the rock “threshing floor” of Araunah.
The disciples, most from rural Galilee, were very impressed by the buildings, and were talking about how magnificent they were. Over-hearing them, Jesus stopped, faced the disciples, put his hand on one of the huge walls, and told them that the Temple would be destroyed, just as it had been destroyed by Babylon [586 BC], because the leaders would reject The Messiah. Then Jesus turned and continued walking.
The disciples followed in stunned silence. Would God really allow his “abiding place” to be destroyed? They walked across the Kidron valley to the western slope of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was in the habit of spending the evening with his disciples.
Meanwhile, the religious leaders had a meeting in the palace of Caiaphas [model] the High Priest who had taken over after the Romans forced Annas to “leave” the official position. They decided that Jesus’ popularity with the people, and antagonism to the religious leaders, could very well lead to a riot. Then the Romans would be justified in mobilizing their troops to control the riot, and would further restrict what religious freedom the Jews had. Jesus must be arrested, but not before Passover Day. Afterward, even during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the crowds would be smaller and the guards could deal with Jesus.
The disciple John, who had friends that worked for the Chief Priest, later heard the rumor of the plans to arrest Jesus, and told Jesus and the other disciples.
Once Jesus and the disciples arrived at the olive press on the Mount of Olives, Peter and James, John and Andrew, were alone with Jesus. They sat down on the hillside, facing west, with the city of Jerusalem across the Kidron valley. They wanted to know more about Jesus’ comment about the destruction of the Temple.
‘God will destroy the Temple and Jerusalem’, Jesus told them, ‘as God had done when he sent the Babylonians [586 BC] to destroy Solomon’s temple, if the leaders do not change their way.’ Both Micah and Jeremiah had prophesied the destruction.
Jesus spoke of false prophets and false messiahs appearing to lead many astray. Others would try to take advantage of the situation to gain power by misleading the people and telling them what they “expected” to hear and “wanted” to hear. “We will pressure the Romans to leave, and then we will establish an independent Jewish nation”, they will promise. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! That is NOT God’s plan.
Jesus reminded them of the law of Deuteronomy and how to identify false prophets and how to deal with them. They were reminded of the prophet Jeremiah and the false prophets who had predicted that the destruction of Jerusalem would not happen. Jesus warned them that there would be wars, rebellions, droughts, famines, plagues, and earthquakes as God prepared for the judgment day. Just as Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah had once prophesied against Israel and Judah.
Jesus then told the disciples that they would personally suffer at the hands of others, because they were followers of Jesus and doing God’s will. ‘You can expect to face the same kind of opposition that I face’, said Jesus, ‘from the people, from the religious leaders, and from the political leaders. You will be persecuted because you follow me. It will test your courage and your faith. No matter what happens, no matter how bad it looks, proclaim the Kingdom to the very end.’
Jesus continued. ‘You will be persecuted, beaten, jailed, be put on trial before various authorities, and even be put to death, just because you confess that I am The Messiah. You should not plan ahead what to say, because God will give you speech just as he gave it to Moses. You should also expect that your family and neighbors, who do not believe, will betray you to the authorities, as Micah had prophesied when Assyria [721 BC] was sent by God to destroy the northern ten tribes of Israel.’
Jesus alerted them to watch for one particular sign that would precede the destruction. Watch for the “desolating sacrilege”. Watch for something to be established in the temple that would make it an unclean place, and that would be an “abomination” to God. The prophet Daniel had predicted just such an event [160 BC] and the Maccabees had to deal with such a thing [140 BC].
The moment one hears that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is about to occur, because an army will surround Jerusalem, do as Amos prophesied at the approach of the Assyrians [721 BC], and leave IMMEDIATELY! There must be NO delay. There will be great suffering, such as Isaiah spoke of, at the approach of Babylon [586 BC]. Believers will be taken captive by foreign armies and taken from the land as Micah and Ezekiel predicted and the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed.
Be aware that there would be those who would claim to be sent by God and who would attempt to lead the people to believe in a political kingdom and military might. There would also be some who would claim to be prophets from God. They would perform “miracles” and ” signs” that would seem to be acts of power from God. But these signs must be tested to determine if they are true or false.
There would be awesome occurrences that would be visible to all in the world that have the eyes to see them. The sun, moon and stars will all be affected. Amos [721 BC], Isaiah and Zephaniah, [586 BC], and Joel, [400 BC], all had visions of these events.
The “heavenly powers” would be shaken and there would appear a “sign” in the heavens that would represent the Messiah. Then the Messiah would come “on the clouds of heaven” (in the glory of God), as prophesied by Zechariah, [518 BC], and Daniel, [160 BC], and all who have the eyes of faith will see him. At the sounding of the trumpet, God’s messengers would be sent to every part of the earth to gather the believers as Isaiah announced [586 BC].
As to “when” these things will occur, keep alert. There will be general signs such as Noah had, but as to the precise moment when any one thing will occur, it will come quite suddenly because ONLY God knows that detail. ALWAYS BE READY!
Jesus reminded the disciples that in the future there would be a “day” of judgment as prophesied by Ezekiel. The Messiah would then sit on the “throne of judgment” and true followers would be separated from false followers and non-believers, and each sent to an eternal place [Many years later, the Apostle John would remember these things and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, write a letter to the churches of Asia minor about the coming apocalypse.].
Then Jesus got up and they all joined the other disciples. Jesus instructed the disciples to be ready at all times by telling the parable of the 10 bridesmaids. He told the parable of the slaves and the talents to encourage the disciples to proclaim the gospel. Then Jesus told the parable of the sheep and goats so that they would understand how a believer should act.
But for Jesus, the insight that Moses and Elijah had given him about how his mission would be accomplished, was gaining clarity. Jesus could now see clearly that he would be arrested by the religious leaders and then turned over to the Romans and crucified. Jesus told the disciples that he would die and would do nothing to prevent his death. They would need to have faith.
Judas seemed to be the only disciple to truly understand what Jesus said, though he did not see beyond the spoken words. And Judas did not take the news well. Jesus had said that he was the Messiah and that he had been anointed. What was all this talk about dying?
And Jesus knew that Judas was very confused.
No questions have been asked yet.