God’s Word for You
Luke 21:20-22 surrounded by encamped armies
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 1, 2019
20 “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judea should flee to the mountains, and those inside the city should depart, and those out in the country should not enter in, 22 for those are the days of rendering justice in fulfillment of all that is written.”
Jesus describes the beginning of the Last Days with words that help us to understand books like Revelation, Zechariah and Daniel much better. Remember that he is answering the questions, “Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7). In his answer, he begins with the downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. This is what he means by “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies.” These were the stratopédōn (στρατοπέδων), the Roman legions that attacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, commanded by Titus (not the Titus to whom Paul wrote a Pastoral Epistle, but the Titus who later became Emperor). The tale of what took place is told concisely by Lenski: “Everybody (that is, the Jews) rushed into the city so that it was filled with people when the Romans closed it in, and then, because of the mass that was filling the city, the most horrible sufferings because and increased to an extent that stands out with horror in all history.” Here the Church Father Eusebius tells us:
“The people of the church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation (from the Holy Spirit) before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem, that when holy men had altogether deserted the royal capital of the Jews and whole land of Judea, the judgment of God might at last overtake them for all their crimes against the Christ and his Apostles, and all that generation of the wicked be utterly blotted out from among men” (Eccl. History, III,5,3).
Jesus’ words saved the lives of all the Christians in Jerusalem, and everyone who did the opposite perished. This is the same with everything Jesus says. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Those who reject Jesus will perish like the Jews of Jerusalem, but because of their unbelief, they will perish eternally, never ceasing to exist, never dying in the end, but suffering in agony for all eternity.
This event was simply the beginning of the last days, which in a broad sense are the entire long period of the New Testament age until the very final Last Days come, when Judgment Day arrives, and we will be taken to heaven. The various signs and warnings that the Bible speaks of will take place in various ways throughout these days, for we are living in them now. But do not be afraid. Your sins are forgiven in Jesus. Share your faith about that forgiveness and know that your Savior reigns eternally, now and forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith