Luke Chapter 21: The Widow’s Mite, Destruction of the Temple and Time of Trouble

Mar 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Luke, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Luke Chapter 21:  The Widow’s Mite, Destruction of the Temple and Time of Trouble

Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

Luke 21:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

Luke 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

Luke 21:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

This incident sounds like the same occasion as the end of the previous chapter where Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees. As he was observing rich people casting their gifts into the Temple treasury, he saw a poor widow cast in two mites. “Casting” was done ostentatiously or quietly depending on the nature of the individual.

The comparison is that the rich gave of their abundance and the poor widow gave of her necessity. Jesus said her gift was more than all of theirs, for although the rich gave liberally, they gave to be seen of men. The poor widow cast in the two mites of her “living”; that is, she had to sacrifice some necessity of life in order to put the two mites in the treasury. Note: Jesus did not say that the rich should not give but that they should give without show and as a sacrifice. The poor widow’s offering was more appreciated.

Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

Luke 21:6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Luke 21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

Matthew 24:1-3 and Mark 13:1-4 are parallel accounts. As the disciples were admiring the Temple buildings, Mark tells us that one of them prompted the following discussion. Matthew shows that Jesus did not fully comment until he had reached the Mount of Olives and sat down.

Then Peter, Andrew, James, and John came to him privately with questions. These four were the apostles Jesus favored most (until Paul came). The inclusion of Andrew proves that he has the fifth position of honor on the high priest’s breastplate of judgment.

“There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Jesus was referring to the destruction of the Temple buildings and wall in AD 69-70. (However, the Western Wall was not completely leveled—its Herodian masonry still exists today.) The Temple consisted of buildings plural, including outbuildings.

Luke 21:8 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 21:9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

Luke 21:10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

Luke 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

Verses 8-11 are similar to the Matthew 24:4-8 and Mark 13:5-8 accounts, serving as three witnesses. After enumerating earthquakes, wars, pestilences, etc., Jesus said that these are the beginning of sorrows. Hence he was not discussing the beginning of the Gospel Age but what would happen after his demise, resurrection, and ascension. Various world events would occur, affecting the Christian. False Christs would appear. The point was that time would elapse before the end of the age.

For the most part, Luke 21:8-24 goes up only until AD 73 in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem. Early Christians were given advance advice on what to do when armies would encircle Jerusalem. They were to flee to the mountains and not tarry when an opportunity arose to escape. When Vespasian subsequently encircled the city, the Jews could not get out. Then the emperor in Rome died and four generals, including Vespasian, returned to Rome, wanting to become emperor. Vespasian’s son, Titus, was left in charge of the siege, but in the changing of the guard, the siege was momentarily relaxed, providing an opportunity to flee.

Those who obeyed Jesus’ advice in Luke escaped. Some fled to Petra in Jordan. The first part of Luke 21 emphasizes the literal trouble that came on Jerusalem, the natural picture, whereas Matthew 24 and Mark 13 stress the spiritual aspect, speaking about the papal persecutions centuries later. The trouble in AD 70 was somewhat of a foretaste of the trouble at the end of Gospel Age with regard to the fall of Christendom when the consecrated are called to come out of Babylon. The warning to early Christians in literal Jerusalem was to flee lest they die or go into slavery (verse 24). The warning to Christians at the end of the Gospel Age is to flee Babylon lest they partake of the plagues or (eventually) lose their spiritual life.

Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

Luke 21:13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

Luke 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

Luke 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

Luke 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

Luke 21:17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

Luke 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

Luke 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

Luke 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

“But before all these [events], they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you” (verse 12).

Luke’s Gospel was concerned about the siege in AD 70. “[Natural] Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (verse 24). Luke was not saying that the Times of the Gentiles started in AD 70, for they began in 606 BC, but that from AD 70 on, the condition of Israel would be worse than earlier in their history. For example, under the Romans, the Jews had considerable liberty, and Jesus was able to preach. Luke meant that the lot of the Jew would be especially hard from AD 70 to 1914, the remainder of the 2,520 years of Gentile Times. And Jerusalem was trodden down.

Jesus’ discussion with the four apostles may have lasted four or five hours. Then Matthew, Mark (on behalf of Peter), and Luke (later for Paul) recorded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, what they thought was important.

Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 give world events that would affect the Christian, with the earlier part of Luke 21 concentrating on the Jewish Christian. We should not be surprised if we are imprisoned, tortured, and put to death, for Christians down through the age had this experience. This advance information is important lest faith crumble when such things happen.

All of the events lead up to the end, but the end is not yet. The Gospel Age is the “beginning(s) of sorrows” (Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8), and some sorrows (such as the Inquisition) have been severe. The Time of Trouble, yet future, is the climax.

Thus far the three Gospels are bringing us up to the Harvest period. Matthew 24:14 reads, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [of the age—the Harvest] come.” The “gospel of the kingdom [the Bible]” was preached to all nations before the Harvest. The printing of Bibles after the French Revolution and its translation into many languages laid the foundation for present truth.

Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

The parallel accounts for Luke 21:25-28 are Matthew 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27. The traditional explanation of verse 25 is that it refers to unusual literal phenomena happening in the heavens: the dark day in 1780 and a spectacular shooting-star exhibition in 1833, which occurred just before and after the Time of the End started. It is true that these were significant signs, but Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:24 say, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days,” and the tribulation refers to the death of the feet members. Hence after the completion of the true Church, there will be a grander fulfillment when the nominal systems cease.

Luke 21:26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

In the Volumes, the Pastor said this verse was fulfilled when Jesus returned in 1874, and then progressively from that date. But the second and third paragraphs of an article on page 420 in the Sermon Book, written shortly before his death, say that this verse is future and was not the parousia. The sign of the Son of man in heaven is related to the epiphania, or shining forth of judgment, which the world will recognize. God’s vengeance and righteous indignation will be the sign that indicates Jesus has taken his great power and begun his reign. The epiphania will be the revealing of Jesus’ presence to the world.

Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

We are beginning to see “these things” start to be fulfilled. Therefore, we can lift up our heads, for our deliverance draws near. We can see the beginning, but the real signs in the sun, moon, and stars are future, after the feet members die. A sign of Jesus’ presence to the Church was the faithful and wise servant. The sign of the Son of man to the world will be the flaming trouble and judgment yet future. Zephaniah 1:14,15 ties in with verses 25 and 26: “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”

Luke 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

Luke 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

For verses 29-31, the parallel texts are Matthew 24:32-35 and Mark 13:28-31. Jesus spoke a parable: “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees. When they shoot forth, you will know that summer is near at hand.” In regard to Israel, the budding of the fig tree occurred in 1878, when Jews were permitted to buy land in Palestine from Turkey and hence could start colonizing. The first colony, Petatikva, was established in 1878. Therefore, when 1878 came, the end-of-theage Harvest had begun and “summer” (the Kingdom) was near. In other words, Jesus was saying that those who would begin to see these things would know that the Kingdom was near.

But why did Jesus add the words “and all the trees”? Not only did Israel, the “fig tree,” come forth during the Harvest period from 1878 on, but other nations as well. Africa, for example, has been carved up into many nations. Therefore, the prophecy was that when the fig tree (Israel) and the other trees (nations) would begin to shoot forth, to put forth leaves, these signs would indicate the nearness of “summer” (the Kingdom).

Tel Aviv means “mound of beginning.” “Aviv” is Abib, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Petatikva, meaning “door of hope,” was next to Tel Aviv.

Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

With the Jewish nation beginning in 1948, the length of a generation is 70-80 years.

Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Jesus was saying, “I am declaring an important prophecy, and every jot and tittle will be fulfilled.”

“Heaven” is the ecclesiastical systems, and “earth” is society, governments. The present heavens and earth will pass away.

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Luke 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark do not contain this caution about hearts being overcharged.

Luke’s addition indicates there would be a tendency at the end of the age toward surfeiting, drunkenness, and too much attention to the cares of this life. The seeking of pleasure is a problem today. All of these dangers would creep in because of the length of the “generation.”

With the time being long, prophecies lose their vitality unless one is diligent.

Those who are “overcharged with surfeiting” are seeking pleasure, relaxing, and enjoying the so-called good things, whereas the Scriptures admonish us to do the opposite, particularly at the end of the age: TAKE HEED and WATCH (Mark 13:33). We should be alert as to what is happening in the world and in the Church.

Those who are overcharged with spiritual “drunkenness” are intoxicated with worldly doctrines. Revelation 17:5 tells that the harlot got the nations drunk with the wine of her false doctrine, but in 2 Timothy 4:3,4, the Apostle Paul prophetically warned those consecrated individuals who are living at the end of the age of the danger of unsound doctrine and of having itching ears and teachers with itching ears. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Paul was saying that the time would come when the hearers would prefer teachers of false doctrine (false love, for example). The relaxation of principle is the opposite of diligent watching.

Those who are overcharged with the “cares of this life” are devoting too much attention to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our jobs, etc. We need food and clothing as necessities, but we should not spend a disproportionate amount of time and thought on these. We are to have no anxious care. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). We are not to worry about things a week, a month, or a year from now. If we do, we are being overtaken by the cares of this life. Such worrying affects our spiritual life: our meditations, prayers, fellowship, and study.

The day will come “as a snare … on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth”; that is, worrying about the future will be an international condition. When the Christian sees these things happening, he should look up, for his deliverance draws nigh. We long for the reign of Christ and are to “pray always” that we “may be accounted worthy to escape” the trouble that is coming on the world (the passing away of “heaven” and “earth”) and to be with Jesus (“to stand before the Son of man”). The Great Company will be here as orthodox Christendom falls.

Matthew 24:20-22 gives more information on standing before the Son of man. Jesus said (paraphrased): “Pray that your flight is not in the winter of the antitypical Sabbath Day, for then shall be great tribulation. Unless those days are shortened, no flesh will survive, but through the elect, the days will be shortened.” In other words, if Jesus did not intervene, using his elect Church to stop the anarchy and trouble, no flesh would survive—worldwide.

In the parallel text Mark 13:35-37, Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” In other words, if we do not watch, Jesus will come suddenly and find us sleeping (as in the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable and in the Song of Solomon, where the little sister does not get out of bed in time). Jesus repeats the word “WATCH.”

“Morning,” the last watch, would be the predawn hours of 3 to 6 a.m. just before daylight, and “daylight” symbolizes Messiah’s Kingdom. Jesus came to his disciples on the raging Sea of Galilee in the beginning of the last watch while the boat was rocking in the tempest.

Q: Do the four periods, or watches, of Jesus’ expected coming tie in with the four dates of Elijah’s expected translation in 2 Kings 2?

A: Yes.

Surfeiting, drunkenness, and the cares of this life all produce sleepiness. The cares of this life drain our vitality and fatigue us. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 is a warning not to be asleep or drunken.

Admonition: Be sober and watch; be children of light, children of the day. 2 Peter 3:10-13 shows world conditions will radically change in great trouble. Admonition: Walk in holiness and stay close to the Lord. Even the world is told to seek righteousness and meekness (Zeph. 2:3). Those of the unconsecrated who are not contentious and not too involved in worldly politics may be hidden.

Luke 21:37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

Luke 21:38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.

All the people came to hear Jesus—he was very popular at this point. During his last week, he taught in the Temple during the day and stayed at the home of Lazarus at night. The last two nights, however, he stayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Luke 22:39 says his custom was to go to the Mount of Olives, and that is why Judas was sure he could give the betrayal kiss there.

(1989–1990 Study)

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