Luke 21:10-19 (ESV)

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Jesus described what would take place before the destruction of the temple. He said that false Christs would attempt to deceive or mislead, wars would break out, and physical disasters would take place on earth. The world would be in a state of chaos. In addition, Jesus declared that his disciples would be severely persecuted. This persecution would even cause his followers to end up before government leaders, which would provide them with the opportunity to testify to their faith in him. What should the disciples do to plan for this coming persecution? Jesus let them know that they were not to waste their time preparing what to say. They had followed Jesus, they knew him, and God would give them the words to speak when their time was up. He went on to warn them that some would die for their faith. He cautioned that their own family members would be among those who oppressed them. If the disciples didn’t realize it before, it was clear now: the call to follow Jesus definitely had a price associated with it. Jesus heightened the tension by stating that for his name’s sake, all types of people would hate his followers. And yet, through all this, they would find great hope in the truth that no matter what physically happened to the followers of Jesus, they were spiritually safe.

In 70 ad, the Romans demolished the Jewish temple, but the signs didn’t end with that terrible event. The chaos will worsen until Jesus comes back at the end. The events of 70 ad were a sign themselves, even a foreshadowing, of what the real end will be like when Jesus returns. In laying out what would happen before the temple’s destruction, Jesus demonstrated that everything took place according to God’s knowledge, plan, and exact timetable. Not one thing that occurs in the universe is outside of God’s awareness. Do you feel like circumstances are tough in your life right now? Does it seem like certain areas are out of control? Know that difficult circumstances don’t mean that God is absent. Though things have been difficult for many of God’s people in the past, he has remained with them. Those who follow Jesus can rest assured that no matter how crazy things get in this life, no one or nothing can mess up God’s ultimate plan for his kids, either now or in the future.