Three days before His crucifixion, Jesus walked with His disciples on the road to Bethany, a four-mile journey from Jerusalem. He stopped at the summit of the Mount of Olives for a rest. The Temple and the city lay below Him in a panoramic scene.
Peter, James, John, and Andrew approached Him privately to ask about His prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. “When will these things happen and what will be the signs when these things are about to take place?”
Jesus ignored the “when” part of their questions and spoke about the signs of what He termed the days of vengeance. The prophet Isaiah, many years earlier, had used a similar term to refer to the punishment of God’s enemies. A later prophet, Hosea, used the term: days of retribution.
The Lord specifically spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem with His disciples, which eventually occurred in 70 AD. We modern believers also look upon His words as being apocalyptic, or referring to the last days just before His return.
For the sake of this chapter, let’s view Jesus’ discourse as reported in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 22 in the same way the disciples did at that time, which was strictly about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Jesus stated that wars, earthquakes, and famines would take place and the disciples would be persecuted. But the disciples were not to worry because their persecutions would be opportunities for them to preach. Yet, when its enemies surrounded Jerusalem, the end was near for the city. The believers should then quickly flee to the mountains and not even return to gather their possessions.
Jesus specifically instructed the disciples to do something:
But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on the Sabbath. (Mathew 24:20)
But pray that it may not happen in winter. (Mark 13:18)
It’s interesting to note Jesus did not tell the disciples to pray that Jerusalem would be spared. That particular judgment had already been ruled on by the Judge and was an irrevocable one.
What Jesus did say revealed the compassion that our Lord has toward His people.
He placed the responsibility for the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem – as to season and day of the week – into the hands of the disciples. His reasoning for doing so was that He did not want to add bad weather or Sabbath travel burdens to the people’s woes.
What eventually happened is amazing.
The attack by Titus and the Roman armies began in late March 70 AD, and the final siege of Jerusalem ended in September of the same year. The disciples’ prayers were honored, as the attack did not occur in wintertime.
Is there something we can learn from this particular example of Jesus’ compassion?
For me, a light switched on when I read the verses because of my wife.
Let me give you some background, okay?
We now live in Temecula, California, which is half way between San Diego and Los Angeles. My job is in Temecula, but my wife works in a city thirty miles south of the city.
Can you envision a worse situation than my wife being stranded thirty miles away from our home if a massive calamity happened? It could be days or weeks before we would see each other again. Because of possible communication problems, we might not know if the other were injured or even dead. How horrendous would that be for us?
So, when the light switched on that morning, I prayed the following prayer:
“Lord, I ask that You schedule my wife’s work and travels so she is at home when any massive calamities or terrorists’ attacks happen in California. I trust You to honor this prayer in the same manner You did for the disciples’ prayers about the siege of Jerusalem.”
There is no partiality in the Lord. What He did for the disciples, He will do for us.
(Excerpt from Planning + Preparation = Survival by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2013, Amazon eBook)
My prayer for today:
Lord, help American believers to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church right now. (Based on Revelation 2:7)
What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?
Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America.