Several people have shared a post or spoken with me about a post that misquotes Luke 21:20. According to the post, Jesus said, in His answer to His disciples' question about the coming destruction of Jerusalem's temple, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by enemies on all sides, look up your deliverance is near." However, according to Luke 21:20, here's what Jesus actually said, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." The "armies" Jesus spoke of were those of Titus the Roman, who sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD and destroyed its temple. This, according to Jesus, would be done in the "days of [God's] vengeance," which would be brought on by Israel's rejection of His Son, their Messiah, Jesus Christ (Luke 21:22). In Luke 21:23-24, Jesus makes it abundantly clear to His disciples that: (1) the land of Israel was soon to be in "great distress," as God poured out His "wrath upon [His] people" (2) Jerusalem would be "trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles [would] be fulfilled," and (3) the inhabitants of Jerusalem would either "fall by the edge of the sword" or "be led away captive into all nations." This prophecy of our Lord's has been “fulfilled,” as Jesus promised it would (Luke 21:22).
Many times folks respond to truths that I write, post, and publish, which I readily admit are often disconcerting, with dismissive quips about God being in charge or in control. The insinuation is that under God's control everything is going to work out wonderfully and we have nothing to worry about. Now, I agree wholeheartedly that there is an occupied throne in Heaven, upon which a sovereign God reigns and rules over the affairs of men (Revelation 4:1-2; Daniel 4:17). I also believe wholeheartedly that God is working out His preordained plans and purposes and that no power in Heaven, on earth, or in Hell can prevent God's sovereign will from being perfectly fulfilled (Isaiah 14:24). There is, therefore, no doubt that God is, as He has promised, summing up all things in Christ, whom He will put over it all in the end, so that it will result in His glory and our good (Ephesians 1:10, 19-22; Romans 8:28). As Jesus Himself admonished us, we shouldn't worry about anything (Matthew 6:24-25). Instead, we should trust God and pray about everything, so that His peace, "which passes all understanding," can "guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus," as well as through all of our troubles, which we're guaranteed to have in this fallen world (Philippians 4:6-7; John 16:33). Still, none of this assures us of smooth sailing through life's stormy seas or through the dark gathering clouds of the biblically predicted and unprecedented end-time tempest, the beginning throes of which we are suddenly finding ourselves caught in. There are tough times and dark days ahead, "evil days" for which we must prepare ourselves by suiting up in "the full armor of God" and praying ceaselessly in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).
It is only by facing the hard facts and the harsh realities of the biblically predicted "perilous times" of "the last days," within which we now find ourselves, that we can steel ourselves and strengthen our faith for what's ahead (2 Timothy 3:1). It is also the only way that we can become like "the children of Issachar," men and women who understand the times and know what we ought to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). For instance, as the war in Israel rages on, many are calling for us to pray for peace in Israel. They contend that we are divinely duty-bound to do so; after all, the Scripture does admonish us "to pray for the peace of Jerusalem," promising that all who love her and pray for her will "prosper" (Psalm 122:6). Yet, does this mean that we are divinely duty-bound to pray for the success of a two state solution, as preposterously proposed by today's biblically illiterate politicians. Are we to pray for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and a next-door neighbor bent on its destruction, which has in its governing entity's charter a call for the elimination of the state of Israel and the extermination of the inhabitants of Israel. Obviously, the Bible does not teach us to kneel in prayer and plead to the Almighty for such an absurdity.
If one understands the Scripture, then, he or she understands that properly praying for the peace of Jerusalem is, in essence, praying for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jerusalem, according to the Scripture, will not know peace until the return of the "Prince of Peace," who will be enthroned in Jerusalem, who alone will bring peace at last to this war-torn world, and who will reign over the whole earth with a rod of iron for a thousand years (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 3:17; Isaiah 2:4; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4). In the meantime, Israel will be the cup of trembling that God puts to the lips of an end-time world, the flashpoint that continuously threatens the world with Armageddon, no matter how much we pray for its peace (Zechariah 12:2; Ezekiel 38-39; Revelation 16:16).