storm clouds October 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Matthew 23:37-39; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4; Mark 13:1-23; Matthew 24:1-28; Luke 21:5-24

Storm Preparations

  • Six months of living expenses tucked away in our savings account
  • An ample supply of water and canned goods, flashlights, blankets and pillows
  • Storm shelters
What do these things have in common? These are ways we prepare for calamities. Calamities or serious misfortunes may come from a terrible storm or financial crisis. Are we prepared? Some may say, “Don’t be so paranoid!” But, difficult times do visit us, and we are unwise if we refuse to prepare ourselves.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus shares a prophecy with his disciples. Prophecies are the forth-telling (proclamation) of God's message and often include predictions of future events. Some prophecies have double fulfillments—one that is present or near, which is partially fulfilled—and one future event which will be completely fulfilled. This is the kind of prophecy Jesus gives to his disciples.

Jesus had entered Jerusalem on a young donkey, where he was hailed by a large crowd of followers as king of the Jews. He did not start a revolution, however, much to their disappointment. The Lord is now leaving Jerusalem with his twelve disciples to go to the Mount of Olives. They often congregate there for private instruction. As they are leaving, the disciples are in awe of the temple which Herod rebuilt and expanded for them. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, who lived at that time and saw the temple,

It was considered an architectural wonder of the world. It was built with white stones, polished and generously decorated with gold, (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 15. 11. 3-7). It covered about 1/6 of the land area of old Jerusalem. To the Jews nothing was as magnificent and formidable as their temple (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the New Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.167).

In what do we place our confidence and security? Is it our church, house, place of business, or a military fortress? When disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, flooding, or war come upon us, all these things can be destroyed. Where then will we have our confidence?

Jesus informs his disciples that their prized temple will be destroyed. What??? This prophecy by Jesus is startling and disturbing. They ask the obvious questions: when will these things be? And, what will be the sign of your coming? (Matthew 24:3) They are expecting Jesus to quickly bring in the kingdom. The destruction of their beautiful temple does not fit into their plans. The temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., only forty years after Jesus' prophecy (a relatively short span of time for Biblical prophecies).

Unknowingly, the disciples have asked Jesus two completely different questions, separated by a long span of time. Jesus foretells tribulations which are soon to take place (i.e., the persecution of the church recorded in Acts 8 and continuing throughout most of church history), and he foretells the future Tribulation Period of the Jews and unbelieving nations in the end times. He then prepares his disciples (present and future) for difficult times to come—times of persecution, hardships and death.

What should we be preparing ourselves for in today’s world? Jesus’ instructions to his disciples may also have some application in our generation.

Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains (Mark 13:5-8, NIV).

By saying “these are the beginning of birth pains” Jesus implies more terrible pains are to come before deliverance (his return). Jesus continues—“those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again” (Mark 13:19, NIV). These events are detailed in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, chapters 5-19. We will discuss these beginning December 27, but here are links to these Bible studies if you wish to read them now). With future things in view, Jesus instructs his disciples on how to handle present distresses (Mark 13:9-13).

How are we to handle the coming times of distress and persecution? If we have a true relationship with the LORD, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1Thessalonians 1:10, and 1Thessalonians 5:10 suggest that we can expect to escape this time of plague, distress, and death, otherwise known as The Tribulation Period. It will be a terrible time of plagues and calamities which will come upon Israel and the unbelieving nations of the world, but we may still experience persecution in our lifetime. We must be on our guard and prepared for the worst, but remember that the LORD is always with us, delivering us from it or helping us through it. In days of disaster, the LORD must be our confidence.

If the LORD is to be our confidence in the day of disaster, we should prepare for it now. Here are some things we can do:

  • Spend time with him in prayer.
  • Regularly read and obey his Word (we can help you with this)
  • Strengthen ourselves living by faith in difficult situations.
  • Be faithful stewards of the talents, abilities and responsibilities God gives us.
  • Practice good deeds and exercise mercy to unbelievers.
  • Strive to deliver those who are headed for troublesome times, and in the end, condemnation and judgment (Revelation 20:11).
  • Be prepared and ready for adversity, even Satanic attacks and persecution (Ephesians 6:10-18) .

The good news for believers is that Jesus is coming back for us. We will escape the terrible judgment which is to come upon the world, but we must now make ourselves ready for trials to our faith.

Lessons to Live By

  • Difficult times visit us, and we are unwise if we refuse to prepare ourselves when a storm is seen coming upon the horizon of our lives.
  • In days of disaster the LORD must be our confidence. Is he our confidence? Have we accepted his offer of forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life? (more...)
  • We must prepare others and ourselves spiritually for days of disaster and the coming of the LORD.

Focus Verses

Luke 21:36 “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (NIV)

Watch a video that gives evidence for the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Jesus continues his discussion with his disciples and warns them to Watch for the Signs of his coming. Join us and find out what we should do.

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