Revelation and the Olivet Discourse

The Olivet Discourse
While we are on the subject of timing, we will briefly look at the Olivet Discourse, given on the Mount of Olives two days before Jesus died, found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. (We will revisit these passages when we approach Revelation 4 and following chapters.) It seems like that some of the answers Jesus gave indicated that the disciples would see some of the fulfillment of his prophecy in their own lifetime. And they did!
In order to understand the answers Jesus gave, we must pay attention the questions. For instance, notice:



   In Matthew, His disciples ask Him three questions that they thought were related but we now know are different:
1) “Tell us when will these things be?”
3) And what will be the sign of Your coming,
4) and of the end of the age?"


   In Mark, we see the disciples (Peter, James, John and Andrew) privately asking Jesus the same first question, but a different second question:
1)  “Tell us when will these things be?
2)  And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”


   In Luke, the disciples’ questions are identical to Mark’s, but different than Matthew’s second and third questions:
1) “Teacher, but when will these things be?
2) And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”



Question #1 of “when will these things be?” needs to be clarified. “These things” refer to Matthew 24:2, Luke 21:6 and Mark 13:2. What are “these things”?
Matthew 24:2 “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone (of the buildings of the temple) shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Mark 13:2 “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Luke 21 - 5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6 "These things which you see--the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

I was able to take this picture in 2004. I cannot wait to
return this summer, ten years later!
History and archeology show us the temple of Jerusalem with its beautiful stones was destroyed in 70 A.D., just as Jesus prophesied nearly 40 years earlier (The stones cast down can still be seen at the foot of the Temple mount in Jerusalem, see photo at the right). Therefore, the first question in Matthew and the two questions in Mark and Luke are different than the final two questions in Matthew. All four questions require four distinct answers. The first two questions are most clearly answered in Luke and the final two are most thoroughly answered in Matthew.
Remember, all three gospels were written prior to 70 A.D., before any of answers were fulfilled. As indicated in their questions, the disciples understandably thought that all four questions were related and would be fulfilled at the same time. If Jesus’ answer seems to combine the four questions, it’s not an error in the Bible, which is 100 percent accurate, and the Bible’s answer proves that it is accurate although not as exact as we would wish it to be.
Reading it now nearly 2,000 years later, it is not as defined as we wish it would be. Even Jesus, veiled and fashioned with the limitations as the Son of Man (see Philippians 2:6-8), He relinquished for a time some of the attributes of omniscience of being the Son of God. At the time of His speaking He did not know all of the details, although His Heavenly Father did, as Mark 13:32 states, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Furthermore, in Acts 1:7-8, Jesus basically tells them that it is not any of their business to know when the time will be, only that their business is to be busy about the Father’s business.
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Since the two questions in Mark and Luke surrounds the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., the fulfillment of some of the prophecies occurred in the lifetime of some of the apostles, including John, the author of the Revelation. The answers to questions three and four (found in Matthew) have not yet been fulfilled. Notice that Jesus says that various signs will take place, but “the end is not yet.” What end? The “end of the age” that the disciples (Question 4) had asked about. Some signs were fulfilled before John’s death, and there will be some signs at His coming for the church (the rapture) and some at the end of the age (His Second Coming to the earth, seen in Revelation 4-22).
What are some signs that have already been fulfilled?
Luke 21: 8And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them. 9But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately." 10Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. 13But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. 18But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19By your patience possess your souls. 20"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 

Now, we know that everything shown above has already happened (people have come in the name of Jesus, there have been wars and commotions, nations have risen against nations, they have laid hands on believers, put to death, etc.) The times of the Gentiles has not been fulfilled.  
Will some of the things happen again? Absolutely and with even greater intensity in the Tribulation! The “times of the Gentiles” trampling on Jerusalem began in 70 A.D. and will be fulfilled according to Rev. 11:2 during the three and a half year Great Tribulation. The fulfillment came with “some of you” being put to death, namely James and Peter, and numerous other disciples, but definitely not John.
Neither John, nor Paul, nor Peter, nor even Jesus at the writing of the Gospel of Mark knew exactly when the end of the age would be. But they knew what the command was: “Be Watchful” (Rev. 3:2).

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