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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Luke 21

 

 

Verses 1-38

Chapter21

And he looked up, and he saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites ( Luke 21:1-2 ).

A mite was one-sixteenth of a penny. In other words, it took sixteen mites to make a penny. Two mites would be an eighth of a penny. Now here are these rich people putting in their great gifts and this certain poor little widow goes up...and there in the temple the offering things are sort of like a horn and they would drop them in...and the poor little widow cast in her two mites.

And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow has cast in more than all of them: for all of these have of their abundance cast into the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all of the living that she had ( Luke 21:3-4 ).

So, an interesting thing in God"s economy is not the amount that you give, but what it costs you to give. So, many who are giving less in God"s economy are giving more. The amount is immaterial. What"s the sacrifice? What"s it costing you to give?

When David was wanting to buy the threshing floor of Araunah, because the angel of the Lord had stopped there at the threshing floor and David had wanted to buy it and to offer a sacrifice unto the God, Araunah says, "Take it, man, it"s yours." And David said, "No, I will not give to God that which costs me nothing." And David insisted on buying it. He wouldn"t take it as a gift, because he wanted to give it to God. And he said, "I won"t offer to God that which costs me nothing." What does it cost you to give? That"s what God measures the gift by.

And as some of them spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts ( Luke 21:5 ),

In "The Wars of the Jews" by Josephus, book number5 and chapter5 , he gives an interesting description of the temple in Jerusalem; of these great white columns of solid marble, each column a single stone of solid white marble. And how along the fascia all of these gold shields, so that if you would look at the temple, the reflection of the gold was so tremendous that it was like looking at the sun itself. And you couldn"t just look at the temple because of these gold plates when the sun was reflecting off of it. It would be hard on your eyes and like looking in a mirror. And he describes the beauty and the glory of this temple that was built by Herod, describing some of the stones as weighing as much as180 tons. And so some of them were speaking to Jesus of the temple, how it was adorned with these goodly stones, these beautiful marble towers, and the gifts, the gold and the silver and the brass gates and all that were around it. And He said,

As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down ( Luke 21:6 ).

Today when you go to Jerusalem, as you go up the walk next to the western wall that leads on to the temple mount area, they have excavated the area to the right side of this walk. They have excavated down to the pavement that was the Roman street that went through the bottom of the Teropian Valley. And as they have excavated down to this Roman street, street level at the time of Christ, down there on the pavement which was made of great huge stones, there are these huge stones that have been pushed over the wall and that cracked the pavement down below. And you see them as they are just lying there in disarray as they fell and were pushed over the wall and crashed into the valley several hundred feet below, breaking the pavement down below. I"ve climbed down in to that area and I"ve touched these big stones and I"ve marveled at them. Because as I looked at them, I realized I was seeing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus Christ. "Not one stone was left standing upon another." They filled the Teropian Valley with stones that they pushed over from the temple, watching them crash below.

When we were up in the Grand Canyon, there was one area that I had a bunch of kids. And they were starting to push stones over this canyon cliff, because there was about a3 ,000-foot drop before they hit. And it was terrifying to see the momentum that these stones would develop before they hit the bottom, and the crash, of course, echoing up the canyon. But here were the Roman soldiers, when they destroyed the temple, pushing the stones over. And that whole Teropian Valley was filled with the debris and the stones that they pushed over the wall at the time of the destruction of the temple. But it fulfilled literally the prophecy of Jesus, as He said, "You look at these stones, but there shall not be one left standing upon another that will not be thrown down." Thus, as you go up on the temple mount, there is no evidence anywhere of where the temple of Solomon stood. The temple mount that he built is there. But there is no evidence at all of the place of the temple, because not one stone was left standing upon another.

And so they asked him, saying, Master, when shall these things be? ( Luke 21:7 )

What things? When the temple is destroyed and the stones are thrown down.

and what sign will there be when these things ( Luke 21:7 )

That is, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

what will be the sign when these things come to pass? And so he said unto them, Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am; and that the time is drawing near: but go ye not therefore after them. But when you shall hear of wars and commotions, don"t be terrified: for these things must first come to pass; and the end is not yet. Then he said unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom: And there will be great earthquakes in different places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful signs and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before ( Luke 21:7-12 )

Now He"s going on to the times of the end with these signs of the great earthquakes in different places, the famines, the pestilences, the fearful signs in heaven, and the worldwide state of wars.

But before all of these, they shall lay their hands on you ( Luke 21:12 ),

Coming back to the destruction of the temple.

and they will persecute you, delivering you up into the synagogues, and into the prisons, and you"ll be brought before kings and rulers for my name"s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony ( Luke 21:12-13 ).

Jesus said, "Look, you"re going to get arrested, you"re going to be hauled before the kings and all for My name"s sake, but that"s all right. It"s going to give you a chance to witness." And I find it fascinating that every time Paul was brought before a judge or before the king, he took the opportunity to give a witness for Jesus Christ. "Oh, King Agrippa, I count it a privilege to be able to share with you what"s happened to me, because I know that you"ve studied the law of the Jews and you understand these things. And the things that Jesus did weren"t in a corner. Now, I myself was like you, I thought to be against this Man, and I was commissioned to arrest Him," and so forth. And he went on and he gave a heavy witness to King Agrippa. "King Agrippa, do you believe? I know you believe." He says, "Paul, wait a minute! Your much learning has made you mad." And King Agrippa says, "Hey, wait a minute! Hold on! You think that you"re going to persuade me to be a Christian?" But Paul was trying. Jesus said, "Hey, they"re going to bring you before kings, but don"t worry. It"s going to give you a chance to witness." And Paul used it every time he got before the king.

Now, Paul was taken before Nero. There"s nothing in the biblical account that tells us what Paul said, but as we study secular history, it would seem that Nero wasn"t too bad a fellow. He was actually very anxious to leave his mark upon Rome and to build some monuments in Rome. His castle is a great monument in itself that has been uncovered recently. But Nero wasn"t really too awful a fellow until in history he met this fellow Paul the apostle. The first time that Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he had his opportunity. You remember when he was before Festus he appealed to Caesar. And so he was sent to Rome, placed there in prison where he wrote his Philippian epistle and he had his chance to go before Nero.

Now, you think that the witness he laid on Agrippa was heavy. You can be sure that Paul thought, "Man, if I can convert this pagan to Christianity, what that would do!" And I"m sure that Paul laid on Nero a witness second to none in the history of the church.

Secular history records this dramatic personality change of Nero right after the time that Paul laid the witness on him. It was at that same period of time in history that Nero went through a drastic personality change and became a beast. He burned Rome because he wanted to rebuild a new glorious Rome for his credit. And then he blamed the Christians for it. But he became almost a man possessed, insane. I feel that, personally, that he became demon possessed after Paul"s witness and his rejection of Paul"s witness. I believe that he opened his heart and life to demon possession. And I believe that the things that he did can only be ascribed to a man possessed by an evil spirit. But up until that time of Paul"s witness, he wasn"t that bad of a fellow, his story.

So, Jesus said, "Now don"t worry about it. It"s going to give you a chance to witness." And Paul took that chance every time he got it. And He said, "Don"t make up a little speech in advance in your own heart, what you"re going to say... "Well, I"m going to say this and that and the other..."" But He said,

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist ( Luke 21:15 ).

Now don"t worry about what you"re going to say, because I"ll give you the words in that time. And you can wipe "em out.

And you will be betrayed both by your parents, and your brothers, and your kinfolk, and your friends; and some of you they will cause you to be put to death ( Luke 21:16 ).

Fox"s "Book of Martyrs" relates to us that sad portion of the history of the church.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name"s sake. But there shall not a hair of your head perish ( Luke 21:17-18 ).

They may kill your body, but after that, they have no power.

And in your patience possess ye your souls ( Luke 21:19 ).

What an important bit of instruction! "In patience." God help us! We"re so impatient when it comes to the things of God. "In your patience possess ye your souls." God, give me patience!

And when you will see Jerusalem encircled with armies ( Luke 21:20 ),

Which happens within forty years.

then know that the desolation is near. Let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let them that are in the countries enter in there too. For these are the days of vengeance ( Luke 21:20-22 ),

Rome is going to take out here vengeance upon the rebellion.

and all of the things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to those that are nursing, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and they will be led away captive to all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled ( Luke 21:22-24 ).

So, in70 A.D., when Titus came with the Roman troops and besieged Jerusalem, killed1 ,100 ,000 Jews, carried away the remaining97 ,000 as captive, Israel ceased to be a nation. They were carried away captive into all nations and the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled. And Jerusalem from that day had been trodden down by the Gentiles until June of1967.

Now, as I understand prophecy, in June of1967 the time of the Gentiles came to an end. You say, "Well, what are we in now?" Just a space gap. I believe that the Lord is going to begin a very special work with the nation of Israel very soon. There is a seven-year period of prophecy that is not yet been fulfilled, Daniel"s seventieth week. And that seven-year period of God"s Spirit upon the nation of Israel and dealing with them, and their restoration must come. That period has not yet begun. But in1967 , for all practical purposes, when Jerusalem became again the territory of the nation of Israel, when they drove out the Jordanian troops and they took the city of Jerusalem, at that point, according to the words of Jesus, Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Since that time, it"s just been a short period of God"s grace giving others that opportunity to become a part of God"s kingdom before He gathers His church together unto Himself. So, we"re just living in a period of God"s extended grace to man. But even as God said in the time of Noah, "My Spirit will not always strive with man," I believe that God"s striving with men has just about come to an end. The time of the Gentiles fulfilled.

And now Jesus goes ahead to give signs of His return. And He said,

There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity ( Luke 21:25 );

Signs in the heavens. We know that the comet known as Halley"s Comet will be returning into our area of the solar system in just a couple of years. And with the advent of the return of Halley"s Comet, there"s been a lot of writing in the astronomy magazines and a lot of speculation about asteroids and about comets, and the possibilities of a comet or an asteroid striking the earth. And it is interesting that a large part of the physical makeup of comets is cyanide. And it is also interesting that in the book of Revelation, "he saw a star fall from heaven and strike the earth and all of the fresh waters became bitter; they were called wormwood because they were bitter." It sounds like it could almost be a comet striking the earth and that cyanide poisoning the fresh water systems turning them bitter. The cyanide taste, of course, is a bitter taste. You might pick up the Astronomy Magazine; I think it was December"s issue. It had an interesting issue on comets and their makeup. And, of course, because Halley"s is returning, there"s just a lot of things that you can read now in the astronomy journals and all about asteroids and comets. And there"s always that likelihood that an asteroid is going to strike the earth. In fact, our government is making contingency plans. If there seems to be some threat of a large asteroid striking the earth, of sending a rocket out with a nuclear warhead to try and explode it in space so that it won"t get to the earth. And these kind of things are things that are being thought of by the science. Signs! "...and the sun and the moon and the stars."

"On the earth there will be distress of nations with perplexity." That means that the distress of nations is problems that nations will be facing. The word perplexity in the Greek is "no way out." Now the government is searching for a way out. We"re going to cut taxes and we"re going to balance the budget. Government has become burdensome. In fact, government has become so expensive, we can"t afford it anymore. And that"s the problem that we"ve hit. There"s no way that we can afford government any longer. It"s a monster that has just continued to grow, gobbling up everything, until it has grown to such an extent that there are not enough people left to support the government workers. I read a statistic someplace, and I don"t know the accuracy of it. But it said some49% of the people are on the government payroll some way or another; either through welfare or through jobs that are related to the government. Song of Solomon 51% of the people are productive, and the rest are working for the government, supporting the49. What are we going to do? What"s the answer? There is none. So, what shall we do? Have heart failure.

I thought that this was interesting that it came this week.

the sea and the waves roaring ( Luke 21:25 );

Any of you live at Sunset Beach? Seal Beach?

Men"s hearts failing them for fear, and for the looking after of those things which are coming upon the earth: and the powers of the heaven will be shaken. And then ( Luke 21:26-27 ),

Of course, He"s describing events of the Great Tribulation period here, "And then," after this Great Tribulation,

shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your head; for your redemption is drawing close ( Luke 21:27-28 ).

Now, last October in one of the shopping malls, towards the end of October, I saw them putting them up Christmas decorations. And I said, "Well, Thanksgiving must be getting close." Why? Because I know that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. And if they"re putting up Christmas decorations and Thanksgiving hasn"t come yet, then Thanksgiving must be getting close. Because it"s got to come before Christmas. Now Jesus is giving you signs of His return. Signs that will happen before His second coming. But if the rapture of the church is to precede the second coming by seven years, then when we will see the signs of the coming of the Lord, we have to say, "Hey, the rapture must be getting close. I see the signs of the Lord"s return." That makes the rapture that much closer. So, when you see these things beginning to come to pass, then you look up and lift up your head, for your redemption is drawing nigh.

And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all of the trees; When they now shoot forth, and you see and you know of your own selves that summer is now near end ( Luke 21:29-30 ).

And Jesus is basically saying the same thing. If you see the trees start to blossom out and leaf out, you say, "Oh, summer must be getting close." Because I see the trees leaving out, I see the blossoms; summer must be getting close.

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all is fulfilled. Now heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away ( Luke 21:32-33 ).

We have the solid word of Christ. Now even as Jerusalem was destroyed and not one stone was left standing upon another, and the Jews were decimated and the remainder were made slaves throughout the earth, and Jerusalem went under the hand of the Gentiles...just as all of that was fulfilled, you can be sure that Jesus is coming again. The rest of the prophecies will be fulfilled. God didn"t bring it along this far to drop it now. We are moving towards the end. The whole system is moving towards this climax, the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory. But when we see the signs of that return, we know that our redemption is so close. And Jesus affirms it; He says, "Now look, heaven and earth will pass away, but not My words."

Take heed to yourselves ( Luke 21:34 ),

Now this is a message for you. "Take heed, be careful."

lest at any time your hearts are overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, [partying,] the cares of this life, and that day overtake you unaware ( Luke 21:34 ).

There is a party spirit in the world today. Be careful you"re not caught up in it, and that Day of the Lord catch you by surprise. Be careful of these things. Jesus warns you that these things are going to be like a trap for men. "...drunkenness, surfeiting, gourmet type of eating, cares of this life, so that Day come upon you unaware.

For as a snare ( Luke 21:35 )

It"s a trap.

shall it come upon all of them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore ( Luke 21:35-36 ),

The Lord"s command to His church to watch.

and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things ( Luke 21:36 )

All what things? These things of God"s judgment that will be coming to pass upon the earth as there are the signs and the sun and the moon and the stars and the heaven shaken, and the earthquakes and the pestilences and the famines... "pray that you"ll be accounted worthy to escape all of these things."

that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man ( Luke 21:36 ).

Now, in the book of Revelation, chapter5 , John saw a scroll in the right hand of Him who was sitting upon the throne, sealed with seven seals, and it had writing both within and without. "And he heard an angel proclaim with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals?"" And when no one was found worthy in heaven or earth, John began to sob convulsively until the elders said, "Don"t sob, John. Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the scroll and loose the seals." "And I turned and I saw Him as a Lamb that had been slaughtered, and He took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat upon the throne. And when He did, the twenty-four elders came forth with their golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God. And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy is the Lamb to take the scroll and to loose the seals, for He was slain; but He has redeemed us by His blood, out of every nation, tribe, kindred, tongue and people, and He has made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign with Him upon the earth.""

Listen to the lyric of the song in heaven. "Worthy is the Lamb; He was slain, He has redeemed us by His blood . . . out of all of the nations, tribes, tongues and people...made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign with Him upon the earth." These are those who are standing before the Son of man. And the Great Tribulation does not begin until the beginning of chapter6. "And when He loosed the first seal, the angel said unto me, "Come. And I saw a white horse coming forth upon the earth, conquering and to conquer with his rider." And there begins the Great Tribulation period when, after the book is open. But while the book is there in the right hand of the Father, and when Jesus steps forth to take it, that glorious song of the church, "Worthy is the Lamb," sung by those who are standing before the Son of man, Jesus is saying, "Look, you pray always. Watch and pray always that you"ll be accounted worthy to escape all of these things that are going to be happening upon the earth, that you"ll be standing before the Son of man." It is my prayer and anticipation that I will be accounted worthy to be standing with the company of God"s redeemed saints in heaven, singing of the worthiness of the Lamb to take the title deed to the earth, and to lay claim to it. I want to be standing before the Son of man. I surely do not want to be down here on this earth when God"s wrath is poured out, as Jesus has described a portion of it here, but you find the full description in Revelation chapter6 through18.

And in the daytime ( Luke 21:37 )

That"s the end of the message,

he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and stayed at the mount which is called the mount of Olives ( Luke 21:37 ).

So He crossed the Kidron Valley and went up into the Mount of Olives in the evening.

And all of the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, to hear him ( Luke 21:38 ).

So, there was a popular movement towards Jesus by the common people as the chief priest and the scribes and the elders were plotting His death. And so, we move into the final chapters as we get into chapter22and Judas" betrayal, the last supper. And we"re moving into the final events of Jesus" life, which we will complete next Sunday night, as we finish the book of Luke.

Shall we pray? Father, as we look around the world in which we live, and as we look at Your Word and as we see these things beginning to come to pass, we see the nation of Israel existing once again. We see the city of Jerusalem under the control of the nation of Israel. And we see the distress of nations and the perplexities, we see the nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, the increased earthquakes, these pestilences and famines. Oh Lord, help us that we will be accounted worthy to escape all of these things that are going to come to pass. Oh God, we want to stand in that heavenly throng around the throne of God proclaiming the worthiness of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who died for us, who redeemed us by His blood and has made us unto our God kings and priests. Thank you, Jesus, for that redemption that we have tonight. Oh Lord, may we be worthy to be in that throng. In Jesus" name. Amen. "

 


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Luke 21:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/luke-21.html. 2014.

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