As I continue to
deal with the questions of the disciples in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25;
Mark 13; Luke 21), I want to look more closely at the first question. After observing the Temple, Christ said
to the disciples, " Do you not see all these
things? Truly I say to you, not
one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down" (Matt.
24:2). The disciples ask Jesus,
" Tell us, when will these things be, . . ." (Matt. 24:3). Thus, the first question relates to the
destruction of the Temple in a.d.
Preterist Dr. Kenneth Gentry says, " The context
of Luke demands a literal Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) besieged by literal armies
(Luke 21:20) in literal Judea (Luke 21:21)- which as a matter of indisputable
historical record occurred in the events leading up to a.d. 70."  This demonstrates that preterists take
Scripture literally, unless it contradicts their presupposed system of
theology, at which time they usually come up with a more pliable, deeply
spiritual meaning of the text. But
since both preterist and futurists, like myself, believe that Luke 21:20-24
literally refers to Jerusalem in a.d.
70, then this can be used as a template as to how Scripture speaks of the
destruction of Jerusalem in the first century.
Christ' s Prophecy of
we look at Luke 21:20-24, I will examine the prophecies that Jesus gave
specifically referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple that were
indeed fulfilled in the first century.
Note the following prophecies by Christ:
" Truly I say to you, all
these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones
those who are sent to her! How
often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Matt. 23:36-38; see Luke 13:34-35 for
And when He approached, He
saw the city and wept over it, saying, " If you had known in this day, even you,
the things which make for peace!
But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will
throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and
will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not
leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of
your visitation" (Luke 19:41-44).
clearly about the coming Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in this
prediction. Jesus clearly
describes a siege in verses 43 and 44 because the nation of Israel " did not
recognize the time of your visitation."
They rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Notice that not once does Jesus describe this as a " judgment
coming" as do preterists. In fact, coming is not used in any of
these prophecies relating to a.d.
70, as it is used of Christ' s future return.
Luke 21:20-24 and a.d.
When we look at
the words of Jesus' prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the second
temple, He uses words and phrases that clearly denote what the Romans did in a.d. 70.
" But when you see Jerusalem
surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to
the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let
not those who are in the country enter the city; because these are days of
vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Woe to those who are with child and to
those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the
land, and wrath to this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword,
and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled
under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke
Note how the
following words and phrases support the notion of judgment upon Israel in the
1) Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that
her desolation is at hand
2) flee to the mountains (The admonition to flee
would indicate that Jerusalem will be destroyed. If the Jews were to defeat the Romans, then the safe place
to be would be inside the walled city.)
3) these are days of vengeance
4) there will be great distress upon the land
5) wrath to this people (Israel)
6) they (Israel) will fall by the edge of the sword
7) (Israel) will be led captive into all the nations
8) Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the
There is not a
single phrase in the above passage that suggests a future understanding because
the a.d. 70 destruction of
Jerusalem was clearly a judgment upon the Jewish people for their national
rejection of Jesus as their Messiah (Luke 19:44; Matt. 23:38). This passage is our Lord' s undisputed
answer to the disciples' first question about when there will not be one stone
of the Temple left upon another.
Yet when compared with other sections of the Olivet Discourse, this kind
of language referenced above is totally missing (see Matt. 24:4-31; Mark
13:5-27; Luke 21:25-28). Instead,
in general, the language of the Olivet Discourse, except for Luke 21:20-24,
does not speak of Israel under God' s judgment, but of Israel under threat from
the Gentile nations and God' s intervention that rescues the Jewish people. This overall thrust of the passage is
even clearly when one looks at the parallel passage of Zechariah 12- 14.
Luke 21:24 ends
by saying that Jerusalem will be under Gentile domination " until the times of
the Gentiles be fulfilled." The
little word " until" clearly denotes that there will be a time when the current
domination of Jerusalem by the Gentiles will come to an end. The current " times of the Gentiles" in
which we currently live will indeed come to an end in the future. Thus, the end of verse 24 serves as a
transitional period between the prophecy that refers to the past a.d. 70 event (Luke 21:20-24) and the
prophecy that looks to a future fulfillment at Christ second coming (Luke
21:25-28). We now live in the
" times of the Gentiles."
connection is established between Luke 21:24 which speaks of the current era of
" the times of the Gentiles" being fulfilled and coming to an end and Romans
11:25 which speaks of " the fullness of the Gentiles" having " come in." Both passages speak of Israel' s
redemption (Luke 21:28; Romans 11:26- 27).
When we consider that the Old Testament pattern which says that Israel
will pass through the tribulation, repent toward the end when they recognize
Jesus as the Messiah, experience conversion, and then the second coming will
occur to rescue them from their enemies, it follows that " all Israel will be
saved" (Romans 11:26) in connection with the tribulation. This is exactly the pattern of Luke
21:25- 28. Preterist Ken Gentry
believes Romans teaches a future conversion of Israel, yet he does not
associate it with the tribulation as Scripture repeatedly does. Dr. Gentry declares, " The future
conversion of the Jews will conclude the fulfillment (Rom. 11:12- 25)."  Yet only a futurist interpretation does
justice to a harmonization of these passages that are clearly connected.
Luke 21:25-28 and the Future
" And there will be signs in
sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity
at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the
expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of
the heavens will be shaken. And
then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great
glory. But when these things begin
to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is
drawing near" (Luke 21:25-28).
J. C. Ryle says
of this passage the following:
The subject of this portion
of our Lord' s great prophecy is His own second coming to judge the world. The strong expressions of the passage
appear inapplicable to any event less important than this. To confine the words before us, to the
taking of Jerusalem by the Romans, is an unnatural straining of Scripture
The focus of Luke
21:25- 28 reveals a distinct shift from the first century description of
21:20- 24. The differences include
the local focus of Jerusalem in the first century judgment verses the global
perspective of the future tribulation.
The tribulation will involve heavenly and global events that did not
literally occur in a.d. 70. If preterists like Dr. Gentry would
interpret verses 25- 28 in the same way they did verses 20- 24 then the events of
25- 28 would be understood to be clearly global and if global then they did not
occur in the first century. Since
they did not occur in the first century then they must take place in the
future. These are future
tribulation events that are prophesied by our Lord in this section of the
The basic thrust
of Luke 21:25-28 is the opposite of God' s judgment upon Israel as stated in
Luke 21:20-24. Instead verse 28
tells Israel that, " your redemption is drawing near." This is all the difference of night (judgment) in verses
20-24 and day (salvation and deliverance) in verses 25-28. William Kelly describes some aspects of
the differences in the following:
Hence, to, the reader may
notice that, in spite of a considerable measure of analogy (for there will be a
future siege, and even a twofold attack, one of which will be partially
successful, the other to the ruin of their enemies, as we learn from Isaiah
xxviii, xxix, and Zechariah xiv.), there are the strangest contrasts in the
issue; for the future siege will be closed by Jehovah' s deliverance and reign,
as the past was in capture and destruction of the people dispersed ever since
till the times of the Gentiles are full.
Accordingly we hear nothing in this Gospel of the abomination of
desolation, nor of the time of tribulation beyond all that was or shall be; we
hear of both in Matthew and Mark, where the Spirit contemplates the last days.
When one examines
the entire Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, there is no
reference to wrath or judgment upon the nation of Israel. Instead, Israel is delivered from its
invader as noted in Matthew 24:31, " And He will send
forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect
from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other" (see also
Mark 13:27). The question arises,
" When was Israel rescued in a.d.
70?" They were not! The events of Matthew 24 and Mark 13
(also Luke 21:25-28) will all be fulfilled in the tribulation, which will take
place in the future.
So the first
question of the disciples to Christ in the Olivet Discourse relates to the
destruction of Jerusalem in a.d.
70. The record of its fulfillment
is recorded only in Luke 21.
Matthew 24- 25 and Mark 13 deal only with the last question, which are a
prophecy of events that are still future to our day. Maranatha!
Continued . . .)