Frank Retief was pastor at St James Church Cape Town for 31 years, having planted the church in 1968 with his wife Beulah. He became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in South Africa until he retired in 2010. Frank remains active in ministry through preaching, teaching, pastoral work & writing, and has authored a number of books.
Luke 21 verse 8 – 9 : He replied “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and “The time is near’. Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
The disciples were told of something that was very hard for a Jewish person to hear. The temple they so greatly admired and which also was a source of great manipulation of the population, was to be destroyed (verse 6). This was a breath-taking statement, and it is no wonder the disciples wanted to ask questions of their teacher.
Jesus now tells them that many false teachers and Messiahs would come, preaching the end of those times based on fallacious evidence. To save them from being deluded, Jesus tells them that the end would be self-evident. It would be a combination of wars, earth quakes, famines, plagues (Chapter 21 v 11)
But there would be a time lapse between the time that Jesus goes back to heaven and what these disciples would experience in their own day. This was because the Jewish nation would be given yet another opportunity to repent before that destruction took place. How? By the preaching of the apostles.
The nation would be confronted by the supernaturally inspired witness of the early Christians at all levels of society. There would be cruel and callous persecution as the message was preached but the nation would have no cause for complaint when God finally allowed the city and the temple to be destroyed. The official religion had become corrupt. One day soon its temple would be wiped out. God would not allow his son to be rejected forever. This passage can be confusing so remember it is talking about the period of time right after Christ – not the “End Days” as some commonly understand it.
But years later the Gospel message would eventually be entrusted to the Gentiles but they would also be overcome by apostasy, and it seems, Israel would then have her eyes opened and will in time take place as a witness for God. So the time after Christ ascends to Heaven is filled with signs and wonders but then our Lord seems to merge the “last days” with those early days of the Gospel.
In Chapter 21 v 27 – 28 it seems we have the signs that indicate the nearness of the second coming of Christ, at that time he will come in power and great glory. When he comes this second time, all things as we know it will be over and all opportunities to repent will be over too. The judgement of the nations begins and a new Heaven and Earth will be established.
It all sounds fantastic and incredible but it is true. Will you be ready for that day?