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storm clouds October 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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, Emergency Preparedness Kits, stores 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 be financial crisis's or terrible storms. Are we prepared? Some may say, “Don’t be so paranoid!” But, difficult times do indeed come upon us, and it is an unwise person who will not prepare himself when a storm is seen coming upon the horizon of his life.

This section of Scripture deals with a prophecy that Jesus gave to his disciples. Prophecies are predictions of future events. From the October 27 Bible study we learned that some prophecies have double fulfillments: one that is present or near, which is partially fulfilled; and one future event that has or will have complete fulfillment. This is the kind of prophecy Jesus gave to his disciples in today's Bible reading.

Jesus’ twelve disciples were just coming from Jerusalem, where Jesus was hailed as king of the Jews. Jesus did not start a revolution there, however, much to the disappointment of his followers. Jesus was now leaving Jerusalem with his twelve disciples to go to the Mount of Olives. They often congregated there for private instruction. As they were leaving, the disciples were in awe of the temple that Herod had recently 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 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 and tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, flooding, or war come upon us, all these things can be destroyed. Where then will we have our confidence?

Jesus told the disciples that their prized temple would be destroyed. It is likely they were thinking that this would be the temple from which Jesus and his disciples would rule and reign, though Jesus had told them differently. Historically, we know that the Romans destroyed Herod’s temple in 70 A.D..

This prophecy by Jesus, shortly before his crucifixion, was very startling and disturbing to the disciples. They asked the obvious questions: when will these things be? And, what will be the sign of your coming? (Matthew 24:3) They were expecting Jesus to quickly bring in the kingdom. The destruction of their beautiful temple did not seem to fit into the plans. The disciples were unaware, however, that they had asked Jesus two completely different questions separated by a long span of time. In typical Old Testament prophetical fashion, Jesus foretold tribulations which were soon to take place (i.e., the persecution of the church, which is recorded in Acts 8 and continues throughout church history), and he foretold the future Tribulation Period of the Jews and unbelieving nations in the end times. Jesus then prepared his disciples (present and future) for the bad times to come, times of persecution, hardships and even death.

What should we be preparing ourselves for in today’s world? The Gospel writer, Mark, wrote Jesus’ instructions to his disciples, which may also have some bearing for 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 implied more terrible pains were to come. Jesus continued: “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). For a more complete description of this time period, read Revelation 5-19 (we will come to these Scriptures starting on December 27). With these future things in view, Jesus instructed 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 seem to suggest that we can expect to escape this time of plague, distress, and death recorded in Revelation 5-19, otherwise known as The Tribulation Period. The Tribulation Period will be a terrible time of plagues and calamities to 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 the LORD is always with us. 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, therefore, 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 yourself by 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.

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

Lessons to live by:

  • Bad times do indeed come upon us, and it is the unwise person who will not prepare himself when a storm is seen coming upon the horizon of his life.
  • In days of disaster the LORD must be our confidence. Is he your confidence? Have you 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.

Today’s Bible Memory 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)

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

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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