This passage is definitely dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and with the Jewish nation throughout history (Luke 21:24). The desolation mentioned here is the desolation of Jerusalem, not the abomination of desolation (that is, the antichrist spoken of by Matthew and Mark, Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). Verse 24 makes it clear that the period covered by Jesus stretches from the time “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, (Luke 21:20) “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
However, the points of this Scripture can also be applied to the end time as well. The disciples had asked two questions. First, when was Jerusalem and the Temple to be destroyed? They thought it could be destroyed only in the end time. Second, what were the signs of the end time, or the destruction and remaking of all things which would usher in the Kingdom of God?
Luke 21:20 a sign to look for is that of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. In A.D. 66-70 Jerusalem experienced one of the most terrible sieges in history. In A.D. 66 the Jews revolted and the Roman army was swift to attack. However, the city was difficult to take primarily for two reasons. It sat upon a hill, well protected by the terrain, and the leaders of the revolt were religious fanatics. Well over a million people had fled into the city behind its protective walls. Jesus made two points.
1) Some standing there with Him would be witnesses of the sign and actually see judgment fall upon Jerusalem.
2) All of His followers were to be looking for and alert to the sign. They were to be prepared at all times for the coming judgment.
Luke 21:21 the sign of Jerusalem being surrounded will be a time to flee. Jesus warned His disciples to flee immediately. Believers in the surrounding areas around Jerusalem are to flee to the mountains, those in the midst of Jerusalem are to get out and leave the city immediately and those in other countries are to stay away and give no thought to entering Jerusalem.
The believers did heed the warning of Yeshua andfled Jerusalem before the attack, sometime around A.D. 66. They fled to a small town called Pella in the district of Decapolis. Matthew points out that Jesus said to forget the comforts of home and personal possessions, that the danger was so close and terrible that believers should think only about escaping.
Too many minds today are centered on comfort and possessions, the world and money. The coming judgment was imminent then and it no less today. While we are not called to flee we are called to live in the expentancy of Yeshua’s anytime return. (Matthew 7:24-25).
Luke 21:22 the sign of Jerusalem being surrounded will be a time of vengeance or judgment is the fulfillment of Scripture, the days of God’s wrath. God had been patient and long-suffering with Israel for generations, in fact, from the very beginning of their history. But Israel had always rejected God’s pleadings. Therefore, the predicted judgment had to fall.
The terrible desolation that took place upon Jerusalem and that which will come at the end of the times of the Gentiles is due to sin. Israel had rejected God for centuries and eventually killed God’s very own Son. Therefore, Jerusalem and the country would be judged. If God so judged Israel for its sin and rebellion to God do we think that we as New Covenant Believers are any less liable to God’s discipline?
Luke 21:23 the sign of Jerusalem being surrounded will be a time of woe, distress and wrath, death and captivity. Four pictures are painted to describe the awfulness of the hour:
1) Women who were pregnant and carrying small children would find it difficult to flee. They would be too slow to escape the onrushing judgment.
2)There would be great “distress” in the land. As the siege wore on, the predictions of Jesus and Moses (Deuteronomy 28) were literally fulfilled. There was the killing and maiming of loved ones in war, the famine and pestilence and false deliverers (messiahs). Distress swept over the whole land.
3) The wrath of man (Rome) and the wrath of God fell on the people.
4) An unbelievable number fell by the sword; according to Josephus, over one million people died and about ninety seven thousand were taken captive. In the end time, the world will experience great tribulations—unparalleled in history. A quick glance at the great tribulation period covered in Revelation will give some idea of the trials.
Luke 21:24 the sign of Jerusalem being surrounded will be a time in which the Gentiles will be in the forefront. The Jewish nation was to be scattered and Jerusalem trodden
down until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The word “fulfilled” in the Greek means that God is in control of the times.
There is a purpose to “the times of the Gentiles” and to what has happened and is yet to happen to Israel. God is in control of history (Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:10). There is to be an end to the Jews’ captivity and to Jerusalem being trodden down. The nation will be restored to its land. When? When “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Romans 11:25-36).