The DEEP

Teacher, When Will These Things Be?

Not soon.

Luke 21:5-9 (ESV)

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

This passage introduces the Olivet Discourse. (See also Matthew 24:1-44 and Mark 13:1-36.) But notice how it begins. This doesn’t start out as a sermon but as a reply. Recall that Jesus has just pointed out how the widow’s two coins were a greater offering than what the rich contributed from their abundance.

But some folks don’t get it and start bragging about the temple’s fancy construction. Jesus pops their bubble with, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As they used to say in cellphone commercials, “Can you hear me now?”

Apparently they can, because they ask, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” Jesus could have started His reply with, “Now that I’ve got your attention …” He has a lot to say and He’ll take the rest of Chapter 21 to say it.

But they’ve asked the wrong question. They ask. “When will these things be?” Why; so you can call your bookie? How about asking why these things will happen, or what you should do?

So Jesus pretty much ignores their questions and turns this into a teaching moment. Because of that, commentators disagree about what comes next.

In today’s passage, He starts telling them what will not be a sign when these things are about to take place. These warnings are very important and still current.

See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.

That last bit is crucial. Other translations say that the end will not be immediately or right away.

Two thousand years later, we get that.


When we give thanks to the Lord for His many blessings we should also include our trials. Those can be the big blessings, though it takes some time to see how.

Look for connections between your blessings and your trials. They can be surprisingly coordinated.

God’s hand is sometimes most visible in this area.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.