The Olivet Prophecy – Part 3

In the previous post, we compared the scriptures from Matthew, Mark and Luke that spoke about great distress/tribulation and the abomination of desolation regarding the signs Jesus gave to his disciples. It would appear that these events related to the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the taking of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. Many people view these passages as relating to a time still future to us; however, we recall that Jesus was re-directing his disciples from admiring the beauty of Herod’s Temple and describing a time when it would be destroyed. He also stated that after this he would return to the earth. Of interest is that, at this point, the disciples still did not understand that Jesus was going to die and be resurrected.

Jesus then told the disciples what would happen immediately after the great distress and abomination of desolation.

Distress and Perplexity

Matthew 24:29Mark 13:24-25Luke 21:25-26
• Immediately after this tribulation
• Sun dark, moon does not give light, stars fall from heaven
• In those days after that tribulation
• Sun dark, moon does not give light, stars fall from heaven
• Powers of heaven shaken
• Signs in sun, moon, stars
• Distress of nations in perplexity
• Roaring of sea and waves
• Powers of heaven shaken

If our understanding that the “great tribulation” and the “abomination of desolation” was the time from AD 66 to AD 70 when the Roman armies besieged Jerusalem, starved the inhabitants and then they entered and destroyed the Temple, then, we expect the language regarding the sun, moon and stars to take place very shortly after AD 70.

Throughout the Bible, the language of the sun, moon and stars is often used in a symbolic or figurative way. When we are introduced to the sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1:14-15, we are told that they are for “signs, seasons, days and years”: There is a literal and figurative aspect to these heavenly bodies. The following are three examples.

In Genesis 37, Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob, has a dream in which the sun represents his father; the moon, his mother; and the eleven stars, his brothers (v.9-11). In Deuteronomy 31:28-30, Moses gathers the elders and the congregation of Israel and recites the words of the song recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-44. He addresses the elders and the people as the “heavens and the earth” (Deuteronomy 32:1). Likewise, the prophet Isaiah addresses the kings of Israel and Judah and the people as“heavens and earth” (v.1).

If the heavens represent ruling powers and the earth represents those who are ruled, or the common people, then the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and stars would represent the ruling authorities. If the sun is darkened, the moon does not give its light and the stars fall from the heavens, this could indicate a significant change of government, leadership or rulership.

Article by Dale. Photo by Sascha Thiele (

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