Herod’s Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD with an incredible amount of violent bloodshed. In The Jewish War, historian Flavius Josephus describes the destruction with horrific and vivid words: “Crowded together around the entrances many were trampled by their friends, many fell among the still hot and smoking ruins of the colonnades and died as miserably as the defeated. Everywhere was slaughter and flight.” So great was the bloodshed, one very well might have mistaken those days for the last days.
Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, even while it still stood in magnificent splendor. Incredulous, the disciples pressed Him for more details wanting to know where and when it would happen so they could be prepared. The “end” Jesus speaks of here refers both to the destruction of Herod’s Temple in the time of the disciples as well as the end described in Revelation. Those living in the first century were to remain on their guard; those believers who are alive and the time of the rebuilding of the temple should be on their guard for persecution and attempts at deception.
Jesus’ explanation of events associated with the complete destruction of the Temple calls the reader to be watchful for deceivers in order to endure to that final end. Today, many try to take advantage of people’s fears, pointing to the chaos in our world, as we near the time of the return of Christ.
Yet our response to the hope of Christ’s return is to be watchful, guarding ourselves against deceiving words about His return and preparing without anxiety for the world’s hatred toward us to increase. We know that our Lord will be victorious, He will destroy His enemies. And we will be with Him in joy forever.
We are not to be anxious and fearful, but to be firm in our faith. The Lord promises salvation to “the one who stands firm” (v. 13). Losing salvation is not possible for the believer. But those who turn forever away from a profession of Christ reveal themselves as never having truly accepted Him. Those belonging to God will never lose their hope.