Olivet Discourse: Luke Chapter 17
Though this passage is not part of the Olivet Discourse that the Lord had with His disciples in His last week of earthly ministry, it is important to review these passages in Luke 17:20-37. The Lord did not restrict discussion of His return and end times while on the Mount of Olives, but other passages are peppered throughout the gospels, such as Matthew 10:16-23, John 5:24-29, John 14:1-4, and others. The Olivet Discourse is a focused discussion on the subject, and brings to light many aspects of life concerning the tribulation saints that are not found elsewhere in scripture. Again, though not part of the Olivet Discourse, time is being spent on these passages, Luke 17:20-37, due to the additional material that adds to Matthew 24:1-51.
|20-23||When the Kingdom of God should come|
|24-25||The 1st and 2nd advents of the Lord Jesus Christ|
|26-33||Examples of judgment with Noah and Lot|
In Luke 17:20-23, the Lord spoke of the coming days of judgment and His millennial reign on other occasions before the discourse on the Mount of Olives with His disciples. This discourse by the Lord precede the time of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and are prompted by the Pharisees demand to know from Jesus, when the Kingdom of God would arrive. The Lord’s response was two-fold:
- The kingdom would not come physically in their day, so they could not search for it
- The kingdom of God was in their midst
The Lord warned His disciples similarly, that they could not find the physical manifestation of the kingdom in their day. A graphical representation of the spiritual and physical kingdoms of God are shown in the graphic on the Luke chapter 17 timeline.
In Luke 17:24-25, the Lord describes the beginning of His 2nd advent as light from a lightning bolt; a shocking, sudden and intense bright light that suddenly shows before sound is heard. His return will be witnessed by all, but not through technology as during the days of the Antichrist, but supernaturally. This is the answer to the second of the three questions of the disciples to the Lord, "What are the signs of your coming?" More is written on this site concerning the three questions by the disciples on this site, on the page discussing Matthew chapter 24. However, the Lord distinguishes His earthly ministry with His disciples, and that He would soon surrender Himself to the cross, suffer many things, and be rejected by their generation before those things announcing His return could happen, Luke 17:25.
Luke 17:26-27 provides a glimpse into the major characteristics of that time leading up to the return of Christ, which are compared to the times of Noah:
- They ate, drank, married and given in marriage
- These events describe a lascivious lifestyle, satisfying the lusts of the flesh
- Genesis 6:5-8 provides further background during this time
More is described in this site on the comparison with the times of Noah on the web page discussing Matthew chapter 24.
In Luke 17:28-30 a similar set of circumstances of everyday life occurred during the days of Lot, as it was in Noah's day. People went along with their daily activities, completely unaware of the impending judgment from God for all their actions and activities that were rebellious against the Lord. Life continued on as always, up to the moment that God’s judgment fell on them.
In Luke 17:31-32, the Lord gives a warning to those living in those days when He returns to not to go back to their homes for their property or things that tie them to worldly things, but to turn from God's judgment that will occur along the entire length of Israel during Armageddon. At that time He will destroy the armies of the Antichrist and the 200,000,000 man army, see the discussion on this site on the page, Armageddon battlefront, and Matthew 16:24-27. This may not be applicable to all people around the world, but to those living near this battle zone. It will be quick and complete, and will be no place for any of the believers in Christ who are yet alive at the end of the seven years of tribulation. The warning by the Lord is two-fold, to not go after their possessions, but flee, and to not turn back as Lot's wife did. As Paul wrote to the Romans, you present yourselves as slaves to whom you obey, whether in sin to death, or in obedience leading to righteousness, Romans 6:16-18. As can be seen in the record of the Lord's judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah, once Lot and his family made it to the city of Zoar, then God rained down brimstone and fire onto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and upon all the plains and all the inhabitants, and all that grew. Lot and his family did not look back, but being in Zoar, they must have felt the heat of God's judgment, causing Lot's wife to then look back, longing for the life that she left behind and thus destroying her, Genesis 19:17-26. Because of Lots presence, only the city of Zoar survived, but Lot feared for his life so he finally left for the mountains as he was originally commanded to do, and there he lived in a cave with his surviving daughters, Genesis 19:30. This will be the time for those in that region when they who seek to save their life will lose it (by longing for the world as lot's wife did), and those how lose their life will preserve it, through the Lord Jesus Christ, Luke 17:33, as evidenced by tribulation saints in Revelation 15:2-4, and their praises to the Lord.
Luke 17:34-36 describes a similar situation that was described in Matthew 24:37-42, Matthew chapter 24, where the pairs of individuals are seen doing something together then suddenly one is taken and the other is left behind. The context is still concerning the examples of Noah and Lot that were just discussed above. This is at the time of the Lord’s return, and after the battle of Armageddon, the Lord will separate the wicked from the righteous, Matthew 24:30-31. The examples given here in Luke 17:34-37 are similar to the account in Matthew, but with one difference. The event of taking away the righteous to meet with the Lord on His entry into His holy temple in Israel, will be a singular and simultaneous event in time. It will be global, not regional. That is why the examples given show that either two are sleeping, or two are working, or two will be in the field. In other words, no matter where a righteous person is in this world, they will be taken instantly to be physically present to witness the glory of Christ and His return to His temple.
The last verse Luke 17:37, the Lord answers the disciples' question as to where they go. There is great disagreement as to how this should be interpreted, and it is not the intention here to list all of the potential ways this verse's interpretation has been parsed. Within the context of this chapter, it may be sufficient to say that this verse shows the righteousness of the Lord in segmenting the world into two camps, the wicked from the righteous. The wicked will suffer death where the vultures (in the King James version of the Bible, it says eagles), whereas the righteous will continue to live in the presence of the Lord.