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Luke 21 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Luke 21 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

This verse clearly mentions the word “gift”, and the author of the SAB reads taxes. Talk about liberal bias! Taxes are not gifts, they are forced takings of private property by a government prepared to shoot you if you don't handover your money. There is nothing voluntary about taxes, and that is the main issue about a gift: it has to be voluntary, else the word has no meaning.
I suppose the author of the SAB wants to make a point about the progressive tax system. The harder you work, the more hours you work, the more you earn. That's wrong, so you should be punished for working more hours than other people. Liberal justice. Every vice gets punished by taxes by the liberals, be it smoking, producing green house gases, or working.
But if you're lazy, don't attend school, and just stay on the couch watching the telly the whole day, you don't have to pay taxes, and you even get a benefit.

2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

"And great signs shall there be from heaven."
Should we look for signs in the heavens?
The author of the SAB compares apples and oranges. In Jer. 10:2 the subject is indeed the literal heaven, the sky. The purpose was to get a confirmation of an action or to predict the future. It was done by watching birds or bird calls, or interpreting comets as a sign of pending doom.
Watching the sky in order to see what weather might be coming, isn't condemned at all, see for example Matthew 16:3 or 1 Kg. 18:43.
But this verse isn't about watching the sky in order to predict the future. Jesus had foretold the future and people could use the sky to know, not predict, when the predicted times had arrived. And indeed, fearful sights and great signs did appear in heaven as Flavius Josephus, an eyewitness, tells us:

Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. ... Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.

12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

(21:16-18) "But there shall not an hair of your head perish."
Everyone will hate Christians, and some Christians will be killed, yet no Christian will be harmed in any way.
Jesus plays with words here, positioning betrayal, death and hate opposite to perish. Live for a Christian doesn't end with death. Their enemies might kill their bodies, but their souls will not perish, Matthew 10:28. And their bodies will once be resurrected.

17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.

18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

"There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars"
Does the bible condemn astrology?
What the Bible says about astrology
As we do today, so did the Bible distinguish between astronomy and astrology. There is no objection to studying the stars, they are given so we might develop science, but using the stars as a guide to the future is forbidden, see Deut. 4:19 where the two are clearly distinguished.
On these particular signs see verse 11.

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
Will Jesus' second coming be visible to all?

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

"This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."
Jesus says that all that he describes (his return, signs in the sun, moon, and stars, etc.) will occur within the lifetime of his listeners.
What the Bible says about the end of the world
(21:33) "Heaven and earth shall pass away."
Will the earth last forever?

33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.