The car is packed, the doors are closed, and the family is ready to travel. The goal is ten hours down the road. After about a half hour, one of the children asks, "How long is it going to be until we get there?" The questions continue until the destination is reached.
The temple in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus was considered an architectural wonder. As they departed from the temple, one of the disciples spoke of the magnificence of the building. Jesus words jarred them. The temple will be destroyed. Destroyed so completely that not one stone will remain on another.
The natural question was when and what the signs would be. Jesus provided enough signs so that Christians who were living in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman invasion fled the city prior to 70 A.D. Those who remained lost their lives to the invading army. It is not unlike some of the stories coming out of Ukraine, where in the face of a Russian advance, people are asked to flee. Some choose to remain, and many, tragically, lose their lives.
Jesus provided no answer, except to say: "No one knows the day or the hour." His concern was that his disciples not be deceived by false Messiahs (we could say teachers—many have and are making predictions about the "when" of the end of the world).
Jesus second concern was that his followers be alert. To be alert is to remain faithful to our calling as followers of Christ. To be alert is to not drift away from what we know is right and true.
The Apostle Peter, who was one of the disciples who asked the question "When?" heard well what Jesus said. After speaking of the end times in his second letter, he asks a question:
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming." (2 Peter 3:11–12a)
What we know from scripture is that the world will not continue as it is. There will be an ending. However, the ending will not be the end because of the intervention of God and the second coming of Jesus. The ending will bring God’s restoration plan to completion. The destructive force of evil will be eliminated, and "Paradise Lost will be Paradise Regained." Meanwhile, we listen to Jesus words:
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." (NIV 13:32–33).