Welcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 12, where we saw Jesus silence the Sadducees and the Pharisees who thought they were clever enough to trip up the Son of God on the Law of God (granted, they were unbelievers so they rejected Him outright in their folly). We also looked at some of Jesus’ teaching in parables.
Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 13 of the Gospel According to Mark.
Mark 13:1-2 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And so the (second) Temple was indeed destroyed circa 70 A. D. (or C.E.). Modern Judaism (which is totally different from what it was during Christ’s first advent) still looks forward to a new temple being built. Sadly, there are groups of Christians who seem to think Christ’s return for the Church is somehow connected to the earthly kingdom of Israel and the earthly Temple. Such doctrinal positions do not fit with the Book of Hebrews or the Letter to the Romans… or even what follows in this chapter.
Mark 13:3-13 (ESV) | Signs of the Close of the Age
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
So much for that nonsensical (and nonBiblical) “seven mountains mandate”… the role of the Church isn’t to take control over the kingdoms of this world, but to Proclaim the Gospel. We also shouldn’t be blindly accepting everyone who anoints him/herself a “prophet” or “apostle” in some misguided belief that we should expect a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to usher in the return of Jesus. Jesus warned of the exact opposite… an increase in false prophets. Jesus warns us clearly to be on guard. This is a call to discernment, not “open mindedness”. This same warning continues in the next portion.
Mark 13:14-23 (ESV) | The Abomination of Desolation
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
No secret rapture, no new wave of some super-di-duper-charged anointing. God isn’t waiting for a particular indication or even to trigger the return of Christ Jesus to Judge the quick and the dead. He knows the moment already. There is no “if this then He’ll return”. Only Believe in Him and His Word. He has told us all things beforehand. Trust in that Truth.
Mark 13:24-27 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
No one will sleep through this. No one will “miss” this event. It will be the end. All will witness it. All will be judged. No 24hr cameras in Jerusalem to “capture the event” needed.
Mark 13:28-31 (ESV) | The Lesson of the Fig Tree
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Identifying the signs of the fig tree doesn’t give the observer any control over the season. It’s not about anticipating the End or preparing for it with some foolish food box (Jim Bakker). While there were many who missed the first advent of the Messiah… no one will miss the last one. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but The Words of Christ will not. Ever. Hallelujah!
Mark 13:32-37 (ESV) | No One Knows That Day or Hour
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
What does it mean to stay awake? Remain in the faith. Do not slumber in unbelief. I know there are different interpretations that my Calvinist brothers take here so, as usual, please consult your pastor for how this is to be interpreted in that framework.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is Returning. There is nothing expected of us for bringing Him back, and even if there were we’d fail. It is Christ who created us, Christ who Saved Us, and Christ will bring us home in the end. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,