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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

03-03-24 - READY FOR WHAT'S AHEAD- Mark :13



Mark 13 takes us into a view that differs from what Mark has done prior to this time and what he will do after this time.  Unlike the other gospel writers, Mark reveals who Jesus is primarily on what Jesus has done, not so much on the things He has taught.  But now in this chapter, he stops to teach, connecting what we have seen to the things we will see – both in things soon coming and in things far distant.  What’s revealed is a battle of 2 kingdoms – one appearing in flesh, that gets its power from a hidden, unseen kingdom of lies, that will one day end and the other taking on flesh so we can see and enter His kingdom of truth that will never end.   

Jesus speaking, linking what the prophets have said and now taking a telescopic view through time to see the near - including His crucifixion just ahead and then a distant look to see things that will come at the end of the age.  Both Matthew (24) and Luke (21) joining Mark in speaking to the near and the far of end time events in what is called the Olivet discourse.  

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

Imagine the disciples’ emotions as they are leaving Jerusalem – days before Jesus has waded into the Temple area, overturning tables, setting captive animals free and chasing out money changers. And then in righteous anger, He makes an emphatic declaration about who He is, MY house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers  Mtth 21:13  My house claiming God’s Temple as His own then once again acting to validate what He has said.  

Notice: And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple; and he healed them.  And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased :14,15.  His healing the blind, an unmistakable sign of Messiah’s coming, told us by the prophet Isaiah Is 35:5.

Now if you were one of those with Jesus, imagine your thoughts about what you’ve just seen. There’s the obvious, the eviction of the thievery, the chaos, the abuse.  And in a short while, the silence of the bartering and the animals’ cries.  In their place, a different sound, not of busyness but of joy erupting from the blind and lame – those, who for so long had been kept out, kept away, kept distant. Now rejoicing with eyes that see and limbs that work; children witnessing what they’d seen, doing what the adults had been unable to do, crying, Hosanna to the ‘Son of David,’ shouting out this Messianic title that described God’s coming King.  Religiosity and profiteering gone, the corrupted Temple area swept clean, God’s new day seemingly come.  

Now the disciples are leaving this place, seeing it very differently than when they came, taking a new look at the Temple they just left.  Stripped of the noise and corruption, what they saw was unbelievably impressive.  Their view now on the physical structure.  

The Temple mount and Temple itself were jaw dropping.  The Temple mount covered 36 acres and was surrounded by huge, high stone walls, some stones measuring 12’ x 12’ x 40’ in length, weighing 400 tons.  From the highest pinnacle of the wall to the Kidron valley below was a distance of almost 160’.  To get a sense of the scope, BC place covers 10 acres.  They, filled with awe even though the Temple is still being built.  It was started in 20 BC and wasn’t completed until 64 AD – and at this point we are still 30 years or so before all is done.

But it wasn’t just large, it was incredibly beautiful. Consider that the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was regarded as one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world yet Herod’s Temple was far larger, far more impressive.  Its eastern side was covered in gold plating appearing as one massive piece of solid gold.  Its dome was marble and surrounding that was a gold cornice.  In the morning sun, it was said that its reflection would blind someone who didn't cover his eyes just to look at the Temple.  By all accounts, it was the most beautiful building in the world.

But beauty and size didn’t tell the story.  Most impressive to the Jews was that this Temple was where God’s presence dwelled among them.  That was the true power and magnificence of this place.  But in man’s sinfulness, it had become a place of hypocrisy and sin.  

So no wonder at the disciple’s awe, 2 Do you see all these great buildings? yet Jesus’ reply, NOT ONE STONE HERE WILL BE LEFT ON ANOTHER; EVERY ONE WILL BE THROWN DOWN.

A statement like this was incomprehensible, to think that a structure like this could be destroyed.  I mean how could this be?, the Temple and Temple mount appeared indestructible.  But don’t miss that the disciples don’t question what Jesus says.  They know enough by now, if Jesus said it, it will happen.  Their question isn’t How? will this happen, it is When will it happen? and What are the signs that this will soon take place?  

The When? answered in 70 AD when the Roman commander, Titus marched on Jerusalem killing many.  During the siege, a soldier threw a torch into the Holy Place.  Fires soon raged, the heat so intense that the Temple’s gold melted, settling in among the stone walls.  The soldiers, wanting to retrieve this wealth, tore the Temple down, stone by stone, thus fulfilling to the letter what Jesus had said.  

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

It’s likely that the disciples thought that what Jesus described would happen in their lifetime.  In Matthew 24:3 we are told the disciples ask, What is the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?  They associated Messiah’s presence and rule on earth with the end of the age and now He was here so surely the end of the age was soon ahead. Yet, the ‘sign of your coming’ is a little misleading because the word used, ‘parousia’ means ‘presence’ the term used of a king who’d arrived, then dwelled among his people. So the disciples’ is likely more, ‘What is the sign of Your ongoing presence when Your kingdom rule as Messiah will begin?’  Prophetically, they had reason to think this way.  They believed 4 things needed to happen that would signal the end of the age and usher in God’s Kingdom.

1st   there would be a: Time of significant turmoil - Rome’s occupation gave every reason to think that. Her cruelty, her oppression, her iron fist rule 

2nd  that: ELIJAH or Elijah-like figure would come - a forerunner announcing the Messiah. John the Baptist had done this, Jesus affirming this Mtt 11

3rd   that: Messiah will come to establish His kingdom and defeat His enemies  Jesus present, His Kingdom soon to come                     

4th   when: Scattered Jews return to Jerusalem. Peace restored. Triumphal entry fulfilling Zech 9 seemed to give hope of that. The return just ahead. 

The disciples and many Jews believed they were at stage 3 just waiting for the unveiling of  stage 4. And then Jesus says, This Temple will be torn down which was confusing because if He, Messiah were present, how would God allow His Temple to be destroyed in the time of His rule?  Added to that, He says things that certainly had to raise questions. `

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.  When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

In what was just said, Jesus speaking about those who are coming who will deceive.  But how could the disciples be deceived if Jesus were present with them?  They knew Him. He was with them.  Though they didn’t understand it at the time, Jesus putting before them a much longer range look at things that would come, some near and in their lifetime and some far distant – some, much farther distant than they could have conceived. 

In Jesus’ declaration, Many will come who will deceive, He is talking of a time when a spirit of deception will characterize the age unlike any other.  Deception has always been with us but as the end of the age nears, it will increase in significant ways. In recent days we increasingly hear of those who are deconstructing their faith and many who are, departing from the things they have heard.  Timothy warns, Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons  1 Tim 1:4

This time will be similar but far worse than what is described in Judges 21 when everyone did what was right in their own eyes :25, a time when truth is arbitrary.  It will also be a time as Revelation makes clear, when events will come for which we, and the powers that be, will have no answers.  The problems too immense for any human to solve.  Onto that scene will come one who will bring answers no one else can.

This one we are told, who is supernaturally empowered, is the deceiver of the whole world Rev 12:9. 2 Cor 11:14 tells us, He disguises himself as an angel of light.  John tells us, Lies are his native language, for he, Satan, is a liar and the father of lies  Jn 8:44.

It is for this reason that we dare not forget what we are told in Ephesians 6:12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

And the only answer for a spiritual battle is putting on the armour of God Eph 6, equipped with the power given us in God’s Holy Spirit. That means knowing God’s Word and living by God’s truth.  It means yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit’s power.  It means being a people of prayer.   

John again tells us, Little children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour 1 Jn 2:18.  Is it any wonder Jesus warns,   

9 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

:7  tells us, we will hear of wars and rumours of war and :9 that opposition will increase.

The signs we are told of speak of a time when evil and persecution will increase not that these will suddenly appear.  The truth is ever since sin entered the world, our world has been characterized by evil, violence and war.  Wars are not new to us. The 1st recorded war was in 3600 BC and since that time, a staggering 3.64B have been killed in war.  Which tells us a lot about our sinful hearts.  We are also told of our earth shaking and quaking, of climatic events causing disaster in ways not seen before – again, in their intensity, number and impact.  

The same thing can be said for persecution and violence that are on the rise and how biblical truth is not only increasingly rejected by the common man, it is also being rejected by the courts and those who hold political power.

These things that are spiraling out of our control are, as Jesus warns, the beginning of birth pangs.  Birth pangs to tell us that delivery is soon to come. In the OT, birth pangs is used 5x of God’s coming judgement but in what we see here, it will be God’s final judgment on the world  - a judgment of immense proportions, the good news that will also precede His deliverance.

14 When you see THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out.  Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.  How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that this will not take place in winter,  because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

What Jesus speaks of here is a time the Old Testament speaks of as Jacob’s Trouble Jer 30, specifically the last 3½ years of the 7 year Tribulation period, a time of intense trouble unlike anything the world has ever seen. These last 3½ years will begin when the abomination that causes desolation is seen in the Temple.  Now the lawless one is fully revealed for the evil he is.

Now for clarity, full disclosure and assuring hope, I believe Scripture makes it clear that believers in Jesus Christ will not be here during this Tribulation time.  That in fact, those who know Jesus as Saviour will be raptured – snatched out of what is to come.  There are lots of reasons for that but for now a couple of Scriptures to look at

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR.  And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thess 4:16-17

Paul also tells us, For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.  2 Thess 2:7-8.

So the Rapture which means snatched or caught up to meet the Lord in the air and later we will see that Jesus will come at the end of this 7 year time WITH His saints where He will overthrow the antichrist and Satan with the breath of His mouth and the glory of His coming.  

More on this later but let’s come back to this, ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION :11 who we also are told of in the book of Daniel 3x. Any Jews hearing this term would immediately think of what Antiochus Epiphanes did in 167/168 BC. Antiochus was one of the rulers who carried on from Alexander the Great. He was marching on Egypt to conquer it when the Romans ordered him to turn back.  Furious at this denial and believing that the Jews were blocking his wishes to Hellenize Israel and more specifically not giving honor to Zeus, he turned his fury on Jerusalem, killing vast numbers.  Coming into the Temple, he forced Jewish priests to eat pig’s meat before executing them.  Then believing himself to be an incarnation of Zeus, he went into the Holy of Holies, erected an altar to Zeus and then proceeded to desecrate the altar by sacrificing a pig, spilling its blood on the altar in so doing, defiling the altar. 

Undeniably, Antiochus was a forerunner of what Jesus is speaking about here but now it is 200 years later and what He is referring to is a time yet future.  A time far exceeding what Antiochus has done.  Some think this is refers to what happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple but several things are missing from that, in what Paul expands on in 2 Thess 2:1-4

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,  not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. HE WILL OPPOSE AND WILL EXALT HIMSELF OVER EVERYTHING THAT IS CALLED GOD OR IS WORSHIPED, SO THAT HE SETS HIMSELF UP IN GOD'S TEMPLE , PROCLAIMING HIMSELF TO BE GOD.

Yet in what we see in 70 AD, no altar was profaned, no one stood up in the Holy Place declaring himself to be god. Further, there isn’t killing of the magnitude we are told later that will fall upon the entire world.  There are other signs that we read shortly that make it clear, that what Jesus is speaking to is a time yet to come, a time we have not yet seen.  

20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

As bad as this time will be, there will also be many who will come to saving faith but their salvation will come at a terrible price.  Many martyred for their faith.  Many betrayed by family and those once friends.  While this will be a worldwide event, its epicenter will be in Jerusalem where things will be most intense.  The news is overwhelmingly bad, like what we are told in Zech 13 and have re-told in Rev 12 that 2/3 of those living in Israel will be killed.   

No wonder Jesus warns, when you see these things unfold, flee into the mountains where God will protect them for 1260 days or 3½ years Rev 12:6, 11:2,3.

So if prior to this time, Christians have been raptured, taken out of this mess, how will so many   come to Christ?  And we are told this by what we read in Revelation about two heavenly empowered witnesses Rev 11 during this time who will call people to repentance. Along with these, there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will spread the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.  And so no one will be able to say, that they never heard, God will also send an angel who will give mankind one more chance to repent  Rev 14.

If this were fiction like some Hollywood blockbuster, we could easily set it aside but Jesus tells us, what’s coming is not fiction but cold, hard fact. 

Don’t miss what we are told in the verses just read, there will be many acts of the miraculous signs and wonders done in this time and leading to this time.  This miraculous will be so amazing that no one will doubt that this has been done by the supernatural.

Which should serve as notice, that the miraculous, in and of itself, is not evidence that what we see is the work of God.  It is why John will write, Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God  1 Jn 4:1

I believe God still does the miraculous but in a day of false prophets and messiahs who have ‘extra words from God’ – signs and wonders and miracles are NOT validation that something is of God.  Jude 1:3 telling us we are to, Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  The point being, God did not forget to add or fail to properly emphasize something in Scripture that He is now forced to bring to us by someone who has special God given insight.  Before and during the Tribulation, the antichrist will do powerfully miraculous things – again reminding us that, our battle is NOT against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.

All this to say that there is a catastrophic time coming of epic proportions, a time of deception that will mark the end of the world as we know it, much of these events to center in Jerusalem

24 But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 

At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

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.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

I think in these last sections we are again told two more reasons why what was seen in 70 AD was not what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the abomination of desolation – which is to say, that what He spoke of is still yet ahead.  Following the Temple’s destruction there were no stars falling from the heavens, no planetary upheaval that put the world out of alignment, no world plunged into ongoing darkness.  

How do we know?  Very simply because those things would have ushered in the return of Christ.  That right now, right here we would be kingdom children living in His ‘present with us now’, Kingdom world of everlasting joy where there is no evil, no sickness, no death.  Where the presence of Jesus isn’t something felt, it is His presence seen Emmanuel, God with us.

But that is not what we see.

One last observation we are told of, when the abomination of desolation happens, people are told to flee for 1260 days 3½ yrs after which Jesus will return as King to put an end to all evil.  What that means is counting 1260 days from the time the lawless one stands up in the Temple declaring himself to be god, people in the Tribulation will know EXACTLY when Jesus is coming but the Bible tells us, NO ONE WILL KNOW the time of Jesus’ return, not even Jesus.  

Which tells us this, there is another coming, a sudden coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for which there will be no signs, no warning, no get ready alert.  Jesus coming in the twinkling of an eye to take with Him those who are His.  Jesus coming FOR His own, meeting us in the air to take us to be with Him.  It is this coming for which we are to be ready.  And yes Jesus later coming WITH His own to bring all things to an end.

So what does all this mean?

Above all this, it means this, Jesus’ coming is real.  What Jesus said is true.  

Which means, are you ready?  Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?  That your sins are forgiven and that you have become a child of God – what the Bible tells us is being ‘born again’.  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life Jn 3:16.  

This morning you can know, that if Jesus were to come today, you would be with Him, saved for all eternity.  Your sins forgiven.   

This is why Jesus died, because He loved you so much that

He offered His life for yours so you could

have everlasting life with Him.

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