Devotional # 34. 5/20/13. Jesus speaks on end-times.
This week’s Reading: Mark 13: 1-20.
Introduction. Last week Jesus again talked about hypocrisy and doing things from the heart. The way we go to heaven is to believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins. The way we give to the poor or to God is from the heart. Today we will talk about not being led away from Jesus. Not “following our heart” because it can be deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) but standing in the foundation of God’s Word, prophesies and Truth. That is something we can put our faith in and believe in our heart.
I have tried to balance this study with the parallel sections in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
vv. 1-2. As they leave the temple the disciples are impressed with the size and beauty of the buildings of the temple. But Jesus wants them to take their eyes off of earthly things that decay and on to spiritual things. Here he prophesizes that the temple will be torn down. Since the book of Mark was written around 50 AD this was a brave note to make since the temple had not been torn down yet.
vv. 3-4. His disciples were nervous about the temple being torn down which shows they did believe Jesus. I would have asked the same thing, ‘Jesus, when is this going to happen?’ But then they ask when is the end of the world (i.e. “end of the age?”). Here Jesus doesn’t directly answer them. It’s not that He doesn’t know (He will explain a little later) but He doesn’t want them to worry about it now (v. 7). Instead He is going to break down what the disciples (and future generations) should be on the lookout for. This allows us to be proactively faithful! We know that Jesus was correct and in 70 AD the temple did get torn down.
vv. 5-8. Before we start talking about future events we need to note that Jesus is telling this sitting on the Mount of Olives (v. 3) which will split when His foot touches it before Armageddon! So everything in verses 5-8 is talking about the beginning of the Tribulation from Revelation 6:4. Jesus is saying that there will be imposters (probably doing miracles), there will be rumors of war, earthquakes where there haven’t been etc. So really the Tribulation is not the end of the world but the beginning of the end.
vv. 9-13. In this section Jesus is specifically talking to the disciples. He is telling them what will happen to His immediate followers. They needed to know they would go to trial, their own family members would turn them over to the authorities and they would be put to death. Several things that are important for Christians today: first, God will not allow the world to end until the gospel is “preached to all nations” (v. 10). God wishes that all could be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4 & 2 Peter 3:9) but the heart who has actively rejected Him will go to hell. No one will be able to say I never heard. Second, we should not try and plan retorts and debates but pray that the Holy Spirit would speak through us (v. 11). Lastly, it says “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (v. 13). This doesn’t mean that perseverance produces salvation but it is the Holy Spirit that provides the power for the believer to continue and Jesus who saves them. Interestingly 10 of 11* disciples were killed for their faith in Jesus.
*11 disciples. Judas is obviously out. However in Acts 1:15-26 Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle and there is historical tradition that he may have been martyred in Ethiopia (Source 1).
vv. 14-20. This is for the future generations since the author notes “(let the reader understand)”. The Anti-Christ re-builds the temple and puts the “abomination of desolation”, which is an image of himself, in the temple. This was actually prophesied 560 years prior to Jesus, in Daniel 11:31 (Source 2)! Here it says “standing” which indicates that it will be continuously there for 3 ½ years (according to Revelation 12:6). This is interesting because the Jews may have been persuaded that the anti-Christ was the Messiah when he re-builds the temple but when they see him put his image inside they will know he is an imposter. This will be when Romans 10 & 11 (among many others) are fulfilled and Israel accepts Jesus in their hearts and not because of birthright or works of the Law. They (and others) will run to the mountains to hide, if they don’t take off immediately they will be caught and killed. This will be the worst warfare the earth has ever known.
Conclusion. It is important to note that current Christians will not be on earth during the horrific time of Tribulation when the earth gets so bad because the Holy Spirit has been pulled from it. We shouldn’t just dismiss this information because we won’t be here. It is our job to tell others so that they can accept Jesus now, or if they don’t now then they will remember what the Bible said in the future and be able to follow after God.
Everything we’ve talked about to relate to an attitude of the heart: acceptance of Jesus or rejection of Jesus; obedience or defiance.
Source 2: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1225. (Doing the math from 530 AD + 30 years of Jesus’ life.)