Generally speaking, people are very interested in the future. We want to know to know the future personally. We want to know the future related to EBC. We want to know the future of our community and school and economy and favorite teams.
We want to know the future as it relates to the Bible, and that often means details. For the next two Sundays, we are going to be looking at Mark 13 and the end of the age. However, if you are looking for a detailed timeline, you will probably be disappointed because our text is full of apocalyptic language that is highly symbolic and by nature can have multiple meanings.
Mark 13 along with Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21 is often called the “Olivet Discourse” because Jesus spoke to His disciples from the Mount of Olives. We have probably now moved to Wednesday of Passion Week, and today, we will cover verses 1-23 and 24-37 for next week in looking at the end of the age.
Mark 13:1-4, The Temple will be Destroyed!
1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” 2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple, one of the disciples pointed out the beauty of the temple. It was built with large white stones and decorated with gold. The stones could have been 30 plus feet long and 12 feet high and 18 feet deep. This would be akin to a railroad boxcar.
The temple was not finished at this time. Its construction began in 20 BC by Herod the Great. It wasn’t finished until about 64 AD. This conversation between Jesus and His disciples took place around 30 AD. Therefore, even though it wasn’t finished, construction had been going on for 50 years.
Jesus responded to his disciple’s statement with a prophetic statement. He predicted that the temple where they were currently standing would be destroyed.
Did this happen? Certainly, it happened approximately 40 years later as the Romans burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. However, this first prophecy would simply be a foreshadowing of another prophecy that would be further away and actually hasn’t been realized yet.
In verses 3-4, Jesus and His disciples left the temple and went up to the Mount of Olives to talk. Those disciples that had been with Him the longest wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed. They also wanted to know what signs would indicate its beginning of its destruction so we will answer their two questions today and next week as Jesus answered them.
He answered their second question first and their first question second. Also, Jesus spoke prophetically about an event that would come sooner, the destruction of the temple, to teach them about an event that would come later. Therefore, Jesus prophesied about two major future events here in Mark 13. The rest of today’s text relates to that second major future event.
Mark 13:5-13, Signs will be Distorted.
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
In verse 5, Jesus warned His disciples regarding this second major future event about being deceived or tricked with false signs or signs that will be distorted. They include:
- False Messiahs (13:6) – Many will come in Jesus’ name claiming to be the Savior, and they will convince many to follow them instead of Jesus.
- National Warfare (13:7-8a) – There will be wars and rumors of war. Jesus said these things must happen but are not definite signs of the end. As a matter of fact, these five distorted signs have been happening for 2000 years.
- Natural Disasters (13:8b) – There will be natural disasters including earthquakes and famines and troubles such as tornadoes and tsunamis and flooding and COVID.
- Christian Persecution (13:9-11) – There will be physical persecution for being a known follower of Christ, and your persecution will be a witness to those who are persecuting you. Be encouraged that when you stand for Christ, the HS will never leave you or forsake you and give you the words to say in that very moment. Also, please note that before the end comes, the gospel must be shared with the entire world. This truth should fuel our missionary sending, missionary praying, and missionary funding, and this truth reminds us of God’s loving patience with a lost and dying world.
- Family Division (13:12-13) – There will be divisions and strife within families over following Christ. However, persevering through the end will demonstrate your faithfulness, and 1 John 2:19 tells us that those who turn away were never saved in the first place.
All of these signs are not signs of the end of the age. They are signs of a sinful world and have been happening for 2000 years.
Mark 13:14-23, Signs will be Definite.
14 “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
Beginning verse 14, Jesus fast forwarded to some definite signs of the end of the age. The first is the abomination of desolation, and Jesus was using language from Daniel. Originally, it referred to an event that was such an abomination and so horrible that is caused the Jewish people to scatter and leave the temple desolate or empty.
Events like this has happened multiple times, but what is interesting about Jesus’ language here is that, in the language of the NT, it seems to refer to a person and not just an event. It seems that Jesus was pointing to the Anti-Christ who will turn his back on the nation of Israel and raise an image of himself in the temple and declare that he is God. That will send the nation of Israel and followers of Christ scrambling.
Consequently, the abomination of desolation will begin the persecution of followers of Christ during this great tribulation period that will be worse than it has ever been in all of history. Jesus warned them to run and hide, and warned them not to give in to following false teachers doing signs and wonders. This time will end only because of God’s grace and mercy, and He will not allow His chosen to fall away.
What shall we take away from our text today? Remember, Jesus prophesied about two major future events. The first was the destruction of the temple. We will see the second next week that will begin the end of the age.
Until then: watch, watch, and watch. See 13:5, 9, 23. Watch and make sure you are ready to me your maker, and you can only be at peace with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
However, after you make sure you are ready, make sure you are committed to sharing the gospel with others so they will be ready as well.