the BIG story: Mark 13

Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth was a book of it’s time. Allegedly, according to the New York Times, it was the number one best-selling non-fiction book in the decade of the 70’s. Lindsay plays the dangerous game of “this is that,” pointing to future people, nations, and events as depicted in biblical prophecy and naming their contemporary fulfilment. So, the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain countries favour prominently in this cold war scare novel. Today, it all seems so different!  Jesus warns against confidence in identifying modern phenomenon with biblical prediction!

Suffering and persecution do not mean the end has come, although persecution is sure to increase as the end draws near. Jesus’ encouragement to persevere was certainly a challenge that the early readers of Mark’s Gospel understood. It is estimated that as many as 160,000 Christians die for their faith each year. Christians die for their faith every day. They are sold into slavery and buried alive in Sudan. They are raped and executed in Central America and the Balkans. They are burned alive, beaten and stoned in India, Indonesia and the East Timor. They are imprisoned and abandoned by their families in the Middle East.

Today violence against Christians is widespread primarily on the continents of Africa and Asia, but Christian persecution exists in every country on the planet every day of the year. But when we are challenged we need to speak boldly and the example of our world-wide brothers and sisters should be humbling.

A tricky verse!

When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

What is the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11)? It seems to have had a partial fulfilment in 167 BC. when Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected an altar to the pagan Greek god Zeus over the altar of burnt offering and sacrificed a pig on it. Jesus is probably looking ahead to the destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD 70, and perhaps using both of these events to foreshadow the end times, when the antichrist will stand where he does not belong — presumably in the temple. This will inaugurate the “Great Tribulation” the second half of the 7-year judgment on Israel. It is useless to try to escape from the judgment, according to Jesus; all will experience it. Both the destruction of the Temple and the Tribulation period are judgments directed primarily at Israel, which is Jesus’ main message in this passage.

It will certainly be a terrible day, but Christians are promised that we will be spared from God’s wrath (1 Thess 1:10; 5:9).

The point of Mark 13 (as we also found in Luke 17) is simple: Be prepared! It is precisely at this point in Matthew’s Gospel that Matthew records Jesus’ parables about preparation (lamps) and stewardship responsibility (talents).

I like spontaneity.  The Lord is spontaneous to. He promises to drop in unexpectedly; He will not call ahead. Is your house in order? He will not accept excuses. He has warns us in advance that we should be prepared.

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