Mark 13:14-31 14 “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. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 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. 20 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. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 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.
28 “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. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Many of the prophecies in the Old Testament contain a description of both the first coming and the second coming of Jesus Christ which could naturally lead to a misinterpretation of the meaning of the prophecies. The Jews all thought that when the Christ would come, He would defeat the enemies of Israel and Israel would rule the nations. This was the general belief as to how the Kingdom of God would be established. But this was never God’s plan of salvation. As the very Son of God entered into creation to save us from our sins He would establish a new spiritual Kingdom that would transcend the nations as the Church was formed. Instead of Israel being exalted they would be rejected because of their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. There will yet be a great harvest among the Jews before the Lord returns but when Jesus spoke these words to His disciples He was revealing to them in greater detail the darkness that was associated with His coming. There was intense darkness as Jesus died upon cross and there would be intense darkness in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and there will be intense darkness in the present world before Jesus Christ returns someday soon in the future.
In A.D. 70, about 40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, Roman general Titus invaded Jerusalem to crush a Jewish revolt. He entered the temple, destroyed the building, and carried off the lampstand and other temple artifacts to Rome. This was all new and unexpected teaching. It did not fit what the disciples had been taught previously.
The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was a judgment from God for the rejection of Jesus as the Christ. The Christians who were in Jerusalem at the time were to flee for their safety. Right up until the last moments they were to declare the Good News of Jesus Christ to the lost souls that had no idea of their impending destruction. The same is true in our day. There is an impending destruction of the entire world when God not only judges one nation but all the nations for their rejection of Jesus as the Christ. We, who are born again Christians, are called to continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to lost souls right up until the last moments before the Lord returns coming in the clouds with great power.
Nobody likes to hear a negative message and yet Jesus declares that heaven and earth will pass away (verse 31). We all recognize that there is evil in this world and just like the disciples we should recognize that God must ultimately deal with the problem of sin and the enemies of God but we tend to have an idealistic view as to how this will be accomplished. We dislike the idea of great challenges and difficulties in order for God’s plan of salvation to be fulfilled. Jesus reveals there will be many false Christ’s and false prophets. Jesus reveals that the antichrist will reign. Jesus reveals that there will be great darkness throughout the entire world.
There is going to be a time of separation and God has always done this throughout all history. He separates those that are His true children from those who are not. But there are particular times when this separation is intensified as God completes a purifying work in relation to His judgment. When Jesus died upon the cross He allowed His enemies to defeat Him. There are many times throughout the history of the true Church and in the nation of Israel when the enemies of God appear to be triumphant. We all as born again Christians will go through such times as our faith is tried. We will be led by the Holy Spirit to discern the true from the false. We will not be led astray by the false Christ’s and the false prophets. We will not be overcome by the darkness in this world but at times it may appear so. The disciples were soon going to learn this. God allows His enemies to have their day revealing their wickedness. He gives them time to repent but their guilt still remains upon them if they are not willing to surrender to Jesus Christ. But when God does finally judge the wicked He will separate His true children from the false. He will gather the elect from the four winds. They will be safe in the arms of Jesus.
When He does this His children will recognize the signs that precede His judgment and they will be spared from His wrath. They will be separated from those whom God judges. Jesus uses the picture of the fig tree’s branches becoming tender and leaves forming to recognize the coming of summer in Israel. Likewise the disciples would know when to leave Jerusalem when the judgment came in A.D. 70. But at this point the disciples did not understand any of this. At this point they were blind to all that was to come. Jesus reveals these truths beforehand to once again prove that He is indeed the Christ. Truly His Words will not pass away. He alone knows the end from the beginning. He alone can help us to understand the deep truths of God.
Are you among those who are in the Kingdom of God and who will be spared from His wrath or you among those who have rejected Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation?
Pastor Murray Hack