Lord, comfort Your church during these times.
Read MARK 13:1–27
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 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.
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. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 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.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’[a] standing where it[b] does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.
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. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24 “But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[c]
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 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.
a Mark 13:14 Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11
b Mark 13:14 Or he
c Mark 13:25 Isaiah 13:10; 34:4
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Though presumably just a throwaway comment, the disciples get far more than they bargain for! Instead of a lighthearted chat about the local architecture (1), the disciples get catapulted into a very serious discussion about future events. Jesus issues His prophetic insights about the near future, referring to the destruction of the temple and the fleeing of the early church from Jerusalem around A.D. 70. To prepare His disciples for these events, He articulates three key exhortations: do not be alarmed in the face of world turmoil (7, 8); watch out for false teachers (5, 6, 21, 22); and stand firm amidst persecution (9–13). Indeed, it will not be long before persecution and false teaching affects the early church (eg. Acts 4–7; Gal 1).
However, the Lord’s prophetic insights are understood to concern not just the near future, but also His second coming at the end times (Hendriksen, 1975, p526). The issues that affected the early church continue to affect the church that awaits Christ’s return. As a worldwide church we are troubled by natural and political upheaval, beleaguered by false teachings, and forced to endure intense persecution. Jesus’ advice to us remains the same: do not be alarmed! Watch out! Stand firm! Yes, many troubles face the church, and these are not to be trivialized. Nevertheless, we can take comfort in the fact that Christ foreknew all these things and that they ultimately point to His glorious return (26). When Christ returns, He will arrive with the promise that, “those who stand firm to the end will be saved” (13, TNIV). Let us, by God’s grace, be among those who stand firm.
Perhaps you are affected by or concerned about world events, false teaching, and persecution. Pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to you Christ’s words of comfort. Pray for the worldwide church.
Lord, give us the grace to stand firm and to resist the onslaught of demonic resistance unleashed against us in these last days.
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