The Beginning of the End
God in heaven, You are the Almighty King, I thank You that, in Your Son, You call me friend.
Read Mark 13:1-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28).
I grew up in an environment where serious Bible students made elaborate diagrams of eschatological passages to make precise forecasts about Christ’s second coming. When I went to Bible College I learned that their view was only one of various possibilities! There I also heard a wise comment: the religious people of Jesus’ day had used the Old Testament to form views about the Messiah’s coming; but when he came most of them missed him! I therefore tend to distrust detailed scenarios. However, several things are clear from this complex apocalyptic discourse.
First, there is a historical dimension (1-23). As Jesus and his disciples observed the breathtaking architecture of Jerusalem’s third temple, constructed by Herod around 19 B.C., Jesus foretold its destruction, eliciting questions about the timing of this event. He responded to his friends’ curiosity by describing a series of impending events. When the temple was destroyed and desecrated by besieging Roman armies in 70 A.D., the signs given here gave advance warning to the fledgling Jerusalem church to flee to Pella in Transjordan and escape the days of distress that befell the sacred place. Second, there is a future dimension (24-27). Cosmic events will usher in the climactic day as the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13) returns as king to gather his chosen people from the ends of the earth.
Third, there is a present, timeless dimension, as Jesus provides a practical worldview to all generations of his disciples. He urges us to “watch out” (5,9,23) for many disturbing events that might deceive, alarm, worry or distress us. Natural and political catastrophes, persecutions and trials, family schisms and false messiahs are to be expected in this interim world. Thankfully, however, we can live now with the assurance it’s part of God’s plan and under God’s control.
Have you ever faced persecution for your faith? How did you handle it? How can Christ’s words encourage you?
Lord, the future is in Your hands. May the thought of Christ’s return spur me to holiness, evangelism, and obedience.
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