Mark 13: 1 – 31 The destruction of the temple and signs of the end times

Mark 13: 1 – 31 The destruction of the temple and signs of the end times

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’

‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left upon another; every one will be thrown down.’

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?’

Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he” and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 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.

‘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. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

‘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. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equalled again.

‘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. At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “Look there he is!” do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.

‘But in those days, following that distress, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

‘At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 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.

‘Now learn this lesson from the fig-tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

*       *       *

How should we read this passage?

Many scholars have interpreted the events Mark records as describing the annihilation of Israel and the destruction of the temple by the Romans. This happened about 70 AD. Just as Mark’s gospel says, it was a time of great suffering and the temple was literally razed to the ground. Some of those scholars have gone further, and drawn the conclusion that the event wasn’t prophesied, but written about after the event. They’ve used this to date Mark’s gospel as being not earlier than 70 AD.

However, while some of the passage fits with the fall of Jerusalem, verses 24 – 27 don’t. They seem to be looking to the ‘end times’.

‘But in those days, following that distress, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

‘At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 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.’

What can we learn from this?

Firstly, we can learn that Jesus prophesied great turbulence before his second coming. If we are unfortunate enough to live in those days, we can be reassured that Jesus knew it was going to happen. We have to continue to trust in Jesus, because, “… the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Secondly, God’s word is eternal, and so is Jesus’. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Thirdly, the passage should make us think not only of the ‘end times’, but of our own end time; the day we go to be with Jesus. When the day of my death comes, I will no longer have time to enter the house to collect a cloak. The end of this mortal life will have come, and all I can hold on to is Jesus. I shall need to hold on to the knowledge of his love for me, and then I shall not fear, rather I shall long to be fully with him.

I’ve struggled with this passage today. The descriptions of the way human history will play out are brutal, and it almost seems as though God approves.

I was, therefore, greatly comforted when a Christian friend said this to me: “Life is really as simple as helping hands and hearts.” If we help whenever possible, if we love everyone with whom we have contact, if we do this because we have faith in Jesus, we can leave the end times to take care of themselves.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Please strengthen me to offer helping hands to those in need and a helping heart to those who lack love.

In Jesus name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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