6/3/11 Deuteronomy 3-4; Psalm 35; Mark 13
S: Mark 13:5-11 Jesus replied, Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah. They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
O: Jesus had predicted the destruction of the magnificent Temple of Jerusalem that had been extensively renovated by King Herod “the Great”.
The disciples asked him when that would happen, so he told them the above passage. He also advised those in Jerusalem to flee to the hills when they see the “abomination of desolation”. It’s a bit unclear what this is, but the parallel passage Luke 21:20 is a bit clearer, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”
So when the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem in AD 70, the Christians fled. Some non-Christian Jews saw this as a betrayal, but the Christians pointed out that they were only obeying the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Anyway, this helped cement the break between Christianity and Judaism.
A: I find it interesting that in spite of Jesus saying “And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.” Christians today are so apt to immediately jump to the conclusion, “The end time is near!” whenever we hear of wars and rumours of wars.
The fact is that there have been wars and threats of wars throughout history. Jesus was speaking specifically of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but for some reason, some Christians keep trying to panic when they hear of wars & rumours of wars.
Jesus will not come again until every nation has heard the Gospel. (Mark 13:10) The fact that there are still unreached people groups means that He will not come back yet.
This kind of panicking about the second coming is nothing new. The great church leader Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who lived from 354AD-430AD, had to deal with it even during his time. He wrote a lot against the idea that we should be so worried about Jesus coming at any time, because if, after some time, He doesn’t yet return, we could get discouraged. In his Epistle #199, he mentions that there are so many barbarian nations in his own continent of Africa who have not yet heard the Gospel.
However, this is no excuse for us not to be prepared. Even if Jesus’ second coming is not within our lifetime, every one of us will meet the Lord one day. You could die in a car accident today, you never know.
So we must all be like the alert maidservants, with our lamps trimmed with oil ready for the Master’s appearance. (Matthew 25:1-13)
P: Father, I am not always alert and following You. Please help me to be more consistent, that when I do face you eventually, whether by Jesus’ second coming, or by my own death, I would be like one of those faithful maidservants who is found to have her lamp lighted with sufficient oil. Help me to flee temptation and to react in a godly manner, even when I don’t have time to think about it first.