The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 13C

Chapter 13:14-23

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  • Tonight, we continue our study of the Olivet Discourse and will arise to yet another unique section of Daniel’s 70th week known as the Tribulation Period.

    • However, let us begin by reviewing what we have covered up to this point.

      • If you recall, we began with the disciples asking Jesus several questions regarding their understanding of end times.

      • More specifically, how the Present age would come to an end and how the New Age (Messianic Age) would begin.

    • Their questions began with Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

      • Jesus would later explain, in His time and order, the sign by which pointed to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in a future day.

      • And what we witnessed last week was that history played out in the exact way Jesus said it would – to the very detail.

    • Their next question dealt with the signs of the close of the Present Age.

      • Jesus explained that these signs, although similar to what were not signs, were very distinct in the fact that the true signs would be like birth pangs.

      • There would be growth in frequency and severity whereas the previous signs were the ebbs and flow of societal uproar due to the nature of humanity in our sin nature.

      • And as I mentioned, I believe those signs are paralleled with what we see in the seal judgements in Revelation 6.

    • And finally, the disciples asked Jesus what the sign of His Coming into His Kingdom would be.

      • It is this question that extends to several sections of Mark 13 that we will address in the next teaching.

      • As I mentioned before, I believe, based upon Jesus’ framing of answering the questions in Mark 13, that Jesus beautifully sections each aspect of the Tribulation period.

    • Then in verse 8-13, we saw Jesus addressing matters of the first 3.5 years of the tribulation period which could be paralleled to that of the 1st century.

      • We witnessed this present/future reality of events of persecution being a reality both during the Apostles’ time, our day, as well as during the first half of the tribulation.

      • For as we noted, persecution is a staple for every generation of Christians in every century throughout history.

      • But as we will see tonight, the conditions of the tribulation period will be, in a sense, unparalleled in its severity, frequency, and intensity of persecution than what has ever been seen before.

    • Tonight, we will find ourselves looking at question number 4 regarding what the sign will be indicating Christ’s Second coming along with His Kingdom.

      • And as we will see, Jesus will describe this unique time in this 7-year period as the “Great Tribulation”.

    • Lastly, just as a reminder, you will not see any mentioning of the Church at this point as this judgement has been specifically set aside for Israel themselves to respond to their Messiah with the words:

      • “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”

    • The world stage at this point will have been completely setup and prepared for the heavenly cosmological drama that will unfold for the coming return of Christ and His Kingdom.

      • So, with all that having been established, let’s see how God unfolds this drama to the final curtain call.

      • Pick me up at Mark13:14-23

Mark 13:14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 
Mark 13:15  The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 
Mark 13:16  and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 
Mark 13:17  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 
Mark 13:18  But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 
Mark 13:19  For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 
Mark 13:20  Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 
Mark 13:21  And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 
Mark 13:22  for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 
Mark 13:23  But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
  • As we dive into tonight’s teaching, let us keep in mind again, we are examining the Apostles’ second question regarding the end of the age and the Second coming of the King and His Kingdom.

    • More specifically, in our extended question outline, we are addressing question 4 which speaks to Christ’s Second coming and His Kingdom.

      • We discussed the fact that these signs, from verses 8 and onward will occur during the tribulation period.

      • So, as we approach tonight’s text, we will further see the signs increasing in severity, pointing to the coming of the King and the Kingdom.

    • Now, upon our arrival to verse 14, notice the first two words “But when”

    • This provides us with a time indicator letting us know that there has been a movement to another section of the tribulation period.

      • This is further confirmed by Jesus’ words where He says “…when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be…”

    • Herein lies the specific sign that Jesus gives regarding what is known as the “abomination of desolation”.

      • We see this term mentioned in the book of Daniel.

      • And it is in Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:27 that he speaks to this moment having taken place in the “middle” of the seven years of tribulation.

      • Check out the text:

Daniel 9:27  And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
  • Daniel 9:27 tells us that this moment within the tribulation period is called the “abomination”.

    • Daniel by the Spirit of God says that this moment will happen in the “middle of the week” which refers to the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation.

      • A week in Hebrew regarding Daniel’s prophecy was a way of saying a “seven-year period”.

    • And it is in the middle of this seven-year period that Daniel records that a man will put an end to sacrifices and grain offering.

      • We know that within Jewish culture the means of sacrifices and grain offerings occurred within a Jewish Temple.

      • Therefore, Daniel is speaking to a future event regarding a future abomination of a Jewish Temple.

    • And with this man (the anti-christ) putting an end to the Temple’s operations and causing an abomination, it would render the temple desolate and unusable.

      • Although Daniel does not mention what action was deemed as “the desecrating act” within the temple, we see from Jesus’ words in Mark 13 that “something/someone is standing where it should not be”.

    • Well, this begs the question: “Who or What is the sign or action of this abomination moment in the temple?”

      • Well, we see from two places in scripture, what this action/sign is that indicates the desolation of the temple has/is occurring.

    • This first stage of desecration will be where the Antichrist will sit in the temple of God (on the mercy seat) declaring himself to be God.

      • We see this in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4. Check out the text with me:

2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 
2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 
2 Thessalonians 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
    • Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians that the arrival of Christ in His second coming will not occur until certain events occur.

      • And these events within the tribulation (the day of the Lord) are outlined by Paul in verses 3-4 of 2 Thessalonians 2.

      • Paul says that the first event is that there will be a mass turning from God’s truth to worship of the Antichrist, himself. (Apostasy)

      • So, it’s in verse 4 that we see what the first stage of abomination is – the Antichrist declaring to be god.

    • Secondly, there will be the false prophet that appears and makes an image of the Antichrist and sets it in the Holy of Holies of the temple. (Abomination)

      • We see this further explained in Revelation 13:11-15. Check out the text:

Rev.13:11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 
Rev.13:12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 
Rev.13:13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 
Rev.13:14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an
image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 
Rev.13:15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
  • It will be these events at the mid-point of the tribulation which will mark the soon return of the Lord in 3.5 years.

    • So Jesus makes clear, this will be a major means of upheaval and lawlessness unlike ever witnessed before.

    • It’s in verse 14b that Jesus mentions that at that moment in time, those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

      • The Greek word for “flee” here is pheugo (fo-ego) which means to run or move away quickly.

      • Clearly, this sign is one that men and women in that day do not want to be near or around.

      • Jesus further explains the need of expedience that men and women must have during that day. Check out verses 15-18:

Mark 13:15  The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 
Mark 13:16  and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 
Mark 13:17  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 
Mark 13:18  But pray that it may not happen in the winter
  • In verses 15-18, Jesus describes a great necessity for urgency to flee from the land to the point that there is no need to hesitate in flight.

    • It is noted that at the very point of this desecration of the temple, that all individuals are to flee to the mountains.

    • To further emphasize this moment, Jesus says that women that are pregnant or nursing will be under excruciating circumstances given their current condition.

      • The reality is, for a pregnant mother carrying the extra weight of a child, it would be overbearing.

      • One could assume that the very conditions of pregnancy could be the difference between life and death.

    • Furthermore, Jesus mentions the weather conditions are to be considered as well.

      • That those believers should pray that this desolation does not happen in the winter months.

      • For those types of weather conditions would be deathly to those traveling up the mountains.

    • Lastly, and not included in Mark’s gospel, Matthew mentions to pray that this event does not occur on a Sabbath.

      • If the Jews had to flee from this desolation on the Sabbath, it would be impossible for them to go due to the fact that transportation was largely halted during sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.

    • One question regarding this urgency to flee to the mountains becomes: “Why would the desecration of the temple cause such vast panic amongst the believers in that time?”

      • Well, we need look no further than the next two verses, verses 19-20. Check out the text:

Mark 13:19  For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 
Mark 13:20  Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 
  • Jesus makes note that these days, regarding the midpoint of the tribulation period into the time of the great tribulation, will be “of such devastation that has not occurred since the beginning of creation.”

    • We know this because He says “until now and never will”.

      • In other words, this will be an unprecedented distress that is unlike any other that God has physically poured out in the earth.

      • This coming moment will mark the last 3.5 years of life on earth in the Present Age.

    • There would be a “final” Great Tribulation that would create a distinction between this “near” future devastation of AD 70 and a “far” future where the Present Age is drawing to its termination.

      • A thorough study through the book of Revelation will show us that these coming judgements will result in the loss of all fresh water and vegetation on earth. (Revelation 8:1-19:21)

      • And knowing that water is essential to the sustaining of life, these great terrors and times only become greater indicators of Jesus’ impending return.

    • It is only by God’s mercy that He has set limits to these years to rescue His elect for the purposes of physically delivering them from this turmoil.

      • Once again, what a great mercy it is that the Church will not have to experience this coming wrath and judgement from God.

      • This reality is what the Apostle Paul had been teaching and reassuring the church at Thessalonica.

      • That there would be no need to worry of this judgement for the Church Age believer because of their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ by way of the proclamation of the Gospel.

      • Check out what 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 says:

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
1 Thessalonians 5:10  who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
  • It’s after this description of time during the Great Tribulation that Jesus mentions amidst this great devastation and pouring out of judgement, that false christs and false prophets will rise providing false hope.

    • Check out our last three verses for tonight, verses 21-23.

Mark 13:21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 
Mark 13:22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 
Mark 13:23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
  • So as this chaos and turmoil is spinning out in the earth, the people would be looking for some sort of savior to rescue them from this mess.

    • However, Jesus offers this firm warning of caution and discernment:

      • Plainly put: Do not be fooled or misled to believe the things you will see from these false prophets and false christs.

      • For it will be the very purpose of these displays of ‘signs and wonders’ to mislead many from the true Messiah who will not be too far off from His actual arrival.

    • Matthew’s gospel provides specific locations as to where these false christs will appear. (Matthew 24:26)

      • “That the false messiah is in the wilderness or in the inner rooms, which means in the temple, itself.”

    • So, although the causation of the tribulation is an indication of Jesus’ return, His return will not and does not depend upon the announcements from false prophets.

      • But rather, He will make Himself known, and it will be evident.

      • We will see this in next week’s teaching.

    • What a gift it is to know that the very words of Jesus provide the believer with timeless truth.

      • That although these instructions from Jesus were provided for a far off yet coming reality, that these very words provided insight for His apostles to make the people aware of even in that day.

    • Remember, that although these instructions are regarding the tribulation period, that the instruction of warning and dependency upon the Lord is prevalent even today.

      • And if we take heed to the instructions of Jesus, He is faithful to provide our very means of escape from the whims of false teachings and the like.

    • I love how in verse 22b, Jesus says that these signs will try to, “if possible” mislead the elect.

      • This becomes why so many of the Apostles, especially the writers of the Jewish epistles, made such efforts in emphasizing truth and the very words of Christ.

      • Because if we do not learn to stand firm on the words of truth, we will fall for anything.

      • This is why the proclamation of the gospel must be exalted and proclaimed beyond this “social gospel”.

    • This is how the enemy lures believers from the truth.

      • That if sprinkled with a hint of truth but splattered with emotionalism and social and societal interest, then it moves the mind of the believer from Absolute truth to making this current life better now.

    • Friends, the reality is, this world in its current state is not meant to last, but rather is longing to be made anew.

      • Therefore, social initiatives and societal programs to make this world a utopia is yet another means to have our minds set apart from the truth and off of eternal things.

      • The only means of true change in the hearts of men is through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

    • My responsibility as a Pastor and Bible Teacher (80%) of my job is to remind the believers of what the word of God says.

      • It is to point you back to this book that you and I may heed to eternal and everlasting truth so that we may not be tossed to and fro by every wind and wave of doctrine.

      • Check out what Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:10-18 regarding anticipation of the coming of the Lord (rapture) and the hope the believer should have until we meet Him in the clouds:

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 
2 Peter 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 
2 Peter 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 
2 Peter 3:15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 
2 Peter 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 
2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
  • Every word from God is necessary for us to: Know, Learn, and Grow in.

    • As Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 
2 Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
  • Every section of scripture is necessary for:

    • Teaching

    • Reproof

    • Correction

    • Training in righteousness

    • Therefore, if what Paul said here is true, then even the teaching of prophecy is necessary for us to be trained to know and to live according to truth as we await to meet Him in the clouds.

      • And as we read earlier, if we are not trained in righteousness and right teaching, then we become susceptible to the growing movement of false teachers, false prophets, and false doctrines, even in our current time.

    • And in all of this, to know that the Lord Jesus provided the Apostles with what is true and wise early on, even in their lack of understanding, they still came to the full knowledge of knowing how to guard and teach the church well by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      • Friends, if God is control of all history and uses his creation as instruments to accomplish His work and plans, then most assuredly, He provides those in whom He has called with the guidance they need to endure well.

    • This is why I love what Jesus says in verse 23, He says “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance”

      • There we see that Greek word, blepo, again.

      • It means to watch carefully, to be vigilant and on the look out.

    • We must be on constant watch for the things that are around us that may try and deter or distract us from the truth of God’s word.

      • If we want to learn how to navigate well, the times we are in, we must be students of the bible.

      • If we want to be on guard regarding our hearts and minds, and our very lives, we must be good students of the bible.

      • If we want to grow in the hope of our salvation, we must know His word.

    • This bible which contains 66 books, are the very revealed words from God and He has made this truth verbally known and at the right time that very word became flesh (John 1:14) .

      • May we all grow in being discipled in this truth.

      • Let’s Pray.