When will this happen?

mount-of-olives-jesusI have been teaching through the Gospel of Mark with a group of guys. We meet up on the internet and do a live, video Bible study. I love how modern technology gives us such an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and to disciple others. It does not replace face to face interaction. It is just another tool in our belts to be fruitful for the Kingdom of heaven. Are you using modern technology for the furtherance of the Gospel? I know that the Apostle Paul would be using it. He used the modern technology of his day to take the Gospel to the “ends of the earth”.  Precept Ministries International has a great 3 part study on the Gospel of Mark. Each lesson is designed to take about 40 minutes to complete and it is a perfect tool for a small group Bible study setting. The following article were written based on some of the lessons from the studies.

  1. Jesus: Experiencing His Life and Ministry
  2. Jesus the Rescuing Teacher
  3. The unpardonable sin
  4. The parable of the sower and the seed
  5. Failing Faith needs a Faithful Friend
  6. Jesus serves individuals
  7. Discipleship according to Jesus
  8. Genuine Faith honors the Scriptures over religious traditions
  9. The teachings of Pharisees vs. The teachings of Jesus Christ
  10. Encountering the life changing power of Jesus Christ
  11. Getting Connect with God through Christ
  12. Superficial faith vs. Genuine faith

We are now going to turn to Mark 13. This chapter is not difficult to understand once you pay close attention to the details. Many misinterpret parts of this passage because the audience is not considered nor are the questions that the disciples ask of Jesus. The disciples are walking with Jesus and they ask Him some very specific questions. The first question is, “when will these things be?” To what things do the disciples refer in their question? The text explains. Keep in mind that they are in Jerusalem and the audience is Jewish.

1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”
2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately (Mark 13)

When will the temple be destroyed? That is the question that the Jewish disciples want to know. The second question is, “what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” The question that arises is, “to what do the disciples refer when they ask all these things?” In this passage, there is only one thing mentioned, the destruction of the temple. In order to get the full picture, we need to turn to Matthew’s Gospel to discover what the phrase “these things” means.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

They also asked about the sign of Jesus’ return as well as asking about the end of the age. Mark is not a detailed guy. He leaves out a lot of details because he is quickly racing to the message of the cross. The other Gospel writers add the details that Mark omits. So, here is a list of the discussion that follows in the rest of Mark 13:

  1. When will the temple be destroyed?
  2. What is the sign of the return of the Christ?
  3. What is the sign of the end of the age?

I am so grateful to my friend and Bible study teacher Ion Cheptene for pointing these details out to me. It revolutionized my understanding of the passage. I have heard many Bible teachers try to explain the rapture by using portions of this text. The question is not about the rapture. The discussion is about the Second Advent of the Messiah. These are two totally different events. All that follows in the rest of Mark 13 is what must happen on the earth before the Second Advent of the Messiah can happen.

I. Signs that must happen first

The first question that is answered is the fact that the temple must be destroyed before the Second Coming of Christ can occur.

5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.
6 “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.
(Mark 13)

People will try to mislead you about these events. Do not allow them to mislead you. In order not to be mislead, pay close attention to the order of events. Many false Christ figures will appear before the Second Coming of Christ takes place.

7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.
8 “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mark 13)

Also, some will try to mislead about the Second Coming of the Messiah by claiming that wars and rumors of wars mean that the event is close at hand. They must take place first but, the amount of time before is not specified. Another ploy used by those trying to mislead will be natural disasters. There have been and will be earthquakes and famines on the earth until the Second Coming of Christ. Do not listen to those who claim that these are signs that the Second Coming is close.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

10 “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
11 “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
13 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.(Mark 13)

Persecution will also be another tactic employed to mislead. Disciples of Christ have been and will be persecuted as long as we are on the earth. Do not try to read things based on the persecution. Instead, focus on using persecution as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. Before the Second Coming of the Messiah to take place, the Gospel will be preached to all the nations. Even in the age of the internet, that still has yet to be fulfilled. While on a couple of mission trip to Asia, I encountered remote village people who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Our job is to endure the persecution and continue to proclaim the Gospel with boldness and not get caught of in reading the signs to predict the Second Coming of the Messiah.

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.

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.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,
25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.
26 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. (Mark 13)

The final two events that must occur before the Second Coming of the Messiah can occur is the tribulation and the abomination of desolation. The tribulation is intended for the Jewish people and I will address that more in the next section. The abomination of desolation is also a reference that the Jewish people understand and it will happen to them. Again, I will address this in the next section. I just note that until these two major events happen, the Second Coming of the Messiah cannot occur. When Mark inserts the point, “let the reader understand” his Jewish audience knew that it was an event in the book of the Prophet Daniel. The abomination of desolation refers to an event when the man of lawlessness will stop the regular sacrifices in the Jewish temple and declare himself as God. This also means that the temple must be rebuilt before the Second Coming of the Messiah can occur.

II. Specifically for the Jewish people

The tribulation, abomination of desolation and all that follows is addressed to the Jewish people. Jesus does not mention the rapture in this passage but, according to the Apostle Paul in II Thessalonians, by the time the tribulation and abomination of desolation occur, the rapture has already taken place. We do not know exactly how much time before but, we know that the church is no longer on the earth. The followers of Christ are already in heaven worshiping the Lord, according to the book of Revelation.

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.

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)

The abomination of desolation will occur in Jerusalem and those (Jews) in Jerusalem are to flee to the mountains. A great persecution has just been announced and it will be the worst persecution of the Jews in history.

15 “The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house;
16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.
17 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
18 “But pray that it may not happen in the winter.

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)

It is going to be so bad that you do not have time to take any provisions. Run immediately. The only thing that is going to stop this terrible persecution is that the Lord is going to have to end it. As we will see in the next section, the persecution ends upon the Second Coming of the Messiah. On a side note, the Jewish audience hearing this teaching from Jesus would immediately recognize the use of the word “elect” as being the children of Israel. The Prophet Daniel used the same word in his writings when referring to the Jews and Jesus had already connected that dot when He referenced Daniel. The great persecution of the Jews is the final event necessary to precede the Second Coming of the Messiah.

III. The Second Coming of the Messiah

In the outline presented by Jesus, the final even has occurred, the great persecution, and now the Second Coming of the Messiah can take place.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,
25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.
26 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.
27 “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.
30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mark 13)

Now the natural phenomenons matter. Things will be so bad that the sun will be darkened and the moon will no longer give off any light. Second Coming of the Messiah is different from the rapture because it will be visible for all to see. The rapture will happen in the blink of an eye. The church will vanish from the earth and meet Christ in the clouds. In the Second Coming, Jesus will appear in the clouds and come to the earth. This will mark the second time in human history when Jesus places His feet on the earth. The first happened when He was born in a manger in Bethlehem. At this event, the remaining Jews on the earth will be gathered to Jesus. The final truth that we see here is that the Jews will exist on the earth from the time that Jesus gave this teaching until He returns. That is what “this generation” means. It could also be translated as “this people group”.

What are we to do with all of this information?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  (Mark 13:31)

We are to trust the Word of God and know that things will happen just as Jesus has proclaimed.

“What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ ” (Mark 13:37)

Do not be deceived. Stay alert. Continue to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples.

My dear friend, are you proclaiming the Gospel now? Are you actively making disciples? Are you a great student of the Word of God so that you will not be deceived and led astray? May the Lord help us remain alert and be about furthering the Kingdom of God with the precious time that we have!

2 comments on “When will this happen?

  1. Pingback: Jesus’ Trial | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Christ’s Crucifixion Prophesied | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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