Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Return!

Chapter 13 of Mark begins with Jesus and His disciples leaving the temple in Jerusalem. One of the disciples was in awe of the magnificence of its stones and construction. At verse 2 Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple along with all the great buildings. When they were on the Mount of Olives his disciples Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked privately for a sign when these predictions would occur. Jesus predicted the beginning signs would be an increase in deceivers, wars and rumors of wars, and the persecution for His namesake. He also told them to expect the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world (Mark 13:14-27).

Jesus was preparing His disciples for the end of the world. He also prepared them for the judgment on Jerusalem at hand. At verse 14 we see the term “Abomination of desolation” which was first introduced in Daniel 9:27. Abomination means something that is defiled and offensive to God. Desolation means to cause something to be desolate or empty. According to Daniel 9:27, an abominable idolatrous image is set up in the temple for worship. Daniel prophesied the Roman prince would break a one week covenant and not allow the people to give sacrifices and offerings to God. This was offensive to God. “The heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into the congregation…” (Lamentations 1:10). This is an abomination of desolation such as when the Roman army invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in AD 70. The one week period in the prophecy symbolized the seven-year Tribulation period. In the Tribulation those who chose not to follow Christ and were left behind at the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18) will experience worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain and suffering before His Second Coming.

When the Roman army arrives, Jesus warns that the Christians are to run for safety and flee into the mountains if they are in Judea. If there are no mountains, they must still flee for safety. Leave immediately. They are in danger. There is no safety in attempting to fight. There is no time to go back to get coat, purse, wallet, or credit card. It does not matter whether you are on the rooftop or in the field, you must leave. It will be hard for a pregnant woman or a woman with a newborn or small child to flee; but they must flee for their life if they are followers of Christ. Wintertime and other weather conditions can make it difficult to escape. Prayer to the heavenly Father will be necessary for His grace and mercy to assist you as it will still be necessary for you to flee.

The Lord wanted His disciples to know that they would experience a time of great distress (unequalled affliction) that had never occurred since God created the world. The tragic fall of Jerusalem with hundreds of thousands of people dying confirmed the Lord’s prophecy. In the midst of the storm, God showed mercy and shortened the days for the elect’s sake. He answered the prayers of the elect (Luke 18:7). By shortening the days, the Roman soldiers were not allowed to control the city long.

Jesus also cautioned them about deceivers who would come claiming to be Christ. He knew the disciples would be prime targets of the “elect” class that would be sought by these deceivers. Jesus knew if they were truly Christians they belong to the Lord and could not be deceived. He commanded His disciples to take heed and be alert of the deceitful ways of Satan. He had forewarned them.

Jesus Christ is coming back one day! The time of great distress (unequalled affliction or Great Tribulation) involving the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple is separate from the cosmic, natural changes that will occur before He returns. The sun will become dark, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall, and the powers in heaven will shake (Mark 13:24-25).

Before Christ returns, the day of the Lord occurs (2 Peter 3: 10-13). The day of the Lord refers to a time period when God acts in judgment. It will come as a thief and the heavens and earth will pass away. There will be new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

Mark 13: 26-27 indicates that the Son of Man will return in the clouds with great power and glory. He will send His angels to the four corners of the earth to gather His elect who remains faithful through the Tribulation Period. Nothing will stop Him from defeating Satan. Christ is coming back!

Written by Deborah Davis

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