One topic that I continue to get asked about is signs the end. Just hearing about everything going on in the Middle East alone is enough to make somebody wonder if we’re just about there. I don’t have an answer on timing, but the Bible does talk a lot about the signs that we should watch for, and Mark 13:1-37 is one of those places. It’s a long section, so I ask that you please read it first, before reading my thoughts on it.
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 on 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 rumors 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 about 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’(Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) 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 unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled 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 ahead of time.
“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.’(Isaiah 13:10, 34:4)
“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. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
There’s really a LOT of stuff there. For example:
1) Verses 6, 21-22 – “Many will come claiming to be God’s Messiah, but be on your guard and don’t listen to them. Many false Messiahs and false prophets will:
- Rise up
- Perform signs and miracles
- (Promise much)
- And be deceivers of God’s people.”
Muslims claim that Jesus spoke of or mentioned the coming of their “prophet”, Muhammad. I don’t know where they get such a claim, but I can tell you that if He did, it was here in verse 6: “Many will come in My Name claiming, ‘I am He’, and will deceive many.”
2) “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”
:21 “If anybody says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here’s the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There He is!’, do not believe it.”
:22 “False messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect. So be on your guard!”
On that note, how important it is that we not be deceived, tricked, fooled, knocked down, idle or turned. How important it is that we:
- Watch out
- Be on our guard
- Preach Jesus’ gospel
- Stand firm to the end
- Not believe any other gospels, doctrines or claims to Messiahship
- Be alert
- Keep watch
3) :10 = “The Gospel must first be preached to all the nations.”
Almost 2000 years after Jesus, almost everyone has heard the Gospel. Why is it so important for the Gospel to be preached to all the nations? So that all may have a chance to welcome and accept it. Remember, God would prefer that all would welcome His good news, turn from their sins and give their lives to Him through His Son (Ezekiel 33:11). But unfortunately, not everybody will. In fact, many won’t (Heaven’s not overflowing). But He wants to put it out there for everyone, giving everybody the chance to choose Him (thus also giving those who reject Him no excuse on the Day of Judgment).
4) Families in conflict and putting each other to death because of Christ: Today, Christian converts from Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Paganism, etc. are most often victims of such from their families.
5) The Abomination that causes desolation: The detestable thing that causes the desolation of the Holy place (see Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11)
These primary references in Daniel were to 168 B.C. where Antiochus Epiphanes IV erected a pagan altar to Zeus on the sacred altar in Jerusalem’s Temple. According to some, there are still 2 more stages in the progressive fulfillment of the predictions in Daniel and Matthew, such as the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the setting up of an image of the Anti-Christ in Jerusalem. Here are some other verses to check out:
Looking through this, you’ll notice that the major theme is to:
- Be on your guard (:9, 23)
- Don’t be deceived (:5, 21)
- Stand firm in what you know is True (:35, 37)
These are most important, because as we have seen, a lot will be happening, many who think they’re accepting God and His Gospel will actually be turning away from God, many will accept the ways of the world, many false prophets/teachers will (and have) come to deceive many, and in it all, we need to remember to do the one thing that Paul continued to say in his letters: ‘take hold and stand firm to the Gospel that we taught you in the beginning.’
For example, just look at the gospels out there today, claiming everything BUT Jesus Christ:
- the gospel of happiness: if you’re happy, then it’s OK to do it because it makes you happy. But if it doesn’t make you happy, then don’t do it.
- the gospel of health: if you’re sick, then you must have made God mad, because if God was pleased with you, then you would be healthy.
- the gospel of wealth/prosperity: If you give a little to the church, you’ll get a little back for yourself. But if you give a lot of money to us, the church, then God will reward you by giving you a lot of money back (give $100, God will give you $10,000). – And the focus is not on God or His people, but on a fast-return investment.
- the gospel of idleness: You’re saved. So now go about your business. It’s like you’re on a train, your ticket’s been punched, so sit down and enjoy the ride until you get to the end.
- the gospel of good feelings: Those nice messages you read on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and such would fit into this. They’re nice thoughts and give you fuzzy feelings when you read them, but they’re nowhere near Biblical.
- the gospel of hatred towards sinners: these are usually preached by those churches who you’ll see protesting or picketing an event, such as a funeral for a gay soldier, a pride parade, or an abortion clinic.
- What are some other false gospels you can think of that are currently circulating? How do they compare to the major theme mentioned above?
- The detestable thing(s) that causes the desolation. So what is it today? Or what do you think it will be?
- What are some ways that you can be on your guard and keep from being deceived? How can you help others to do the same?