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Gospel of Mark #50 ~ (13:1-13)

Started by Al Moak, August 28, 2004, 07:14:25 pm

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Al Moak

August 28, 2004, 07:14:25 pm Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 04:45:02 pm by Al Moak
Mark 13:1-13
The Way It's Going To Be


What's it going to be like at the end of time as we know it? How will we know when it's near, and what will things be like just before it? And more importantly for us, what will you and I be like at that time?  Will we be able to stand up until the last? Will we find that it was all worth it in the end?

In this passage in mark, Jesus had some important things to say about the end and what follows it.  As we consider what He said, I want to urge you to turn to the only Source of eternal values.  I want you to see that everything you need for now and all eternity is in Him, and in Him alone.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you're in a conversation and someone says just exactly the right thing, it's kind of like pulling a plug - it starts a flood that you didn't expect?  It was as though what was said was the key that unlocked a store of feelings that were just ready to burst out, feelings that you or someone else had wanted very, very much to express.

Of course it sometimes is the case that someone has arranged it that way. The arranger "put out the bait" - the right words to get you or another person to ask a leading question that'd result in more information than you bargained for. In the passage before us Jesus did that, and the disciples said the right things - just as Jesus planned. The result was a wonderful explanation of the end of the age.

Jesus wanted all of us, including His disciples, to know the general scheme of things in the last age. So He said the right things at the right time to get His disciples interested and curious, and they obliged by asking the right questions.

The occasion was one in which the disciples, innocently enough, were expressing their astonishment at the magnificence of the temple, a temple made with huge, beautiful stones that fit wonderfully together. With such an opportunity, Jesus "put out the bait" by making an unexpected and seemingly outlandish prediction of the absolute destruction all of that magnificence! The disciples didn't know what to think.

After making His fantastic prediction, Jesus led them across the street from the temple to the Mount of Olives. On the way the disciples were probably buzzing with discussion about the strange-sounding prediction.  They apparently decided that such an extreme scene could only happen at the end of the age. In the Gospels we can see that Jesus had taught them at least a little about that end on other occasions, so they knew that after His death He was somehow going to rise and then come to earth again.  So they decided that Peter, James, John, and Andrew would ask Him further about it - exactly as Jesus had planned. 

So they asked Him, "What's going to bring all this on? Are there any signs that will happen first to warn us of the destruction to come?" In Matthew's account, in fact, we learn that they asked him two things. They said, "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Jesus' answer to these questions covered much more than they expected! In fact, He told them the entire future history of the human race!

His first prediction had only concerned the temple. The disciples must have thought it strange that He didn't join them in expressing admiration for such a magnificent building. Instead He simply and straightforwardly predicted its complete destruction!

To understand their amazement we need to realize that the temple was the very center of the covenant nation and was in fact the place in which the Jewish people believed God actually met with them! Yet Jesus was predicting its destruction!  It's almost like predicting the end of Judaism itself!

Perhaps the least important thing we can learn from this is God's opinion of what seem to us to be magnificent structures.  He  isn't nearly as impressed by the physical structure of religious buildings as we tend to be.

We're always impressed by large, lighted parking lots, stained-glass windows, and comfortable pews. All of these things, though, without true worship, and without the preaching of His Word, and without the work of His Spirit - don't impress Him at all. The simplest four walls within which Christ is preached is better in His eyes than even the most magnificent cathedral where there isn't true worship.

But Jesus went on with His predictions.  He mentioned a whole list of negative things that were going to happen.  He said there would be deception, wars, earthquakes, famine, revolutions, persecutions, genocide, and hate of all kinds! If His disciples had thought for one minute that He was going to promise immediate success for the Gospel and their own comfort and security in this world, their dream was absolutely shattered!

The analogy we need to make for our day is that the Christian life during this period isn't intended to be a bed of roses! If we are to heed our Lord's words here, we obviously shouldn't expect unending joy, peace, and prosperity in this age!  So the lesson is that we should forget about "feel-good Christianity!"

Jesus did quite a bit of explaining.  He said, "Many shall come in my name, saying, 'I am Christ.'" I have to point out that that's exactly what's been happening ever since He uttered these words. Many have tried to make people believe that they had the answers - that they were saviors. Hitler said it. Karl Marx said it. A whole list of others have been saying it throughout the history of this age. It actually includes any who say that they can fix humanity's problems apart from repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

But Jesus went on to say, ". . . nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginnings of sorrows!"

Can you imagine - these are just the beginning! But please look around you and notice that we're actually seeing these things right now! We're seeing earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods, and many other "natural" disasters. God sends these things to bring men to their senses - but these things are only the beginnings!

Please also notice what He says about His people's predicament during this last age. He says, "They will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before kings for My sake, for a testimony to them."

I think we can at least say that the world isn't going to like us very much! They'll honestly believe we are the cause of many of their own self-made problems. And we'll be made to stand before their officials because of it, and we'll be made to suffer extreme persecution because of it.

God intends one thing in sending disasters, but the people around us see another thing entirely.  They bring disasters upon themselves, and God allows them as a means to move them to end their rebellion and bow at His feet.  And guess what?  You and I will be the messengers to tell them about it! They won't believe us, and they won't listen - and we'll be persecuted for it.

None of this is pleasant. We need to face the fact that there'll be little peace and few "good times" until our Lord returns. Our joy and peace will have to be found in knowing Him and in experiencing His good hand upon us in the midst of the hard times. It would be likely that there won't be many mass conversions before our Lord comes, and the world won't be made holy by education and welfare schemes either! Sadly, it's an age in which "many are called, but few are chosen," and, in the words of our Lord, "Narrow is the way which leads to life, and few there be who find it." God will not give us peace in this age, but He will give us grace to endure to the end of it.

See what our Lord says to us in the age He's describing.  He says, "And the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit." God WILL send the Gospel to all nations, and you and I are the instruments to preach it - even when we are called before the officials of this world who hate us.

The things that will happen before the final day are definitely terrible things. Our Lord had to say, "Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Thanks be to our saving and keeping God, because all of His people, all who are indwelt by His Holy Spirit - throughout the age - will indeed "endure to the end."

Even now things are not so wonderful out there in the world. Read the headlines in the paper day by day. Do they speak of peace and love and "good times?" No, they speak of wars, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, floods, murders, rape, sodomy, revolutions, starvation, gay rights, AIDS, and terrorism! Where is God? Is He there? Yes, He is there, just as much as ever. And He will still hear you when you pray. But your expectation must be of inner peace, not outward peace. He has told you ahead of time so you'd be prepared.

So, how can we be prepared? How should we respond to these predictions? We need to respond, first of all, with an awareness of His presence, of His walking beside us, and of His dwelling within us.  We need to absolutely hang on to the fact that He can and will answer prayer. And we need to respond with the confidence that there is an end to this age - "He who endures to the end shall be saved."

It won't be an end such as the world might expect. It'll be an end in which our Lord is seen as LORD, an end in which He is glorified in you and I as His people.  It'll be a triumphant and joyful end, an end after which you and I will everlastingly and joyfully praise Him Who made it so!

None of these things are Christian fairytales. They're as true and real as Jesus' first coming, death, and resurrection. He really is God after all, and you can count on what He says!


Pat


"Click for Waterloo Wellington, Ontario Forecast"

Chris & Margit Saunders

August 30   

Evangelism: Modern Salesmanship

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been
of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that
they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 
--1 John 2:19

In our eagerness to make converts I am afraid we have lately been
guilty of using the technique of modern salesmanship, which is of
course to present only the desirable qualities in a product and
ignore the rest. We go to men and offer them a cozy home on the
sunny side of the brae. If they will but accept Christ He will give
them peace of mind, solve their problems, prosper their business,
protect their families and keep them happy all day long. They believe
us and come, and the first cold wind sends them shivering to some
counselor to find out what has gone wrong; and that is the last we
hear of many of them....

By offering our hearers a sweetness-and-light gospel and promising
every taker a place on the sunny side of the brae, we not only
cruelly deceive them, we guarantee also a high casualty rate among
the converts won on such terms. On certain foreign fields the
expression "rice Christians" has been coined to describe those who
adopt Christianity for profit. The experienced missionary knows
that the convert that must pay a heavy price for his faith in Christ
is the one that will persevere to the end. He begins with the wind
in his face, and should the storm grow in strength he will not turn
back for he has been conditioned to endure it.

By playing down the cost of discipleship we are producing rice
Christians by the tens of thousands right here on the North
American continent.  That Incredible Christian, 116-117.

"Lord, I suspect this is getting much worse even since Tozer's
day. In our emphasis on growth and success we may indeed be
guilty of producing rice Christians. Deliver us from that error.
Amen."

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Al Moak

Mr. Tozer's message is a very appropriate response to what I've written on Mark 13.  Thanks, Chris.  I pray, and I'd ask you to pray with me, that more of the people in CP would read this particular study, and that they might believe and respond to what they read.

Chris & Margit Saunders