The world today is in a state of new normal post-covid. Many are at a crossroad in stages of liminal uncertainties. Earthquakes, wars and conflicts happening all over. Is the world ending soon? Are all sufferings coming to an end yet? Many are curious, wondering about end times. When is Jesus returning?
Mark 13 is a chapter on what Jesus told his disciples about signs of the end of the world. It started because the disciples observed the massive stones and beautiful buildings as they left the temple. Jesus then predicted that none of the stones will be left on top of one another. (vv. 1-2)
Jesus went on to describe the details of what will happen in the last days. But his first sentence is a warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.”
7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 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.
Another warning here…
9 “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. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 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.
v.10 is one reason why many are fervently preaching the gospel because they believe that when the gospel reaches all the people of the earth, then Jesus will return. While Jesus commissioned us to preach the gospel, He also said no one knows when the time these things will happen – not even the Son but only the Father (Mark 13:32).
14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.
(This is the period of the great tribulation when the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong – when the anti-Christ declares himself god.. see Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11)
20 “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. This refers to the 7 years of the great tribulation.
Here comes another warning…
21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
Be on your guard! this is the 2nd warning. Do not be deceived because there will be many false prophets who are seemingly true deceiving people with miracles.
Most important fact to know about end times… the bottom line, the lesson Jesus wanted his disciples to apply is this… Be on guard, be alert! Why? Because no one knows when Jesus will return.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 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.
Footnote for verse 33 says that some manuscripts say be alert and pray.
35 “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. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Jesus then told a parable (a story with a lesson).. it’s like servants keeping watch for the return of the master of the house. We are like servants assigned with tasks to do until the master returns. We are to constantly be alert and Watch!
Dear Lord, thank you for the promise that one day, our sufferings in this world will end because you will surely return. Help me to be alert and watchful, faithful till the end. Amen.