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Hope Beyond the End - Mark 13:14-27

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Mark 13:14-27 Hope Beyond the End 2020-04-12 God is working all things together for good for those who love him Have you ever spent time looking at a picture of Mount Hood? Taken from a distance you see rolling hills, covered with trees, and then the mountain, white with snow, jutting up directly behind the hills in the foreground. It looks like if you were able to place yourself in that picture that you could jump from the tree covered hills directly into the snow on the mountain. But if you’ve spent time hiking or skiing or biking around the hills near Hood you know that there are miles between those tree covered hills and the snow-covered mountain, and even valleys between. If you’ve noticed this, or experienced this, then you understand an important principle for interpreting prophecy in the Bible. Scripture Passage: Mark 13:14-27 This morning we’re going to take a journey with Jesus, as he instructs his disciples, going from one hilltop to another, from the destruction of Jerusalem to his triumphant return. Remember that last week we read the disciples had two questions for Jesus, but both questions referring to the same thing (v.4). The first question was when would the destruction of the Temple take place. The second question was what the sign of this would be. In our study last week Jesus answered the first question (kind of). He said that false Christs would come, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines, but these are not the end and only the beginning of the birth pains. He then drew attention to their faithful endurance to the end, and their promised salvation. This week Jesus takes on the second question, the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished. As Jesus answers his disciples, we see more and more clearly that God is the master of history, the one who works things together according to his will, and for the good of those who love him and are called by him. When You See the Sign (vv.14-18) 1. v.14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation…” - Last week’s answer focused more on hearing. Many will come saying they are Christ. When the disciples hear of wars, etc. But now Jesus says when you see the abomination of desolation. This is the something seen; this is the sign they had asked about. 1. The abomination of desolation - the prophet Daniel speaks about the abomination of desolation. Daniel 9:27 “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Daniel 11:31 “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.” Daniel 12:11 “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.” 2. in 1 Maccabees, which isn’t part of inspired Scripture but does record some of Israel’s history, we read about Antiochus Epiphanes, who in 168-167BC set up what is called a “desolating sacrilege” on the altar of burnt offering. He erected an altar to Zeus and offered a sacrifice of swine. This was understood to be an abomination of desolation. 1. What then would the disciples be looking for, if Antiochus Epiphanes committed the abomination of desolation? Something equally as heinous and detestable taking place in the Temple. Many commentators believe that Jesus was prophesying about Titus, the Roman general, coming in and inhabiting Jerusalem, setting up their standards and symbols of idolatry before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. I’m more convinced that this abomination of desolation took place a few years earlier, when Jewish Zealots overtook the Temple and installed a man into the position of High Priest that was only a puppet and had no place inhabiting that position. By the time Titus was surrounding and inhabiting Jerusalem, attempts to flee to the mountains would be too late, whereas when Phanni was installed by the Zealots, this would be a few years earlier and allow the Christians to flee before it was too late. I don’t know that these specifics are all that necessary, but I do believe it’s important to note that Jesus was giving his disciples clear indicators, a noticeable sign, for when they were to flee. Jesus knew what was to come, and he was preserving and protecting and working for the good of his people. 3. vv.15-18 Flee in haste - The disciples and believers in and around Jerusalem during this time were to flee to the mountains. The natural reaction of the Jews would be to seek refuge in Jerusalem and from the Temple, but this is the exact opposite of what should be done. 1. Historians tell us that 1.1 million Jews died when Jerusalem fell to the Romans, but that Jewish Christians were not among them, because they obeyed Jesus’ command. 2. Jesus cares for his sheep and gives them warning. Do you see the great love expressed, that even as he is preparing for the cross he takes the time to instruct and inform his disciples, to give them some comfort and hope and confidence? How have you seen the love of Jesus being expressed to you in recent days? Days of Difficulty and Deceit (vv.19-23) 1. v.19 “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of creation…” When all of this is taking place, when the sign has appeared and the destruction of the Temple has begun, the days will be incredibly difficult. Mark speaks of unprecedented tribulation, such as the world had not seen before those days. 2. v.20 “And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” - The Lord cares for and saves his elect, even through tribulation. Isn’t this the pattern we see throughout Scripture? We don’t read about the patriarchs of Israel living easy, difficulty free lives. We don’t read about David always skirting hardship or danger. We don’t learn about Paul and the other apostles escaping trials. No, instead we read about God bringing his people through and working on their behalf in the midst of tribulation and trial. Here Jesus says that his elect would be in a time of intense tribulation, but he would shorten the days for their sake. 1. 1 Peter 4:12-19 Don’t be surprised at fiery trial. 3. v.23 - Be on guard - watch carefully, as in vv.5, 9. This is the bookend for this section, as it opened in v.5 with “See that no one leads you astray,” the same Greek word as “be on guard” here. The Day of Victory (vv.24-27) 1. v.24 “But in those days, after that tribulation…” - Now here is where I need you to stick with me. We’ve just jumped from the tree-covered hills to the snow-covered mountain. With v.24 we come to something new. Not something entirely new and disconnected from what we’ve been reading and studying, but a transition to a new event. 1. Jesus has been speaking about events that will involve the disciples directly. Look at vv.14, 23 and the use of “you,” speaking of the disciples. But in vv.24-27 there is no more of that. Instead we read in v. 26, “And then they will see…” Verse 24 begins with an adversative conjunction, which means it is setting something in contrast to what has come before. We could think of it as, “on the other hand” or “however.” Jesus is no longer answering the questions of the disciples from v.4, but he is speaking about things to come, he is speaking to give them comfort and hope and confidence. 2. It’s in those days, after the tribulation that would take place in Jerusalem with the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, that these cosmic events would take place. How long after that tribulation? We’re not told. Here’s where we’re looking at the picture of the mountain and we see the various peaks in the foreground, but can’t tell how much distance is between them. 2. vv.24-25 Mark is using prophetic language to speak about events that will take place around the return of Jesus, similar to that of Joel 2:30–32 3. v.26 “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” - Jesus, even days before his crucifixion, is able to look beyond his death and speak about his triumphant return. He came the first time as suffering Servant, but he will come again as conquering King. 1. Revelation 19:11-16 2. 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 3. Acts 1:9 “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Acts 1:11 “and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”” 4. v.27 “And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect…” 1. This is a guaranteed hope for every person who has come to trust in Christ as Savior. Jesus refers to them as his elect. Throughout our passage we’ve read about these elect. Back in v.20 we read about God shortening the days of tribulation around Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD for the sake of his elect, whom he chose. We read in v.22 that false christs and false prophets would perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But they won’t be led astray; it’s not possible that they are led astray, because God has chosen them, redeemed them, and fitted them for eternity with him. Conclusion: Romans 8:28–39 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died— more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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