endtimes02Mark 13

1.  Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”

As the Lord and His disciples are leaving the temple, it seems that one of the disciples points out in awe the glory of the temple.  Remember, most of the disciples were from Galilee, a region that was largely filled with what we would call “country-folk,” and so they would not have been used to an urban-type environment like Jerusalem.  Add to this the wonder of the amazing structure called the temple, and we can see why one or all of them might have been awed by it.  Though they visited Jerusalem three times a year, it is likely these men would never get completely over being amazed by it.  And how can we blame them for being in awed reverence of the temple of God on earth?

The disciple, marveling, points out the stones that were there.  According to The Companion Bible, these could measure from 20 to 40 feet long, and weigh over 100 tons!  Also, he points out the buildings.  Remember, the temple was not just one building, like we often think of it.  Rather, it was a campus of buildings, much like a university campus today.  All the buildings were very grand, although nothing could compare to the holy sanctuary in the center of it.  One ancient historian said you haven’t seen a beautiful building until you see the temple in Jerusalem!  And remember, this temple paled in comparison with the one Solomon made.  No wonder this disciple was so impressed!

2.  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings?  Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Instead of rejoicing with the disciple in the wonder of His Father’s house, the Lord replies with this rather depressing prophecy.  He foretold the sad fate of the temple buildings, a fate that would be shared by the entire city of Jerusalem when the Romans attacked some forty years later.  Josephus wrote that Jerusalem was leveled so completely that one could drive a plow through the center of the city and not have to turn it aside to miss anything all the way through!  Today the city exists again, but the temple has been destroyed for over 1900 years now, and currently a Moslem mosque sits on its site.  Someday, however, the temple will be rebuilt, as we read about most definitely in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation.

Why did the Lord answer in this way to His disciple’s amazement?  It is hard to say.  Perhaps the disciple was too awed by the temple building, and was missing the wonder of God in human form Whom he was even then speaking to!

3.  Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately,

The usual group of Peter, James, and John are joined by Andrew to ask the Lord this question.  James and John were brothers, as were Peter and Andrew.  These were the four apostles closest to the Lord, although it was more often the three, Peter, James, and John, who received the greatest revelations from the Lord, rather than the four with Andrew included.  Though he was Peter’s brother, Andrew seems to have always taken a second place to his brother, whereas John and his brother James were always together.  The reason John was chosen to write books of the Bible and James wasn’t (the book of James is by the Lord’s half-brother James, not John’s brother James) is no doubt due to James’ early martyrdom, as we read Acts 12:1-2.

This is the same occurrence as is recorded in Matthew 24.  There, it is simply said that “the disciples” came to Him, although it doesn’t specify which, as it does here.  That event also took place on the Mount of Olives after they had left the temple, and He had told them of its coming destruction.  Notice that in Matthew, two other questions are added, “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  (Matthew 24:3b.)  The Lord will answer all of these questions in the following discourse.

Notice, though, that this is not the same event, or the same prophecy, as that given in Luke 21.  There, this event occurred just after He saw the poor widow putting all her livelihood into the treasury.  (Luke 21:1-4)  Immediately following this, they point out the glory of the temple, and He prophesies its destruction.  (Luke 21:5-6)  Then, they ask Him when these things will be, and He tells them.  (Luke 21:7-38)  This takes place all right there in the temple.  Though there are many similarities between the prophecy given in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 and that given in Luke 21, we can clearly see the difference in the prophecy given in Luke 21 starting at verse 12, where instead of going on to describe the tribulation, as He does in Matthew 24:9 and in Mark 13:9, the Lord goes back to describe what was about to happen in the Acts period.

The Lord could certainly give the same prophecy on more than one occasion.  In the different situations, though, He might give different details or emphasize different points.  This does not indicate a contradiction, as some would like to make out, but rather a speaker’s prerogative to repeat something he has taught before in a slightly different way and in different circumstances.  I have done this many times myself with the things I teach.  Alas for me, if I could only teach everything I have to say only once, and then never again!  This would be a ridiculous standard for a teacher, and it borders on silly to suggest that this was a criterion that the Lord had to follow, or else the gospel writers are in error.

4.  “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

These are two of the questions the disciples asked the Lord.  The other two are given in Matthew 24.  Here we see an example of the author’s prerogative to either edit out or include information based on his purpose in writing.  Matthew and Mark, while they are obligated not to change anything the Lord said or make up anything that He didn’t say, are under no requirement to repeat every single word that either the Lord or the disciples said on this or any other occasion.  If words, phrases, or even paragraphs are skipped by one author and included by another, this is not a contradiction, but rather just the right that any author has of editing his material for length and relevance.  Rather than proving a contradiction, this just shows us that the Lord has chosen out of all that the Lord said and did only those things that are most important for us to know and hear.  We can trust Him to have provided us in His Word with all that we need.

These two important questions that the disciples ask regard the destruction of the temple, as He had predicted back in verse 2.  No doubt they were concerned by such a thought, and wondered when it would take place.  The Lord answers their questions by telling them of events yet to come.

5.  And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.

Notice that this section starts off with the Lord addressing His disciples directly with the word “you.”  Many ignore the obvious inference of this pronoun, and wish to take all these prophecies as relating to themselves, or to anyone who believes when these days come to pass.  Yet to ignore the antecedents to pronouns is something that causes perhaps more errors in Bible interpretation than anything else.  There is no reason to assign this “you” to anyone but the disciples.

Yet the disciples are, as we know, now dead.  How, then, could this passage be giving instructions to them for the time when all these things will be fulfilled?  I believe that the definite “you” throughout this passage implies that the disciples will be alive and on the earth at this time.  And if they will be alive, it will have to be by resurrection.

This might seem strange to you, yet it shouldn’t.  We know that Elijah is to come again before Christ’s return and restore all things, as Christ foretold (Mark 9:12.)  Of course, he was translated to heaven, and never saw death.  Yet it would seem that these twelve men are to be raised from the dead and likewise take their place in Israel before the unfolding of these events.  Like Christ and like Elijah, there will be a second coming of these disciples!

6.  “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.

There is no reason to supply the word “He” in the quote of these false Christs.  What they are claiming is to be the “I Am”… they are claiming to be God Himself!  Many have dared to make such a claim since Christ spoke these words.  Both prisons and asylums contain people who claim to be God.  Yet the disciples are not around to hear such claims personally, as they will be in this coming time!

7.  “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.

At this future time, the disciples will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  Yet they are comforted by the Lord, and told that they are not to be troubled by these things.  Indeed, wars and rumors of wars are a troubling thing, and normally cause for great concern.  Yet He assures them that these things must happen, and they should not be troubled because they are expecting them.  The end of these things is not yet.  Yet they will soon end, for Christ will soon come in His parousia and put a stop to all such calamities!

8.  “For 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 are the beginnings of sorrows.

Christ quotes from Isaiah 19:2, and lists many troublesome signs to come.  Moreover, these signs do not mark the end of the sorrowful events here unfolded, but rather their beginning!

There are many who use such signs as these to indicate that we are seeing the things Christ was talking about being fulfilled.  However, these things have been going on since Christ made this prediction.  Have we been in this time for the last two thousand years?  If so, we can certainly not derive from this that the end must come any time soon.  Some try to argue that the intensifying of these things indicates something, but the Lord does not say that these things being intensified are the sign, only that these things are the sign.    Therefore the only way these signs could have any significance would be if these things, anti-Christs and wars and earthquakes and so forth, were all to come to an end for a time and then start up again.  I believe that these things will end in a pre-tribulation Kingdom period, the same period wherein Elijah restores all things in Israel, as we see in Mark 9:12.  There are no famines or earthquakes or wars or pestilences during this time.  They are all brought to an end!  As the tribulation draws near, however, these things start up again, and are the sign of the coming days of trial.  Remember, however, that these events center on what will happen to the temple.  The main focus of these events is not anywhere else in the world other than in Jerusalem.  Only a God-restored Israel can experience the events marked out here, if not the disciples.  But the way this prophecy is worded indicates that it is the disciples themselves who will go through these events, along with Israel.

9.  “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues.  You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them.

In that future day, the disciples will be Israel’s leaders, as Christ promised them in Matthew 19:28.  “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  This will be a great blessing for them throughout the kingdom.  Yet at the time Christ is talking about, this will put them on the front lines of the persecution, and they will suffer greatly for their position before God.  Yet they will have a job to do, and that will be to testify to the rulers and kings for the sake of their Lord Jesus Christ.  This will leave these men without excuse.  We may hope that they will manage to turn some of these rulers away from the great rebellion.

10.  “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

Before these things can come to pass, the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.  Many try to equate this with the commission at the end of Mark, but this has nothing to do with that.  That had to do with preaching the gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15), whereas this has to do with preaching the gospel “to all the nations.”  Moreover, I do not believe that this is the same gospel as we preach today.  Many do try to equate this with the salvation message, yet I do not believe that this is so.  We must realize what a gospel is.  Most define “gospel” as “good news.”  Yet many times the words that God has for a person are not “good news.”  What defines a gospel is not that it is good, but that it is right.  The reason it is a good message is that it is a right message.  It is the right message for a situation.  Sometimes, the right message might seem like anything but good news, and yet it is what we need to hear if it is right!  Moreover, a gospel is spoken to fit a need, and it offers hope in that need.  A gospel also offers an element of promise to those to whom it is given.  All these things are true of the gospel of our salvation as set forth to us by the Holy Spirit through the writings of Paul.  Yet this gospel in Mark 13:10 is not the same as the one given to us.  This right message is one for nations, not for individuals.  Salvation is an individual matter, so the gospel to be preached here cannot be the gospel of personal salvation.  This will be a special Kingdom gospel for that time period having to do with the near return of Christ.

11.  “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.

These words sound very similar to those spoken in Luke 21:12-15, yet this does not mean that they are the same.  For those words are spoken of things that will happen “before all these things” (Luke 21:12a,) whereas these things happen at the same time as the wars and earthquakes and pestilences in that future time.  Just because some of the events of the Acts period paralleled the way things will be at that future time does not mean that the Lord was referring to the same thing.  These men were promised inspired words should they ever need them, both in the Acts period and in that future time to come.  What a blessing this was!  What peace of mind this would have given them!  This promise would help them so much whenever they had to make a defense before those hostile to the gospel.  For us today, however, there is no such promise, and if we did not take a thought to what we were going to say at such an event we would be foolish.  These twelve men received this promise, and it was fulfilled in them, as it will be in a future time as well.  Yet we have no right to take this promise for ourselves today.  We must make our own defense of our faith when called upon to do so.

12.  “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.

The result of this persecution is that some who do not hold fast to following the Lord and His way will betray members of their own families to death.  Part of this verse is a quotation of Micah 7:6, where the prophet predicted this time.  What a sad state of affairs!  This is not anything too unusual, however, for this is the way it is even now in many communist countries, and in other places where men are enslaved or oppressed.

13.  “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Because they are the representatives of Jesus Christ, these disciples will be hated by all these rebels.  Yet this hatred is not for their own sake, but for the sake of the name of the Lord Whom they serve.  Remember, one’s name is his reputation, and the esteem in which men hold him.  These men hate the reputation of Jesus Christ and despise Him, and so they hate these disciples as well because of Him.  Yet He encourages the disciples to endure during this prophesied time of terrible hardship, for endurance will result in deliverance.

Some have erred in taking this “being saved” as referring to our salvation today.  Yet endurance is not what saves us today, but grace through faith.  (Ephesians 2:8.)  Endurance today brings the reward of reigning with Him (II Timothy 2:12,) not salvation.  We must not mix up what Christ taught of that future time with the things that are true today.