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Mark 13

(Matthew 10:17-22; 24:1-14; Luke 21:5-19)

15-16 These Christians were to flee from Jerusalem without delay. If they were on the top of their house, they were to run down the outside stairs and flee to the hills. There would be no time to gather together their possessions.

17-18 Those times would be especially difficult for pregnant women and mothers with young children. They could not flee quickly, and the Romans would catch them and kill them (Luke 23:28-29).

Let the Christians also pray that this terrible time would not occur in winter. In winter it rains in Israel, and the rivers swell. Thus people’s flight would be blocked. (Indeed, many people fleeing from the Romans were blocked by the swollen Jordan River.) According to Matthew 24:20, they should also pray that the day of flight would not fall on the Sabbath. The many Sabbath laws would make flight difficult. For example, according to the Jewish law one could only travel three miles on the Sabbath! (Acts 1:12).

19 The destruction of Jerusalem was a time of distress more severe than any in the history of the world. The slaughter of the Jews by the Romans is fully described by the Jewish historian, Josephus. The Romans committed unbelievable atrocities, and those Jews that escaped the sword died of famine and pestilence, or were made slaves (Luke 21:24). Over a million Jews were killed. Not a single Jew remained alive in the city. Jesus said in Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.93 This was God’s judgment on the unbelieving Jewish nation which had rejected and put to death His own Son Jesus (see Luke 21:22-24).

20  Most of the Christians in Jerusalem fled in 68 A.D., two years before the Romans came. But others fled just before the Roman army arrived. Some of these almost starved in the countryside, because the Roman soldiers destroyed crops and fields and took all available food for themselves. But God cut short those days, so that all the elect—that is, all believers—were able to survive.

21-23 Again Jesus repeated His warning about false Christs. Before and during the invasion of Jerusalem by the Roman army, certain Jews rose up claiming to be the Messiah and calling on people to fight the Romans. Here Jesus warns that the fleeing Christians must not follow such false Christs. They should continue their flight (see verses 5-6).

Although the context of these verses relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, we can understand that false Christs will continue to rise up until the end of the world. Especially as the end of the world draws near, powerful men and evil forces sent by Satan will rise up and oppose Christ and His followers (see 2 Thessalonians 2:110; 1 John 2:18; 4:1-3; Revelation 13:18,11-17 and comments). These false Christs will even perform signs and miracles.94 But we must not be deceived. We will be able to recognize the false Christs because they will not bring glory to Jesus; they will deny that He is the true Son of God (see 1 John 4:1-3 and comment).

Jesus said that false Christs and false prophets will try to deceive the elect—if that were possible. It is not possible to deceive those who are elect. In fact, the elect are the very people who will remain undeceived to the end. Only God knows who the “elect” are and who are not. Those who heed the warning to remain on guard (verses 9,23) and who remain faithful to the end (verse 13) will prove to be the elect. Therefore, Jesus says to all: “… be on your guard.

According to Matthew 24:26-27, Jesus also added here that if a person claiming to be the Messiah appeared in one special place, such as in the desert or in the inner rooms, then it would be certain that he was a false Messiah. Because the true Messiah, Jesus, will appear to all men at once like lightning flashing across the sky.

Then Jesus said, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures95 will gather” (Matthew 24:28). The carcass was the Jewish nation, and the vultures (or eagles) were the Romans.96 Such was the destruction of Jerusalem and Judea.

 

(Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 21:25-28)

24-25 After talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus then began to describe the end of the world, which would occur in the days following that distress. According to Matthew 24:29, Jesus said that the end of the world would occur immediately after the distress of those days, that is, immediately after the fall of Jerusalem. This is difficult to understand. Over 1900 years have passed since the fall of Jerusalem, and the end of the world has not yet come. But in God’s eyes, 1900 years is like a moment (2 Peter 3:8). We must also remember that Jesus Himself said that He did not know when the end of the world would come (verse 32).

To describe what the end of the world would be like, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4. According to Luke 21:2526, Jesus at this point also said: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (see 2 Peter 3:10).

26-27 At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. The Old Testament prophet Daniel saw a vision of this event and wrote about it: In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13).

In all of history since the creation of the world, there are only two events whose significance will last forever. These two events are greater and more important than all the other events in history put together. Every other event, every king, every war, every empire will be forgotten. Only two things will be remembered. First, the coming of Jesus Christ into the world the first time. Second, the coming again of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). At the time of His second coming, Jesus will gather his elect—that is, those who have believed—from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens (verse 27). He will gather us into His eternal kingdom where we shall live together with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

When Christ comes again, all other men will faint from terror (Luke 21:26). At that time … all the nations of the earth will mourn (Matthew 24:30). Those who have rejected Christ as Savior will have to face Him as their judge (John 5:22). But those who have believed in Jesus will have no fear. For Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your REDEMPTION is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

 

(Matthew 24:32-35; Luke 21:29-33)

28-29 In verses 5-23, Jesus described many events that would occur just before the destruction of Jerusalem. These were like signs that the end was near. Just as the new leaves on a fig tree are a sign that summer has come, so the events described in verses 5-23 were signs that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed.

30  Jesus prophesied that all these things—that is, the above mentioned signs together with the destruction of Jerusalem—would occur within the lifetime of His own generation. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.

31 My words will never pass away. Jesus’ words, His prophecies, His teachings are absolutely certain. They are more certain and permanent than the earth and sky. When we see great trees and great mountains, we think: “These things are certain; they will last.” When we look at the sun and moon and stars, we think: “These things will last forever.” But they will one day pass away. The only things that will last are Jesus and His words. Remember, Jesus Himself is the Word of God, who in the beginning was with God, and … was God (John 1:1), and whose kingdom will never end.

 

32 No one knows about that day or hour; that is, no one except the Father knows when Christ will come again. Not even Christ Himself knows. Therefore we must be always ready. Jesus could come today, tomorrow. Will He find us sleeping? (verse 36). Will He find us faithful?

Many Christians spend time trying to predict when Christ will come again. This is folly. They’d be better off spending their time doing the work Christ has given them to do instead of wondering when He is going to come again.

33-37 Christ is like a man going away (verse 34). Christ went away into heaven and left his house, that is, His church, in our hands. He has given each of us a special assigned task. But not only that, He has also given all of us the task of praying, watching, and witnessing. He will come back to earth like a thief, that is, when no one expects Him (see Matthew 24:42-44; Luke 12:35-38; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). What will He find us doing? Let us not say to ourselves: “He will not come soon. I have time to get ready. I’ll sleep a little longer. I’ll witness to that person another time. I’ll do that good deed some other day. I’ll give up that sin tomorrow.” Let us not make such a terrible mistake. Jesus can come any time, and if He does not find us ready and doing His will, He will throw us out (see Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 21:34-36).

To keep watch (verse 35) means to remain in Christ’s will at all times. We need to live each day as if Christ was going to return tomorrow. We need to test ourselves by asking ourselves this question: If an angel from heaven were to tell us today that Christ was going to come next week, or next month, would we live our lives any differently? If the answer is “Yes,” then we are not watching, we are not ready. “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’

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