End Time Chatter #1 Mark 13
End Time Chatter #1
Our teaching today is a foundational message for the series. We are going to consider how some people are using current events to predict the imminent return of Christ. We are going to read the Olivet Discourse as found in the gospel of Mark. Then we are going to discover what Jesus’ message is really about and how it applies to our lives today.
With all the craziness going on End Times Chatter is at an all-time high heralding signs everywhere that the return of Jesus is near. It seems to me that we go through this at least once a decade. Books being sold, conferences being attended, speculation abounds. How well have we done in predicting the end? So far, not so good. Well, maybe this time….
Matthew 24:36 (NIV)
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Well, maybe not. Folks will tell you though, we may not know the exact time we can see the signs that tell us the time is near. Well, maybe not.
There is a teaching that invaded the Church in 1830 and caught on like wildfire. [Traditional Dispensationalism caught on between 1830 through the 1940s. Revised dispensationalism captured many hearts and minds between the 1950s through 1986 which turned into Progressive Dispensationalism and continues today.] According to this teaching, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:1-25:46, or Luke 21:5-36, or in Mark 13:1-37 in which Jesus is warning and consoling his disciples is understood as signs heralding the end. How we get to the end of the end times is the major emphasis of the doctrine known as dispensationalism.
According to this doctrine, the next event on the prophetic calendar is the Rapture of the Church. “Christ comes in the clouds to “snatch away” all those who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:52). At this same time, the “dead in Christ” will be resurrected and taken to heaven, too” (What is the end times timeline? | GotQuestions.org Sometime during the events of the end, the Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt and the Jews restart their ancient rituals. Once all the righteous folks are removed from the scene then the Great Tribulation begins. A satanically empowered man will gain worldwide control [a one world government] with promises of peace (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 9:27). He will be aided by another man, called the false prophet, who heads up a religious system that requires worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 19:20)” (What is the end times timeline? | GotQuestions.org Then God pours out His wrath on unrepentant mankind, those who have spurned His invitation to enter into a righteous relationship with Him through faith in Jesus' accomplishment in the atonement. When it gets as worse as it can get before the utter destruction of all life on earth, Jesus physically returns with Holy Angels and all the Saints and defeats all God’s enemies, Satan is bound and Jesus begins a 1000-year reign on Earth. After 1000 years Satan is loosed and there is another skirmish that ends with the Kingdom of God coming in full. This prophetic timeline relies on a literal interpretation of the Book of Daniel chapter 9, the Olivet Discourses, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, and the Book of Revelation.
According to the dispensationalist, the signs that the end is near are all around us. [Just this week] a toxic red tide killed “uncountable numbers” of fish in the San Francisco Bay. Lake Merritt in Oakland, a mix of fresh and saltwater suffered a similar fate. That’s a sign of the end. WebMD [Aug 15, 2022,] reported that it is unsafe to drink rainwater because of the presence of what it called forever chemicals. That’s a sign of the end. Euronews reported that nowhere on earth is it safe to drink rainwater without being first treated. That’s a sign of the end. You may have read reports that call freshwater the new Gold. What do you think of the drought in California?
World Vision posted on August 9 of this year that “the world is facing a massive hunger crisis. 276 million people face acute food insecurity and because of the conflict in Ukraine, that number is estimated to increase to 323 million. That’s a sign of the end. The World Food Programe reports that conflict, COVID, the climate crisis, and rising costs have combined in 2022 to create jeopardy for up to 828 million people going to bed hungry across the world. That’s a sign of the end. We are warned of coming food shortages as grocery prices skyrocket here in the USA and food practically unavailable in 43 countries around the world
Can you recall a time when there was peace in the Middle East? Thousands are dying and being displaced in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Saber rattling from China over Taiwan. Iran and North Korea creating nuclear weapons. Russia, China, India, and Syria are going to host a joint military exercise. Pope Francis proclaimed that the 3rd World War is being fought piecemeal. Our national military defense budget for 2022 is $778 billion.
The internet site Volcano Discovery reported 362 earthquakes on Aug 22, 2022. That’s a sign of the end. Wildfires and volcanic ash are coloring the Sun and the Moon. The last time a total black day was reported was May 19, 1780. John Hagee made bank with his book Four Blood Moons, the last one occurring in January of 2019. Could the sun turn black and the moon red? Sure can. Are stars falling from the sky? You can still catch the tail end of the Presides meteor shower, just head out to Joshua Tree. Near Earth, objects are constantly passing by. Climate change is disrupting what we consider normal weather conditions, floods, droughts, and melting ice caps! Will the islands disappear under the new sea levels?
It seems like we may be seeing the other side of COVID, a pestilence that changed the world, but it is still very much active. Monkey Pox was declared a health emergency. August 2022 from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control the world faces threats from West Mile, Swine Influenza, and Polio is making a comeback. Have you heard of Vibriosis, I haven’t either, but it can lead to septicemia, that’s blood poisoning by bacteria. I wonder where brain-eating amoebas fit into this scenario. That’s a sign of the end.
Polarization has affected every area of society. Politics, Race, Gender Issues, Economy, Religion, Liberty, Mandates, Media, Guns, Free Speech, Immigrants, all pitting brother against brother, sister against sister. Violence is rampant in our streets, corruption rampant in our government, and crime is widespread. That’s a sign of the end. We are being warned of a coming civil war. That’s a sign of the end. The rich getting richer, the middle class shrinking, the poor are becoming hungry and homeless, and inequality taking over the country.
Then when it comes to signs, the persecution of the Church and folks giving up on their faith is at an all-time high. That’s a sign of the end. Once almost everyone acknowledged some Divine authority, now you’re mocked for your beliefs. When was the last time the media reported on something good within Christianity? With the moral decline of church leaders, wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing their flocks, sexual abuse within, truth being spoken in hate instead of love, and all the false teachers and prophets peddling the Word of God, its no wonder the Church has become an anathema for so many.
I hope the dispensationalist has it right. I want to miss out on terrible times. But of course, I have major reservations about any new doctrine. I am not a big-time scholar, I’m not even a little-time scholar, there are no books with my name espousing my views, no famous mentors that I have sat under. Just one guy with an opinion and my opinion is that this teaching is wrong and misleading. These are not signs of the end, I’ll side with the preacher of Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun. On the positive side, it doesn’t make a difference what you believe about the end times, it has little bearing on your relationship with God right now. But there is a message that is important for all believers and you will leave today knowing what that message is.
In the teaching today we are going to focus on the Olivet Discourse. Sometimes it is referred to as the Farewell Address.
Mark 13:3-37 (MSG)
3 Later, as he was sitting on Mount Olives in full view of the Temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew got him off by himself and asked, "Tell us, when is this going to happen? What sign will we get that things are coming to a head?"
5 Jesus began, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One.' They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what's coming.
9 "And watch out! They're going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You're placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world.
"When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don't worry about what you'll say. When the time comes, say what's on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.
12 "It's going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents. There's no telling who will hate you because of me.
"Stay with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved.
14 "But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up where it should never be. You who can read, make sure you understand what I'm talking about. If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you're working in the yard, don't go back to the house to get anything; if you're out in the field, don't go back to get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won't happen in the middle of winter.
19 "These are going to be hard days—nothing like it from the time God made the world right up to the present. And there'll be nothing like it again. If he let the days of trouble run their course, nobody would make it. But because of God's chosen people, those he personally chose, he has already intervened.
21 "If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. So watch out. I've given you fair warning.
24 "Following those hard times, Sun will fade out, moon cloud over, Stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble.
26 "And then they'll see the Son of Man enter in grand style, his Arrival filling the sky—no one will miss it! He'll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
28 "Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.
32 "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don't know the timetable. It's like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don't want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch."
If you remove the dispensational template from Mark’s account of Jesus’ speech you see that these supposed signs are what has always happened in the world. “This is routine history and no sign of the end.” From a historical perspective, the warning to flee Jerusalem went into effect when Roman armies began to surround the city.
From a theological perspective consider what Jesus is telling us:
“You're placed there as sentinels to truth.” “When the time comes, say what's on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.”
"Stay with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end.” "These are going to be hard days—nothing like it from the time God made the world right up to the present. "And then they'll see the Son of Man enter in grand style, his Arrival filling the sky—no one will miss it! He'll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.” "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don't know the timetable.” “I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch."
There is no doubt that we are living in tough times, it looks like the entire world order is transitioning into something unfamiliar. The world has changed time and time again, there’s nothing new under the sun. Jesus’ message to us is that regardless of what is happening stay faithful. Be His witness, be His disciple. Take hope in the knowledge that He will return, there is a second coming that will consummate what He started over 2000 years ago. Return He will. Expect it to happen at any time, even today. But consider this, there will be no warning, no sign before He returns (Mark 13:33, Luke 12:40). Above all do what you have been called to do, bring the kingdom, and be an agent of doing God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven. Stay your post. No need for speculation about the end. There is work to be done right now.
Mark chapter 13 is only prophetic in the sense that the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple will be a vindication of Jesus' message concerning who He is and the Kingdom of God He proclaimed.
Don’t concern yourself with signs. Be the cup of cold water to the thirsty person. Be bread to the hungry. Be clothes to the naked. Be home to the homeless. There are people who do not know God, it’s time to let Him be known by your actions. There is work to be done. Go love on people. That’s the message for us today from Mark 13.