End Time Chatter #4 Mark 13
End Time Chatter #4
The next current event crisis will somehow be fitted into being a sign that the return of Jesus is about to happen. An end-times prophet will send the message that “we have this secret knowledge and can explain what’s going on” (#MAGA Church: The Doomsday Prophet Who Says the Bible Predicted Trump - The New York Times (nytimes.com). It does build excitement. It may motivate you to buy survival products, make a bug-out plan, make you wonder if you should buy the latest book, or attend the next end-times conference. Maybe get your life right with Christ before the end. Ultimately this season will change and false hope will leave you discouraged, questioning if what this Christian Celebrity said is wrong, and what else have the scholars and preachers gotten wrong. When the end doesn’t come, people end their faith.
But we’re moving toward a one-world government. Yes, like the one the world had under the Romans? Look “burning cites, backbiting politicians, runaway infections, heated elections, social upheaval, racial tensions, skyrocketing crime, shouting pundits, deafening lies, cultural foundations cracking,” this is the end (https://davidjeremiah.blog/connecting-bible-prophecy-and-current-events/). Yes, like every other change or attempt to change the world order. People are lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure these are the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-17). Yes, like every generation before us? Superbugs resistant to antibiotics are being reported with the rise of other diseases, and other killer viruses, this is the pestilence of the end times. Yes, like the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages that wiped out ¾ of the European population. The Pandemic. Yes, like the Spanish flu at the turn of the 19th century. Wars and rumors of wars are happening now. Yes, like World War 2, like the Korean War, like the Cuban Missile Crisis. Like the Vietnam war, like US military action in the Dominican Republic, 1982 Lebanon, 1982 Grenada, 1989 Panama, 1991 Gulf War, 1993 Somali, 1994 Haiti. 1995 Bosnia, 1999 Kosovo, 2001 Afghanistan, 2003 Iraq War, 2011 Libya, 2012 ISIS? Gosh, a couple of those happened before I was born. Current catastrophic events are routine history.
When we seek to interpret scripture we must allow the text to speak to us and not force the scripture to fit into our preconceived templates. Doctrine can blind you to other possibilities of understanding if you do so. A real history with a real audience is always behind what the author is writing. If you understand the historicity of a passage, you are more likely to understand what the author meant with his words. (Mark 13:1-2)
In our discussion of the Olivet Discourse, we have brought up several counterpoints to those who look at Mark 13 and see what is written as our future. The minority view has been voiced. We’ve made the case that the so-called signs of the end are not, instead troubled catastrophic times have always been with us. We noted that there have been end-time predictors in every century, along with the false messiahs, and the false prophets. When we looked at the times in which Mark wrote this good news about Jesus, we discovered that the contemporary scene greatly informed what was written. Jesus’ warning to flee Jerusalem was for His contemporaries. We know from history that several leaders attempted to lead revolts against Rome which were considered Messiah (List of Jewish messiah claimants - Wikipedia). We have seen how ideas from the Old Testament apocalypse are woven into the narrative. Far from an astrological crisis, the sun going dark is a sign of a regime change, a new world order, the old vanquished, and a new power risen (Isaiah 13:10) The promises to Jerusalem and Abraham’s descendants are transferred to Jesus and His people (NBBC Mark, Galatians 3:7). We said that coming in clouds meant that this regime change cannot be missed. The “they” in the passage refers to Jesus' opponents, the Temple power structure (NBBC Mark). The resurrection is hard to miss but easy to dismiss, the destruction of the Temple is not dismissible. What happened after the resurrection, after Pentecost, Jesus started drawing people from every nation to himself, not in a secret second coming known as the Rapture, but instead through the gospel that the one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2). In every nation known to the disciples of the first century, the gospel was preached. What the Temple symbolically was supposed to do, spread the good news of the Kingdom, now Jesus’ disciples were doing (Matthew 28:19-20). If we say that Mark 13 is a template for the future, we miss the message for us today. That message is “work.”
In our teaching today we will be exploring Mark 13:28-37. First, we will consider the budding of the fig tree and what verse 28 through 31 mean. Then we will delve into the conclusion of the narrative verses 32 through 37.
Mark 13:28-31 (MSG)
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. 29 And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. 30 Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. 31 Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.
[Mark most likely had no idea about the growing habits of fig trees.]
According to which scholar you read the fig tree was never a symbol of Israel (The fig tree does not represent Israel (bibleserralta.com , The Fig Tree Parable Is NOT About Israel’s Rebirth! – Let's Get It Right! (pbenson.me)). The fig tree in Jewish culture represents peace and prosperity (Figs: A Symbol Throughout Jewish History - The Israel Bible). Nevertheless, in Hal Lindsey’s book the Late Great Planet Earth, published in 1980, to make “future generations” fit into his end-time prediction, Lindsey wrote that the fig tree represented Israel and that in 1948 when the United Nations granted statehood to Israel was the budding, a generation is 40 years so the Return should come in 1988. If so, we got left behind.
When you see the Roman preparations to lay siege, Mark tells us that He is near. Oh, the scholars are at it again. The folks who study the original Greek language argue over a word [ engys] that can mean either “He or It.” If we choose “He” it fits better with dispensational teaching. If we choose “It” It refers to the destruction of the temple. When you see the Romans preparing to lay siege to Jerusalem you know that the destruction of the Temple is near.
The phrase “when you see these things” (Mark 13:14-22) refers to the Roman's preparations to lay siege to Jerusalem. [(1) The Siege of Jerusalem (70 AD) - Romans at the Gates (Part 1/4) - Bing video] The people to whom Jesus was speaking would live to see it. We have identified the destruction of the Temple as the cosmic sign of the new era, God’s new Covenant decisively replacing the old. Jesus’s contemporaries did see these things. Remember this entire narrative is Jesus’ answer to Peter, James, John, and Andrew’s question as to when the Temple would be destroyed.
There have been approximately 242 dates set for the end of the world, and at least 242 have been recognized (dates set for the end of the world - Google Search). Pat Robertson founder of the700 Club wrote the end would happen on April 29, 2007. Harold Camping predicted 1994, and then 1995 and revised his prediction again to May 21, 2011, and when that date came and went October 21, 2011, was predicted. Televangelist John Hagee's four blood moons in September 2015 would herald the end. [List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events - Wikipedia] Pastor Chris McCann founder of eBible Fellowship told us that October 7 2015 would be the day of the Return. Kenton Kyle pastor of Mariners taught sometime in 2021. Most end-time prophets have smartened up enough to no longer set exact dates. Words like possible, feasible, and could be, are used to give the false teacher an out if their prediction doesn’t come to pass. Jesus told His disciples that He didn’t know when the Temple would be destroyed, only that it eventually would be, no one would know, only the Father.
Mark 13:32-37 (MSG)
32 "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. 33 So keep a sharp lookout, for you don't know the timetable. 34 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. 35 So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. 36 You don't want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. 37 I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch."
“You have no idea as to when.” The event that fits the narrative is the fall of Jerusalem with the destruction of the temple. To use Mark 13 as signs of our future, to say that parallel current events are foretelling that Jesus is about to return is incorrect. Calculations for future events are absolutely futile because this passage has nothing to do with the second coming of Jesus. The consummation of the Kingdom, when the end comes, and God has moved into the neighborhood, is unpredictable (Revelation 21:3 (MSG). There are no signs. It happens without warning (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
Jesus tells his disciples what they are to do while they wait and this is what is so applicable to us today. While that generation of disciples was to stay alert, not to fall into passivity, but rather to keep their post, we today are to do the same thing. For we believe that Jesus will return. As we expectantly wait for the Return we are not to spend time trying to figure out when, rather we are to work. We are to continue Jesus’ ministry here on earth, making disciples, and teaching them to obey the love that has molded our own hearts into vessels of worth and glory. From our vantage point, the world is going places that don’t look familiar or secure or prosperous. Instead of believing it doesn’t matter because end-time signs indicate that Jesus is coming and will get us out before things get bad, we need to use the ticking clock to motivate us to use the gifts and graces God has given to further the Kingdom. You do so by loving one person at a time. You do so by voicing the values of the Kingdom. You do so by kindness, gentleness, and self-control, speaking the truth so that it can be heard. You do so by how you treat people.
You can understand Mark 13 as a call to faithfulness. Crazy things are going to happen in this world, things that are detrimental to you, but you are to stay the course. You know that no one knows when Jesus will return, so don’t waste your time with those who offer you their predictions, generalities, and conclusion about current events. When it comes to a legitimate doctrine of the Second Coming remember this, no one knows, but God does. His plan to return humanity and creation to His original intent will not be thwarted. The Kingdom will be consummated. In this, you have hope that keeps you keeping on (Luke 21:28), that empowers you to rise from defeat (Philippians 4:13), power to be positive in the face of the negative (John 16:33), and knowing that it can happen when you least expect it keeps you on task (Matthew 24:42-44).
Don‘t spend time speculating on the end times, concentrate on the now-times and how to carry out the mission God gave you to bring Jesus to this world.