Mark 13:1-12 Resting in God When the World is Ending

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Resting in God When the World is Ending

When my son doesn’t know when something will happen he sometimes tries to hold my head, because he thinks I am ignoring him.  “When?”  he’ll ask repeatedly, like a broken record.  “I don’t know.”  I reply.  You’d think that I didn’t know on purpose.  He can’t contain his need to know.  Many Christians feel like this with the end times.  I sometimes think these are the same people who need to know exactly what will happen on their vacation before they can enjoy it.  Jesus’ disciples were told by him that the temple would be destroyed.  It had become irredeemably corrupted.  It no longer acted as a bridge between God and man.  People relied on its traditions and rituals without any heart change, so it had to go.  For the disciples this was huge.  It would be like a prophet in Chicago telling us that the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) would be destroyed in the same way the Twin Towers of New York went down.  Jesus’ response is curious, he does not give them a date – he gives them a stance or an attitude.

Jesus is often vague and uses apocalyptic technique to disguise his answers when asked about future events.  His disciples associate the destruction of the temple with the end of time, but Jesus tells them of tumults and persecutions that will last through the ages.  First century Rome was not as peaceful as we may assume.  There were wars on the borders and there were revolts.  It would be a Jewish revolt in 70 A.D. that would see the temple destroyed.  Jesus prepares his disciples for that event, but he also here prepares his disciples for the chaos that has ravaged our world through the ages.  He specifically prepares Christians for persecution.  The key to enduring all of this tumult is to cultivate a faithful dependence on God.  If one focuses on the storms and tries to predict the future, one will be swamped by fears and anxieties.  If one rests in the arms of God and trusts in the work of the Holy Spirit, one will have what one needs for each moment and each age of mankind.

In our world today we look for signs, we make elaborate charts and fall out over whether we are Dispensational or Covenantal, pretrib or posttrib.  These issues need to be talked about, but they are secondary to a calm assurance that God is in control.  They are secondary to a personal relationship where we trust and curl up in the arms of God our Father knowing that he holds all things and that he loves his children.

Prayer

I would like to know when the world would end.  However, I think if I knew I would waste my time worrying or try and do something to delay the appointed time.  It is your world and you can do with it as you like.  As your child, Father, I want to rest assured and be vigilant at the same time.  I want to be unpreturbed by events in the Middle East (Syria and Egypt), but prayerful and vigilant for Christians in the region.  I want to see your power bring peace to that region.  I want Muslims to know you and Jews to find you in a personal way.  However, let me be a light by cultivating a relationship that is based in peace and trust in a world of chaos and darkness.

Questions

  1. What causes the disciples to ask about the end of time?
  2. How does Jesus both answer them and avoid an answer?
  3. What is the point of Jesus’ response?
  4. What difficult times are there in our age?
  5. How do you rely on God in the ways that Jesus advocates?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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3 Responses to Mark 13:1-12 Resting in God When the World is Ending

  1. When Jesus tells them that the temple will be destroyed and that every stone will be thrown down. I think the reason Jesus responded to them they way He did was to be able to point them to the more important issue at hand. Jesus told them to be aware of what is going on, but this is what is going to happen to you in the future but the Holy Spirit is going to be doing things through you that you didn’t even know you could do. But specifically the Holy Spirit was going to give them the words to say.
    I can rely on God by the fact that there will be an end someday. But ultimately because I am in Christ, God is right there with me through everything that I am going through and will go through.

  2. Eric Wildermuth says:

    Jesus response seems odd to me, at first, at least. To answer the disciples’ wonder and amazement at the view of the Temple with mention of its imminent destruction. Perhaps it was to remind them that the earth is not eternal in this state. Or perhaps he knew the disciples would ask him about the end times soon after, especially Peter, and so he could tell them what to expect and be ready for in the future.
    In our age, we have the rumors of war with Syria, Iran and all the rest. We have impending fears of financial crash and government spying. As a Christian, I have to rest in Jesus, trusting that He will carry me through all of this, in whatever state He sees fit.

  3. Christina Zezulak says:

    One of the disciples was captivated by the outward appearance of the Temple and mentioned it to Jesus. Jesus responds by saying that these great buildings will eventually be destroyed. Although He was referring to a very specific moment in history, I think that the idea of this part of the passage needs to change our daily perspective. We can get “caught up” in things of this world, but all of these are temporary. We can be fascinated by material possessions, the wealth and status of others, etc. but those things will not last. Christ and the Word will last forever. The bride of Christ will last forever. The good works of the Church will make an eternal impact. These types of things should be pursued.
    Jesus does not fully answer the questions of His disciples, but this is not unusual for Him. Our human tendency is wanting to know, and I wonder if we hate living in the uncertainty because it forces us to fully rely on God. Or maybe deep down we want to be the god of our own lives, and knowledge helps us feel the “power.”
    Jesus does not give the exact when to their question, but He does share with them the signs of the end times. There will be many deceivers, wars and strife, natural disasters, famines, and mainly persecution of the saints. Jesus promises that we will be hated, even families will betray each other, but He also promises that those who remain faithful to Him will receive the promised glory through salvation.
    Jesus wants His followers to be prepared. Being a Christian is no easy task, and it is definitely not a faith for nominal adherers. He wants us to understand the battle approaching but simultaneously trust in Him because God is infinitely greater than these temporary birth pains. He will not abandon us nor forsake us.
    When I read 2 Timothy 3:1-7, I am sadly reminded of the difficult times of our age. We live in a world that is adamantly opposed to the Triune God in every way. We have to stand firm in the truth, and remember that the truth is what God says on a matter – not culture. Opposition and persecution can not and must not move us.
    It is so easy for me to see all that is happening in the world, and become worried. In the midst of the chaos, I need to regularly remind myself to rest in God when the world is coming to an end. In the midst of godlessness, I need to constantly remember the words of Jesus. Ultimately, I need to continue the good race and keep my eyes focused on the prize: Jesus.

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