THE OLIVET DISCOURSE
As we continue our study on the Olivet Discourse found in Mark chapter 13, keep in mind that in our last study Jesus spoke of general signs of what the last days would be like. He spoke of deception on a grand scale, wars, rumors of wars and even World Wars. There will be earthquakes, famines, persecution and these are just the beginning of sorrows. And tonight we are going to see things get much more intense. These labor pains will increase in intensity and frequency until the kingdom age is born!
Now before we get into Mark this evening, lets look at a few verses in Luke chapter 21 that are dealing with the same period of time. Starting in verse 20 we read, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." Luke 21:20-24.
At the 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period, the time of peace will turn into a time of war! And Jesus is warning the Jewish people that when they see the armies of the Antichrist surround Jerusalem, flee for your life! Now in Mark this evening, we are dealing with the same time period but from a different perspective. But it is still the 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period!
1. The key sign that Mark focuses on is the abomination of desolation. Now an abomination is dealing with all kinds of idolatry, wicked practices. We are told in II Kings 16:3-4 of Ahaz king of Judah, and we read "But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree." Now the abomination of desolation speaks of an idolatrous person or object that has been placed in the temple of God to desecrate it.
2. Now the prophet Daniel spoke of the last days, and in chapter 9 he tells us the exact day that Jesus Christ was to ride through Jerusalem as Messiah the king. The starting point is March 14, 445 BC when king Artaxerxes gave the command to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild Jerusalem the number of days to count off were 173,880 or 69 seven year periods. If you did the math it would bring you to April 6, 32 AD or what we call Palm Sunday! To the very day we are told of Jesus riding through Jerusalem as Messiah the king!
But after this we are told the Messiah would be cut off or executed for a capitol crime, which is exactly what happened to Jesus Christ. And then Daniel tells us the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans, which occurred as Titus and his forces leveled the city in 70 AD. And then we read, after all these things, in Daniel 9:27 "Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate."
The "he" is speaking of the Antichrist making a covenant with the nation of Israel, which most likely has to do with the rebuilding of the temple. But this has not occurred yet. There has been a gap which we call the church age or the age of grace that has lasted almost 2,000 years. But that is going to end and the seventieth week of Daniel or that last 7 year period of time will come to pass where God will deal with the nation of Israel and a Christ rejecting world.
You see, in the middle of that 7 year tribulation period, at the 3½ year mark, the Antichrist will enter the rebuilt temple, stop the daily sacrifice and offerings, and demand to be worshiped as god. This is the abomination of desolation that both Daniel and Jesus spoke of, and it will come to pass.
3. Now there have been other foreshadows of what this is all about. In 167 BC Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian ruler, entered the temple in Jerusalem, set-up an altar to the Greek god Zeus and slaughtered a pig on the altar of burnt offerings. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed the temple. But these are only a foreshadow of what is to come. For Paul tells us of this man and what he will do in II Thessalonians 2:3-4, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
4. Of this time we read in Revelation 12:12, "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." The warning is to flee to the mountains and many of the Jews will flee to Petra in Jordan where God will preserve them for 3½ years. But only 1/3 of the Jewish population will make it through this time of tribulation, 2/3 will be destroyed!
5. Now Matthew tells us that we should pray that this does not occur on the Sabbath. So who is Jesus talking to? To the Jews for they are limited how far they can travel on the Sabbath but gentiles are not. Why would Mark leave that out? Because Mark is writing to the Roman people, gentiles, who would not benefit from this information, only the Jewish people would. And praying that it is not in winter or that you are not nursing young just speaks of praying that the circumstances will not prevent you from fleeing or make it more difficult than it will already be. Because things will be bad, the armies will begin to surround the city of Jerusalem!
1. Jesus is telling us that no time in history or in the future or even today will be as bad as this period of time known as the tribulation period. In fact, Jesus is telling us that unless He shortened those days, if He just let things continue on, man would be completely wiped out. But for the elects sake, He will terminate this before that occurs.
2. Now some say that the church is called the elect in the Scriptures. Colossians 3:12-13 Paul tells us "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." But in Isaiah 45:4 we read "For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me." So who is the elect, the church or Israel? It all depends on the context of the passage or verse. Here in Mark it is speaking of Israel and not the church for the context makes that very clear, especially when Jesus said to pray that your flight may not be on the Sabbath. That only pertains to Israel!
3. You see, before the tribulation period even starts, the church or the bride of Christ will be removed or raptured to be with the Lord. In Revelation 1:19 we are given the division of the book of Revelation. Jesus tells John, "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this."
The things that John has "seen" are the things of Revelation chapter 1. The "things which are" speak of the church age or the age of grace which are found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. And the last division of the book speaks of the things that must take place "after this" or in the Greek it is META TAUTA. As the church age comes to an end in Revelation chapter 3 John opens up chapter 4 with the same Greek words, META TAUTA or after these things, and John is caught up into heaven as he hears the voice like a trumpet calling him, and John is representing or is a picture of the church and reflects what will happen to us, immediately being caught up to be with the Lord.
You see, I am fully confident that Gods wrath will not be poured out upon those who love Him but upon a Christ rejecting world. Two verses I will give to you to support that are found in I Thessalonians. In I Thessalonians 1:9-10 we read "For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." And in I Thessalonians 5:9 we are told, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." So before Gods wrath is poured out, before the tribulation period starts, the church is taken home to be with the Lord.
1. Jesus is warning those who are here during the tribulation period of all the deception that will take place in the name of God. Some claiming to be Christ while others claiming to be prophets, and they are so good that even the elect can be deceived by them, by their words and their actions. We read of the false prophet doing this very thing in Revelation chapter 13, beginning in verse 11. It says "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived." Revelation 13:11-14. So be careful, dont be fooled by them.
1. Now we have moved from the 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period to the very end of the tribulation period, just prior to the Lords second coming. And during this time there will be cataclysmic events occurring in the heavens and on the earth. Luke puts it this way, "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken." Luke 21:25-26. Fear has not brought the earth-dwellers to repentance but their hearts are failing them because of all this destruction or this wrath that is coming upon them.
2. Listen to the way that Isaiah puts it in Isaiah chapter 13, beginning in verse 6. We read "Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man's heart will melt, And they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts and in the day of His fierce anger." Isaiah 13:6-13. Not a good thing!
3. Also, listen to what John has to say in Revelation 6:12-17, "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" No one is able to stand before a holy and righteous God on their own. It is only through the righteousness that Christ has imputed to us by faith that we can stand before Him! And the tragedy here is not the wrath, as bad as that is, but their refusal to repent before God of their sins and to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. They know why this is happening, they just refuse to repent. How hard mans heart can be!
4. One other thing before we move on. When Jesus Christ comes, all will see Him. The Jehovah Witnesses, because they have predicted the Lords return so many times and He hasnt come yet, say that He has come but He has come in secret. That is ridiculous and it goes against what the Scriptures say. Revelation 1:7 tells us very clearly, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen."
1. This is speaking of the Jews, Gods elect, that they will be gathered from all over the world. The Lord is going to gather His people and they will never be scattered again. (See Isaiah 27:12-13 and Isaiah 11:12).
2. As I bring this study to a close this evening, listen to how Luke closes this section. In Luke 21:28 Jesus says, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." As Christians we should keep our eyes focused upward in anticipation of the Lords return. He is coming soon. And I believe with that hope we tend to live lives that are pleasing to God, realizing He could come at any moment. It is as Titus 2:13 tells us, "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." And also I John 3:2-3, "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." Look up, His return is drawing closer!