But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. — Mark 13:23-26
Periodically since the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States, individuals claiming authoritative knowledge have alleged that if certain intelligence information had been heeded, that day’s destruction could have been averted. Whether or not this is true, the concept of having information and either heeding or neglecting it ties in with our focus verses.
Jesus left very clear instructions about occurrences that we need to watch for, including an extensive list of events that will occur prior to His coming back to earth. In today’s text, three times Jesus said, “Take heed.” He was warning His followers, “Take serious notice! Pay attention!” This was not a casual warning. The information is critically important — it relates to spiritual life or death.
The credibility of this warning is substantiated by the fact that much of what Jesus foretold has already come to pass. We have seen wars and rumor of wars, earthquakes in many different places, and widespread famines. The Lord also predicted deception, false Messiahs, persecution, and betrayal. Many happenings in the world today fit into what these verses prophesy. How close the time of Jesus’ return must be!
We have warning signs; we have concrete intelligence data. These are not possible indicators; they are the sure word of the Lord Himself. Yet, many people appear to be ignoring these danger signals. How sad it will be when, as has happened with some other catastrophes, the importance of those warnings is recognized only when it is too late — after Jesus comes!
We do not have to be among those who are left behind because of lack of preparation. If we pay attention and take heed, we will be ready for Christ’s return. Recognizing that time may be getting short is not sufficient. We must take action! We need to be following the Lord with all of our hearts and ready to go in a moment, because Jesus will come back quickly and rapture away those who are prepared.
In Mark 13, Jesus told His disciples about future events. Some of His statements referred to Jerusalem’s destruction and others to the end times, when He will return to this earth.
In verses 1-2, the disciples commented on the beauty of the Temple. Herod the Great had begun to rebuild the Temple before Jesus’ birth, and the inner portion had been completed about 20-19 B.C. However, some of the surrounding grounds and buildings were still under construction in Jesus’ time. The Temple’s magnificence was renowned; some of the stones were forty feet in length, eighteen feet wide, and twelve feet high. Jesus predicted that these stones would be thrown down, and this prophecy was fulfilled when the Roman government destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
From the Temple, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives. Although the Temple itself was on a hill, the Mount of Olives was two hundred feet higher, so the Temple could be seen by looking across the Kidron Valley. There on the mountain, the disciples asked for more details and a sign of when the Temple’s destruction would take place.
Jesus said clearly in verses 5-13 that His followers would face extreme persecution and tribulation. Repeatedly in the chapter He told them to “Take heed,” or to be alert and on their guard. False Christs would come and family members would betray one another. Famines, earthquakes, and wars were ahead. The Lord’s followers would have to testify in courts of law and face physical abuse. Still, those who endured to the end would be saved.
Some Bible scholars believe that verses 14-23 foretold of Jerusalem’s destruction and also of the end times. When the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem, many Christians fled to the mountains. Jesus instructed that they would need to leave quickly, without going into their houses to get anything. Those who were pregnant or had small children would find it difficult to move fast enough. They needed to pray that their flight was not in the winter because the Jordan River flooded annually. The Jewish historian Josephus indicated that this siege was horrendously grim for those who did not flee, and over a million people died. However, the Roman leaders abruptly returned to Italy, so the days perhaps were “shortened.”
Jesus’ warnings also referred to the Tribulation of the last days. Many of the signs, such as false Christs, would be the same. Jesus wanted His followers to pay attention and be watchful so they would escape what was coming.
Verses 24-27 foretell the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The language He used was similar to that found in Isaiah and other Old Testament prophecies, and therefore the disciples were familiar with it. When Jesus returns with “great power and glory,” the suffering of Christians throughout the ages will be over, and all of His “elect” will be gathered to Him. This is the hope of all believers.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI. The presentation and rejection of the Son of God
F. The instruction of the Son of God
3. Concerning the future of Israel (13:1-27)
a. The stimulus for the discourse (13:1-4)
b. The Tribulation (13:5-23)
(1) The first half (13:5-13)
(2) The second half (13:14-23)
c. The appearance of the Shekinah Glory (13:24-26)
d. The regathering of Israel (13:27)
Are you ready if Jesus should come back today?