International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending February 27, 2011
Purpose: To hear Jesus' words about the end of the age as a proclamation of hope and encouragement
Scripture Text: Mark 13:14-27 (NRSV)
(14)“But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; (15)the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; (16)the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. (17)Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! (18)Pray that it may not be in winter. (19)For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. (20)And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. (21)And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’ —do not believe it.
(22)False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. (23)But be alert; I have already told you everything. (24)“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, (25)and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (26)Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. (27)Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As I study Mark 13, I think back to one of our early family vacations. We loaded our three children in a car with a luggage rack on top and headed for Rocky Mountain National Park. On our second day, while still in Nebraska, we saw our first glimpse of a mountain peak and as we continued our drive it got closer, but another peak behind the first peak became visible. From our first glimpse until we arrived seemed to be an extremely long time, especially with three children asking that famous question; “Are we there yet?” That is sort of how I understand our lesson, viewing time down a corridor, Jesus speaks of the first peak, and then looking further down that corridor to the next peak, no one is sure how much time is involved in getting to that next peak. Like restless children, we find ourselves asking the same question; Are we there yet?
Putting our text into a time frame, Jesus had just finished upsetting the money changers in the temple and is walking back up the Mount of Olives. When, for whatever reason, one of his disciples ask Jesus if he had ever seen anything as spectacular as the magnificent structure they had just left. Jesus then proceeds to explain to them, that what they think is indestructible we be nothing but a heap of stones after the “desolating sacrilege.”
Jesus is referring to The Book of Daniel, where Daniel refers to this as the “abomination of desolation” in the KJV. All that Jesus declared about the “desolating sacrilege” took place before the generation that was living at that time, or in other words before forty years would pass; this all happened according to historians.
In the year 70AD, a ruler and self proclaimed god, came and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and set up an altar to himself, and sacrificed pigs on that altar as an act of defiance. This all took place where once the Holy of Hollies and Ark of the Covenant reigned. That was the “desolating sacrilege.” Mysteriously many Jews fled to northern Perea and escaped the horror that went on in Jerusalem.
Just three days from Jesus being hung on a cross, he knew as he looked out over the temple its relevance would be destroyed. First the veil would be torn from top to bottom, and the need for animal sacrifice would no longer exist.
Starting in verse 24 Jesus is not looking at a different peak all the way to the end of time. And He describes how it will be at the end, when the Son of Man will come, “with great power and glory.”
As I write this I understand that another prediction has been made about a “rapture” of the church on May 21, 2011, and the annihilation of the universe on October 21, 2011. Those days like all days should be ones of watching and waiting and always being ready.