Summary: 1) The Destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:1-2), 2) The Deception of Many (Mark 13:4–6), and finally, 3) The Devastation of the Earth (Mark 13:7–8).
As we come to the end of 2017, the review of events over the past year show that, in many ways, nothing has changed. For example, lamenting “the winds of war” blowing around the world, Pope Francis in his traditional Christmas message on Monday called for a two-state solution to find peace in the Middle East. The pope took particular aim at areas of global tension where President Donald Trump is playing a critical role. The Pope believes that Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has ignited new violence in the Middle East. (http://nationalpost.com/news/religion/pope-francis-christmas-message#comments-area)
To say that violence has just “ignited” ignores the complete history of the region. Hostility has always existed, and always will until Christ returns. Understanding this hostility however is very important in understanding where history is headed. Though the Lord Jesus was sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24), His chosen people willfully rejected Him. As the apostle John explained in John 1:11: “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him”. Jesus responded to Israel’s unbelief by pronouncing divine judgment on the apostate nation (Matt. 12:41–42; cf. 11:20–24). On one hand, their stubborn rebellion moved Him to weep (cf. Luke 13:34–35; 19:41–44), yet it also provoked Him to righteous indignation (cf. Mark 3:5). He repeatedly rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and hardheartedness, doing so openly and severely (cf. Matt. 15:3–9; 22:18; 23:13–29; Mark 7:1–8; Luke 12:1), and warned His disciples to avoid their influence (Mark 8:15; cf. Matt. 16:6, 11). Twice in His ministry, at both the beginning (John 2:13–22) and the end (Mark 11:15–17), Jesus struck at the heart of corrupt Judaism by attacking the moneymaking operations of the temple, accusing those involved of turning God’s house into a robbers’ den. But rather than repenting, the religious leaders maliciously arranged to kill their own Messiah (Mark 11:18).
Beginning with events around the earthly temple of God, we can begin to understand what is going on around us and get a clearer picture of what is going to happen to this earth. To ignore history and prophetic events, is to have a dangerous myopic view. An uninformed view will contribute to dangerous assumptions that can lead us astray and fail to head warnings for the future. The stakes not only include our spiritual health but the spiritual health of our congregation, friends, families and co-workers. When we look back at 2017, understanding the factors in play will help us to make decisions and take precautions that will better enable spiritual growth and health.
The Lord Jesus prophetically described features that would occur during that intervening time between His first coming and His return. In Mark 13:1–8, surveying that future history, He depicted three coming realities: 1) The Destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:1-2), 2) The Deception of Many (Mark 13:4–6), and finally, 3) The Devastation of the Earth (Mark 13:7–8).
To better understand what is going on around us, and get a clearer picture of what is going to happen, we must understand the significance of:
1) The Destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:1–2)
Mark 13:1-2 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (ESV)
Having engaged in a full day of teaching in the temple, delivering His final instruction to the people (cf. 12:1–37) and issuing a stinging denunciation to the religious leaders (12:38–40; cf. Matt. 23:13–38), Jesus left the temple and headed east, exiting Jerusalem through the eastern gate (cf. 11:19). As He and His disciples came out of the temple, one of His disciples looked back and said to Him, “Look/behold Teacher what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” Situated atop the plateau above the Kidron Valley east of the city, the temple and its surrounding buildings stood as one of the architectural marvels of the ancient world. They particularly marvelled at the massive size of the stones which were used in the structure and substructure of the Temple. With its eastern wall covered in gold, the temple’s main structure gleamed in the evening light as if it were a massive jewel. The impressive temple complex contained numerous porticos, colonnades, patios, and courtyards—enabling tens of thousands of worshipers to congregate and present their offerings and sacrifices. In Jesus’ day the temple had already been under construction fifty years, and was still unfinished…Herod enlarged Solomon’s temple to an esplanade measuring some 325 meters wide by 500 meters long, with a circumference of nearly a mile. The immense thirty-five-acre enclosure could accommodate twelve football fields (Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 387). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.)