MARK 13 – Bringing Down the House!
“‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’ ‘Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’” [v1-2]
Even now, when I look at the photos, it’s difficult to comprehend the weight and force with which these massive blocks smashed into the ground below. We were in Jerusalem in 2012 and were wandering through the Davidson Centre below the Temple walls. Besides the impressive size of the huge nine-foot solid rock blocks that made up the lower Temple foundations, we marvelled at the large eighteen-inch-thick solid rock paving slabs that lined the outer-wall area.
Now noticeably bowed, the pavement below the temple walls is a reminder of the Roman occupation. The immense impact that bowed a solid rock pavement is utterly mind blowing. We could only shake our heads in wonder at the huge pile of boulders still sitting there in the background. They’d apparently been thrown down from above when the Temple was destroyed in AD70, just a Jesus predicted in this conversation right before He was killed.
In the storyline, Palm Sunday had already happened. This was the moment of great jubilation when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey – just as a King would have in ancient times. Unbeknown to His follower, though, Jesus knew that He only had a couple of days left alive. In a quiet moment on the Mount of Olives – in full view of the Golden Gate and the Temple buildings beyond it – His disciples asked Him when the house will collapse. When would it be that the Jewish Temple (the structure at the centre of their life, culture, identity, history and faith), and the impressive buildings in Jerusalem be raised to the ground.
Jesus’ answer over the next 26 verses is, first and foremost, an answer to their question. But like other ancient prophets, Jesus’ words have various layers that go beyond the immediate. His instructions cover the mid-term – what would happen under Roman occupation in the years after He died. His words also covered a long-range future that takes in a future collapse of our global house of cards.
Knowing that the long-range element would be relevant after His conversation was put into printed format[a] – a day when people would both read and understand [v14] – Jesus instructions remain standing for us today. So, while this is not necessarily chronological and it may cover some events that have already happened in history, here’s six signs for us to be aware of…
Impostors. An early sign that His words are coming true, will include deceptive impostors. Their signs and wonders will be so good that many will follow these counterfeits. [v5,6,21-23]
Natural and Man-made disasters. We’re not to be alarmed when hearing about wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes and famines these things must come first, like the beginning of birth pains. [v7-8]
The fate of Believers. Jesus Followers will be handed over to be accused, flogged and even put to death. [v9] This is how all but one of Jesus’ disciples died. Using an ancient prophecy from Micah[b], Jesus explains how Believers will be betrayed and hated even by their own family. [v12-13] This happened in WWII Germany. The good news is that God’s Holy Spirit will give Believers the words to say when they’re questioned. [v11]
The Spread of the Story. The result of #3 above is that the Good News will be preached in every nation. [v10] Though there are still “closed countries” and people groups who haven’t yet heard God’s story today, with migration and globalisation, there’s now people in every nation on earth who are Followers of The Way.
A Global Distress. Whatever happens in the future, it’ll be like nothing we’ve ever known. In fact, had the Lord not shortened the days for the sake of His people, no one would survive. [v14-20] Following “the distress” (or Great Tribulation) even the sun, moon and stars will be affected just as the ancient prophet Isaiah predicted.[c]
Jesus Return. At that time, we’ll see the ancient prophecy from Daniel coming true.[d] The “Son of Man” will come in clouds, and His angels will collect His Followers. [v26-27]
The biggest problem is that no-one knows the day or the hour – not the angels, nor even Jesus. Only the Father knows. [v32] In this we see that, although all things have been given to Jesus just as the prophet Daniel said…
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”[e]
…still we see Jesus’ subordination to Father God who is The Ancient of Days i.e. Jesus doesn’t know everything – He doesn’t know the day or hour when all this will take place. Father God is in supreme command of history – His Story – and it’s one that’ll bring down the house.
Perhaps my readers may think that Followers of the Creator God are crazy if He’s predicting hardship even within family members and this from as far back as Isaiah the prophet! It doesn’t get any better with Jesus’ predictions. In fact, it actually gets worse. So where does that leave us?
The role of those with faith in the Creator’s epic storyline, is simply: to trust and obey. This doesn’t mean that we can’t ask questions and understand our Maker’s logic. Reading more of His story regularly, helps us understand what He’s up to. In the meantime, we’re to keep watch and keep faith even under the scariest of conditions. [v28-37]
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Matthew 24:15
[b] Micah 7:6
[c] Isaiah 13:10 & 34:4
[d] Daniel 7:13
[e] Daniel 7:13-14