Mark 13:1-37

--Final Exam Time for Christians--

[editorial comments in red.  editor.]

Good morning.  You can turn in your Bibles to Mark chapter 13.  A group of us, I'm not sure how many, somewhere between 35 and 40 of us just got back from a Harvest Crusade.  Last night we did, and just a unique blessing, especially to see so many folks come to Christ.  I was thinking about it on the way back, we drove 8 hours each way, 16 hours.  Took longer because we stopped every hour at a bathroom, there a few folks that wanted to stop about every hour J.  And all to go down to a one and a half hour crusade.  So we did all this driving to go see a crusade.  But there's a blessing.  I hope that all come back have a greater vision for what God can do. 

          Again today we're in Mark chapter 13.  As I was thinking about this text we are in I was reminded of when I was in college.  There was an experience that I had that--and if you've heard this story before, be patient with me--but I was with my friends.  We were studying these engineering courses and with our degrees, we were allowed to take certain courses each semester outside of our degree.  And what we determined to do as students is we determined to take classes that were easy.  You know, whenever I had an elective to take, I took the easy classes, whatever I heard was easy, that's the class I took.  That was my determining factor.  Wasn't necessarily an interesting class, it was easy.  If it was an elective, one of those classes I had an option in, I took the easy one.  Well, they usually were easy because they were the first level for different degrees.  So one particular semester I was told by some of my room-mates, 'Hey, take psychology 101, which was psychology, the first class.  I'm sure it gets harder from that point, but they said "Hey, we took psych 101 and it was easy, you should take it.  You'll do well in it.  It will help your G.P.A."  The engineering classes that we were taking, especially that semester, tended to hurt your G.P.A.  Well anyway, I took psych. 101 and as the semester went on I did what I did with some of the classes like that, I never went to them.  It was an early morning class and I had never been a single time.  And it was getting towards the middle of the year, in the middle of the semester.  And I knew by the little syllabus that I was given when I signed up for the course that there was a mid-term and there was a final, so I was figuring, well, we're getting towards mid-term time, I ought to consider going to class and determining when the mid-term is going to be.  I know if I cram a night or two before the mid-term I'm going to do OK, but I better go find out when it's going to be.  And I didn't even know the professor or the name of the professor, never seen the professor, never seen anybody in class.  So finally this one day I decided it's probably time to go.  So I went and was sitting in class, and you know, a class that's been meeting for awhile generally people will start to get friendly with each other and start to chit-chat before class.  But this seemed like the first day of class as I sat down.  It was very quiet.  And the professor wasn't there yet and nobody was talking, instead people seemed to be serious and flipping through their books.  So I turned to this girl who was sitting a couple seats from me.  I said, "Hey, what's going on today, anyway?  It's kind of quiet around here."  And she says, "What, you mean today?  You mean the test?"  I said, "What test!?"  She said, "You mean the mid-term?"  I said, "The mid-term today???"  Now I don't think I had purchased the book.  I had no idea.  And here it was supposed to be an easy class.  You know, I could have taken a Japanese class at that moment, test, I would have done better.  I had no idea what was going to be on that exam.  So of course you can imagine, you know what happened to my blood pressure and my fears for a moment--I can't believe this.  By God's abundant grace, God has always been so gracious with me, it turns out it must have been one of the nicest professors in all of the college.  I went to talk to him later and he graciously--well I was going to lie to him, my room-mates were trying to get me to make up this story about a flat tire kind of deal and the car, couldn't get back from the weekend, whatever--but I told the truth and actually I didn't have to say anything.  I said "Professor, I got a problem."  He said, "What?  You miss the test?"  I said, "Well, yeah, I did."  He says, "Well, when do you want to take it?"  I said, "Well, OK…(gave myself a couple of weeks to study, and he let me).  And anyway, I was not prepared for the test, so I would have done very poorly, obviously.  And as I consider the Scripture today and I consider life in general we're told in Scripture that there's tests that come into our lives.  And we have a choice whether or not to be prepared for those tests.  Or whether to be like this one student, myself, and come to this test and not be prepared and really struggle through the test.  In fact the Psalmist said, "This is my comfort in my affliction, for your Word has given me life."  'I came to the test, I came to the point of affliction and I found comfort because your Word gave me life.'  As we look at today's text, we're told in Scripture, that there's tests that we go through, but specifically we're exhorted to be prepared for 'the last days' that  are going to come, a test upon the entire nation and the entire world.  And there will be events that lead up to that.  And we're told to be prepared for that.  In fact, Luke, in Luke chapter 21, Jesus was recorded during the same dissertation that we're going to study today, he is recorded as saying, "Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly."  He said, "Take heed."  Maybe take heed because you've got caught up into the cares of life so much that that day is going to come and you're not going to be prepared.  But we're told to be prepared.  And that's where we're headed today.  So let's say a prayer together and we'll begin Mark 13.

          "Father, I do pray, as we read your Word again, that we would understand that you desire for us to be prepared.  And I pray even as we read these words that they would further prepare us.  And that these words of life, that as we read them, that we would experience that life.  That even the smaller tests that come our way, the tests maybe even nearer into the future, we'd be prepared for and have that life and that strength.  But I thank you for your Word Lord.  Please lead us.  I pray that the power of your Holy Spirit would be upon each one of us.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen."

          Let's begin in chapter 13.  Mark 13:1-2, "Then as he went out of the temple one of his disciples said to him, 'Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here.'  And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings?  Not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.'"  Last week they were in the temple, Jesus was sharing, performed some miracles, was confronted again with the religious leaders.  Now at this point, chapter 13, they're leaving the temple.  And upon leaving the temple some of the disciples point out to Jesus, 'Look at this tremendous building, the temple.  Look at it, Jesus.  Isn't it beautiful?'  Some of the other gospels, they evidently point out some of the precious stones and things.  The temple was built by Herod.  In fact, this temple took about fifty years to build.  At this point in time it's 46, 47 years into the building process, so it's just about done.  And this particular temple, Herod was just a little guy, and I guess maybe to make up for his shortness of height he wanted to be known as a big guy, so he built a lot of big things.  He was known as being a tremendous builder and architect.  But this temple of Herod, this Jewish temple, was one of the ancient wonders of the world.  In fact, Josephus, the ancient historian, writes about the temple.  He says this, he says, "The exterior of the building wanted nothing that could astound either eye or mind.  For being covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up then it radiated so fiery a flash that a person straining to look at it was compelled to avert his eyes, as from the solar rays."  He said you couldn't even look at the temple when the sun came up because of the, just all the stones and gold especially, it was hard to look at.  "To approaching strangers it appeared from a distance like a snow-clad mountain, for all that was not overlaid with gold was of purest white.  Some of the stones in the building were 45 cubits in length, 5 cubits in length (high), and 6 in breadth."   If you convert that to 18" a cubit as I did, that's about 67 feet long, 8 feet high, 9 feet wide, some of the stones were that large, like a freight car on a train or something.  That's the size of some of the stones that they used to build this temple.  Just tremendous, tremendous structure, one of the ancient wonders of the world at that time.  Now they point that out, and Jesus responds interestingly to them in verse 2.  He says, 'See this great building?--truly a tremendous building?  Not one stone is going to be left upon another, it's all going to be thrown down.'  Of course, the disciples hearing this are like, 'Wow!  Look at these freight-car stones, look at this structure.  You're telling me it's going to be dismantled?'  And they get together with Jesus a little bit later, and they speak to him about it.  But as we've referred to in the last few weeks, General Titus does come in, just a short time (39 years later) and just completely levels the city.  When he came into the city he told the soldiers, this beautiful temple, don't touch that.  Destroy these Israelites (the Jews) and destroy this nation, but don't touch the temple, it’s so beautiful, let's spare this temple.  But as the battle waged on, evidently, some accounts I've read, there were some Jews that were hiding in the temple, as it was the strongest structure in the city, and were hiding in the temple, and one of the Roman soldiers threw a torch into the temple, it caught fire.  Some of the things in the temple caught fire, evidently it was just a mass of fire, the entire temple.  [My guess, the temple probably had huge vats of olive oil in it for the candelabra and torches for lighting, and that this oil caught fire somehow.]  And all the gold that was on it, all those gold plates just melted into the crevices and pores of the stone.  Titus then seeing the destruction after the battle told the soldiers, 'Hey, this place is ruined, let's just completely level it.'  So they began to take it apart, stone by stone, especially the temple, because of the gold that had gotten into the crevices.  They wanted to get the gold.  And you can go to Israel and see some of the stones they cast off the Temple Mount, laying in the valley.  You can go into, as we will do in February, as you go along the western wall, there's one tunnel about a mile.  You can see stones that are just charred black.  This tunnel goes down to the time of Christ, onto that level.  And you can see stones that are just charred black from the fire that just burnt during this time.  And Jesus said, 'Look at these stones, loot at the temple, tremendous, but it's going to be taken apart.'  And it really was, just a short time later, completely disassembled, as he prophecied.  Hard for the disciples to even comprehend that such a thing could take place.  You know, as I read that, I think of you and I as people, as Americans, we really do take comfort in our successes and our accomplishments.  And sometimes we can rest in our accomplishments, rest in our abilities, rest in the different things that we've done or having around us.  And that can present maybe a false sense of security.  When I was in the hotel room, you know, we went to this Harvest Crusade, and the guy that set up this Crusade, well he did a great job organizing, and really got us a nice hotel, right near the city of Philadelphia.  Got it very inexpensively and it turns out the lady that works in the hotel was a Christian that went to Calvary Chapel.  It was the first time I walked into a hotel and got a hug from somebody that worked there.  I was like, 'What's going on?'  This lady came up and hugged us.  But she was a neat lady, real happy about attending Joe Focht's church.  But because the one guy from our church was doing all the organizing, she decided to bless him and his wife and gave them a really nice hotel room.  Well, without realizing it he decided when he realized that, he kind of changed things around and ended up giving the room to my wife and I.  And later we discovered that and tried to debate with him about that, but we couldn't do it.  So we ended up staying in this really nice room on the 17th floor.  And the room faced Philadelphia and there was the skyline just a few miles away.  There you could look upon this tremendous accomplishment of Americans, and the city skylines, one of the great cities of America, Philadelphia.  And of course I've got this text on my mind because I've been reading about it, thinking about this temple and this vast building, and looking at Philadelphia, considering America, you know.  We're like that, we're just this great civilization, and Americans just rest in their accomplishment.  We look around and say, 'Look at America, look at how great we are', forgetting chapters of Revelation, like the latter chapters, that talk about this great nation, Babylon [the resurrected Holy Roman Empire--Rev. 17-18] that's going to just be consumed in a day, in the latter days.  And we just, as men, rest in our successes and our accomplishments.  And really it's a false sense of security.  Because the Bible tells us otherwise.  The Bible tells us to be prepared--study the Book--know what's in the Book, be prepared--because things will change.  And we're coming towards those days.  In fact, I was thinking further along those lines as we were driving back along the Merit Parkway yesterday in Connecticut.  And as you do sometimes on road trips, we came to an accident.  It was one of those accidents you'd just as soon not see, you know.  Of course we began to pray in our van that, getting there before the rescue workers got there, although we were a little bit back there as far as in line with the cars.  But, you know, we got there, we stopped and we see this van that's--I guess it's a van, that's demolished, and people have gotten out of the cars and they're trying to help, bodies there lying in the road, and just one of those types of accidents.  And then not long after we got there the rescue vehicles came, so we proceeded on.  And they were covering people, and you just kind of wonder about the situation.  But as I left I was thinking about the phone calls that then were going to transpire, to family members and just what was going to go on at the hospital.  We saw one guy sitting next to the guardrail.  And just thinking about the rest of the day for these folks that were just involved with this car accident.  And of course, they were just driving down the road, and then things changed that quickly.  And that's life.  And that is going to be, I think, life for America in general, things are going to change pretty quickly.  And we're told in Scripture to take heed and to be prepared, to know what's in the Book, not to be ignorant of it.  Because we're not going to be prepared if we don't know what's in it.  Also, as Christians we're told not to get overly confident in ourselves, and I learned that lesson early on as a Christian.  One young Christian learned it recently.  You can really start getting confident just in your own spirituality, you know.  'Hey, I got off drugs, I got off of alcohol, I'm doing OK, kind of like this white temple, you know, and then find out not long later that the flesh is pretty powerful if you're not fighting in the Spirit.  [And anyone who's really addicted to drugs or alcohol, and not just giving them up for "church", knows it's not by their own power that they've been able to walk away from them--ask any real alcoholic that Jesus has healed.]  You'll lose out if your not fighting in the Spirit.  You'll lose out if you're not fighting in the Spirit for sure.  I learned that early on in my Christian walk, after I thought I was doing alright and then I found myself on my face.  We're told that in Scripture, we're told "therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."  We're never to be so confident in ourselves, it's always by God's grace, it's always in the Spirit by His power.  That's why we're told to pray "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil [the evil one]."  'God, help me, I'm not going to get there unless you help me.  Lead me not into temptation, deliver me from evil.  Help me Lord.  I need your help.'  But in the Spirit I know I can stand.  But on my own I'm not going to.  In humility David cried the same, he said, "Cleanse me, God, from my secret faults."  "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins.  Let them not have dominion over me.  Then I shall be blameless, I'll be innocent of great transgression."  He said, 'Lord, keep me.'  A number of times he said, 'Guard my mouth, keep me, protect me, from my own self, really.'  So I consider this, looking upon this temple, this beautiful temple, and we tend to be like that, have a false sense of security, but we're exhorted to be prepared--prepared in the Spirit, prepared in the Word.

          Verse 3, "Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately…"  You know, as you come away from the temple, you go through the Kidron Valley, you go up the Mount of Olives.  You've probably seen pictures of the Old City of Jerusalem, where you're kind of looking down on it, you've got the Dome of the Rock, just a beautiful picture--I've got a poster at home on my wall.  But it's taken from the Mount of Olives.  As you go up the Mount of Olives you can just see down upon the city, it's very breath-taking, the view.  And that, evidently, is where they are.  It says they've gone up the Mount of Olives, it's a very steep hill, so they've probably stopped to take a breath, take a rest for a moment.  And it's at that point now that Peter, James and John confront Jesus, they say, "Tell us, when will all these things be?  And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" (Verse 4).  'Tell us Jesus, you know, you mentioned about that coming apart, and here we're looking down on it.  When is this going to happen?  What does this all mean?  Tell us a little bit about the latter times.  Verses 5-6, "And Jesus answering them began to say, 'Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in my name saying I am he, and will deceive many."  He starts right off, very first thing he says.  Tell us about these latter times, the very first thing he says is in the latter times there's going to be false teachers, and it's going to abound.  We know that in Scripture.  More and more false teachers and false apostles, and people coming in the name of Christ, people even saying they are the Messiah, they are the Christ.  I thought about that, I've never heard of a story, maybe you have, where somebody's come and said, 'Hey, I'm Buddha' or 'I'm Mohammed', I've never heard anybody say that before, that they've come back as Mohammed re-incarnated or something.  But people do come, many have come, and said that they're Christ, they're the Christ, the Messiah, they're Jesus, many have done that.  That's the first thing he warns them, 'Take heed, because false teachers are coming, and are going to deceive and take heed that you're not deceived.  And of course, the way you're not going to be deceived is by being in the Book, knowing the questions, knowing the answers.  If you know them, you're not going to be deceived.  Sunday morning,  if you rely on Sunday morning to learn all the questions and answers, you're not going to get it all.  If you're relying on 960AM or WEZE you'll get more, but you're still not going to get it all.  It's got to be personal time in the Word where you're studying, putting it together so you know, so you won't be deceived.  And people come, false teachers come, and the reason why they deceive is because they're so convincing.  And they're 'angels of light', they just look so good.  [2 Corinthians ll:3-4, 13-15, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear with me…For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."]  They just look so good.  And they know the Bible so well.  And they teach this or that, and they pull out the Scripture, and then they've got the smile, and the nice flowery words and seemingly humble appearance to back it up.  And they deceive multitudes.  And we're told, Jesus says right off to his disciples, he was concerned about it, many times we're warned in Scripture--be careful man, there's teachers coming that are going to be empowered by demons, even we're told, that are going to deceive.  Of course, the best defense is to know the Word, and to know it personally.

 

Verses 7-8, he says, "But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars do not be troubled, for such things must happen, the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and sorrows.  These are the beginning of sorrows."  He says, 'Well, to start with there's going to be this preparation time.'  You know, my wife has had two children, so I've seen the birth process a little bit, but you know, I've been there that hour when she starts moving around a little discomforted and says, 'You know, there's something going on in my body.  I think maybe I'm having labor pains.'  And then things begin to happen, and you get the stopwatch out, timing the contractions.  And of course, it's started.  But there is this process before, and eventually it was show-time.  He says, these things are going to begin to happen too, there's going to be these discomforts, kind of like labor pains, sorrows, early sorrows, telling you that the time is coming, preparing for that time, but it isn't show-time yet.  That's what he says there as we read those verses.  He says there's going to be wars, nation rising against nation, rumours of wars, all kinds of battles.  As I left church last Sunday I heard Robbie Zacharius on the radio.  I wasn't able to listen to the tape I wanted to for this week.  But he talked about the last century, one of the most peaceful centuries (the 1800s) in all history.  Yet there was a guy, he wasn't even a Christian, that was looking at some of the decisions that were being made, some of the new philosophies, and he said, 'You know, this is the most peaceful century, but next century is going to be a bloodbath.'  Then Robbie Zacharius went on to say that the 20th century by far, just the amount of blood that has been shed, is just tremendous.  According to the Club of Rome in the War Atlas there's not been a single day of peace on the planet since World War II, not one day, not one day where guns haven't been firing and bombs haven't been going off.  Since World War II there's been a war going on continuously.  According to the Club of Rome there's presently, and this is a little old, there are 32 million soldiers worldwide.  But there's 570 million in reserve.  I think there's even more than that if you look at China, there's about a billion maybe, soldiers prepared to do battle.  That's a lot of people.  50 percent of all scientists today are working on weapons, all the money that's going into research, 40 percent of that is spent on developing newer weapons.  Just, we're in a time of battle and war.  And obviously you guys watch the news and see the things that are going on.  [Just an observation: There have always been wars since the time of Jesus, but we've entered a time of kingdom warring against kingdom.  Napoleon was the first major kingdom verses kingdom warfare, then World War I, and then World War II (where Mussolini was actually declared the Holy Roman Emperor by the ruling pope in 1935).  This period of World War, the cycle of World Wars began in the 1800s (if you count Napoleon's kingdom waging war against other European nations and Russian) and has continued on into the middle of the 20th century, then the Korean war where the United Nations fought against the Communist nations of North Korea and China, then national wars raged onward until the end of the century in various places around the world.]

And then he says, 'There will be nation against nation, rumours of wars, but then there will be earthquakes in various places.  Of course we're all reading in the newspapers right now and reading about what happened in Turkey.  One newspaper I read last week, I don't know what the latest statistics are, said that potentially 35,000 people have been buried.  That's a lot of people.  And they say that's one of the worst earthquakes of this century.  And you've seen some of the photographs.  Well he said there's going to be battles, and there's going to be earthquakes.  As you study earthquakes, the phenomena of earthquakes, the frequency of earthquakes has certainly dramatically increased over the last century.  Maybe you've heard studies on that.  But in 1976, the U.S. Geological Survey team determined that there's been an interesting change that's happened to the earth's tectonic plates upon which the present world sits.  And they're now shifting in such a way as to drastically increase the frequency and intensity of earthquakes.  It says more and more earthquakes that are taking place, as we've even read recently.  So he says, 'Wars and rumors of wars, there's going to be earthquakes.'  He says there's going to be famines in various places.  And some of this is foreign to us, living in New England, but you go around the world, it's not foreign at all.  According to the United Nations over 100 million children in the 3rd world go to bed hungry every night, 100 million.  That's about half the population of the United States, a little bit less.  That many folks, children, that many children go to bed hungry every night, children alone.  [In Somalia over 300,000 died in the civil-war related starvation that occurred in this poor part of Africa.  Rent and watch the movie Blackhawk Down.]   As many as fifty million people die each year of things that stem ultimately from malnutrition.  That's like four times the state of, four states of Massachusetts every year from things related to starvation.  Scientists tell us that the deserts are increasing in size at an alarming rate, there's millions of square miles that are added each year to the deserts of the world.  They just keep getting bigger and bigger.  The U.S., furthermore, is now down to just a few inches of topsoil, as opposed to not long ago there was 10 feet.  Canada still has about 10 feet of topsoil, but evidently according to the data I was given, there's only a few inches of topsoil in our country alone [and we're one of the major bread-basket countries of the world--we go down agriculturally, half the poorer nations go down with us].  And that's just, there's a lot of things happening.  We all know that.  You can talk to anybody and they would agree that there's things going on.  But Jesus says, 'This is the beginning of sorrows, this isn't it.  This is just this thing that's letting you know that we're getting there.  And the real heavy birth pains are going to come, and the delivery, that's coming.  But this (these signs) are to let you know we're well on our way, the process has begun.  [One theologian observed that the process had really begun when we, the US, exploded two nuclear warheads on Hiroshima and Nagasaki--and then along with the Soviet Union, developed a stockpile of easily deliverable weapons of mass destruction that could erase all life from the planet multiple times over.  And don't think for one tiny moment that weapons development has stopped just because the Soviet Union doesn't exist any more.  Russia is still very "worried" about Communist China on her border, and so continues to develop her nuclear submarine capabilities and re-armaments with newer and better weapons, yes, of mass destruction--sincerely not meant for us, but so what.]  

 

Verses 9-13, "But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you to the counsels and you'll be beaten in synagogues.  You'll be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations [King James Bible has "published among all nations"].  But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry before hand or premeditate what you will speak, for whatever is given you in that hour speak that, for it is not you who speaks but the Holy Spirit.  Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved."  He says, 'But watch out for yourselves.'  No doubt, the beginning of the process is around us.  We just see it  as we read the statistics and you guys all realized that we're well on our way to the events that Jesus is going to describe in a moment.  The birth process, in this world has begun.  But he says to them, he says, 'But you watch out for yourselves, be prepared, be in the Book, know what's going on, and understand that there's going to be a day that you're going to be delivered up, there's going to be persecution.  And you're going to be delivered up and have to stand before different people.  And the persecution is going to be used as an opportunity to witness. [Sort of makes me wonder if God's going to use this opportunity to get us to do what we haven't been so willing to do on our own--witness.  Good question.  Hmmm.]  Now as you read the book of Acts we see that this was certainly fulfilled in the disciples.  You know, Paul, he was arrested, and all the things that went on, he was able to speak before Herod and maybe even Caesar we believe.  So these things took place.  [But I might add, the birth pain signs Jesus points out (wars, earthquakes, famines) come before this persecution mentioned, in time order (in Mark 13).  So this persecution is for the time we're heading into.  But these are also the same four things represented by the Four Horsemen of Revelation 6.  These sorrows have obviously begun, but each one culminates in a much larger and final version of what each represents--world wars ending up with the final World War III, the real war to end all wars; famines, ending up with the major famines that kill one quarter of the earths population; pestilence, which usually follow war and famine, etc.  Some think a really big persecution will take place where many Christians die, Christians who had been sleeping spiritually.  Revelation mentions this martyrdom.  Some think this persecution Jesus is mentioning in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 is a general persecution that all Christians will go through before the actual tribulation gets going, and not the martyrdom mentioned in Revelation.  I'm inclined to believe that's correct, but that's my personal belief.  Have to wait and see.]  He says, 'Persecution is going to be used as an opportunity to be a witness before others’.  And that whole principle can even be applied in a more general sense to our lives.  But no doubt, persecution, I think what the church in America needs is persecution.  There's certainly good that comes out of persecution.  There's a lot of bad, obviously.  But I think the church in America, a little persecution would be good for the church in America as far as witness.  It would certainly really empower the witness of the church.  We wouldn't be so complacent and laxidasicle, there would be a real fervency in our message. 

But also God will use events in my life to set the stage for some sort of ministry, and sometimes that's just an important point to realize.  You're going in your day-to-day activities and week-to-week activities and sometimes things begin to happen.  There's a job lay-off or you have to sell your home or apartment you're in, suddenly the landlord wants to kick you out because he's selling it or something.  These things happen in your life.  You ask, 'What's going on?  This is disturbing.'  But in some cases, in many cases [if you're a real Christian], God is staging events for opportunities to minister.  And I have learned that a number of years ago, and I try to remember that.  Sometimes I don't, but I remember one particular time.  My wife and I left her sister's in California, we were heading home and we got ten or fifteen minutes down the road before we realized that we had forgotten something.  So what you do in those cases is you turn around and you drive 10 or 15 minutes back to the place and you go into the house, and say 'Hey, we're back,' and you go find the thing you forgot and you get back in the car and you set out again.  We did that, and this time we got 10 or 15 minutes down the road and realized that we forgot something else.  It was another important item, we could not continue on the road, so we had to turn around, go back to her house, 'Hey, we're back again,'  and go find whatever it was and get back in the car.  I think we had to go to work the next day, it was late, and we just wanted to get going, you know, and now a considerable amount of time had passed.  So we get in the car, start driving 10 or 15 minutes down the road, get on another highway, and there's a car broken down on the median.  And my wife, as we pass by, says 'Hey, there's a lady there and I think she's crying.'  And I said 'Really?'  ('Come on, we need to get going here.')  So I said, 'Alright.'  As we realized all along maybe God has a purpose in this, so we go to the next exit, turn around, came all the way back, got to that point, pulled over, and the lady in the car was still there.  Well I got out of the car and I walked over, and I started to talk to this lady.  And she was Caucasian and maybe had blond or brown hair, but she had taken Asian hair, maybe an Asian person sold her hair, and had it intertwined with her hair, I don't know what you call that, but she had really long extensions, I think they're called extensions.  She had these extensions that nearly went to the ground, of Asian hair.  This girl was unique, she had this really long Asian hair.  But she was Caucasian.  And she had an interesting dress on, and I could just tell she probably could use the gospel for sure.  I started  to talk to her a little bit, but it wasn't comfortable, so I went back to the car and I said to my wife, 'I think you need to go talk to this lady.'  So my wife got up, I was praying in the car, she went over and started to talk to her.  And it wasn't really getting anywhere, but she tried, but this lady says she doesn't need any help so she starts to get ready to go back to the car, but as she did this lady pulled out a sweatshirt and put it on, and it said something like 'Heritage Christian High School' on it.  Turns out this girl had gone to a Christian High School earlier, but she was on her way to go strip in Tijuana, she was a stripper.  So she had gotten way from, far away from her heritage--evidently grown up in a Christian home and had Christian parents and I don't know what happened, but now she was not only stripping, which is really scary, but Tijuana of all places, that's a scary place to visit even as a tourist.  Well, my wife was able to share with her, she got in the car, the two of us prayed with her and shared with her and there was even some communication that continued on after that day.  But I learned that sometimes God is doing that in your life.  That's the thing to consider when things seem to be going wrong or not the way you planned.  Sometimes things are kind of getting a little messed up on you and you're like 'Awh, I got to get to point B', but God is just staging events for you to minister to someone.  And you and I can relax (in that knowledge) more than we do, you know, just go with the flow.  Let God just work it out, rather than getting all uptight like we do sometimes.  And persecution can definitely--we're promised in the Bible--can lead to opportunity to testify.  Well, he says this to the disciples, "And the gospel must first be preached to all to all nations."  That's a verse that's been debated.  [The word "preached" is "published" in the king James Bible for Mark 13:10 and is "preached" in Matthew 24:14, but the word in the Greek used in both Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 is "karusso: to herald: preach, publish", so it can and does, by extension, mean both.]  There is a verse in Scripture in the book of Acts that maybe it happened early on, you know, the gospel spread quickly early on.  [But this does not take the verse in context with the section of Scripture it is found in, clearly end-time prophecy, just before and leading into the tribulation--World War III.  Also, if one follows mainline popular Christian dogma, if people die unsaved, they go to hell, right?  Thinking along those lines, I would think God would want each generation of Christians to preach and/or publish the gospel around the world of his or her times.  So a verse like those two can apply to then and now.  But it is most certainly found in context with end-time prophecies leading up to the tribulation, just to be accurate about it.]  And there's a verse that all the world has heard about Jesus [that world back then].  Obviously many churches today say "it hasn't happened yet,"  and "What exactly is Jesus saying?"  But there's definitely a push today to get the gospel out  in every language in every part of the world [and this push is being accomplished by many varied ministries of differing denominations and non-denominational groups--obviously the Holy Spirit is inspiring and saying something here (log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/evangelism/tools.htm to get a grasp of this subject)].  I was encouraged at the Harvest Crusade to see so many young people get saved, and one of the folks to go with us just to see what happens, it's amazing, and I was reminded, I sat there looking at thousands of people, thinking, 'the harvest is plentiful.'  Sometimes you get into the grind for awhile, and God is maybe preparing you and you begin to lose that vision, but the harvest really is plentiful.  And to see for fifteen minutes these kids just continue to come forward, and in the Philadelphia Spectrum to see the entire floor filled, the entire floor with kids.  It was really neat to see.  And the gospel, man, preached to all nations, the North County, every community.  He says, verse 11, 'When you're arrested, get in those situations if life', he says this specifically to the disciples, 'don't worry about what you're going to say, but let the Holy Spirit speak through you.'  [Again, even though this is being spoken to the apostles, it's context is end-time, so they wrote it down for those of us who'd live into the end times.]  I'll confess to you, that is a challenge sometimes.  Even on a Sunday morning, if I'm prepared up and prayed up, I feel like I can get up here and just let it fly, I'm ready to roll, I'm prepared to give the Word of God.  The weeks that I'm not prepared, I'm like--scary experience, to have to get up before people and give a Bible study for an hour.  But what you and I need to learn to do is just yield to the Holy Spirit.  And yielding is yielding.  Yielding is just putting yourself down and letting God work through you, yielding your control.  Maybe there's a fear in a situation with a certain person about sharing with them, you're intimidated or whatever it might be, so you're trying to control, but to just let go and say 'Holy Spirit, just work through me.'  I heard a great message by Alistair Begg.  He was really drilled by a pastor once.  Early on he was ministering, somewhere in Scotland, and it did not go very well, and there were some people from society in this one congregation he was sharing with, had a lot of money, and even some theologians and things, so he was intimidated.  And it just didn't go very well, and when he got down from the pulpit he walked out.  And as he walked out, he said, I noticed that there was this elderly man that had come up next to me.  And this guy was sitting up in the front rows and never took his eye off me the whole time.  And not only was he next to me, but he put his arm around me.  So as I came off the pulpit I wanted to run and hide, but this guy came next to me and put his arm around me, and started to walk me, even kind of force me to a certain corner behind the bookstore.  And then he says when he got me behind the bookstore, he let me have it, just let me have it.  And I guess in his [Alistair's] message he kept making excuses, and he [this guy, pastor] says, "You're never to do that."  He says, "Realize, it's appointed, God appointed you to be there.  It's by Divine appointment, realize that.  It's not by accident that you got up there.  It wasn't that somebody else was supposed to be there, God put you there.  So be faithful in delivering the Word."  And he says, "If it's mince or it's steak, give it."  And he explained that "mince" in Scotland is like ground hamburger with a lot of fat.  He said "Maybe that's all you've got for a meal, give it."  Maybe it's tenderloin.  When it's tenderloin it's easy to give a Bible study.  But when it's ground steak it's like, people don’t like this, it's all fatty.  He says, "Just give it."  Well, later on in his ministry, years later, another situation, he was teaching, and as he got down, it was a 'bad one' again.  He just wanted go and hide, he came running down the stairs, said 'I was making a bolt for my car' and I ran into this elderly guy who just stopped me and gave me a big bear hug and he whispered in my ear, "Alistair, was it mince or was it steak?"  And Alistair said, "I don't know.  It doesn't matter, just give it, give it whatever you've got."  And that really spoke to me.  But it's about yielding to the Holy Spirit.  And sometimes you're thinking 'I'm not prepared, this person knows more that I do.'  It doesn't make a difference.  When you share with somebody from another cult or another religious group and you think you've got to be able to work something on them, you've got the Holy Spirit, let the Holy Spirit do His work.  And you have to yield to him and just let Him work through you.  And that is a challenge to learn.  It's just a thing of humility, saying, 'God, Jesus, take over.  You do the work.' 

 

He said, continuing in verse 12 and 13, "Now brother will betray brother and a father (which is unbelievable) will betray his child, and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death."  That, you know you read that 100 years ago, you know, you'd be like "Wow!"  Today I think I can see that happening.  I see moms and dads who have blown off their kids, people are like, 'What do we do with these kids, mom and dad don't want anything to do with them.  But this, all the more, is in the name of the gospel, when somebody maybe becomes a Christian and the family members say 'I don't want anything to do with them, they're Christian', and they turn against them.  That's what Jesus is referring to.  [This to a lesser degree applies now, but more so later as people will really be put to death for their beliefs.  The early Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation endured such persecution facing jail, death at the gallows and stake in England for their beliefs.  It's always wise to look in history to find a similar event that is prophecied, as this gives a clear picture of what to expect.  Santayana the historian said, "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive it."  A similar time is coming, Jesus says.  In India and the Muslim countries family members will try to kill a member who becomes a Christian, and sometimes they succeed.  To read a good historic account of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation while they were being persecuted in England log onto: http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history/saga.htm and read the first three chapters of that historic account.  That's about what we can expect.  For the unconverted world going into and through the tribulation (World War III), it will be far worse.  But this is a picture of our "exam time".  It's hard to imagine it getting that bad in America, but if Scripture, the Word of God, is true, it will yet happen--this period of persecution will come, full force.]  That is tremendous, if you just consider that statement.  And we're on our way, for sure.  It's going to be like the days of Noah, and I don't believe it's far away.  And we're going to experience what Noah experienced.  He says, "You will be hated of all nations for my name's sake."  You're going to be hated by everybody.  Not only the liberal groups, you're going to be hated by all your co-workers, you're going to be hated by the school system, you're going to be hated by the community, you're going to be hated by your family members--if you're a Christian that's what he's saying.  The day is coming when you're a Christian you're going to be hated, I mean hated.  I mean, nobody likes to be hated, I don't know about you, I don't like to be hated by anybody.  I mean, it's hard when you know people hate you.  It says you’re going to be hated by everybody, hated for 'My name's sake', just utterly loathed.  Reading that, really tells me that I need to be prepared.  You and I need to be in the Book, man.  The Psalmist said, "In my affliction I found comfort in the Word that gives life."  And we need to be prepared.  And the day is not far away.  Somebody mentioned to me last week and I did some research in the local newspaper, some of you saw the article, I was talking to other folks, the "Jews for Jesus" article, where the Jews for Jesus were running an ad that was saying that ‘Jesus Christ was the Messiah’ on the Internet and this one Internet company, people complained and they shut them down.  They wouldn't let them air the ad anymore, because in this ad they were saying 'Jesus Christ was the Messiah', and people were offended by it.  Now, I also heard that the pornographic sites on the Internet have so much volume of people visiting those sites that you and I would be utterly stunned if you and I knew how many people go to those sites.  And there's all types of trash, you can't even get an Internet server today without getting bombarded with trash.  But yet somebody complains, the [Jewish] Anti-Defamation League complains because there's an ad that says Jesus is the Messiah--that's what it said, and they were shut down.  [Here's an appropriate Scripture about this "Final Exam": 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so by fire."]  That's amazing, isn't it?  This is what Jesus said would take place.  Eventually the day is coming where everyone will hate you if you are a Christian, just utterly despise you.  At the Harvest Crusade, Greg Laurie, this was the Youth Night, he started his message with a video from Columbine, and it was a tremendous video, really was.  But they had taken in this video and put together all sorts of segments of the news and you saw some of the news, all those kids running around there on the campus, jumping out windows.  And they had other footage I've never seen, so it was kind of hard to watch.  And here's two young boys just shooting up other kids, you guys   know the story.  But the video was predominantly focussing on one student that we've heard a lot about, Casey Burnal, this young girl that had recently re-dedicated her life to the Lord.  In the video that had footage where just two days before she was sitting in front of a camera, somebody was interviewing her, some friend or someone, she was just talking about her love for the Lord and how she just wanted to lay it down for God.  So it was really powerful for these young people to watch this.  This girl, we know, was shot because they went up to her and said "Do you believe in God?"  Her response was "Jesus is Lord."  So they shot her.  Then there was also Rachel Scott, and Greg Laurie shared her story about her, she was in the library and one of those guys went up and shot her in the leg.  With a hole in her leg he says "Do you believe in God?"  She says "I do", and then they shot her, and she was killed.  With a hole in her leg, still, 'I'm not going to deny Jesus is my Lord.'  But, now that's the next generation that's very violent.  Those are teenagers that are going to be in their twenties five or six years from now.  They're going to be voting.  And that's where we're going.  He says 'The day is coming where everyone will hate you.  So if you are in the Christian thing because you think that it's popular, you're not going to be in the Christian thing very long, because it's becoming less and less popular.  [A parallel set of verses which show this period of persecution is found in Matthew 24:9-13, which states, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."  In verse 12 it states, "And the love of many shall wax cold."  If the final exam period of time for Christians is this time of persecution, then Jesus in Matthew 24:12 has given us an answer to a question some of us may have, and that is, "Will some people, Christians, fail this final exam?"  Jesus gave us a clear answer in verse 12.  The key is the word love, their love waxes cold.  The Greek word for love in verse 12 is Strong's # 25, Agapao, another version of the word Agape, the word used in the New Testament for God's love which he bestows in believers through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is clearly saying, in Jesus' own words that "the Agapao of many shall wax cold."  God's Holy Spirit love will wax cold in many Christians, is what Jesus is telling us in this verse.  Why?  Because they didn't prepare for the final exam period.  How do you prepare?  By being in the Book, in the Word of God, making it your companion, and by developing a relationship with Jesus Christ in prayer and application of his Word.  Preparing is not, as some would have you believe, accomplished by doing massive studies in the prophetic parts of God's Word, and then pouring over current events.  If you're a military analyst, and a Christian as well, then that might be part of your job description.  What prevents your love from waxing cold is simply getting into God's Word, particularly the spiritual growth sections, and applying what you read, study and meditate on, and by making prayer a part of your life.  The sections on Prayer, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, along with this section on the gospel of Mark isn't a bad place to start.  When Corrie Ten Boom ended up in a Nazi concentration camp, did she stop being a Christian?.  This is a troubling passage.  But some answers to this question are given in the section on Ephesians 1:15-23; 2:1-5, relating to “once saved always saved” verses “he who endures to the end will be saved” that may help clear up the question.]

But you're also going to be deceived and you're going to be shipwrecked if you do not know the Word of God--if you're not just getting in tune with the Lord to find comfort, to find strength in the days ahead.  Last year a few of us went up to seek the Lord for a night.  The main thing that I walked away with, impressed with, is that not long into the future and, life is going to change.  [The pastor here, goes into Y2K, here, which didn't amount to a hill of beans as far as being an event that would change our lives (so I deleted it), but keep in mind, something did happen that changed every American's life, the events of September 11th, 2001, when three hijacked airliners flown by Arab terrorists--Al-Qaida terrorists--crashed into the Twin Trade Towers in New York City.  The Twin Towers collapsed killing and/or incinerating 3,000 innocent Americans.  The third airliner was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing more people.  The War on Terrorism began.  If this isn't a wake-up call to American's, I don't know what is.  This was the equivalent of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, but a little over a year later many Americans are sleeping again, incredibly.  But the world has changed.  Terrorism and bombings in the Israeli nation are a daily event now, and these events are also like the preliminary birth pains that will continue onward until the tribulation starts.  Don’t believe me?--Log onto: http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/preevangelism/2ndcoming2.htm and read it for yourself.]….Y2K is maybe just to wake-up some folks, because not long later, you know, the temple looks good now, it's got the gold, it's got the white.  And who would ever imagine that less than 40 years later--I mean, that thing [the way it was constructed] was going to be around for millenniums--was going to be not only broken to a point where it could be repaired, but disassembled, every stone.  And that's why I believe, in America life is going to change quickly.  Who knows when, but it's not far from now.  The writing's on the wall, it's on the wall, it's right there before us…and that's even what God's Word says, the birth pangs have begun.  You and I need to be in the Book and prepared, near the Lord, finding our strength in Him.  You're not going to find it anywhere else.

You know, it says, 'But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  That's the end of verse 13.  The Christian walk is a thing of perseverance, a marathon, it's not a sprint. And that can be discouraging to see.  You see folks just fall to the side sometimes.  They get all excited about Jesus [like the parable of the sower, "some seed fell on rocky ground"].  A year or two later in the ministry, they don't have any interest in the Lord.  It says, 'he who endures to the end', perseveres, it's a marathon.  And you can argue that those who persevere are really Christians.  I mean, I find it hard to believe that you could ever lose your salvation [once saved, always saved doctrine most Christian denominations believe, some dogmatically], but that's what Scripture says, it says 'those who endure to the end, those who endure to the end will be saved.'  We do find that there are people that were with Billy Graham that aren't enduring anymore.  Guys on Chuck Smith's staff, out teaching that Jesus isn't even God anymore, isn’t the Messiah--but he was on Chuck Smith's staff.  It says, he who endures to the end.  You know, Ted Turner went to seminary.  Shirley McLain was a Bible student for many years.  He says, 'Those who endure to the end will be saved.'  The Christian experience is abiding in Christ.  Paul wrote specifically this in 1 Timothy 4, he says, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1).  That's what it says, it says, "in the latter times, some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  That's why Jesus starts this whole thing, 'Take heed guys, that you're not deceived, take heed that you're not seduced in another doctrine.  Know the Word.  Know it, because the demons will come and seduce people into false teaching.  [Now this interpretation appears to be somewhat of a departure of Calvary Chapel from the "once saved, always saved" doctrine they held.  They are a relatively new denomination, now learning from time and experience, combining that with the Word of God and growing in grace and knowledge.  This is a healthy sign of spiritual doctrinal growth.  Some denominations strictly believe and teach (dogmatically) the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. Others teach what has just been presented here. It's not a major doctrine of salvation, but an interpretation of Scripture.  Some make a doctrinal mountain out of a spiritual mole-hill.  All these differences in interpretation throughout the Bible will be cleared up when Jesus returns.  The WCG used to teach this as well.  These are the words of Jesus, directly quoted, so I tend to take them at face value and go with the interpretation presented above. The editor.]  

 

Verses 14-23, "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house nor enter to take anything out of his house.  Let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days.  And pray that your flight be not in winter for in those days there will be tribulation such has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.  Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved [alive], but for the elect's sake whom he chose, he shortened the days.  And if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ,' or 'Look, there he is', do not believe it, for false Christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive if possible even the elect.  But take heed, see I've told you things beforehand."  He says, 'I told you all this beforehand so you guys can know and be prepared and be ready.'  This chapter, along with Matthew 24, and Luke 21 can be difficult.  Some theologians argue that no one's ever totally figured out how this whole puzzle comes together…[This website takes the Classic or Historic Pre-Millennialist stance in interpretation of Bible prophecy.  This pastor giving this sermon and the denomination he hails from takes the Dispensational Pre-Millennialist interpretation to 2nd coming Bible prophecy.  The truth of how these prophecies all come together may lie with one or the other or even somewhere inbetween the two sub-divisions of Pre-Millennialist interpretation of Bible prophecy.  It's not really all that important, although theologians on both sides of the fence, and pastors as well, can sometimes get very dogmatic and assertive that their interpretation is the correct one.  I've found that such dogmatism is a destroyer of unity in the body of Christ.  What is far more important is the lesson this pastor has been bringing out throughout this study, and that is that we as Christians be spiritually ready, in the Book, the Word of God, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To pursue that growth that leads to being ready, be sure to click on the section on Ephesians on this website and study carefully through each study.  Paul really gets into the meat of spiritual growth in Ephesians.]  But now he's speaking to Jewish people [or maybe Messianic Jewish Christians living in Israel--as many of them do right now!]  He's speaking to the disciples, obviously, they're not going to be here because they're Christians obviously.  But he is referring now, this message is especially to those that are there in [or at the very beginning of the] tribulation, those that didn't know Christ.  [Here's where Classic Pre-Millennialists differ from Dispensational Pre-Millennialists.  The Classics believe worthy Christians, perhaps those living in Israel (I say Messianics), are being told here that when they see the abomination standing in the temple, that they're to flee--fast!  Where?  Historically, it has been believed to the city of Petra, in Jordan, about 50 miles from Jerusalem as the crow flies.  But before this whole scenario of the 'abomination that makes desolate standing in the temple' can take place, the Jews have got to rebuild the temple or at least rebuild a Mosaic Tabernacle and re-institute the evening and morning sacrifices.  The Jews are currently preparing to do this very thing.  Both Classic and Dispensational Pre-Millennialists believe the temple has to be set up to fulfill this prophecy.  Few people have considered what the ramifications will be of having a temple set up and operating with the Levitical Priesthood sacrificing lambs daily.  Let's consider this.  The Torah specifies that tithes cannot be officially levied of the Jews except by the Levitical Priesthood, which hasn't existed since 70AD.  When this temple worship is re-established, re-instated, this Levitical Priesthood will have the authority--straight from the Torah--to levy tithes of all Orthodox Jews worldwide.  This will fill the temple treasury with money, huge amounts of money.  Money buys political power.  A major shift in Israeli politics to the religious right can be expected--a huge polarization to the religious Orthodox right in the Israeli nation.  Such a shift will bring about a corresponding shift and polarization in Arab and Palestinian politics and policies, to an anti-Israeli extreme—probably accompanied by a united Muslim response across national lines. Why would a resurrected Holy Roman Emperor-type person, marshalling Europe's military might, want to come into this temple and cut off these "evening and morning sacrifices", as Daniel says they will be?--initiating the opening salvo's of World War III?--Why?  To prevent a major blow-up of the Middle East between Arab nations and Israel--perhaps even a nuclear blow-up. Also Arab anger would more than likely cause a shutdown of all Middle East oil production. From this point onward, from the time this "abomination that makes desolate" appears in the temple onward--both Classic and Dispensational Pre-Millennialists tend to agree, that the actual 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is just 3 1/2 years away.  The Dispensationalists believe Jesus "Raptures" away believers, Christians, to heaven 3 1/2 years before this temple takeover scene by the "abomination", making the whole tribulation period 7 years long, and at the end of that 7 years, Jesus comes back with all the resurrected immortal saints, the raptured Christians and all other Christians who have ever lived.  Classic Pre-Millennialists, on the other hand, believe the whole tribulation period is only 3 1/2 years long, and begins when this temple-takeover occurs, and then lasts for 3 1/2 years.  Some in this Classic Pre-Millennialist group also believe all worthy Christians left alive (after the persecution Jesus talks of here) somehow accompany these Jewish believers to a "place of safety", i.e. Petra.  Many doctrinal mountains have been built on both Classic and Dispensation sides of the fence, out of these differing spiritual mole-hills--and both sides get quite dogmatic about their own interpretations, hurting overall unity in the body of Christ.  I and this site lean to the Classic side because I believe it has the best arguments for accuracy, but I don't claim to have all the answers and am not dogmatic about it.  To read a good study of these events in the Classic Pre-Millennial interpretation, click on http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm     But I don't believe we ought to be too dogmatic in our interpretations.  If we live into this scary time, we'll see firsthand who's right and who isn't.  Jesus, may just Rapture worthy Christians to a place of safety, confounding both Classic and Dispensationals.  Who knows?  But I do know one thing.   He told us to occupy until he comes.  In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus explained how he wanted us to occupy.]  Jesus is coming to purify the earth, to judge the earth, but also to redeem again, to set aside the nation of Israel according to his promises that he made to David and to Abraham.  So he says, 'When you see the abomination".  Now some believe that's already taken place, according to Maccabees, a book that we don't have in our Bibles that is in the Catholic Bible.  It's a great book of history but not necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit.  But we have this account of this Salucid king, Antiuchus Ephiphanes who conquered Jerusalem and then he attempted to Hellenize the people, the Greek culture.  He forbid them to circumcise their children and also forbid them to offer Levitical sacrifices.  This is in 1st Maccabees.  And then he forced them to sacrifice swine.  Obviously, to the Jewish people that would be detestable, desecrating the temple.  Then according to Maccabees he erected a desecrating sacrilege upon the altar of the burnt offering, it is believed to have been a statue of Zeus, maybe even an image of himself, Antiuchus.  And then he set the temple use to be like a brothel, just completely desecrating the place.  And of course in response, the Jews left [for awhile, and then ended up overthrowing Antiuchus in a rebellion, which Judas Maccabee was the leader of, hence the name of the book].  So you have abomination and then you have desolation, empty house.  Now Jesus is speaking about the event now, so Daniel 9, this thing with Antiuchus did not fulfill Daniel 9, because Jesus is saying that was like a good picture of what's going to happen, but Daniel 9 will take place later.  Daniel 9, we studied recently, the first 69 weeks [prophetic weeks, a prophetic day = one year, a year for a day principle, so one week = seven years], we talked about then there's this break, the church age, then the last week [the 70th week], the 7 years, which will be the tribulation, where God really just works and judges this world.  [Here's where Classic and Dispensational Pre-Millennialists differ.  The Classic Pre-Millennialists believe that Jesus's three and a half year ministry fulfilled half of this prophetic 70th week, three and a half days of this prophetic seven days, so the tribulation is only three and a half years long.  I think the prophecy in Daniel even says or has the words in it "he was cut off in the middle of the week", referring the death of Christ and end of his earthly ministry.  With my thorough knowledge of the six years of World War II and knowing about our modern weaponry and weapons of mass destruction, I personally hope the tribulation is only three and a half years long.  But who knows who's right?  We'll have to wait and see.  I'm not taking sides or saying the Dispensationals are wrong and I'm right.  I'm a Classic Pre-Millennialist.  But either interpretation could be right, or partially correct and the truth being somewhere in the middle--who knows but Jesus.]  And in the middle of it, [here's where I said that Dispensationals believe the temple service is cut off after three and a half years of the tribulation with three and a half years to go now] Jesus refers, to, when you see this event take place, when you see the abomination of desolation, that means the anti-christ, specifically as you understand Revelation, has gone in and set up an altar for himself, an image.   This image, we read in Revelation will actually speak, the false prophet will give it power [through Satan obviously] and it will begin to speak and talk.  And actually those that won't worship it, fire will actually come out and consume those that won't worship it.  Pretty radical abomination in the temple.  And it's going to bring desolation of course.  But he says 'When you see that, hit the road, don't waste any time.  If you're pregnant, pray that you're not pregnant.  It'll slow you up, you don't have any time.  If you have children, pray that you don't have small children because it will be very difficult.  He says in Matthew (24) if it's on the Sabbath, again referring to Israel, he says 'pray it's not on the Sabbath', just pray, because when this takes place there's going to be judgment, there's going to be just complete wrath upon this world like there's never been.  The days of Noah don't even compare.  And we studied that not long ago in Revelation.  [Why would Jesus warn about fleeing on the Sabbath when 95 percent of the Israeli nation is highly secular right now?  This would indicate that the Israeli nation had turned ultra-Orthodox and wrathful Orthodox Jews would hinder your flight because you were "desecrating" the Sabbath by running.  This could indicate that this is being addressed to Christians, maybe Messianic Jewish Christians living in Israel at this time.]  Now, Jesus said this obviously around 32AD [or 31AD by some people's reckoning], Coligula was emperor in 40 AD if I remember the story correctly, and theologians if you know better please forgive me, but if I recall, Coligula put an image, he thought he was God, he was insane, he put image of himself in a boat and had it set sail for the temple, purposed to put this image of himself in the temple.  And that would have obviously fulfilled this too, but that ship evidently sunk before it got to Israel.  It wasn't God's time.  The anti-christ will be even worse than Coligula when he begins to fulfill his role.  He's going to do a similar thing, and get the whole world to worship him. But he says, 'Hit the road when you see that.'  "Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountaintops".  Zechariah tells us that about one third of the Jews will make it to the mountains during this time.  Some believe he's referring to the city of Petra.  It's a city that the Ediomites obviously dwelt in.  It's down in the ground, it's a crater in the side of a mountain.  There's a very narrow entrance 12 feet wide where you can get into this cavern sort of thing inside of a mountain.  And it's a large cavern because it was a city there, Petra.  It held about a million people there when it was inhabited.  [So Dispensational Pre-Millennialists think one third of the Jewish population of Israel will flee to Petra or the mountaintops of Israel when the temple is desecrated.  Classic Pre-Millennialists believe that this is a warning given by Jesus to all Christians living in Israel to flee, and that they'd end up in Petra.  Like I said, we just don't know.  I'm a Classic Pre-Millennialist myself, we just have to wait and see what happens.  I'm not going to take a dogmatic stand on this.  Jesus wants us growing spiritually and getting the gospel of salvation out to the world right now, not going crazy over this stuff, worrying about how we're going to "save our hides".]  And then Petra was lost, people didn't  know where it was out there…but this guy, Burduck in 1812 kept poking around and he finally found a little nomad of some sort and paid him money to take him to this place Petra, and he actually went in to discover the city of Petra.  So W. E. Blackstone was so convinced after that discovery, that this was it, this is where one-third of these Jews are going to go, that he bought hundreds of thousands of Hebrew New Testaments, highlighted Matthew 24 which is a parallel text to this one, and Revelation 12, and he put them in earthen jars, and I don't know if they're still there.  But when the Jews get there [or the Messianic Jewish Christians and/or Christians, who knows?] they're going to be able to read, 'Hey, Jesus said, and read about Jesus, the Christ, he's going to be coming back to earth in just a couple years now, with the Christians.'

Well, that's that.  And he says, 'Pray it won't be in winter, this tribulation is going to be more than there's ever been, in fact the Lord is going to have to shorten those days.  If he didn't, man would basically destroy himself.  [A careful study of prophecy shows that only about one tenth of the world's population survives this World War III--tribulation--very scary.]  But he's going to shorten the days for the elect's sake.  The elect referring to the people of Israel, who now realize that Jesus is the Christ. [Again, Classic's believe "the elect" refers to Christians.  Doesn't really matter.  We'll find out later.]  'But if anyone says to you, 'Look here or there, there's the Christ', ignore that, false prophets, even those that show signs, especially the anti-christ, ignore that.  I've warned you beforehand.  Know and understand.'

 

Verses 24-27, "But in those days after the tribulation the sun shall be darkened and the moon will not give her light.  And the stars of heaven will fall and the powers in the heaven will be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.  And then he'll send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of earth to the uttermost part of heaven..."  He says that's going to be the curtain opening for My return.

Verse 28, "Now learn this parable from the fig tree.  When its branch has already become tender and it puts forth leaves you know that the summer is near."  So you look at the fig tree, leaves are coming out, man, summer is near.  You know that.  When you see the leaves you expect that.  Also, when you see these things happening know that it's near, even at the doors" (verse 29).  April, the buds are there, you know summer is coming.  Verse 30, "Assuredly I say to you, this generation shall no mans pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will by no means pass away."  Is he referring to the people before him?  Obviously he's not, when he says "generation".  He says the generation that see these early signs, sees these events taking place, will certainly be here when all this is fulfilled.  Now I believe this fig tree, people debate this, but many theologians believe this, I'll share it with you because I believe it.  The fig tree represents Israel as the vine represents Israel.  Different parts of the Old Testament refer to a fig tree as God relates to the nation of Israel, and if you take that symbolically then, the fig tree putting on its leaves, is Israel being re-birthed again.  May 18th, 1948 Israel became a nation, which is an amazing thing.  Also interestingly, in May of 1948 the European Federation was formed.  Obviously they're going to be a big player, that's [going to become] the reformed Roman Empire that Daniel speaks of--the ten toes of clay and iron.  And also in May of 1948 the World Counsel of Churches was started in the Netherlands--and that counsel intends to bring all religions under one umbrella, all preparing for the anti-christ of the last days, all took place in May of 1948.  And I believe that's the fig tree, the green leaves starting to come out.  And the world has never been the same since some of these events took place.  And we're definitely in the birth pains and things are unraveling before us…but he said to them, he says, 'heaven and earth is going to pass away, but my words won't pass away.'  Where God is eternal he will continue. 

 

Verses 32-37, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father.  Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is.  It's like a man going to a far country who left his house and gave authority to his servants and to each his work and commanded the door-keepers to keep watch.  Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster in the morning.  Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.  And what I say to you I say to all.  Watch."  He says, 'with all that, no one knows the day or the hour, not even the Son, with all that he says, take heed.  Watch and pray.'  Be prepared, be in the Book.  Don't be like some students that just kind of show up in class and the test comes and you have no idea what you're going to do.  He says, "Be prepared."  Luke again says, 'Take heed to yourselves, don't be caught up in the cares of this life, lest that day comes upon you unexpectedly.'  You know, today, interestingly, statistically, they say in America, a recent study, 59 percent of the people, folks, in America, believe that the world will end, 6 out of 10.  35 percent believe it will end within two decades.  That's amazing.  One third of Americans believe the world is going to end in less than 20 years.  You would never believe that looking at what's going on with people in their day-to-day lives.  But supposedly one out of every three Americans think there's less than twenty years to go.  One in two, 49 percent of Americans believe that the anti-christ will be a literal person.  That's from some recent studies.  Americans supposedly believe a lot of these things.  But you look around, it's certainly hard to tell, isn't it?--that we believe these things.  John said that, in 1 John 3:2-3 we read that John said, "Beloved now we are children of God.  And it is not yet revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed (appears), we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  [John actually saw Jesus as he is, sometime later, and described that in Revelation 1:13-18, this is what we'll look like in the resurrection!]  And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure."  He says, 'If you really believe it, and you really believe Jesus is coming back, it's going to cause you to live differently.  It's going to cause you to study the Book, it’s going to cause you to live a life that's more and more like the life of Christ.  William Barkley, this meeting took place, it's kind of a story he came up with, that Satan and his demons were strategizing together how they're going to trick people on earth to go to hell, get them tricked into believing something else so that they go to hell.  But one demon said in the meeting, 'Let's whisper in people's ears that there's no God.'  'No' said Satan, 'Creation declares the existence of God, people are too smart to deny his existence.  A few idiots might get sucked into that, but the not the masses.'  The second demon said, 'I've got it, we'll say 'There's no hell.'  'No' said Satan, 'People understand the need for judgment, people won't buy that.'  A third demon said, 'Let me suggest how we might trick people.  Instead of saying there's no God or no hell, we'll just say 'No hurry.'  Satan exclaimed 'That's it!',  which he in turn ordered his demons to go and do.'  Don't tell 'em there's no God, tell 'em there's no hurry.  'There's no hurry, no hurry, kick back', and that'll trick people and they'll end up going right down that broad road, going right to hell.  Jesus says, 'Watch therefore,'…Matthew 24, Jesus said there, "Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his master gave rule over his household to give them food in due season?"  Who's a faithful servant?--he said.  "Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing."

 

End

 

[Appendix A: To read a parallel study of this subject in Luke 21, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/preevangelism/2ndcoming.htm . 

 

Appendix B: Again, for an in-depth study of prophetic events leading up to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm (Classic Pre-Millennial)

 

Appendix C: To see what may be part of the birth pangs which may have already started in Israel log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/preevangelism/2ndcoming2.htm . 

 

Appendix D: To see the historic parallel to this time of persecution, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history/saga.htm and read the first three chapters.]

 

[I feel I must give a reason why I feel the Classic Pre-Millennial interpretation may be more accurate in some areas of eschatology (not all).  In the major account of the 2nd coming given by Jesus himself, recorded by three separate gospel writers (Mark, Luke and Matthew), the "Rapture" is nowhere to be found in the major chronological order of events given by Jesus, which are:

 

 

1)        Opening sorrows: Wars, nation against nation and then kingdom against kingdom--Earthquakes around the world--Famines around the world;

 

2)        Final Exam Time for Christians: Persecution and witnessing of the gospel;

 

3)        Temple Take-over by the abomination (where Jesus says the tribulation starts--and the "elect" are told to flee).  (Also, a spiritual/historic precedent has been set for this "fleeing" when the members of the early Jerusalem congregation were told by a loud booming voice heard in the temple in 69 or 70AD, to "Get thee hence!", and the Jerusalem congregation fled to Pela, escaping just in time from the encirclement of Jerusalem by Vespasian's Roman Army and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem.  Those who fled were Christians.  Even though they were Jews by race, they were Messianic Jewish Christians.)

 

I earnestly think it is time for the Christian leaders and theologians on both sides of the Pre-Millennial fence to hold a prophecy conference, and in godly humility, filled with the Holy Spirit, come together and determine where the truth lies, for the sake of unity and strength in the body, preparing us for the final witnessing we will all have to do.  That's my personal take on the situation.  I've mentioned the differences between these two interpretations to foster understanding, and as well hopefully show the leaders of these two groups just where we need to come together on this one.  The outside world, just like children, can spot disunity a mile away.  Satan loves disunity in the body.  Do you?  Some parts of the Dispensational belief system, in my opinion, are very accurate--like their firm belief that the nation of Israel has a definite role in the kingdom age to come (backed up and based on a literal interpretation of many, many Old Testament prophecies which are yet unfulfilled)--other parts may not be. Their belief that the nation of Israel and the Jews will play a major national and international role in the coming Kingdom of God which will rule over all nations from Jerusalem for a thousand years is solidly based on almost all the Old Testament prophecies when interpreted literally--not in the amillennial figurative way.  Classic Pre-Millennialists don't specifically teach this or emphasize this about the future role for Jews or the nation of Israel in the future.  Dispensationals do.  I believe they are 100 percent correct in this.  Paul's letter to the Galatians has been taken out of context with Romans 11 to fuel "replacement theology" which has contributed to 1700 years of anti-Semitism, a stain on Christians everywhere.  Proper combination of Scripture would show the future Israeli nation becomes converted at the 2nd coming, and then qualifies to be recipients of the Abrahamic promises again, simple as that.  And as for Amillennialism, I don't even want to get into that.  I describe my feelings on that in the introduction section of the Prophecies of Jesus Christ's 2nd Coming (http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/prophecies/2ndcoming_1.htm ).  Enough said.  The editor.]