Sunday, November 14, 2021
“…multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earthwill awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt…” (Daniel 12:1-3)
“…you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay…” (Psalm 16:10)
“…let us draw near to God, with a sincere heartin full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkledto cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water…” (Hebrews 10:22)
“…You have made known to me the path of life…you will fill me with joy in your presence, witheternal pleasures at your right hand…”(Psalm 16:11)
“…just say what is given you at the time, for it isnot you speaking, but the Holy Spirit…” (Mark 13:1-8)
This is the season of the year in the Christian calendar when we depart from comfortable andaccessible material in the Holy Bible to materialthat scares many of our fellow followers in theLord Jesus. The heading in my NIV version ofthe Scriptures is “Signs of the End of the Age”.As I had looked ahead, I thought, “Oh, Oh, herewe go!” Apocalyptic material in the Bible! Howcould Jesus do this to us?
For many, this material is too much to handle. [I’venever shared this point-of-view.] For me, it was exciting and a motivation to basically “be good”and depend upon God’s grace in my life, as weeks and days rolled on prior to Christmas in Advent, and all the distractions that that seemed inevitable — the crooners singing carols over sound-systems in the department stores, chopping down the Christmastree, sipping apple cider at the neighbor’s house, andbuying presents (at Dad’s expense) and, yes, surelyanticipating Christmas gifts. I thought about myclassmates at school and wondered if they receivedthe same message from Mark’s gospel as I had…
The “Olivet Discourse” in Mark’s Gospel is found in Mark, chapter 13 (Matthew 24-25). It comes at time during church worship when we sing carols focusing in on “Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men”.
In that 13th chapter Jesus, leaves the temple, andone of his disciples comments on the magnificence ofthe temple building. Jesus replied, “Do you see allthese great buildings…not one stone here will be lefton another…every one will be thrown down.”
So on this occasion, he is leaving the Temple Mount.Later, Mark has Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives, within sight of the Temple Mount, and Jesus tells His disciples to “Watch Out!” He tells them not to bedeceived by many who will come in His name, claimingthat to be Him. There will be wars and rumors of wars,but don’t be alarmed.
THE END is still to come.
This made me sit at the edge of the pew I was sitting on.
Nation will rise up against nation. There will be earthquakesand famines. These will only be the beginning of what Jesuscalls, “birth pains”…
The disciples will not be exempt from persecution and arrest.Before this takes place all the world will hear the good newsof Jesus. The disciples are instructed not to worry abouthow they are to defend the Gospel or themselves, becausethe Holy Spirit will give them the words needed to speak.
One phrase that stands out for me is found in Mark 13:13—
…people will hate you because of Me…but he who stands firm until the end, will be saved…”
We are re-introduced to the phrase “the abomination that causes desolation” first mentioned in Old Testament timesby the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:27). Jesus goes on to say,
“…those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again…
Jesus encouraged His disciples to be on their guard!
[Jesus will die on the cross of Calvary in 29 A.D., and, yes, indeed, the temple will be completely destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans…only 41 years later…]
The encouraging portion of the Olivet Discourse in Mark comes for us beginning at the 26th verse:
“…at that time people will see the Son of Man coming inclouds with great power and glory…and He’ll send Hisangels and gather His elect from the four winds, from theends of the earth to the ends of the heavens…”
This portion of the chapter is encouraging because theLord will gather all those with a heart knowledge of Jesusto live in everlasting bliss with Him. However things workout during the times of great tribulation we have the destinyto end up in heaven with the Lord, not because of livinga perfect life, but because we have trusted in the greatsufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, His death,and His Resurrection. What a great promise for us!
So we don’t know the day or the hour. We need to beon alert. We need to remain on our guard!
Jesus said, “Watch!” If He should come suddenly today, don’t let Jesus find you sleeping spiritually!” I always keep this in mind as I wake in the morning and go about my daily tasks. It is my sincere hope that you are encouraged by this “Olivet Discourse” message of Jesus knowing that you love Him and anticipate His imminent return.
Best wishes to each of you as we finish the old church year and enter into a new church calendar that will bless each and every one of us. We can have great confidence to live our lives meaningfully when Jesus resides securely in our hearts.