“On Your Mark”
Jesus’ Words Vindicated (Chapter 13 Verses 1-37)
The pronouncement of the Temple’s destruction is here uttered again (vv1-2), in response to the disciple’s comments about the wonders of Church buildings. Some people today are yet over concerned about Church buildings. The future temple will be God’s own people (1Corinthians 3.16). The destruction of course is an act of judgment upon the unbelieving misuse of the Temple (Mark 11.17). The prediction was brought about with an awesome finality in AD70, not one stone was left standing upon another, it was razed to the floor, literally. In response to the disciple’s question (vv3-4), Jesus explains (vv5ff). These verses of course need a series of sermons, much more than daily reading notes can handle. But, a guard must be kept by any of Jesus’ disciples with regard to the future, a prediction of false Christ’s (v6), using Jesus’ name. Wars and counter-wars (vv7- 8). Earthquakes and famines (v8b). Persecution (vv9-11). Family feuding and hatred because you love me, says Jesus, are all par for the course (vv12-13). In many evangelistic appeals we seem, in our day, to hear very little of this aspect of discipleship explained to people, are we being less than honest?
The discourse now focuses on Jerusalem’s destruction (v14-23). The language is borrowed from the book of Daniel (Daniel 9.27; 11.31; 12.11). The abomination, the sacrilege will be so terrible it will cause God to desert it (Ezekiel 7.14-23), and his people to leave it desolate, and flee to the mountains for refuge (vv14-19). It is the flight that is the imperative thing here, with great urgency (vv15-16), allowing nothing to hinder that flight (vv17-18), because of the terrible devastation, such as they had never been seen before (vv19-20). Now this does not refer to the end time, because then flight will be useless (Revelation 6.15-17), it is a historical crisis. The fourth century historian Eusibius gives us some light: “But before the war, the people of the Church of Jerusalem were bidden by an oracle given by revelation to men worthy of it to depart from the city. Once the holy men had completely left the Jews and all Judea, the justice of God at last overtook them, since they had committed such transgressions against Christ and his Apostles. Divine justice completely blotted that impious generation from among men” (Ecclesiastical History III v.3). That statement is backed up by other historians. Believe God’s word, he cannot lie, he means what he says (John 1.12).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)