What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 2

“Jesus Prediction with Precision Demands a Passion for Perfection”

Mark 13

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 2

Mark 13. Recall, if you will, the introduction to the message last week. Last week, I introduced the message describing an article that I had read that discussed the “feel good faith of evangelicals.” And in that article you recall, the author was describing how evangelicals as a whole skip the explanation of the passage to get to the application of the passage.

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And because of that then, I said that it would be like them going around and shopping for different passages of Scripture. They don’t like this one, so they put that one back on the shelf. They don’t like that one for whatever reason, so they won’t preach on that one. But …oh…, Here’s a passage that we can use to apply to our lives, so will preach on this one.

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And we have just finished up a series from Proverbs 3:1-12. I’m sure we found these verses very applicational. That of course is due to the nature of the book of Proverbs. But we can’t go around picking and choosing our Bible passages, can we? Passages that are heavily applicable are in the Bible but there are also passages in the Bible that don’t seem so readily applicable.

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But since they are both in the Bible, God wants us to know both of them. We are not in the role of deciding what we need from the Bible and what we don’t. Who are we to decide that? You might think that you have a certain need for a certain type of passage, but God’s desire is that you receive the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27. You might think you only want ice cream and apple pie, but sometimes you need steak and yes, even Brussels sprouts.

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And it is the job of any preacher to say exactly what those passages say and to get out of the way and let God have his voice. So God desires us to study and work hard through certain passages whether they seem like it will affect the crabgrass in our front yard or not. It is His Word and we will, by his grace alone, seek to handle it appropriately and in its entirety.

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Nevertheless, because the topic this morning is eschatology or the doctrine of the end times, the Bible itself tells us that this passage is applicable. So we will apply it with the authority of God’s Word alone.

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The year 66 A.D. began with what historians would later call, “The Great Revolt.” That year marked the year that the Jews revolted against the Romans. It was the first Jewish-Roman war. Of course, this is just after the time of Jesus, and Jerusalem and all of Israel was dominated by the Roman Empire. The revolt began because the Jews were protesting against the strict taxation laws of the Roman government.

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In response to the uprising, the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple. So from the years 66-70 A.D., there was war in and around Jerusalem. By 70 A.D., the Romans had surrounded Jerusalem. They did not allow trade and they prevented necessities from entering into the city. People began to hunger.

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Just this month, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that cooking pots and a ceramic lamp were found in an ancient cistern near the Western Wall. The Western Wall is the western side of what used to be the Temple. It’s called the Temple Mount today.

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But on the western side of the Temple Mount, they found cooking pots and a ceramic lamp. These items are believed to date back to this first Jewish revolt from 66-70 A.D. The article I read said, “Excavators believe these artifacts were left in the underground chamber by Jewish residents who were trying to eat what little food they had in secret during the war.”[1]

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So there is clearly a famine due to the war. The Israel Antiquities Authority said, “The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus.” Josephus was an ancient Jewish historian, writing just 5 years after the Great Revolt.

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And the Great Revolt ended with the Romans coming in and destroying the Temple.

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And in Mark 13, Jesus is speaking in the year 33 A.D. His death for our sins is less than a week away. And He predicts the very events that Josephus and the Israel Antiquities Authority recount. Jesus predicts, Mark 13:1-2 1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

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Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple. And in AD 70, the Emperor Titus and the Romans ransacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

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Now, we are in Mark chapter 13. Chapters 11-13 have a common feature to them: they are all centered on the Temple. Almost the entire book of Mark lead up to Chapter 11 when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. And he presented himself as the King of Israel as Zechariah 9:9 indicates.

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However, he was not received as King. And the confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees at the end of chapter 11 and into chapter 12 prove that. And now, the beginning of chapter 13, Jesus and the disciples leave the Temple. And as they leave, Jesus predicts its destruction. Beginning in Mark 13:1 …

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Mark 13:1-4 1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

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Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in verse 2 and the disciples asked two questions in verse 4. Verse four again, Mark 13:4 “Tell us, [1] when will these things be, and [2] what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

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Because Jesus predicted in verse two that the Temple would be destroyed, now that prompts the disciples to ask when that Temple will be destroyed. The disciples want to know when the Temple will be destroyed.

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And as I indicated during the Bible reading, Jesus in Mark 13 is actually discussing another event as well. Not only is he discussing the events of the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, He is also discussing His Second Coming after the seven year tribulation. The tribulation is a 7 year period of time of unprecedented cataclysmic world events, including miracles of devastation in the Sun, moon, and stars. You can read about them in detail in Revelation 6-19.

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So in Mark 13, Jesus is discussing not only the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, but also the events during the tribulation that will signal His coming again. We have signs concerning AD 70 and we also have signs concerning the future Tribulation period.

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Mark 13:24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,

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v. 26 now… Mark 13:26 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

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This, of course, as you read it, clearly has not happened yet.

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Jesus is talking about the Second Coming after the Tribulation.

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So, Jesus predicts the signs of 2 events.

  • First, He predicts the signs leading up to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
  • Second, He predicts the signs leading up to the Second Coming after the Tribulation.

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So, all we’ll do today is show how Jesus addresses both the events leading up to AD 70. Next week, we’ll discuss the events leading up to the Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.

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So, this morning we’ll discuss Jesus’ prediction of the signs leading up to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

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  1. Jesus Predicts Signs Leading Up to AD 70 (various)

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When Jesus predicts signs leading up to the destruction of the Temple, He’s speaking of His own generation. He’s speaking in AD 33; less than 40 years away is the destruction of this Temple in AD 70. So, He and the disciples are gazing out over the Kidron Valley as the sun sets on the magnificent gold-laced Temple. Jesus predicts the signs leading up its destruction.

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I’ll assign a phrase to this section. We noted this earlier. In order for us to observe how Jesus predicts signs leading up to A.D. 70, let’s study the phrase that’s in the text … “these things.” “these things”

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I’m arguing that whenever Jesus uses that phrase, he is referring to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. So, earlier, as we read down through Mark 13, we noted that phrase. Every time that phrase occurs, I’m arguing this morning that Jesus is discussing the events of A.D. 70.

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After Jesus predicts that the Temple would be destroyed in verse 2, the disciples ask him about the destruction of the Temple. They themselves use the phrase “these things” in v. 4. And then Jesus takes up this phrase in his response to their question. The disciples use this phrase when asking about the destruction of the Temple. So, when Jesus uses their phrase “these things” He also is talking about the destruction of the Temple.

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For example, note again the disciples use of this phrase, Mark 13:4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

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Jesus picks up on the same phrase in verse eight. At the end of Mark 13:8, “these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

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ILL: Let me picture it for you this way. Let’s say I had some mysterious objects in my hand. And you’re looking at them and you do not know what they are. And you say to me, “what are these things?” How would I respond to you? I would respond to you this way, “now, these things are … “ See, and I would use the exact same phrase that you did.

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Just like that, after Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple, the disciples ask “when will these things be.” And then Jesus responds at the end of verse eight, “these things are merely the beginning of birth pains.” They are talking about the same event: the destruction of the Temple.

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And because Jesus uses that same phrase, verses 5-13 all have to do with Jesus predicting events leading up to A.D. 70. That’s the most natural way of reading this section. The disciples want to know about the destruction of the Temple and so Jesus talks to them verses 5 through 13 on the destruction of the Temple. So what are the signs that the destruction of the Temple is about to take place? That is what is found in verses 5-13.

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The signs of the destruction of the Temple the Jesus gives here in verses 5-8 are these: false messiahs, war, earthquakes, and famines.

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  1. False Messiahs: Mark 13:6 “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.

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Jesus predicts that false messiahs will come previous to A.D. 70. And indeed, if you read in Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews you would read about false Messiahs. Josephus speaks of Theudas, the sons of Judas of Galilee, an Egyptian man, as well as various unnamed Messianic imposters. These men claimed miracles and other signs. Clearly, there were false Messiahs previous to AD 70.

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  1. War: Mark 13:7-8 7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom;

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Apart from the battles that I mentioned at the beginning of the message, the people in Jerusalem would also likely heard of the war in Parthia in A.D. 36, just three years after Jesus was speaking. Parthia was in north-eastern Iran.

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They likely would have heard of the war between Herod Antipas and the Nabataean king Aretas in A.D. 36–37. Herod Antipas was the Roman ruler over Galilee during Jesus’ time.

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So they hear the rumors of war in North Eastern Iran and they hear of the war between Herod Antipas and Aretas. And they experience war themselves, of course, during the siege on Jerusalem.

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  1. Earthquakes:…Mark 13:8 … there will be earthquakes in various places

Indeed, there were earthquakes in various places that the disciples would have heard of after Jesus death and resurrection and before AD 70. There was an earthquake in Jerusalem in A.D. 67. Josephus records this in his book Wars of the Jews. Acts 16:26 mentions an earthquake in Philippi. They also would’ve likely heard of the earthquake in Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey, in A.D. 61. There was also the famous partial destruction of Pompeii in A.D. 62 from a large earthquake and subsequent volcano.

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  1. Famines: Verse 8 mentions famines… “there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

In A.D. 46, there was a major famine in the reign of Claudius. Luke mentions this in Acts 11:28. And of course in the siege of Jerusalem, Jerusalem itself would have been experiencing famine.

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Instructions Previous to AD 70

And Jesus gives various instruction concerning these events that lead up to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. Verse five, they were not to be misled by the false Messiahs there in verse six.

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They were not to be frightened, verse seven … when they hear of wars and rumors of wars.

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Jesus also describes “these things,” as the beginning, not the end of labor pains. Verse seven at the end, do not be frightened about the wars, “it is not yet the end.” In other words, when these events happen, it does not signal the end when Jesus would come back. So no matter how many earthquakes you have or how many wars you have, either way, Jesus is saying that it is not yet the end. These things are not the signal of Jesus coming again. He will get to that later.

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Instead, verse eight, he says that these things are merely the beginning of labor pains. All these signs: false messiahs, war, earthquakes, and famine… All of these things, are merely the beginning of labor pains.

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In other words, there will be a time when those labor pains are greatly increased and the fullness of God’s Wrath is delivered. But this passage does not tell us when those are. The church age is not in the discussion; it would be speculation to conclude that the labor pains are increasing during the church age.

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So if we were to conclude that more earthquakes and more wars and more famines and more false messiahs indicate the end when Jesus comes back, we would be wrong …because Jesus says at the end of verse seven, “that is not yet the end.” It is the beginning of labor pains.

The development of those labor pains is not under discussion in the passage. It could be during the church age, it could be during the 7 year Tribulation; the passage does not say.

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Verses 9-13 conclude Jesus’ discussion of the events and signs of the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. Verse nine gives further indication that this passage is indeed meant to refer to the events leading up to A.D. 70 when Jesus says that his disciples would be “flogged in the synagogues.”

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The synagogue was a Jewish place of worship similar to the church building. This is exactly what went on previous to A.D. 70 of course is not happening today during the church age. So that leads us to conclude that this passage is primarily referring to the events leading up to A.D. 70.

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This persecution did happen previous to AD 70. In the book of Acts, Peter was beaten in a synagogue in Acts 5:40. Also, Paul admits to persecuting believers in the synagogues before receiving Christ as Savior in Acts 22:19.

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TRANS: So, verses 5-13 are best taken as previous to AD 70 because of the Jewish flavor of the passage with the mention of the synagogue. And of course the mention of the same phrase “these things” would naturally make us conclude that Jesus is speaking of the same thing as the disciples, and they of course were asking about the destruction of the Temple.

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If you knew this was going to happen, you would warn and instruct, wouldn’t you? This is exactly what Jesus does. In verses 9-13 now, Jesus gives various instructions to them. Verse nine, they were to be on their guard because this very thing was going to happen. The Holy Spirit, verse 11, would inform them when they are arrested what to speak.

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Verse 12, during this time, there was persecution within the family even. “Brother betrays brother to death and the father his child children against the parents.” What happened in the early church in the first century was that people would tell the Roman government that they were Christians and would be put to death. And so there was intense persecution as verse 13 also indicates “you will be hated by all because of my name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Denying Christ in the face of death indicates that you do not understand what it really is to be a believer. True followers of Christ would not forsake Christ, even in the face of death.

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And sandwiched in the middle of this discussion of persecution previous to the destruction of the Temple is verse 10. Mark 13:10 “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” Another sign.

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You say, see, “the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. This could not be referring to AD 70 because no one has heard of Jesus in North America yet.” But Paul, writing under divine inspiration, in fact, claims to have himself accomplished this. This exact same phrase ‘to all the nations’ occurs in Romans 16:26. You could mark that in your Bible as a cross reference. Paul claims that the preaching of the gospel has quote… “Been made known to all the nations.” The known world at that time received the gospel before AD 70.

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Paul writes in Colossians 1:23 that the gospel was quote… “proclaimed in all creation under heaven.”

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So, from the vantage point of the gospel writer Mark who himself was writing his gospel in the city of Rome, he would have no difficulty in perceiving that the good news had indeed been preached to all the nations. This of course, happened while the Temple was still standing. Mark very well knew that there was international people of God. Of course, not every nation was known to exist at that time.

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So each one of these verses from verses 5-13 can easily be considered to have reference to the events leading up to A.D. 70.

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  • The same phrase “these things” that the disciples used Jesus himself uses at the end of verse eight.
  • The focus of verse 9 of being flogged in the synagogues gives the verses a very Jewish flavor.
  • And each predicted event of wars and famines as well as persecution can easily be seen to have occurred previous to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

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TRANS: So it is because of these things, that I believe it’s best to interpret verses 5 to 13 as referring to predictions of events leading up the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

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Now, this phrase, “these things” also occurs toward the end of the chapter. The phrase occurs in verse 29 and in verse 30. Again, we’re just going to trace this phrase through this chapter this morning and next week we’ll deal with the 2nd phrase.

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Remember, this phrase “these things” in Mark 13 is the phrase that indicates events that lead up to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. Since the disciples used this phrase in verse four referring to the destruction of the Temple, therefore, when Jesus uses this phrase, he also is addressing the destruction of the Temple.

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Verse 28 the parable of the fig tree is an illustration about how to discern what’s going to happen next. The Jews in Jesus time could learn of the approach of summer by observing the fig tree. When you see the tenderness in the branches and the leaves beginning to bud, you know that summer is near. Of course, we see the same kind of thing going on today here. Just like you can learn that summer is getting close because you see the behavior of trees, so also you can, verse 29 says “recognize that He is near, right at the door.”

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The word “He” in verse 29, fittingly enough, can also be translated “it.” If you have New American Standard Bible, you have a ‘2’ in front of the word “He” and if you look in the margin for verse 29 you see that that word can also be translated “it is.” And we will understand it that way. So we can “recognize that ‘it’ is near, right at the door.” How can we recognize that? And what is he talking about?

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Well clearly, from verse 29, he is at least talking about A.D. 70. We know that because He uses our phrase “these things.” He uses our phrase again in verse 30 Mark 13:30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

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So Jesus is saying then, “when you see these things happening, know the destruction of the Temple is near. What things? When you see what things happening do we know that the destruction of the Temple is near? The things that He described in verses 5-13. When you see these things happening,… False Messiahs, wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution of believers, all those things in verses 5-13 … When you see those things, know that the destruction of the Temple is near right at the door.

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In fact, verse 30, Mark 13:30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. In other words, whatever generation sees these signs that Jesus discussed in verses 5-13, it will be that generation that will not pass away until all these things take place.

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So, from when Jesus is speaking in A.D. 33 until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, is less than 40 years. And it was that generation that saw all those events. Jesus is telling them, “when you see these signs … Wars and rumors of wars…ok, know that Temple destruction is coming. Your generation .. if you see those signs….your generation will not pass away until that destruction happens.

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Now, next time, we will discuss the phrase “those days.” As we saw earlier, this phrase is set in contrast to “these things.” The disciples asked about these things and Jesus addressed that; however, Jesus also wants to discuss “those days.”

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And that phrase is found in the passages that we did not discuss this morning. These are mainly verses 14-28 but also verse 32.

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And here we will show how Jesus also wants us to understand that a tribulation period is coming and at the end of that tribulation period, Jesus will come back in great power and glory!

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 2

And so let me conclude this way: if Jesus rightly predicted the events that led up to the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, will not also his words prove true as they relate to the coming tribulation period?

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In other words, if somebody predicts precise events to occur within a 40-year time span, would you not also expect his other predictions to come true? Jesus predicted precise events. He predicted within a 40 year time span … He predicted wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes … Not just one, but multiple earthquakes in various places. We saw how these were fulfilled. He predicted famines and he predicted false Christ’s that would rise up. Each one of these things was fulfilled.

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And not only was each fulfilled, but each was fulfilled literally. He predicted that these things would happen previous A.D. 70 and they literally happened. There was no spiritual or deeper meaning to these things. Even so, we should also interpret verses 14 to 27 literally.

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Jesus has a perfect track record regarding the perfect fulfillment to His prophecies. His coming is certain. He will come to get us previous to the tribulation, and he most certainly will come after the seven year tribulation to set up his earthly kingdom.

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Let’s read vv. 14-27 in light of the fact that Jesus’ prophecies concerning A.D. 70 were fulfilled literally. And let’s receive encouragement from this and now as we read these verses, let us gain strength and trust Him!

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**READ Mark 13:14-27**

**Turn quickly over to 2 Peter 3:10**

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He predicted with precision those events that lead up to AD 70. Also, there were hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled literally in his life, death, and resurrection … so will you not also look forward to the day when he literally comes again?

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One thing we can apply from the study eschatology or the doctrine of the last times is that “Jesus’ Prediction with Precision Demands a Passion for Perfection.” Jesus’ Prediction with Precision Demands a Passion for Perfection is the title of the message this morning.

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After the Lord Jesus returns with power and great glory at the end of the tribulation period, he will set up his kingdom on earth. There will then be the unmaking of this universe and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

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It is because of these things that we ought to live a life of holy conduct and godliness, pursuing it with all of our hearts to live according to his demands in every detail of our lives. If we believe these things, our lives will show it.

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2 Peter 3:10-14 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

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Are you struggling with the sin that seems to so easily entangle you? Do you find yourself returning again and again back to the pleasures of this world for your satisfaction? One of the things the Scriptures tell us to focus on in order to grow in Christ is the sure return of Christ. If you truly believed that you were waiting for a Savior to come from heaven the Lord Jesus Christ, would you be indulging in the pursuits and pleasures of this world?

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No, you would be using this world, but not abusing it.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 13 Part 2

The following made up scenario would never happen to you, but imagine if you received revelation from an angel that Jesus was going to come back within the next month. Now that would never happen to you, but if it did let’s say, would you have a serious problem with sin?

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I mean, you had a true angelic visitation … Would you waste the next few days in the pursuit of pleasure? Would you be bickering and complaining about such and such in the world? No, you would be consumed with … what? Praying and preaching Christ! You would be testifying to his marvelous work on the cross and how he died to save us from our sins and that he was resurrected from the dead and that his coming is soon to take place!

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You would be pleading with sinners to repent of their sin and you would be spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word.

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If you knew that Jesus was coming back this month, what would you be consumed with? Whatever that is, let me challenge you, whatever that is ought to have an increasing amount of focus in your life. Now, we’re not to be like the Thessalonians who did not work because they believed that Jesus was coming back soon. That’s not my point. But the question would be, “would your priorities be a little bit different if you knew Jesus was coming back this month?”

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And someday we will with great conviction… … “LOOK … lift up your eyes, Behold He Comes! For now, let’s just sing it, number 188, “Lo, He comes.” Lo=look.

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  1. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/07/01/traces-wartime-famine-unearthed-in-jerusalem/

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