At our last Revelation Bible Study on the first Wednesday of the month we got into what do we believe, or probably better yet what do we know, about the end times? Do we have a firm conviction that we kind of know how things are going to take place. We looked at the term rapture and I made the statement that you don’t have to believe in the rapture in order to be a Christian. If you want more information on the rapture as far as the Scripture that people use to back it up you can look closer at I Thessalonians 4:16. Personally I don’t really believe that there is going to be a rapture. I strongly believe in the second coming of Christ and that when he does come he will come back once and for all and set up a new heaven and a new earth. The rapture kind of seems like a second coming lite. I am perfectly comfortable in saying I don’t know what the end times are going to look like. I don’t know if there is going to be a tribulation or not, a time when Christians are going to suffer and then make it through once Jesus comes back. I do know that Jesus is coming back and the point of Scripture is that since he is coming back then, as vs. 37 states: we must “keep awake”.
Mark, more than any other Gospel writer, chooses apocalyptic language in order to get his point across that Jesus is going to come back again some day. Chapter 13 points to day when there will be hardship. I am convinced that Mark was writing this to the community who was reading the Gospel in the first century who could totally relate to the hardships that he was talking about. I am not saying that he was writing exclusively to the first century persecuted Christians, but I do believe that they understood what he was saying probably more than we do. A proof of that is found in vs. 14 where he speaks about the desolating sacrilege. We find that same term used in Daniel 9:27 and the reader in that first century would know exactly about what the author was speaking. Would an idol or a false God be set up in the temple or on the temple grounds by the Roman government? We know that Caligula tried to do such a thing in 40AD by building his own statue and trying to place it in the temple. It didn’t happen. That would be about the right time for Mark to know about it and write about it. Daniel was speaking about the time when Antiochus Epiphanes set up a pagan altar in 167 BC in the temple. That actually did happen. So we have all of these historical precedents that have taken place. We must ask the question do we really need to try to identify in our modern era what desolating sacrilege just might correspond to what God wants us to know about the end times today? I don’t think so. The point is stay awake, be vigilant, be ready for when Jesus comes and by the way, you are not going to know when that time is. It is a waste of time trying to figure out how Jesus is coming back or point to events to say that this event means that Jesus is coming back sooner than we think because it corresponds to an apocalyptic event in Scripture. Each day we are closer to the coming of Jesus, but we still know just as little as we did before today.
Jesus’ words to his disciples, and so to us as well, is that we must be ready.