WATCH! (Naked Runner #21)

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The Gathering Church/ Pastor Barry Bruce     Gospel of Mark/ Naked Runner Series #21

The Destruction of the Temple Mark 13:1-2, Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving the Temple to go back to Bethany, the disciples made a comment about the beauty of that Temple and its massive stones.  People of that day were so impressed with the Temple structure that king Herod had built that he had become more an object of worship than God. Jesus was unimpressed.  In fact, he prophesied about the Temple’s destruction. “Not one stone here will be left on another”, he said. He also said this earlier just before his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

We must remember “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. (Hebrews 13:8). Looking back to God’s destruction of the Tower of Babel we can see the same story–men had become so impressed with their tower and accumulated accomplishments that they began to worship self rather than God. That is why God destroyed that tower and confused their languages. God forbid that we should ever worship the creation over the Creator!

The fist Temple had been built by King Solomon in 950 BC and only took 7 years to build.  It was attacked and rebuilt several times throughout history until the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, utterly destroyed it in 586 BC. The second Temple was built on the same site in 515 BC by Zerubbabel who was appointed governor of the Province of Judah by King Darius I of Persia . It was that Temple that the Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanies, desecrated with pigs blood (the “abomination that causes desolation”) in 170 BC and was later cleansed in the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC which fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 8:9-14 and birthed the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. 

 In 63 BC Jerusalem was captured by Rome. It was later taken by Herod the Great in 38 BC and according to the historian Josephus, he began reconstructing and rebuilding the second    Temple in 19 BC, in the 18th year of his reign. Herod’s Temple (sometimes incorrectly  referred to as the third Temple)  was rebuilt as rapidly as possible, being finished in a year and a half, although work was in progress on the out-buildings and courts for over eighty years. The Temple was under construction throughout Jesus’ entire life on earth. The gospel of John tells us that at the onset of Jesus ministry it was already 46 years into its construction (John 2:20). The temple was completed in 63AD.  Herod the Great, however, died in 4 BC when Jesus was just a child (Matthew 2:14-15).

 About 40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection (and only seven years after its completion) Herod’s Temple was utterly destroyed just as Jesus prophesied.  In 70 AD Titus built an embankment on all sides of the city, slaughtered everyone within its walls and burned the  Temple and city to the ground. The gold melted into the cracks of the massive stones and every one of them was toppled over in order to recover it.    

 The “When” and “What” Mark 13:3-4, Matthew 24:3

The fact that Jesus had mentioned the destruction of the Temple and its city twice got the disciples thinking, so when Jesus stopped on the Mount of Olives, which offered a great view of Jerusalem and the Temple, the disciples asked him to tell them “when” the Temple and city would be destroyed and “what” would be the sign of “your coming and of the end of the age” (Matthew’s gospel gives clarity on the question: Matthew 24:3). Jesus did not give the “when”(Mark 13:32) , but he did say “what” to look for.  Just as in all prophetic scripture his discourse speaks not only to the disciples present at that time but also to future readers like you and me as well.  Jesus answers their question thoroughly.

“Watch Out” Mark 13:5-13, Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8, Philippians 1:27-28

Jesus begins by telling his disciples and all those who will follow him to “watch out” that no one deceives you.  We must be on our guard in the faith and realize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and that our enemy is the Devil!  Jesus told his disciples that many would come in His name and deceive many. You can see that this is a true statement just by checking out Wikipedia’s list of messiah claimants; however, the deception goes far deeper than this. The greatest deception lurks in deviating from God’s word and the persecution that comes for those Christians who hold firm to the truth.  Jesus told his disciples that they would be persecuted.  All of the Apostles were and so will all Christians to varying degrees.  In fact we now live in an age that the persecution of the church worldwide is greater than it has ever been in history, but take heed, Jesus said “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved”.  The end of what you may ask? The end of your earthly life I would say!  As the apostle Paul said: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”. Jesus also points out that the gospel will be preached in the “whole world” before the end comes. This has become possible only through the internet, television and radio.

The Fig Tree Mark 13:14-31, Luke 21:20-21

Jesus speaks to his disciples again about Israel (symbolic “Fig tree”) and a future Temple.  We know it’s a future Temple (Revelation 11:1-2) because Jesus proclaimed the destruction of the one that existed in his time. He also spoke of an “abomination that causes desolation”(referencing the prophet Daniel in Matthew). Jesus speaks of Daniel’s prophecy (partially fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanies) as having a future fulfillment (Matthew 24:15) when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20–21).  The future Antichrist, that leader of the Ten final nations (“ten toes of iron mixed with clay”) envisioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:41-44)  will pridefully repeat the wicked actions of Antiochus, but God will also take this satanic madman down supernaturally as “he returns in the clouds with great power and glory.” and cast him into hell forever (Revelation 19:20).

 The lesson from the “Fig Tree” is a reminder to keep our eyes on Israel.  The “abomination that causes desolation” cannot occur without a third Temple being built.  For that term is a reference to defiling the Temple. The generation that sees the Temple will not pass away until all of these things has happened!

Be Alert! Mark 13:32-37, Luke 21:34-36, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Isaiah 5:20-21

Jesus reminds believers that we will not know the day he returns but we can clearly see the signs. Look at Israel, the world, technology, Christian persecution and the spread of wickedness.  Let’s not fall asleep in sinfulness, but stay alert and watch!  He is coming again!

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