In this sermon, we will be looking at a somewhat tricky as well a relevant passage. Let me warn you that this is not one of those passages that brings comfort to the soul. Instead, this passage will disturb us, convict us but at the same time also bring hope and assurance of God’s love and his faithfulness.
If I were a prosperity preacher I wouldn’t have preached from this passage because there is nothing in this passage that gives a prosperity feeling; instead, it gives us goosebumps and makes us uncomfortable.
I’m thankful that we choose to preach through the books of the Bible, and that we’ve stumbled upon this important passage this morning.
Let us come to God with an open mind and a humble spirit as we read from our passage today which is Mark 13:14-27
The context of this passage is that as Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Our later passages reveal that Jesus was, in fact, talking about the destruction of the temple.
And as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, a couple of disciples privately asked him “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
In response, Jesus warns them against Counterfeits, Calamities & Persecution. Brother Jinson, in his last sermon, explained to us what our faithful reaction should be when we encounter counterfeits, calamities & persecution.
In our passage today Jesus continues his conversation and points the disciples to two events.
The first event is the destruction of the temple that was supposed to happen in their generation and to those people as per the prophecy made by Daniel which is recorded in the book of Daniel chapter 9. And the second event is the final day when Christ, the son of God will appear in heaven.
As per bible scholars, the destruction of the temple occurred in the year 175-64 B.C when a King Antiochus who ruled Palestine treated Israel with violence and contempt. When the people stood against him, he came with his forces, entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of Zeus on the altar. This is an abomination because it is idolatry, and it brings desolation because it defiles the holy place at the heart of Israel. This act was the abomination “of” desolation, the abomination “causing” desolation.
And the second event, which Jesus talks about is his return, which is yet to be fulfilled. Which means, for us today, on a timeline we are somewhere right in the middle of these two events.
For those of you who are wondering about the difference in time between these two events, 2 Peter 3:8-9 tells us that a 100 years is like a day for God. Which means according to God’s calender it just been 2 days.
And for those who want to know when are the end times. The answer is we are in the end times. The end times began right after Jesus was ascended to heaven.
If I have to use a military analogy, then we are right now in the enemies camp where Satan is the god of this world. (2 Cor 4:4) We are living in an era where suffering, persecution, false prophets, false preaching of the Gospel is rampant.
We live in a world where world peace is just a dream. No matter which political party or leader arise to make this world a better place. We will never see that accomplished until the coming of our Lord Jesus.
Satan is ruling the hearts and minds of many and the people he hates the most is the elect children of God.
According to a report published by an organisation called Open Doors in Jan 2018, 1 in 12 Christians all over the world live in a place where Christianity is illegal, forbidden or are punished.
We all are under the schemes of the enemy, either physical, mental or spiritual where he is using every possible tool to take away our affections for God and erect an idol in our heart, mind and soul.
But there is a day coming when Christ our saviour will return to his chosen people, and take us out of this earth. It is written in 1 Cor 15:52, in a twinkle of an eye, we will be taken up with Christ.
Remember, this promise is only for those who’ve genuinely put their faith in Christ.
We were once in the enemies of God, born in sin, lived sinful lives, destined to die the eternal death. But God in his great mercy sent his son Jesus to rescue us from this wicked world by taking our punishment and dying in our place. And it is only when we repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus that we are called his elect.
I want to urge you, therefore, If anyone in this room who haven’t repented of their sins and hadn’t honestly put their faith in Christ, I want to urge you to do so without delay. So that you may also be rescued from this wicked world and taken up in heaven when our saviour Jesus comes.
This morning, my intention is not to spend time predicting the events and dissecting the prophetic fulfilment. But I want to focus more on what does all this mean to us today and how do we live our lives in the midst of all this.
I want to share 4 practical instructions I see in the text that can help us navigate our journey in this period of suffering, persecution and trouble.
1.We have to be well informed & alert
4 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Jesus to telling “let the reader understand”
A reader is someone who is a well-informed person. And then he says “When you see the Abomination of Desolation standing, run to the mountains.”
Tell me. What happens in a war when people are stuck in the enemies camp and they are totally lost and unaware of what’s happening around them? They die.
In a battle, the enemy will do anything to keep our minds distracted, so that, when we are attached we are clueless.
1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. “
We need to identify areas in our life where the enemy is keeping us occupied & distracted?
- For some of you, he’s kept you distracted with the pleasures of this world
- For some with all kinds of personal problems (within the family, within the church, etc)
- For some with great Career aspirations
- For some with the lust of the flesh
- For some with pride of Life
And because of our distracted pursuits apart from living out the plan and purpose of God in our lives we’ve put ourselves in situations and in places that are danger zones.
In Colossians 4 Paul writes “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity.”
Brother and sisters, in this battle, if we do not stay well-informed & alert, we will get injured, and we will die in the hands of the enemy.
A well informed Christian is one who is reading and meditating on the scriptures day and night. Looking for clues and answers to difficult circumstances and finding ways to tackle them in Godly ways.
We have to be aware of our own weaknesses and how to protect our lives from our own self.
We have to know the truth of God’s word in its entirety so that we are not swayed away by false prophets, wrong doctrines and false gospels.
2. We have to take careful steps
The second instruction I see in the passage is to take careful steps and flee when the enemy comes to destroy our soul and erect an Idol in place of God.
It is not enough for us to be well-informed, but we also need to be obedient and take necessary actions to flee from evil.
The meaning of the word Abomination of Desolation is the Establishment of an Idol in place of God that has the potential to bring destruction.
By idols, I just don’t mean the physical structures made out of mud and sand but also the hidden idols in our hearts that take away our place of affection for God.
It could be a person in your life
It could be a thing in your life
It could be a desire in your life
Our job can become an idol
Our children can become our idols
Mark 13:14-18 Jesus
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter.
Jesus is saying when you see the sign of the Abomination of Desolation, his instruction is to flee.
When we are in places, in relationships, in circumstances where the enemy is trying to erect an idol in our heart, we have to flee from it.
Paul often uses the words ‘flee’ in his letters to help us draw near to God.
1 Corinthians 10:14
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
2 Timothy 2:22
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
If we have to survive, don’t let the enemy construct an idol in your heart, a place where God dwells and take necessary action whenever it is required.
To the extreme where Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body
3. We have to depend on the Master’s providence
V20. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.
What this verse suggests is that even in times of trouble, suffering and persecution, the Lord’s grace & providence is always upon us.
He works everything for the good of those who love and trust in him.
When we are in the battle, there will be temptations to trust in our humanly instincts and abilities which can lead us to more trouble. But instead, we have to always trust in God’s providence for the moment.
Whether we face people who threaten us, situations that seem dangerous, temptations that push us to the limits. Always trust in God’s providence and his grace.
We see Paul’s dependence on God’s providence as he writes in 2 Cor 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.
In his weakness, he knows he can trust in God’s strength.
And our greatest comfort comes from the presence of the Spirit of God dwelling among us. So trust in God’s providence and not on our strength.
Ask more for his Holy Spirit and Pray diligently at all times. And he will guide us at every step of our lives.
4. We have to wait for the Master’s return
And finally, we have to spend your days waiting for the Master to return and take you with him without losing hope.
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
In the light of the latter event of our Lords coming back for us, we have to be like the 5 virgins mentioned in Matthew 25:1-13 who kept their lamps burning until they saw the bridegroom arrive.
We can’t give up, no matter how badly we are injured. No matter how secluded our life has become while living in the enemy’s territory.
We have to hope in the Lord and his promises.
A day will come when our Lord, our saviour will come to take us with him. Even if we are dead physically, our bodies will rise and meet with our Lord and saviour.
We ought to live with hope in our hearts, that we will one day enter into his presence with joy and satisfaction.
As I conclude, let us examine our lives. Have we been living all these days carelessly?
Distracted with the things of the world and uninformed of the truths. Are we failing to take careful steps and make wise decisions for our lives? Are we failing to depend on the providence and grace of God? Are we living without hope?
It’s time that we repent and turn to God.