Mark: The Abomination of Desolation

Read: Mark 13:14-23

I’m no expert on the end times. Most of what I read about eschatology is filled with dire warnings of destruction, of bomb shelter building and preparation with rants of the end is near! Like many theological debates, I suppose I’m required to declare a position on cessation of Spiritual Gift, dispensationalism, premillennialism, postmillennialism, etc. Sadly, I’m not so smart.

Given my limited education, I simply read the scholarly writings on the subject and glean from this passage what I hope to gain as words for us to act on today.

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14

When you see this thing happen: run! Don’t wait, don’t sit and write a plan, head to the mountains!

There are several sources that consistently point to the abomination of desolation as this event:

In 167 B.C. a Greek ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation. Got Questions

For the Jews of that day, such an abomination would no doubt be well known. The thought of this happening again, especially given the context of the disciples’ observation about the majestic temple, is quite revolting. Jesus gives us the indication that this is about to happen.

When it does happen, it will be dreadful for those who are trying to nurse children or who are pregnant. What an awful time to have to pack up and leave!

Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. Mark 13:18-19

Matthew adds, “or on the Sabbath” to the list of prayers about this event since the Jews were not allowed to work at all on the Sabbath (let alone run for your life!).

These will be confusing times as many will arise as false messiah’s.

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. Mark 13:22-23

The NIVAC provides this insight that I find most useful:

The message is simply this: God’s way, God’s Christ, and God’s people will be vindicated in a conclusive manner that all will recognize. The disciple is not called to eliminate his ignorance of the timing of the End, he is called to cope with it, and respond to it appropriately.

Perhaps it’s best to rely on Jesus’s words of warning: be on your guard.

If you know that a punch is coming, it makes sense to duck, to bob and weave. Don’t just stand there like nothing is happening! When you see there is no way to avoid impact, brace yourself! To have any chance in a battle, we have to be prepared. The discipline of reading the Bible, spending time with the Father, is one of the core methods for discernment. Time with other believers who are fighting the battles of this world is another.

Lord, I don’t know much about where we are in relation to the End times, but it sure seems like each day we lose ground in the earthly battle. We are confident that in the end, you win. With that assurance, we have a responsibility to reach out to those who are far from Christ, to bridge the gap, to work each day to make disciples of all nations. Lord help us!

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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