Mark 13:14-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 5, 2005


As we are making our way through the gospel of Mark, it is Tuesday evening of the last week of Jesus’ life.  He has been teaching and fielding questions all day in the Temple.  As He has left the Temple and the city, crossing the Kidron Valley over to the Mount of Olives, He sat down and began to talk about what we call the “Last Days”.

:14-20 The Abomination of Desolation

:14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,)

abominationbdelugma – a foul thing, a detestable thing

where it ought not – Matthew records (Mat. 24:15) that it is standing …

in the holy place,

This mention of the “abomination of desolation” is tucked away in a prophecy known as the “seventy weeks” of Daniel.

(Dan 9:25-27 KJV) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

This speaks about how Jerusalem would be rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity, and that when the rebuilding starts, it set off a time clock that ended with the appearance of “Messiah the Prince”. The mention of “weeks” has to do with a measure of time, a period of “seven” years. It’s a complicated calculation that takes into account the length of Babylonian years, numbers of days per year and such.   When you put it all together, it brings you to the date of April 6, 32 A.D., which we believe was Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey with the crowds shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Mat. 21:9).

{26} And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:

After the Messiah would present Himself to the nation, He would be cut off. Jesus presented Himself on Palm Sunday, and was put to death the following Friday. He didn’t die because He deserved it, he didn’t die for himself.

Six hundred years before He came, Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would die for us.  His death wasn’t a horrible accident, it was an event planned carefully by God.

He died for us. He died on the cross in order to pay for our sins.

… and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

The “prince that shall come” is a reference to the antichrist. The people the antichrist comes from would be the ones who would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple after the death of the Messiah. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in the summer of 70 A.D. by the Roman army. We believe the antichrist will be part of a revived Roman Empire.

The “desolation” mentioned here is the complete destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem would become a “desolate” place. This happened in 70 AD.

{27} And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The “he” here is this “prince that shall come”, the antichrist. The antichrist will make some sort of “covenant” or “treaty” with the nation of Israel, lasting seven years (one week).

This period of seven years is what we refer to as the “Tribulation” period.

Halfway through the Tribulation (3 ½ years, in the “midst” of the week), the antichrist will cause all sacrifice to cease in the Temple in Jerusalem. In addition, he will do something that is referred to as the “overspreading of abominations”.

This is the “abomination of desolation”, an “abominable” action that will result in make the Temple “desolate”.
Paul gives us a clue as to what this will be when he writes about the antichrist:
(2 Th 2:4 KJV) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
The antichrist will go into the Temple in Jerusalem and declare that he is God.

This action will be a key event of the Tribulation period. Events throughout the book of Revelation are places in reference to this time marker and the 3 ½ years before and the 3 ½ years that come afterward.

Why is this such a key event? Because this is the one event that points out who the antichrist is. Up to this point, many will think that this man is a great guy, maybe even the Messiah. But when he walks into the Temple claiming to be God, it will be clear that this is the antichrist.
The antichrist will wonderful, natural political talents and he will be possessed by Satan.  He will have the charisma of a Clinton, but the heart of a Hitler. If you thought Adolph Hitler was a monster, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

:14 then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Keep in mind, this warning is for the Jews who are in Israel at the time that this all takes place. This is not specifically a lesson for us, but there are a few lessons we can still learn from this.

There will be Jews paying attention to this during the Tribulation. Revelation (12:14) speaks of the Jews fleeing to the wilderness.  Isaiah (16:1-5) hints that it may be to the rock city of Petra located in the mountains of ancient Edom.  It’s at Bozrah, only a couple of miles away from Petra that Jesus will return to rescue the nation of Israel (Is. 63).

:15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

Houses in Jesus’ day had flat roofs with a staircase going up to the top. The roof often served as a sort of patio. In summer, the family might even sleep on top of the roof for comfort.

One guy is up on the rooftop enjoying the view when he hears the news. He doesn’t have time to go down and pack his bags.

:16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

The idea is that you’re not going to have time to pack up. You’ll only have time to flee. Why flee? Because the antichrist will be a really, really scary guy



What if you woke up in the middle of the night with the call for an emergency evacuation?
The Laguna Beach Landslide (last week, June 3, 2005) – I heard an interview on the radio with a woman who was enjoying her coffee in bed on Thursday morning, just like every morning. She heard a strange sound – water running underneath her house. Then she heard some popping sounds. She went outside and watched as the curb began to separate from the street. She ran inside, woke up the only other person still at home, her daughter’s fiancé, and ran over to the neighbor’s house to wake them up. As she was standing on the front porch, she looked back at her house to see it slide down the canyon. In a matter of minutes it was all gone.
I like her choice in things to rescue. She didn’t grab the TV. She didn’t grab her purse. She grabbed a person. I like that.
If you only got out of the house with the people inside, would you be bummed? What would you miss the most? How important are your possessions? Do you possess your possessions, or do they possess you?
When the ship goes down, you don’t have to go down with it.
High Seas Parrot
There was this magician who was working a cruise ship on the high seas. His audience was always different, so he took advantage, allowing himself to do the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem... the Captain’s’ Parrot! The Captain’s Parrot saw the show week after week after week! Soon the parrot began to understand how the magician did every trick, and once he understood... he began to shout in the middle of the magician’s act. “Look... different hat... different hat!” “Hiding the flowers... hiding the flowers, in his coat... in his coat!” “Hello, ALL aces... ALL aces... Look... All aces!” The magician became absolutely livid with the parrot and secretly wanted to make soup of him... however since he was the Captain’s Parrot, there was nothing he could do. One day the ship had an unfortunate accident, broke up, and sank! As luck would have it... the magician found himself floating on the same piece of wood as the parrot. There they floated... the middle of the ocean... staring at one another in complete silence... the magician still filled with anger. They spoke not a word to one another, and this continued for a day, and another, and another, and another. After a week the parrot broke the silence with... “OK, I give up... where’s the boat?!”

Well, at least they didn’t go down with the ship…

Jesus told us to “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). As she was asked to flee from Sodom, she just couldn’t resist looking back on the city she loved. She had a hard time letting go of the world. And she turned into a pillar of salt.
Keep a loose grip on your possessions. Don’t go down with the ship.

:17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

It will be extra hard for these moms.

:18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

Unless you have snow tires.

:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

afflictionthlipsis – pressure; oppression, affliction, tribulation

This will be the beginning of the last half of the Tribulation period. We call the last half the “Great Tribulation”.

:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

elect’seklektos – picked out, chosen by God

Often this word is used to describe all Christians (Col. 3:12), as having been chosen by God. But the word is used of many other people as well. It is used of Jesus (Isa. 42:1; 1 Peter 2:6), Israel (Isa. 45:4), millennial saints (Isa. 65:22), and angels (1 Tim. 5:21). Here it is referring to the nation of Israel.

In order to save the nation of Israel from the tremendous persecution by the antichrist, and to keep mankind from completely destroying himself, God will put an end to the Tribulation. Jesus will be coming back. We’ll be talking more specifically about Jesus’ Second Coming next week.


God watches me

God is going to save the day because He watches what is going on with His kids.
Sometimes well meaning parents will say to their kids something like this, “You better be a good boy because God is watching you”. Without really thinking about it, we can give our kids the idea that God is only watching to see if you blow it and then He’s going to wipe you out.
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, “Take only one, God is watching,” Moving through the line, to the other end of the table, was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One of the boys wrote a note, “Take all you want, God is watching the apples.”
Some of us grew up in the time when we had to read George Orwell’s book, “1984”, the book that taught us that “Big Brother is watching”. We sometimes can get the idea that God is the “Really Big Brother” who is out to catch us in our sins and then throw us into prison.
Please don’t misunderstand where I’m going here. God does see my sin and without Jesus paying for my sin, I’m in big trouble.
But when we think about God watching over His “elect”, it’s because He loves us so much that He can’t take His eyes off of us.
When Israel was enslaved in Egypt, God was watching…
(Exo 2:23-25 NKJV) Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. {24} So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. {25} And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

And in response to their trouble, God sent someone to help, Moses.

He never takes a break, He never skips a beat …
(Psa 121:4 KJV) Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

He’s up all night watching you.

In fact, if someone harms you, it’s like they poked God in the eye.
(Zec 2:8 KJV) For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
The “apple” is the “pupil” of your eye. God has His eye on you so much that if anyone touches you, they poke God in the eye in the process. And it’s not nice to poke God in the eye.


God watches the clock

Warren Wiersbe noted that when God permits his children to go through the furnace, he keeps his eye on the clock and his hand on the thermostat.
With the nation of Israel, God will be watching them during the Great Tribulation. Because He does not want His people wiped out, He will bring an end to the trouble.
The Bible tells us that God knows exactly how much you can handle in life:
(1 Cor 10:13 NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
It’s like the little parable I tell from time to time of the teacup explaining its “tribulations”. When it was a lump of clay it didn’t like to be patted and punched, shaped and molded by the potter. But the potter didn’t stop molding until He was finished. It didn’t like to be put into the furnace to be dried, but the potter didn’t take the teacup out until it was dried. It didn’t like to be smothered in paint or put into the kiln, but the potter kept working until the teacup was finished.
God is at work in our lives, taking a lump of clay and making a precious vessel. He is molding and shaping us through the trials and difficulties we go through. We wish we could go through life without any difficulties, but in truth we’d be far weaker if we didn’t have trouble.
God knows what you can take.  And He won’t let you go past what you can handle.