Mark 13:21-27

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 12, 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”.

:21-23 False Christs

:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

ChristChristos – “anointed”; this is the Greek word for the Hebrew “Messiah”, the one promised to deliver Israel from her enemies.

Jesus has been describing the events leading up to His Second Coming. Last week we looked into the event known as the “abomination of desolation”, when the Temple in Jerusalem has been rebuilt and the one we know as the antichrist will stop the sacrifices, enter the Temple, and claim to be God. This is an “abominable” act that leads to the “desolation” of the Temple.

And in THAT time frame, if anyone tells you “Here is Christ”, don’t believe him. It’s not the Christ, it’s the antichrist.

We might think that the word “antichrist” means “opposite of Christ”, and it is true that the antichrist is somewhat the opposite of Jesus. But the word means “in place of Christ”. He is the one who will try to take the place of Jesus in the world.

:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

signssemeion – a sign, of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him. Yet these are “false prophets” who perform these signs, not God’s prophets.


The need for discernment

If we’re not careful, we can be fooled into thinking that if we see a “miracle”, that it must be God who is at work.
And I’m not talking about phony miracles, I’m talking about actual displays of supernatural power.
God is not the only one who has supernatural power.
(Mat 7:15-23 KJV) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. {16} Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? {17} Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. {18} A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. {19} Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. {20} Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Jesus is saying that we need to be cautious when we listen to someone claiming to speak for God, and yet their own life is all fouled up. I’m not saying that God can’t use faulty people – He can – that’s grace. But if your life is falling apart and you come to me with a word from God, I’m not sure I’m going to pay much attention to it because of what Jesus says here in Matthew.  If you want to speak for God, make sure He’s Master of your life.
{21} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The false prophets will tell the Lord that they were using Jesus’ name when they prophesied.
They will have performed miracles like casting out demons.
They will have done “wonderful works”, the Greek word is “dunamis”, the same thing that was promised to come with the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8.
And yet they will be in the category of “false prophets”.
I believe that the Holy Spirit works in the same way today as He did in the early church. I have a desire for our church that we will grow in the things of the Spirit.
Paul wrote,

(1 Cor 12:31 NKJV) …earnestly desire the best gifts…

(1 Cor 14:1 NKJV) Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

But as we learn to exercise the gifts of the Spirit, we can’t forget that we have a great responsibility when we hear something that sounds like it might be from God.

(1 Cor 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

We have a responsibility to sift through the things that are said and learn to cling to what is from God and throw away what isn’t from God.

(1 Th 5:19-21 NKJV) Do not quench the Spirit. {20} Do not despise prophecies. {21} Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Sometimes there are going to be things said that are simply inspired by Satan or by a heart filled with evil motives.

Sometimes the things that are said come from a sincere, loving heart, but the words are coming from the person, not from God.

That doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but don’t be quick to say that it’s a word from God.

How can I tell when God is speaking and when He’s not?
There is a spiritual gift called the “discerning of spirits”. A person with this gift just “knows” when something is right or wrong. And they will generally have a track record of being right on these things.
For the rest of us, the best thing we can do is stay in God’s Word.

The Bible is the closest thing we have to a DVD of God speaking to man.

You learn to recognize a voice the more you listen to it. If a stranger calls you up on the phone, you won’t know who it is. But if someone close to you calls, you recognize their voice because you’ve heard it many times before.

If you spend time in God’s Word, you will grow more familiar with His voice. You’ll know when something doesn’t sound right.

:23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

:24-27 He Returns

:24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

Jesus is using language used by the Old Testament prophets like Joel (2:28-32) and Isaiah (13:10; 34:4)

:25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

I believe that when Jesus returns, that the “clouds” will be the armies of heaven that come with Him.

(Rev 19:11-14 KJV) And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. {12} His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. {13} And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. {14} And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Earlier in Rev. 19:8, the church is described in heaven as being clothed in white linen.  I believe that the army on horseback will include us.  We will have been caught up into heaven before the Tribulation (something we’ll talk about next week), and when the Tribulation is over, Jesus will return with us riding behind Him.

:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

electeklektos – referring to all those who have come to believe in Jesus during the Tribulation, who have been able to stay alive to the end.

It’s possible that this gathering in could also include a resurrection for those who were martyred during the Tribulation, since they are even gathered from “heaven”.  It doesn’t include us because we’re on the horses behind Jesus.

:25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

Though this describes phenomena like meteors and such, I think there’s more here …

powersdunamis – strength, power, ability; could be used to describe miracles, also used to describe powerful beings, such as angels (Eph. 1:21)

shakensaleuo – a motion produced by winds, to cast down from one’s (secure and happy) state

In the book of Revelation, John is describing the events during the mid-way point in the Tribulation.

(Rev 12:7-10 KJV) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, {8} And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. {9} And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. {10} And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Some people have an erroneous idea that Satan lives in hell. Not yet. He currently has an office in heaven and continues to have access to heaven. We saw a picture of this in the book of Job where Satan comes and talks with God about Job. Satan’s role in heaven is sort of like a district attorney, except his focus seems to be constantly accusing the believers before God in heaven.


You have a place in the war

It might sound as if these are simply events that will take place in heaven – Michael and his angels fighting the demons.
But the things on earth affect the things in heaven.
Jesus said to Peter,
(Mat 16:19 KJV) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

There is somehow a sense in which the things we do on earth affect the things that happen in heaven, in the realm of the spirit.

When Jesus had sent a group out on a short mission trip, they came back all excited about how they had been able to cast demons out of people.  Jesus said,
(Luke 10:18-19 KJV) And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. {19} Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

As these disciples were casting out demons, Satan kept falling from heaven.

I believe the angelic battle in heaven during the Tribulation will be affected by things happening on the earth.
(Rev 12:11-12 KJV) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. {12} Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Just as the disciples in Jesus’ day caused Satan to fall from heaven, I believe the believers on earth will have an affect on the war in heaven. The language of not “loving their lives unto the death” doesn’t speak of angels but of men because angels can’t die.

The weapons of our warfare:


1. The Blood of the Lamb

In the context of the passage, we are reminded that one of Satan’s major attacks is that of accusing and condemning us before God.
Our answer to Satan’s accusations is simply the blood of Jesus.
Your sins and the condemnation that you deserve are very, very real. To satisfy the justice of the universe, a price has to be paid. And the price that comes attached to sin is “death”.
From the earliest of times, God began to make a way for the price to be paid, through the shedding of blood, as an animal gave up it’s life in your place (Lev. 17:11).
But the writer of Hebrews wrote,
(Heb 9:13-14 NKJV)  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, {14} how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
As we are walking close to the Lord and allowing God to shine His light on all of our lives, we become aware of where we have problems and were we need His cleansing.
I John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
The practical way this happens is by admitting our sin.
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As we confess, God forgives, and Satan no longer has anything to accuse you of.
Do you want God’s forgiveness today?

2. The Word of their Testimony

God’s Word is meant here, it is the “word” of our “testimony”.
God’s Word is a powerful weapon.
It’s the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17)
It’s sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12)
When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He only used one thing to counter the temptations of the devil.  He responded by quoting God’s Word (Mat. 4)
But spiritual protection doesn’t come by just holding a book up in front of our face when we’re tempted, or sleeping with it under your pillow, or even memorizing ten magical Bible verses. It comes by knowing what is IN the book and putting it into PRACTICE into your life.
In the Old Testament there was a time when the priests were very wicked people.  The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas lived such wicked lives that people didn’t even like going to the Tabernacle and offering sacrifice to God.
One year (1Sam. 4), when the Israelites faced a war with the Philistines, they came up with the idea of bringing the famous Ark of the Covenant with them to the battle.

Now God promised to give His people victory in their battles, but only as long as they kept obeying His commandments (Lev. 26:7-8).

The people had fallen into a trap of thinking that this was some kind of a “magic box”, when in reality, the real power for them was in the keeping of the Ten Commandments, which their own priests broke regularly.

What happened in the battle that day?  The Israelites suffered a great defeat with 30,000 killed, including the priests, and the Philistines capturing the Ark.

Just having a Bible and even reading it doesn’t bring victory.  Victory comes when you LIVE the Bible, when you obey what it says.

3. They loved not their lives unto the death

We gain victory over Satan when we are willing to lay down our lives for Jesus.
When the apostle Paul was warned about possible persecution ahead of him in Jerusalem, he decided he wasn’t willing to turn around.  He kept going.  He said,
(Acts 20:24 NKJV)  "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
When Gospel for Asia sends one of their missionaries into a new village, they ask the missionaries to dig their own grave before they enter the village. They walk into their ministry willing to lay down their life.
From GFA website: 04/05/2005: Brutal Attack

“If you renounce Jesus, we will offer you whatever you want,” the men told Ranglal. These were no idle words—Ranglal’s face smarted from the brutal blows of his attackers. One kicked him so hard, he cried. Ranglal was sharing the hope of Christ in this particular village in North India when the angry men suddenly approached, grabbed him and took him away. When they offered inducement for denying his Lord, Ranglal already had an answer: “I want to continue my ministry,” he told them. Seeing that Ranglal refused to back down in his commitment, the men released him, but first issued an ultimatum: “If you come here again, there will be more trouble for you.” By God’s grace, Ranglal’s response to his attackers is one of love and compassion. “Please pray for the salvation of those who persecuted me,” he writes. Ranglal is a GFA Bible college student. Through his experience that day doing weekend outreach, he has already received a taste of the persecution he may very well suffer for his Lord after he graduates and goes on to full-time evangelism and church planting among the unreached.

And though many have been persecuted, not all ministry is life-threatening.
From GFA website: 05/09/2005: Barbershop Evangelism

“What do you mean by ‘serving God’?” Samuel’s barber inquired, listening for his response. Samuel, 22, is a GFA Bible college student who lives with one passion: leading others to the feet of Jesus. That particular day, Samuel walked into the barbershop to get a haircut and discovered that ministry breakthroughs can happen when you least expect them. “I am serving God,” Samuel had responded when the barber asked what he was doing in the area. This was a new concept that sparked the barber’s curiosity enough to ask what the young student meant. The barber only knew the gods his village worshipped! Recognizing this unique ministry opportunity, Samuel explained that he was studying the Bible and began to share the Gospel with the barber. When he left with his new haircut, he left tracts with the barber and visited him often to encourage him. The barber read the literature and listened carefully to what Samuel shared. He was drawn by the love of Jesus that radiated through this kind man, and responded by trusting in Christ for salvation and committing his life to Him. Samuel rejoices in this life reborn, especially in a place of hard ground for the Gospel.

Because these young students are taught to be willing to lay down their lives for the gospel, there is an explosion going on in Asia.  GFA alone has more than 14,000 missionaries on the field and they are planting over 10 churches every day.
Shake the heavens.  Take up your weapons.