Mark 13:28-37

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 19, 2005


The Tonto says to his son, “Son, you push-um outhouse off-um cliff?” The kid says, “No, me no push-um outhouse off-um cliff.” Tonto says, “Son, me tell-um you story of Great White Father, George Washington. Many moons ago, when Great White Father was young boy, him chop-um down cherry tree. Him father ask-um, ‘Georgie, you chop-um down cherry tree?’ George say-um, ‘Cannot tell lie, Father. Me chop-um down cherry tree.’ Him father say, ‘Georgie bad, but Georgie honest, so you no get-um punishment.’ Now I ask-um you push-um outhouse off-um cliff?” The kid says, “Yes, Father, me push-um outhouse off-um cliff.” The Tonto grabs the kid and beats the tar out of him. The kid says, “Father, Great White Father tell truth and get-um off scott-free. I tell-um truth...why you beat-um tar out of me?” Tonto says, “George Washington’s father not in cherry tree when George chop-um down.”

Bill Cosby tells us the difference between Mothers Day and Fathers Day. He insists that Mothers Day is a much bigger deal because Mothers are more organized. Mothers say to their children: Now here is a list of what I want. Go get the money from your father and you surprise me on Mothers Day. You do that for me. For Father’s Day I give each of my five kids $20 so that they can go out and by me a present—a total of $100. They go to the store and buy two packages of underwear, each of which costs $5 and contains three shorts. They tear them open and each kid wraps up one pair, the sixth going to the Salvation Army. Therefore, on Father’s Day I am walking around with new underwear and my kid’s are walking around with $90 worth of my change in their pockets.

:28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree;

It could be that Jesus is simply talking about fig trees in general, but I don’t think so.

For one thing, though Israel is often represented by various fruit bearing plants live an olive tree and a grape vine, it’s also described as a fig tree (Jer. 24:1; Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:7)

Secondly, Jesus and the disciples have recently had an amazing encounter with a fig tree.

As Jesus is speaking, it is Tuesday evening of His last week. If you recall, early on Monday morning Jesus was on His way into Jerusalem when He saw a fig tree that should have had some fruit. It already had it’s leaves, and that meant that the “first ripe fruit” should have been on the tree.
(Mark 11:12-14 KJV) And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: {13} And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. {14} And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

It was a bizarre incident, and it looked like Jesus was just cranky before breakfast, but there was more to it than that. The fig tree was going to be an object lesson of how God looks at Israel. God comes to Israel and is looking for fruit. And when He doesn’t find fruit, the tree is in trouble.

Later that day, Jesus went into the Temple to teach and was disgusted with how the money changers and animal sellers were ripping off the people.

It’s the next morning, Tuesday morning, the same day where our current passage is, that Jesus took the disciples by the fig tree and they found it withered from the roots up (Mark 11:20).

When Jesus says to learn a lesson from the fig tree, I don’t think He’s talking about any old fig tree, I think He’s talking about Israel.

:28 When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

Fig trees lose their leaves during the winter. In early spring, the tree starts putting out leaves and the first batch of “first fruit” that tells you that summer is right around the corner.

For us, when we begin to see Christmas decorations in the store that tells us that something is right around the corner.  What?  Halloween.  Oops.  Well Christmas is still coming.

:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

The thing that started this whole chapter concerning the Second Coming was a question by the disciples:

(Mark 13:4 KJV) Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

This is as close as Jesus is going to get to telling them when He’s coming back. He’s giving the information they need to know that it’s getting close.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at some of these things that Jesus has been talking about, the “signs” of the times.

False Christs, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution, and the gospel being preached to the nations.

And now we have this hint about the fig tree – the nation of Israel.

The nation of Israel was conquered and scattered by the Romans in AD 70. For almost 2000 years there were Jewish people, but there was no nation of Israel.
Then in 1948, something happened that has never happened before in history. An ancient nation was reborn. The tree has made it through the long winter and has begun to put out it’s leaves.

Summer is coming. Jesus is coming. He’s right at the door.

:30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

generationgenea – the word can carry different meanings and gives way to several interpretations:

1) It can mean “race”, those who are physically related to each other. Some take this to mean that the Jewish race will not pass away before Jesus comes. There is truth to this.

2) It can refer to a group of people who live at the same time, during the same age.

I believe it is referring to the people that are alive when these things begin to happen, when the nation of Israel has started putting out it’s leaves.
Israel became a nation in May of 1948.  I think we’re close.

:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.


Build your life around what lasts

(Mat 7:24-27 NKJV) "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: {25} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. {26} "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: {27} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
Jesus was saying that we have a choice in life. We have a choice as to how we are going to build our life. We have a choice of building on something that is permanent or something that will fail.
I have this suspicion that most people are looking for help in life. They may not admit it to you, but I believe that most people are wondering, “What’s life all about? How can I make sense of this life? Is there a purpose for my life?”
There are lots of places to look for answers.
Some people look into physical pleasures, trying to find some kind of fulfillment or temporary happiness in things like drugs, alcohol, or sex.
Others try to find fulfillment by bettering themselves. They take classes, join gyms, try to expand their horizons. There’s nothing wrong with these things, except when you are trying to build your life on them. Without Jesus, these things are shifting sand.
Some of us are trying to escape the pain of life by doing harmless things like going to a movie, a ballgame, watching TV. Again, there’s nothing wrong with these things, unless they become the thing you are seeking to find peace or answers in life.
Some try to find fulfillment in their family. They get married, start having kids, and are hoping that their life will be fulfilled in this somehow. Are these good things? Of course. Are they the answer to life? No.
Others try to find it in different religions.

Some people meditate, others are trying to explore religions like Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Others flock to the self-help gurus, the Deepak Chopras, the Tony Robbins.

There’s only one thing that’s solid and will last. It’s God’s Word.
No other book has survived the centuries unaltered as has the Bible.
Voltaire once said, “The Bible will be a short-lived book.” The years proved Voltaire to be wrong and the very house in which he lived was used to store Bibles.
The Communist dictionary issued by the Soviet State Publishing house describes the Bible as a “Collection of fantastic legends without scientific support.” Lenin once declared, “I expect to live long enough to attend the funeral of all religion.” Lenin has long since been dead (and the Soviet Union is gone), the Bible and religion has never been more alive.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) once stated, “Within 50 years the Bible will be a forgotten Book.” But years later, the very press he used to print this statement was being used to print Bibles.

Dr. Calvin Evans

(John 14:1-6 NKJV) "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. {2} "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. {4} "And where I go you know, and the way you know." {5} Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" {6} Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Are you looking for answers in life? You will not find true purpose and meaning apart from finding God. And you will not find God apart from Jesus Christ. Are you tired of building on things that will fail? Is today the day you need to surrender your life to Jesus?

:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

While Jesus was completely God, He had earthly limitations in His human body. He got hungry. He got tired. And apparently He did not know the time of His return. Now that He’s glorified and sitting at the right hand of the Father, I wouldn’t be surprised if He knows now.

The angels don’t know. Jesus didn’t know.

If they don’t know, we ought to be careful about anyone claiming that he knows.

There have been many people through the years who have claimed to know the date that Jesus would return. It’s an easy way to get a following.

:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

porterthuroros (“door” + “watch”) – a doorkeeper, porter; a male or female janitor

Apparently one of the servants had the job of watching the door. A porter (doorkeeper) was the night watchman. He not only watched the door for intruders, but watched for the Master to return.

“In the temple, during the night, the captain of the temple made his rounds, and the guards had to rise at his approach and salute him in a particular manner. Any guard found asleep on duty was beaten, or his garments set on fire. Compare Revelation 16:15, ‘Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments.’ The preparations for the morning service required all to be early astir. The superintending priest might knock at the door at any moment. The Rabbis use almost the very words in which scripture describes the unexpected coming of the Master. Sometimes he comes at the cockcrowing, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later. He came and knocked and they opened to him” (Vincent quoting Edersheim, ‘The Temple’)

Jesus said …

(Mark 13:29 KJV) So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
He already said that when these things took place, He would be “at the door”.
We need to be “door-watchers”.
We need to be watching the signs of the times, looking for His return.

:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

even … midnight … cockcrowing … morning – these were the four “watches” of the Roman system of keeping time at night. The “evening” was 6-9 p.m.; the “midnight watch” was 9 p.m. till midnight; the “cockcrowing” was the third watch (midnight till 3 a.m.); and “morning” was 3-6 a.m.

:36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

I don’t think Jesus is saying that Christians should never get any real, literal sleep. He’s speaking metaphorically. He’s talking about getting lazy in our relationship with the Lord. He’s talking about backsliding. He’s talking about simply becoming indifferent to what God wants for you.


Pre-Trib rapture

We’ve talked about this period of seven years coming on the earth known as the Tribulation.
But there is another event that is going to take place called the Rapture:
(1 Th 4:16-17 NKJV) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Over the years, there have been a couple of ideas about when this is to take place. Some feel it will not take place until the end of the Tribulation, and that all Christians will go through the Tribulation. Others feel that it might take place somewhere in the middle, and there are even different ideas about which part of the middle.
I believe that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation period starts.
I have lots of reasons why I hold this position, but today I’m just going to focus on two of them.
1. Jesus said the faithful would escape the Tribulation.
He said,

(Luke 21:34-36 KJV) And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. {35} For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. {36} Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Jesus didn’t ask us to pray to “endure” the Tribulation, but to escape it.

To the church in Philadelphia, Jesus wrote:

(Rev 3:10 KJV) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

The faithful church is kept from the tribulation, the great time of “testing” that is coming upon the earth.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t go through difficult times.

Jesus also said,

(John 16:33 KJV) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

There are plenty of Christians today who are going through greatly difficult times. But it doesn’t mean they will go through THE Great Tribulation.

2. The element of surprise.
The Scripture talks about the suddenness of the second coming. That’s the whole point of our passage today.

(Mark 13:32-33 NKJV) "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. {33} "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

(Mat 24:44 KJV) Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Yet Scripture also gives us the day when Jesus will come back, tied to an event during the tribulation period.

(Dan 12:11 KJV) And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

How can there be a surprise, when it's something that can be calculated?

This is because the Rapture comes first, unexpectedly, not tied to events in the Tribulation.

The actual Second Coming, when we return with Jesus, will be calculated, 1290 days after the abomination of desolation.

We get the idea in Scripture that when Jesus comes back, the armies of the earth are gathered together to fight against Him. They are expecting Him!

If the Rapture came at the end, right before Jesus comes back, there would be no surprise, we’d all be marking our calendars.

:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.


Watch and Work

We need to be “door watchers”. We need to be aware of the times we live in.
Jesus is coming back.
We can become so consumed with looking for His return that we stop doing the things He wants us to do.
It’s more than sitting around and watching.
We’ve been given authority and a job to do (Mark 13:34)
(Mat 28:18-20 NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. {19} "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Jesus wants us to reach the world for Him.  Yet the world is a pretty big place.
How can we reach the world?
Find out what He’s given you.  The parable of the Talents.  Take what He’s given you and learn to use it for the Kingdom.
We’re getting close.  Just a little bit farther…