In this part of Mark chapter 13 we have begun looking at what Jesus is telling the disciples about the signs of the end. This age that we live in will end one day when it pleases God to end it. Jesus placed His approval upon what Daniel wrote, and according to Daniel, human history will end with a final seven year period. The first sign that people will see to show them that they are in the end-time is what Daniel and Jesus called the abomination of desolation. This sacrilege will take place in the temple in Jerusalem. The antichrist will exalt himself above God. And then there will be other signs following that one. Concerning another sign of the end-time, Jesus said in Mark 13:19-20, For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elects sake, whom he has chosen, he has shortened the days.
In the first part of Mark chapter thirteen Jesus described the characteristics of the age that has lasted all the way from His day until the current day and that will continue to last until the end-time. As we all know there are some things that have been happening in this period of time that are not very good for human beings. Jesus spoke of them: wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in many places, famines, etc. But when we get to the end time, Jesus is telling the disciples that it is going to be a lot worse. Thats why we have given the name to the last seven years of human history The Great Tribulation. Things will be so bad and so much worse than ever before in human history that the very sign that the end-times have come will be how bad things are. It will be obvious to people that something has changed: the forces of evil and the forces of destruction will be unloosed upon the earth as they have never been before. Pray to God that you are saved from that hour of sorrow and misery and death and destruction that will come to the earth. Jesus said that it will happen.
And the book of Revelation says that it will happen also. The book of Revelation has a great deal to say about the last seven years of human history: the Great Tribulation. For example, Revelation 6:8 says, And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat upon him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 8:7-9 says, The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died: and the third part of the ships were destroyed. Revelation 9:5-6 says, And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
Revelation chapter 9:20-21 says, And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. Revelation chapter 16:3 says, And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. Revelation 16:8-11 says, And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire, And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Of course, many other things are written in the book of Revelation concerning the end-time seven years that comes right when this age is over. As we can see from these verses and others it will be the worse time that the world has ever experienced. There will be suffering and disease and death and misery and pain such as the world has never before known. It will be exactly like Jesus said in Mark 13:19-20, For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elects sake, whom he has chosen, he has shortened the days. One of the signs of the end-times is simply the same things that the human race has always suffered, but just in a much more concentrated and terrible way. The human race has always had disease and famine and sorrow and pain, but in the end-times the frequency and the severity and the scope of such sufferings will be many times increased.
In Mark 13:21-22 Jesus gave another sign of the end-times. Jesus said, And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there: believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. It is interesting to note that this sign of the end-times is very similar to what Jesus said would be a characteristic of the very age in which we now live: false Christs and false prophets. You would think that it would be easy for people to identify and to stay away from a false Christ. For one thing if anyone claims to be Christ here on the earth, that proves already that they are false. When the real Christ returns, at His initial manifestation He will not return to one geographical location where a person like you or me must go to see Him. Jesus will return first of all in the clouds, in the sky, and in the air in a supernatural way such that everyone on the earth will automatically see him. The Bible says about Jesus in Acts 1:9-11, And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven. Concerning the coming of the Lord and the circumstances under which believers will first see Him when He appears, First Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive an remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
It should be easy and it should be simple to avoid falling under the sway of a false Christ or a false prophet, but evidently, its not so easy. Even Jesus said that these false individuals and their message and manner will be so seductive and spell-binding that they will be able to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Lets think for a minute what a true prophet really is like. A true prophet is someone who is gifted such that they have an ability to go to God and His Word to get a message, and then that prophet takes the message and brings it forth to the people.
Notice that there are two parts to being a true prophet: 1. going to God and His Word to get a message, and 2. delivering the message to the people. Which of those two things do human beings see? Human beings only see the second of the two. The speaking ability and the dynamic personality of a false prophet can deceive people. Oftentimes its not what someone says that makes them a false prophet, but what they do not say. Remember: if someone did not get his message from God and from His Word, then he is a false prophet. Usually, a false prophet will have a heavy dosage of talking about himself. A true prophet brings honor to God and to Jesus. A false prophet brings honor to himself or to some other human being. That is what the final false prophet will do. He will lift up and glorify the antichrist. When you visit a church or hear a new speaker, this is one of the things to watch out for. Who is being lifted up, who is being praised, and who is being honored. If it is a human being, then beware. Jesus said, If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself.
Another important thing to keep in mind to remain safe from the snare of a false Christ or a false prophet is to remember what Jesus said in the last part of Mark 13:21: Believe him not. Your beliefs should all be centered around the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. The less that someone knows Gods Word, the more that they will be susceptible to being led astray by a false Christ or a false prophet. Thats one of the reasons that the teaching of the Word of God is so important. Some churches and denominations are so proud of their statements of faith, but when people hear sermons week after week that are filled with personal opinion, current events, and human illustrations, they are slowly but surely being prepared to one day fall under the sway of a false teacher. Without constantly thinking and hearing about the Word, you will not know what to believe when a false prophet comes your way. Without the knowledge of the Word of God you will not be equipped to do what Jesus said: Believe him not.
In Mark 13:23 Jesus said, But take you heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. One of the reasons that Jesus told us the negative things that will come in the future is so that we will be prepared for them when they come. One of the reasons that some people get into big trouble is because they let their guard down. This is a dangerous world. Bad things can happen to good people, and one of the ways of taking care of yourself and those whom you care about is to take heed to the these things that Jesus told us would happen.
Another sign that Jesus gave concerning the end-time is found in Mark 13:24-25. Jesus said, But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. One of the important things to notice about these signs concerning the sun and the moon and the stars is the fact that Jesus said they would occur after the tribulation. In other words, this is the order of events: 1. The seven year tribulation period will occur, 2. The heavenly signs that Jesus spoke of here will take place, 3. Based upon what the next verse says, Mark 13:26, Jesus Himself will return to the earth.
When Jesus said that the stars shall fall, you must remember that Jesus was talking to the understanding of the people of the first century. Anything in the sky that looked like a star was called a star, including comets and meteors. We now know through science that tremendous celestial events take place all the time. Modern telescopes have taken pictures of comets crashing into Jupiter and causing explosions as big as the size of the earth. Just recently giant meteors have come close to earth in their unpredictable paths. Some scientists think that dinosaurs were wiped out by a giant meteor striking the earth and the cataclysmic effects that resulted. Jesus made it clear that those kinds of events will still place on the earth, and the worst of them will take place just before He returns.
The book of Revelation mentioned the same thing that Jesus said about the heavens and what will be taking place in them. Revelation 8:12 says, And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Jesus made it very clear and other prophetic passages in the Bible make it clear that there will be signs before the return of Christ to the earth. The judgment is coming, but God wants everyone to be ready for the judgment. There are some terrible things that will eventually come upon the earth before the end comes, but the Lord does not want His children to fear those things. He has the whole world in His hands and He has His children in His hands. If you are not one of His children, then He wants you to turn to Him while there is still time so that you also can be saved from the judgment. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Copyright; 2003 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved