This morning we are in Mark chapter 13. This morning is going to be a little bit rough. I would rather preach “love and the baby Jesus”. But, that is not the passage before us in our study of Mark. Sometimes, you just preach the passage you are supposed to. Enough whining. Let’s get to Mark chapter 13.
Mark 13:1 And as Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!"
Perhaps, it would be helpful for us to take a timeout and look at these wonderful stones and this wonderful temple. Let’s start with a bit of history. “This is going to be rough.”
--Around 1500 BC, Moses built a tabernacle. Somewhere around 1000 BC, Solomon built a glorious temple. Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Zerubbabel built a small replacement temple in 500 BC, or so. Then, about the time Jesus was born, Herod the Great began with a massive remodel of the small temple. In Mark 13 it was almost complete.
--According to Josephus, a Jewish historian of the time, it was one of the most spectacular buildings in the world. Maybe, not one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, but certainly Top 10. Some of the stones were 25x8 feet of solid white marble, decorated with gold. In the sun light it would have looked like a glowing white mountain of marble.
--So, the disciples, confused about what Jesus had predicted by overturning the tables, and cursing the fig tree, and certainly he had just said in chapter 12, loving God and our neighbors is more important than offering sacrifices in this temple, the disciples poked Jesus about the temple. “What is going on? This is a wonderful temple!” And it was.
Continuing our timeout...
--This is more than just a wonderful building. It is more than an elaborate church building. It was even more than a cathedral. The hopes of the Jewish nation were tied to this temple.
--When Moses built the tabernacle, after lots of sacrifices, the glory of the temple filled the tent! Smoke and fire and the presence of God.
--After Solomon offered tons of animals, the same thing happened... smoke, fire and glory.
--But when Zerubbabel finished the small replacement temple... nothing... there is no words in the Bible that anything happened...no smoke or fire, nor it seemed, the glory of God’s presence.
--So, many people thought, in the days of Jesus... when this wonderful temple is finished, we will offer lots of sacrifices and then the glory will fill the temple again! That will be the sign that God is with us, again. That will be the sign that we can defeat the Romans. “The glory of God will fill Israel again and we will rise from oppression and be free.”
--The hopes of the people were tied to the temple. It would be a sanctuary, a den, a hideout, against the Romans; a new age of glory. That was the hope connected to the wonderful temple.
Continuing our timeout... “How many times can you continue a timeout? This is rough.”
-- Herod’s temple was finished in 62 AD. There was no record of smoke or fire or glory, but that didn’t stop the people. In 66 AD the zealots led an anti-taxation protest, against the Romans. The governor responded by looting the temple. This prompted a large-scale rebellion. Which prompted the Romans to send the 12th Legion. But the Jews ambushed and defeated the 12th. The rebellion was successful! But then Vespasian, along with his son, Titus, was sent to crush the rebellion. Rome is nothing if not persistent. To make a long story short – “Too late.” Rome crushed the Jews. Jerusalem was sieged for 7 months. Then Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed; not one stone left upon another.
--The Moses Tabernacle lasted about 500 years. Solomon’s temple went about 500 years. Zerubbabel’s temple went for 500 years. Herod’s wonderful temple only lasted 8 years after completion.
Continuing our timeout one more time...
--The Arch of Titus was built to commemorate this Roman victory! This is what Jesus is predicting to his disciples.
Timeout is over. Let’s get back to Mark 13.
Mark 13:1-4 And as Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!" And Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?"
The disciples are stunned. What? It is so wonderful. It is so new. Surely, God will not allow this to happen. Are you sure that all this is going to be wiped out? Tell us when this is going to happen. That is the question Jesus answers in Mark 13.
Mark 13:5-8 And Jesus began to say to them, "See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
Jesus used the metaphor of labor pains. The first sign that a baby is going to be born, other than the obvious, is labor pains.
This is fascinating... Timeout. “Another timeout, seriously?”
We have said that the Gospel of Mark was written between 64-66 AD. That would have been during these birth pains. There is lots of turmoil in the Roman empire during these years.
First step, wars, rumors of wars... in 66 AD is the Jewish revolt. What if Mark is writing at the beginning of the Jewish Rebellion? In 69 AD is the year of 4 Roman Emperors. Civil war rips through the Roman Empire. In 69 one Roman emperor succeeded another – four in all, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian – each time with violence, murder and civil war. And as Vespasian made his way to Rome to receive the crown, his adopted son Titus stayed in Jerusalem.
These qualify as earthquakes, metaphorically; the beginning of labor pains.
Keep reading... The disciples want to know when is the temple going to be destroyed.
Mark 13:9-13 "But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Note the change of tense. Most of Mark is written in the past tense from Mark’s view. But in chapter 13 it is written in the future... Because it was in the future for Mark.
This is tracking. By the late 60s AD the gospel had gone throughout most of the known world. It has traveled from Jerusalem to the center of the empire, Rome. It has gone to the edges of Turkey, into Spain; all over the Roman world.
First – Birth pains of earthquakes.
Second – Gospel spreads all over the Roman world.
Third... let’s keep reading to find out when the wonderful temple is going to be destroyed.
Mark 13:14-23 "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”
First birth pains, second Gospel spread. Third, the abomination of desolation. The temple will be destroyed when you see the abomination of desolation.
Guess what? We need another timeout. “Seriously, are we going to finish this, today?”
In the Old Testament book of Daniel in chapters 11 and 12, we find “the abomination that makes desolate”. Scholars believe this refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes when he set up an altar to Zeus in the Jerusalem temple in 168 BC. There is a pagan idol, an image to another god in place of the one true God, set up in the middle of the Temple.
Jesus says when you see this kind of thing you will know it is time, to get out of Dodge; to hit the trail; to beat feet; to run.
When Titus raised his pagan banners outside of Jerusalem it was all over but the crying.
Mark 13:24-27 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
“The Son of Man coming in clouds is also a reference to Daniel. It is about triumph and vindication, and about judgment. In other words, Jesus, the Son of Man is proven correct. Jesus, the Son of Man coming in the clouds is metaphorically coming in judgement to Jerusalem.
The chief priest did not see the owner’s son. Jesus was the rejected stone who became the temple. The people did not follow Jesus words in being the blessing of the ethnos. They fought against Rome and lost; miserably. Jesus was proved correct!
Jesus concludes his answer to when the temple is going to be destroyed in the last section of Mark 13.
Mark 13:28-37 "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. * Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore, stay awake- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."
Then Jesus leaves us with our point...TO ALL OF YOU... Stay awake.
Herod’s Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. It was the end of a world, but not the end of the world. The warning from Jesus is this was the end of the wonderful Temple. But we are to stay awake! Stay Awake for this destruction. But also stay awake for another wonderful temple!
There has not been another brick and mortar temple to YWHW in Jerusalem since 70 AD. But less than 2 months from the time Jesus spoke these words in Mark 13, a new kind of temple was created! Jesus, the rejected stone, became the center-stone of a new Temple! There was fire and wind and glory! On the day of Pentecost, the fire and the wind and the glory came to establish a new sort of temple. A temple not built by human hands; a temple built of human blocks built upon the rejected stone!
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Stay Awake! Be the temple of God which blesses others. Our hopes are tied to this temple!
October 8, 2017
Los Alamos Church of Christ