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Lesson 10: Predictions of the End *

Introduction: If I could tell your future, would you want to hear it? Would you prefer to know the general outline instead of specifics? This week our study is one of the most interesting and perplexing in the Bible. Jesus tells His disciples about the future. There is little doubt that they did not correctly understand it at the time. I'm not so sure we can get it right today, but let's jump into our study and see what we can learn!

  1. Destruction

    1. Read Mark 13:1. Why do you think Jesus' disciple made this remark to Him? (The temple of Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the world. I recently read Josephus' The Jewish Wars and his description of the temple is just astonishing. When the sun reflected off the gold of the temple, Josephus says that it looked like fire. Josephus describes some of the massive stones in Jerusalem. He also discussed some of the parks, fountains and waterworks. As I considered Josephus' description, I thought "What a wonderful city. I would like to be there." This was not rural Judea!)

    2. Read Mark 13:2. Put yourself in the place of this disciple, when Jesus said this, what would you think? (I live just outside Washington, D.C. If I were told that "not one stone here will be left on another," I would conclude that the United States would likely be destroyed. Add to this thought that Jerusalem was the center for the worship of God. The catastrophe for your nation, your God, your religion, is almost beyond belief.)

      1. Do you think the disciples at this time believed in a "last days" and the resurrection? (They had just heard Jesus speak of the resurrection and heaven. ( Mark 12:25) It is logical that Jesus had taught the disciples what He taught Martha - who clearly believed in a resurrection at "the last day." John 11:23-24.)

      2. What relationship do you think the disciples saw between the destruction of Jerusalem and the "last day?"(Read Matthew's account of this question. Matthew 24:3 shows that they believed the destruction of Jerusalem and the "end of the age" were the same event.)

    3. Read Mark 13:3-4. Why would they come to Jesus privately? (We have seen a pattern of this. Jesus' disciples do not want to look foolish asking questions in front of the crowds. Since they can come to Him privately, they do. See Mark 9:28.)

      1. What do they want to know? (When this will happen and how can they have advance notice.)

        1. Are these things on your mind too when it comes to the time of the end?

  2. Instructions and Warnings

    1. Read Mark 13:5. Jesus is coming down to the end of His life here on earth, and He is giving His final instructions about the coming tribulation. What is His very first advice? (Watch so that you will not be deceived. Friend, this is invaluable advice. So many people think they know precisely how things will happen. The fact that the Jewish leaders missed Jesus' first coming is a stark warning against religious arrogance. That fact is all the proof we need (as if we needed any) of the critical importance of Jesus warning for us to "watch!")

      1. We know from Matthew 24:3 and history that the disciples had the wrong assumption - that the world would end when Jerusalem was destroyed. Why didn't Jesus say to them "You are already confused. Let me straighten this out for you - then watch so you do not get confused or deceived again?"

    2. Read Mark 13:6. What are we watching for? (Deception about Jesus' Second Coming.)

    3. Read Mark 13:7-8. What does Jesus say about these signs? (The are the beginning of a tribulation period. The time of trouble begins with these signs.)

    4. Read Mark 13:9, 11. Is Jesus talking about the Second Coming here? (No. He is talking about Jewish courts and trials.)

    5. Read Mark 13:10. Is Jesus talking about the Second Coming here? (It seems He is.)

    6. Read Mark 13:14-16. Is Jesus talking about the Second Coming here? (Leaving immediately was important advice. Josephus' The Jewish Wars tells us that after the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders would kill anyone who tried to leave the city. Our lesson (Tuesday) points to Josephus' account of the Christians escaping Jerusalem before its destruction based on their understanding of Mark 13:14 and obedience to Jesus' instructions. When Jesus refers to "those who are in Judea" He is talking about Jerusalem.)

    7. Read Daniel 9:26-27. How does this text relate to Mark 13:14? (Jesus is quoting Daniel!)

      1. What is Daniel discussing? (Daniel is giving us a prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.)

      2. Notice Daniel 9:27. The NIV does something that most other translations do not do. It inserts "of the temple" after "wing." (The brackets show us it was added.) Just leaving the Greek as it is ("on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation") makes sense to me. The Roman standard was the eagle. It had prominent wings. Josephus tells us that there was a tremendous dispute when the Romans mounted their eagle standard to the outside of the temple. Whether we are talking about the symbol of the Roman empire, or the empire itself, Rome was the abomination that caused the desolation of Jerusalem.)

    8. Read Mark 13:17-19. Is this a reference to the Second Coming or the destruction of Jerusalem? (Josephus recounts what happened in Jerusalem just before and during its destruction. The account is horrific. None of what Jesus predicts is worse than what Josephus says happened. However, I am not sure this is a "Jerusalem only" prediction.)

    9. Read Mark 13:24-26. Is this the destruction of Jerusalem or the Second Coming? (Obviously, Mark 13:26 is the Second Coming. Somewhere between Mark 13:19-23 Jesus is making a transition. Mark 13:24 says "following that distress" and then discusses the sun being darkened. That seems to refer to a period of time after the destruction of Jerusalem. Although I recall that Josephus recorded that during the seige of Jerusalem the sun was darkened one day.)(Note to the reader. I listened to an unabridged recording of The Jewish Wars. Thus, I have not given page references.)

    10. Is it appropriate to try to draw the lines that we have been making between the Second Coming and the fall of Jerusalem? (Perhaps not. Mark 13:24 starts out "But in those days," referring to the verses that seem to describe the fall of Jerusalem. Mark 13:26 adds another time link "At that time." Jesus ties these together, but is not giving us a bright time-line.)

      1. As another example, read Isaiah 13:9-11. Jesus quoted this text in Mark 13:24-25. To what time period does this refer? (Isaiah clearly says this deals with the Second Coming ("the day of the Lord"). See also, Joel 2:10-11.)

      2. Is there some other approach that you think is more appropriate than trying to sort out which prophecy applies to which event? (Some Bible prophecies have more than one fulfillment. See, for example, Zechariah 8:4-8, which referred to the first rebuilding of Jerusalem and which could also apply (in part) to the New Jerusalem.)

  3. Bottom Line

    1. Read Mark 13:32-34. How much should we depend on what we studied in this lesson to determine when Jesus will come again? (After talking about specifics, Jesus says that we should not depend on them. What we should depend upon is being on guard and being alert.)

    2. Read Mark 13:35-36. What is the most important advice that Jesus gives us about His Second Coming? (Watch! Jesus ends this discussion on the same note as He began the discussion: Mark 13:5 "Watch.")

    3. Friend, I find Mark 13 confusing. But, I think that is Jesus' point. Jesus is telling us, to give us comfort, that He knows the kinds of terrible events that are coming. The lesson for us is to be constantly alert, and not be arrogant about our understanding of prophecy or our predictions based on Jesus' statements. He knows our future and we need to know our task: Watch!

  4. Next week: Betrayed and Arrested.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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