Now the Passover was two days away and the chief priest and teachers of the law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus and kill himâ€¦ â€œBut not during the feast,â€ They said. Or the people may riot. (Mark 14:1-2 NIV)
The religious leaders were almost comical in their hypocrisy. Here, as in other places in the Gospel, they make no intention of hiding their hostility and hatred of Christ. Yet, though they were looking for ways to arrest Jesus the timing was just not right when they went to do it. â€œWe have to arrest him,â€ they thought, â€œbut not during the Passover.â€ Even later when Christ hung on the cross their concern was getting done with the dirty business before the feast.
They were so concerned for their Jewish festivals, which ironically pointed to the one they were trying to kill. They knew His power and words bore the authority of God, but still they plotted to kill Him. Could this be a warning to many today? How many are just going through the motions of religious ceremonialism at Christâ€™s expense?
When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it doesnâ€™t belong, then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one come off his roof toÂ enter the house for belongings. Let no one in the field go and get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women andÂ nursing mothers. Pray that this will not take place in the winter, because these will be days of distress unequaled from the creation of the world until then and never to be repeated again. If the Lord had not cut short those days no one would have survived but for the elects sake they have been shortened. (Mark 13:14-20 NIV)
This is the passage so many use to describe what is called the seven year tribulation. Again, going with the flow of this entire passage and looking at world events today you might be convinced. But upon further analysis a different picture begins to take form. Jesus starts off with the abomination that causes desolation. To play along with the prevailing view of today this is to take place when the antichrist sets in the Temple of Jerusalem claiming to be God. But Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospels, â€œwhen you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies then know its DESOLATION is at hand.â€
Again, if we believe he is speaking to a first century audience then we must look for a First century application. What better then Roman legions sacking Jerusalem between 68 & 70 AD? The abomination would simply be unclean elements whether people or things inside the Temple court.
In the books of Moses we read that Gentiles (non-Jews) and those made unclean by some element of Jewish law were not allowed to enter the Temple. It was an abomination if they did. So think of yourself as a Jew living in first century Palestine and seeing legions of non-Jewish troops coming into the Temple courts. You would be crying “abomination” at the sight.
We read Christâ€™s words about fleeing to the mountains when this happens. If we hold to a seven year tribulation period and believe this is referring to world-wide tribulation, what good would it do to flee to the mountains? It wouldn’t matter where you went. Same thing if you were pregnant and nursing, or if it was winter or summer. This has to be speaking to a first century audience and to a regional event.
â€œBrother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you on account of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.â€ (Mark 13:12-13 NIV)
Jesus finishes His discourse on persecution by warning us that we’re not even safe from it within our own families. In Muslim countries you can see this happening today. It is death to convert to Christ from Islam. Your family by Islamic law is to kill you as an infidel.
Paul writes about how the “god of this age,” Satan, has blinded the minds and hearts of unbelievers, so that they will not believe and be saved. Often the question is asked, â€œWhy donâ€™t people just accept Jesus?â€ The simple answer is that they are spiritually blind. Without Christ intervening on our behalf we would be also.
We need to wait for the Lordâ€™s strength to help in times of trial. We need to pray that God will deliver the lost, especially those we are working with. Jesus’ warning was given so that the church will not be taken by surprise when persecution comes.
At the end, Christ added that he who endures to the end will be saved. What does this mean? I believe Jesus meant that those who endure will show that they are truly born again. It is by this kind of perseverance that the true believer is known.