We’ve been in the Gospel of Mark, looking at Jesus teaching His disciples about the end-times. Having warned them of what they were about to face, the Lord now answers their original question that started it all.
He tells them the signs that signal the approach of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Because we live on this side of the historical event, it’s easier to look back and interpret the Lord’s words.
“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong — let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
Jesus quotes the book of Daniel. He makes mention of the abomination that causes desolation. Literally, it reads the detestable thing that causes destruction. Then Mark himself adds his admonition to the reader of this gospel to “use your mind, think and consider” what Jesus has said.
I know a lot of Bible teachers who say that this is a future event and have a variety of teachings and beliefs on this subject. I ask you to please read the Scripture without preconceived ideas about what’s being said. Put yourself in the place of the disciples who are hearing this for the first time.
The reaction of the disciples must have been one of surprise. Every God-fearing Jew knew that the quote Jesus gave them from the book of Daniel had ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED.
Around 170 BC there was a Syrian ruler named Antiochus IV. He was so full of himself that he gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means “the manifest god”. As many emperors did, he forced those around him to worship him.
Antiochus Epiphanes led his army to successfully conquer Israel. On December 15, 168 BC, he set up the image of Zeus on an altar in the Temple of Jerusalem. Ten days later, he dedicated it by sacrificing a pig in the Temple.
Heathen altars were then erected throughout Israel, their celebrations being compulsory. Any Jew would receive the death penalty if found in possession of the Torah. Observing the Sabbath and circumcision were forbidden. Because of their faithfulness to the Law of God, many Jews were killed in those days.
As the disciples heard Jesus speak about Daniel’s prophecy, they must have also thought about the reign of Antiochus. Now they’re hearing from the Lord that it will be fulfilled again. This was a new concept for them to grasp – the fact that a prophetic Scripture could have two fulfillments.
“Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now — and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.”
This sounds all too familiar to the disciples. Throughout history, the Jews had been conquered again and again. Now one of the worst chapters in their history was going to repeat itself. All they could do was listen and be prepared.
This should encourage us. I believe that this is how the Holy Spirit operates. If we’re listening, the Spirit will always prepare us for what’s ahead in our future. We need to continue developing our spiritual sensitivity to hear His voice.
Question: Why does the Holy Spirit want to reveal the future to us?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi