3.20.09, Mark 13:1-37

Posted on March 20, 2009


 Signs of the End of the Age

 1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

 2″Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4″Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

 5Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

 9″You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

 12″Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

 14″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. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If 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. 21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

 24″But in those days, following that distress, 
   ” ‘the sun will be darkened, 
      and the moon will not give its light; 
 25the stars will fall from the sky, 
      and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

 26″At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

 28″Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

 32″No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

 35″Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ “

Persecution

To review – we first saw how temporary things of this world are, that everything is subject to enormous change.  Second, we talked about deception, that there is an active deception at work in the world that we must be able to guard against.  Now, let’s look at the next theme: persecution.

I’ve highlighted some of the verses that relate to persecution, and they are more than a little frightening – a time of such great suffering that people run into the hills with nothing but what they have on their back.  Naturally, we ask ourselves, “When is this time coming, and how can I get as far away from it as possible?”  And the answer, surprisingly, is that it is already here.  Although this description is such a foreign idea for Americans, much of the rest of the world is quite familiar with suffering of this magnitude.  I remember seeing photographs from the 60’s of  naked Cambodian children screaming, running from their burning homes.  In Sudan, armed militias and attack helicopters have been slaughtering entire villages.  In Rwanda and the Congo, entire ethnic populations of people flee into the jungle to escape mobs yielding machetes.  Perhaps some of your parents have childhood memories of war, carrying little sisters on their back through the dead of winter.  That’s not far off from what Jesus described, is it?

I know that this description that Jesus gives seems so foreign and far-fetched, but we should remember that this is the painful daily reality for many people in the world.  We should always remember this fact, and daily pray and work to ease their suffering.  Wouldn’t we wish for the same, if we found ourselves in these terrible situations?

Also, just like before, Jesus is not just talking about a distant reality to come thousands of years later, but at the same time, is giving a specific prophecy of near events.  After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples go through exactly what Jesus talked about: they are arrested and flogged by local leaders throughout the region.  But what is so amazing about this description is that Jesus also hints at the reason behind it:

“On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.”

Because of the persecution of the early church, the disicples were able to stand and testify before leaders of all levels – how else could the message of Christ be spread to such high levels of government?  And through the persecution, the church is scattered to Judea, Samaria, and even to Africa and Europe – how else could the gospel be spread so widely, across such vast stretches of geography?…except by persecution!

I know that this is a hard lesson, and one that we are uncomfortable with, but God uses persecution powerfully.  He uses it to do things that can’t be accomplished in any other way.  He uses it to shape and mold our character, to break our hard hearts.  He uses it to spread the gospel to the far flung corners of the world.  He uses it to grab the attention of people who have worldly influence and power.  Now, I’m not some kind of masochist who says we should LOVE pain and suffering, that’s just not natural.  But if you find yourself in the midst of persecution or suffering, I hope that this will give you some encouragement and perspective: suffering does not mean that God does not love you or is not in your life – it means he is at work, doing something big!

Questions

1. What is one way you can actively intercede and help people who are going through the type of extreme suffering that Jesus describes here?

2. Think about the most important, lasting, eye-opening, and life changing experiences you have had – have any of them come out of situation of difficult or suffering?  What was it?

3. Do you feel like you are being persecuted in any way currently in your life?  Has any good come out of this circumstance?

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Posted in: Uncategorized
4 Responses “3.20.09, Mark 13:1-37” →

  1. jeffpan

    March 21, 2009

    I definitely sympathize with those who are going through suffering and in fact, a big part of the reason why I want to study International Human Rights Laws is so that I can learn more about Religious Freedom Law and become an advocate for those who are being persecuted in other countries.

    However, at the same time, I sometimes wonder if being freed from persecution is really the best thing for a country like China. It seems backwards to think this way, but it seems like a big reason why Christianity is thriving in China is because of the intense persecution there. On the other hand, I think part of the reason people are not as passionate about their faith in US is because we aren’t persecuted and thus we take our religion for granted. Any thoughts on this Pastor Peter?


  2. peterwchin

    March 22, 2009

    yup!

    as masochistic as it sounds, i actually agree. the worst thing that can happen to a person or a country is not suffering or persecution…sometimes the worst thing can be a stultifying sense of comfort and ease.

    i remember when the director from Voice for the Martyrs came to speak at OD – you remember what he shared? he shared that as an organization, they don’t necessarily work to end persecution…but that the local church would victorious OVER and THROUGH it. remember when dan bauman came to speak at church about being imprisoned in iran, remember what his mom prayed for her own son??:

    “don’t bring daniel home until your will is accomplished.”

    dang. both of these examples sound crazy, until you read what peter writes: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

    BUT. even though God uses persecution, that should not create in us a laissez faire attitude about global suffering – does that make sense? so even though God may and does use those terrible circumstances, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it – after all, God still does hate injustice!


  3. seongkim

    March 23, 2009

    I had a question about verse 20. I completely don’t understand it and i was wondering if you can help me understand it.
    in reference to persecution, what about for people like New Orleans for example? or the inner cities? i think the reason why you can say that christianity is thriving in these persucuted countries is because these countries didn’t know God in the first place. but what about within? what about for people knowing who God is but they are just so disappointed in life that they kind of give up hope and faith. i understand that planting aseed of life to the ends of the earth is our job and duty, but how about the planted but dying? i think this is the reason why i want to help the inner cities kids.
    just a thought.


  4. peterwchin

    March 23, 2009

    a good question, and no simple answer. but it helps to make sure we define our terms carefully:

    persecution is when Believers suffer for living out their faith. it can be personal, political, hidden or open, but it is a response to someone distinctly trying to live as a Christian.

    suffering is…suffering! and has many sources, and many effects. sometimes it is something we have reaped on ourselves, sometimes it is something that someone else is doing to us, like persecution. sometimes it is just circumstantial. the cause is very important to distinguish, but the ultimate point is that no matter what kind of suffering and its origin, God can redeem and use it for greater purposes.

    i think you’re right sung, there is this big difference between the persecution we see overseas that fuels the fire of Christianity, and the suffering in places like new orleans, which seems to just destroy. but we need to remember what we talked about above, that no matter where the suffering is, and what its origin was… it is possible for God to still overcome it!!

3.20.09, Mark 13:1-37

Posted on March 20, 2009


 Signs of the End of the Age

 1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

 2″Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4″Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

 5Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

 9″You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

 12″Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

 14″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. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If 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. 21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

 24″But in those days, following that distress, 
   ” ‘the sun will be darkened, 
      and the moon will not give its light; 
 25the stars will fall from the sky, 
      and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

 26″At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

 28″Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

 32″No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

 35″Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ “

Persecution

To review – we first saw how temporary things of this world are, that everything is subject to enormous change.  Second, we talked about deception, that there is an active deception at work in the world that we must be able to guard against.  Now, let’s look at the next theme: persecution.

I’ve highlighted some of the verses that relate to persecution, and they are more than a little frightening – a time of such great suffering that people run into the hills with nothing but what they have on their back.  Naturally, we ask ourselves, “When is this time coming, and how can I get as far away from it as possible?”  And the answer, surprisingly, is that it is already here.  Although this description is such a foreign idea for Americans, much of the rest of the world is quite familiar with suffering of this magnitude.  I remember seeing photographs from the 60’s of  naked Cambodian children screaming, running from their burning homes.  In Sudan, armed militias and attack helicopters have been slaughtering entire villages.  In Rwanda and the Congo, entire ethnic populations of people flee into the jungle to escape mobs yielding machetes.  Perhaps some of your parents have childhood memories of war, carrying little sisters on their back through the dead of winter.  That’s not far off from what Jesus described, is it?

I know that this description that Jesus gives seems so foreign and far-fetched, but we should remember that this is the painful daily reality for many people in the world.  We should always remember this fact, and daily pray and work to ease their suffering.  Wouldn’t we wish for the same, if we found ourselves in these terrible situations?

Also, just like before, Jesus is not just talking about a distant reality to come thousands of years later, but at the same time, is giving a specific prophecy of near events.  After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples go through exactly what Jesus talked about: they are arrested and flogged by local leaders throughout the region.  But what is so amazing about this description is that Jesus also hints at the reason behind it:

“On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.”

Because of the persecution of the early church, the disicples were able to stand and testify before leaders of all levels – how else could the message of Christ be spread to such high levels of government?  And through the persecution, the church is scattered to Judea, Samaria, and even to Africa and Europe – how else could the gospel be spread so widely, across such vast stretches of geography?…except by persecution!

I know that this is a hard lesson, and one that we are uncomfortable with, but God uses persecution powerfully.  He uses it to do things that can’t be accomplished in any other way.  He uses it to shape and mold our character, to break our hard hearts.  He uses it to spread the gospel to the far flung corners of the world.  He uses it to grab the attention of people who have worldly influence and power.  Now, I’m not some kind of masochist who says we should LOVE pain and suffering, that’s just not natural.  But if you find yourself in the midst of persecution or suffering, I hope that this will give you some encouragement and perspective: suffering does not mean that God does not love you or is not in your life – it means he is at work, doing something big!

Questions

1. What is one way you can actively intercede and help people who are going through the type of extreme suffering that Jesus describes here?

2. Think about the most important, lasting, eye-opening, and life changing experiences you have had – have any of them come out of situation of difficult or suffering?  What was it?

3. Do you feel like you are being persecuted in any way currently in your life?  Has any good come out of this circumstance?

Posted in: Uncategorized
4 Responses “3.20.09, Mark 13:1-37” →

  1. jeffpan

    March 21, 2009

    I definitely sympathize with those who are going through suffering and in fact, a big part of the reason why I want to study International Human Rights Laws is so that I can learn more about Religious Freedom Law and become an advocate for those who are being persecuted in other countries.

    However, at the same time, I sometimes wonder if being freed from persecution is really the best thing for a country like China. It seems backwards to think this way, but it seems like a big reason why Christianity is thriving in China is because of the intense persecution there. On the other hand, I think part of the reason people are not as passionate about their faith in US is because we aren’t persecuted and thus we take our religion for granted. Any thoughts on this Pastor Peter?


  2. peterwchin

    March 22, 2009

    yup!

    as masochistic as it sounds, i actually agree. the worst thing that can happen to a person or a country is not suffering or persecution…sometimes the worst thing can be a stultifying sense of comfort and ease.

    i remember when the director from Voice for the Martyrs came to speak at OD – you remember what he shared? he shared that as an organization, they don’t necessarily work to end persecution…but that the local church would victorious OVER and THROUGH it. remember when dan bauman came to speak at church about being imprisoned in iran, remember what his mom prayed for her own son??:

    “don’t bring daniel home until your will is accomplished.”

    dang. both of these examples sound crazy, until you read what peter writes: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

    BUT. even though God uses persecution, that should not create in us a laissez faire attitude about global suffering – does that make sense? so even though God may and does use those terrible circumstances, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it – after all, God still does hate injustice!


  3. seongkim

    March 23, 2009

    I had a question about verse 20. I completely don’t understand it and i was wondering if you can help me understand it.
    in reference to persecution, what about for people like New Orleans for example? or the inner cities? i think the reason why you can say that christianity is thriving in these persucuted countries is because these countries didn’t know God in the first place. but what about within? what about for people knowing who God is but they are just so disappointed in life that they kind of give up hope and faith. i understand that planting aseed of life to the ends of the earth is our job and duty, but how about the planted but dying? i think this is the reason why i want to help the inner cities kids.
    just a thought.


  4. peterwchin

    March 23, 2009

    a good question, and no simple answer. but it helps to make sure we define our terms carefully:

    persecution is when Believers suffer for living out their faith. it can be personal, political, hidden or open, but it is a response to someone distinctly trying to live as a Christian.

    suffering is…suffering! and has many sources, and many effects. sometimes it is something we have reaped on ourselves, sometimes it is something that someone else is doing to us, like persecution. sometimes it is just circumstantial. the cause is very important to distinguish, but the ultimate point is that no matter what kind of suffering and its origin, God can redeem and use it for greater purposes.

    i think you’re right sung, there is this big difference between the persecution we see overseas that fuels the fire of Christianity, and the suffering in places like new orleans, which seems to just destroy. but we need to remember what we talked about above, that no matter where the suffering is, and what its origin was… it is possible for God to still overcome it!!

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