Promises

                                           Mark 13:24-37

                                            May 12, 2019

 

Temple Admiration (vs. 1-2)

 

In the case of the Jews a natural and venial fault, if not carried to excess.

Esteemed the type and pattern of architectural excellence, and one of the

wonders of the world. Herod’s rebuilding was on a scale of magnificence

unknown to their ancestors. The essential features of the temple of

Solomon were restored, but these were “surrounded by an inner enclosure

of great strength and magnificence, measuring, as nearly as can be made

out, one hundred and eighty cubits by two hundred and forty, and adorned

by porches and ten gateways of great magnificence; and beyond this, again,

was an outer enclosure, measuring externally four hundred cubits each

way, which was adorned with porticoes of greater splendor than any we

know of attached to any temple of the ancient world; all showing how

strongly Roman influence was at work in enveloping with heathen

magnificence the simple templar arrangements of a Shemitic people”

(Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible’). Josephus, in his ‘Antiquities,’ 15:1l, 3,

speaks of stones “each in length twenty-five cubits, in height eight, in

breadth about twelve;” and in the ‘Wars,’ 5:5, 6, of “some of the stones as

forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth.” Many of these

were of sculptured marble. The reply of Jesus may be read either

affirmatively or interrogatively, or with a mixture of both assertion and

question. The apodosis is, “There shall not be left here stone upon stone,”

etc. Thus their lingering gaze is quietly but grandly rebuked, and their

thoughts directed with solemn, practical earnestness to the Divine future in

which all that pomp of masonry and decoration was to have no place.

 

  • THE NATURAL MIND IS MOST IMPRESSED BY WHAT IS

GREAT AND BEAUTIFUL IN OUTWARD APPEARANCE. The simple

Galilean peasants were carried away with enthusiastic admiration of the

princely buildings, so unparalleled in their experience. To such an extent

was this the case that they were in danger of being ensnared.

 

Ø      Sensuous admiration is easily confounded with spiritual attachment.

The mind, in order to correct this error, must dwell on the spiritual truths

of which external objects are but the symbols, and realize that, whilst the

latter shall pass away, the former must endure for ever.

 

Ø      The world, in its sensuous totality, is similarly pregnant with temptation

to the soul that has not learned to look through the visible into the invisible

and eternal.

 

  • THAT WHICH FAILS OF ITS DIVINE IDEA, OR OPPOSES THE

DIVINE PURPOSE, SHALL BE DESTROYED. The splendid building

upon which they were gazing had ceased to minister to the higher spiritual

life of the people, and had, through its officers and representatives, rejected

the Son of God. It had thereby sealed the warrant of its own extinction: not

one stone should stand upon another. So is it with the individual,

institution, or nation which fails to realize its chief end.

 

Ø      This is penal. There was no process of natural decay, no growing

beautiful with age — the sensuous slowly merging into the spiritual; no

succession of normal changes ensuring expansion, adaptation, and

continuity; but sudden, awful destruction, accompanied by unheard of

misery. God must witness to His righteousness even in judgment. The soul

that sins shall die.  (Ezekiel 18:20)

 

Ø      It is in order to give place to a worthier realization of the Divine will.

The “house not made with hands” was nearer when this external sanctuary,

which had been defiled, was removed.The hour cometh, when neither in

this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father God is a Spirit:

and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24).

Not until the temple had been destroyed would the temple’s Lord

make advent to the world. Judgment must begin at the house of God

(I Peter 4:17). “But on all these points the first and great question is not

what is to be done, but who is to do it. Is the reform of the Church to be

consigned entirely to politicians and economists, who only look at the

goodly stones and gifts of the temple, some with an anxious, others with a

greedy eye, and care nothing about the service of the sanctuary nor the

edification of the worshippers? Or will any part of the work be put into the

hands of sincere and zealous and enlightened lovers of the Church? In the

latter case we may securely hope for the best. In the other, it is to be feared

that, if beneficial changes ever take place, they will have been purchased by

great losses and a disastrous experience” (Thirlwall,” Letters,’ vol. 1 p.

107).

 

21 “And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, He is there;

believe him not:  22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall

shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”  And then

if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ; or, Lo, there, believe it not;

for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets. Josephus mentions one Simon

of Gerasa, who, pretending to be a deliverer of the people from the Romans,

gathered around him a crowd of followers, and gained admission into Jerusalem,

and harassed the Jews. In like manner, Eleazar and John, leaders of the Zealots,

gained admission into the holy place, under pretense of defending the city, but really

that they might plunder it. But it seems as though our Lord here. looked beyond the

siege of Jerusalem to the end of the world; and he warns us that as the time of his

second advent approaches, deceivers will arise, to seduce, if it were possible, even

the elect. The word "to seduce" (ἀποπλανᾶν apoplanianto be leading astray)

is more properly rendered, as in the Revised Version, to lead astray. Every age

has produced its crop of such deceivers; and it may be expected that, as the time

of the end draws nearer and nearer, their number will increase. Sometimes those

idiosyncrasies in them which show themselves in lying wonders, are the result of

self-delusion; but still oftener they are deliberate attempts made for the purpose

of imposing on the unwary. (Once again, this reminds me of the media today and

its “fake news!” – CY – 2019)  Sometimes they are a combination of both. In the

cases to which our Lord refers there is evidently an intention to lead astray,

although it may have had its origin in self-deceit. In our day there is a sad tendency

to lead men astray with regard to the great fundamental verities of Christianity.

And the words of St. Jerome may well be remembered here: "If any would persuade

you that Christ is to be found in the wilderness of unbelief or skeptical philosophy,

or in the secret chambers of heresy, believe them not."

           

 

                        SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING SPECIFIED

 

  • False prophets or pretended Messiahs;
  • Wars and rumors of wars, that is, wars actually declared or commenced,

            and wars threatened or reported as imminent. Luke employs, instead

            of “rumors” the somewhat different expression of “commotions,” or

            unsettlements (ἀκαταστασίαςturbulences; ); these are the more remote

            premonitions, for it is added by Matthew and Mark, “The end is not

            yet,” while Luke has, “The end is not immediately.”

  • Wars on a larger scale, implied in nation rising against nation and

            kingdom against kingdom. After these political agitations come physical

            signs,

  • earthquakes; then other providential events, as
  • famines, and troubles,
  • tsunamis “the sea and the waves roaring” – (Luke 21:25)
  • heart problems“men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking

      after those things which are coming on the earth” – (Luke 21:26)

  • pestilences. That all these signs preceded the fall of Jerusalem at a

            greater or less distance from that event, and that, on a still wider area

            and a still grander scale, they shall precede the winding up of the present

            dispensation, appears to be the teaching of this portion of Scripture. The

            intermingling of the predictions relating to the two great events may in

            some measure be accounted for by the circumstance that the Jews would

            regard the overthrow of the Jewish state as the signal of, and coincident

            with, the end of all present things. Other signs of a less general and more

            personal kind are subjoined, so that we have

  • persecutions befalling the disciples both in and outside of Judea; and
  • apostasies and the evils consequent on such defections,
  • the proclamation of the gospel proceeding from Jerusalem and Judea,

            and its diffusion among all nations, as a witness everywhere to Christ

            and His salvation.

 

    THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD

 

Our Lord now passes away from the events connected with the overthrow of the

Jewish polity, and proceeds to speak of things connected with the new dispensation.

His mind is now turned to “the last time” — to the whole period between His first

and His second advent. The things towards which He was now looking belonged, not

to the end of the Jewish dispensation, but to the end of the present age and the

present dispensation. Eighteen centuries (twenty now since this was written – CY –

2010) have passed since the destruction of Jerusalem; and more years, it may be, will

come and go before the end. Nevertheless, all this time, although it may seem long to

us who are confined within the narrow limits of a short life, is nevertheless, when

compared with the eternity of God, but as a moment.”

 

25 “And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the  powers that are in heaven shall be

shaken.”  And the stars shall be falling from heaven (ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ

πίπτοντεςesontai ek tou ouranou piptontesshall be out of the heavens falling)

and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken. In the great events of the

creation recorded in Genesis 1 the sun and the moon and the stars did not show their

light until that period which is called the fourth day. So in the end of the world, the

sun and the moon and the stars are represented as withdrawing their light, perhaps

figuratively, but perhaps also literally, in the course of some of the unknown physical

changes which shall accompany THE WINDING UP OF THE PRESENT

DISPENSATION!   To this agree the next words, "the powers that are in the

heavens shall be shaken." The powers may here mean those great unseen forces of

nature by which the universe is now held in balance of forces.   When the Creator

wills it, these powers shall be shaken. (See Job 26:11, "The pillars of heaven tremble

and are astonished at His reproof;" see also Isaiah 34:4, "And all the host of heaven

shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll.") AS THE

END OF THE WORLD APPROACHES, the elements will quiver and tremble.

 

26 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power

and glory.”  Matthew (Matthew 24:30) introduces here the words, "And then shall

appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Many of the Fathers, as St. Chrysostom,

Jerome, Bede, and others, think that this sign will be the cross. Josephus (5:3) says that

shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, a portent like a sword, glittering as a star,

appeared in the heavens. But surely the sign of the Son of man at the end of the world

will be THE SON OF MAN HIMSELF COMING IN THE CLOUDS. The clouds,

covering the troubled heaven and now illuminated by the brightness of His coming,

will constitute "the sublime drapery of His presence" (Dr. Morison).

 

27 “And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from

the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

And then shall He send forth the angels. This represents the great harvest at the end

of the world, when the angel-reapers shall be sent forth to separate THE WICKED

from THE JUST. The elect will be gathered from the four winds (ἐκ τῶν πεσσάρων

ἀνέμωνek ton pessaron anemon - out of the four winds - the winds representing

figuratively every corner of the world; or, from the uttermost part of the earth to the

uttermost part of heaven. At its extremities, in the horizon, there appears to be the

end alike of earth and of heaven, as though earth and heaven joined, and the heaven

terminated by melting into the earth and becoming one with it. The expression simply

means, "from horizon to horizon," or from every part of the earth.

 

 

 

28 “Now learn a parable  of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and

putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:  29 So ye in like manner,

when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 

Now from the fig tree learn her parable; that is, her own particular teaching. Our Lord

makes frequent mention and use of the fig tree, as we have seen already. It is probable

that a fig tree may have been near to them. When her branch is now become tender,

and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh. The branch (κλάδος

klados - bough) would be the young shoot, now become tender under the quickening

influences of the spring; and this was an evident sign that the summer was at hand.

The Asiatic fig tree requires a considerable amount of warmth to enable it to put

forth leaves and fruit. Its rich flavor requires a summer heat to mature it. Aristotle

says that the fig is the choice food of bees, from which they make their richest honey.

Then the fig tree does not flower after the ordinary manner; but produces flower and

fruit at once from the tree, and rapidly matures the fruit. The lesson, therefore, from

the fig tree is this - the speed with which she ripens her fruit when she feels the

warmth of summer. In like manner, as soon as the disciples perceived the signs of

Christ's coming, they were to learn that HE WAS CLOSE AT HAND as certainly

as the ripening fruit of the fig tree showed that summer was at hand.

 

 

 

30 “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these

things be done.”  This generation shall not pass away, until all these things

be accomplished. This is one of those prophecies which admit of a growing

fulfillment. If the word "generation" (γενεὰ - geneageneration) be understood

(as it may undoubtedly be understood) to mean the sum total of those living at

any time on the earth, the prediction would hold true as far as the destruction

of Jerusalem was concerned. The destruction of Jerusalem took place within

the limits of the generation living in our Lord's time; and there might be some

of those whom He was then addressing who would live to see the event. His

prediction amounted, in fact, to this, that the destruction of Jerusalem would

take place within forty years of the time when He was speaking. But it may

have a wider meaning. It may mean the Jewish people. Their city would be

destroyed their power overthrown. They would be "peeled and scattered."

But they would still remain a distinct and separate nation to the end of the

world. And there are other prophecies which show that with their national

conversion to Christianity will be associated all that is most glorious in

the future Church of God.  (“Who hath heard such a thing?  Who hath

seen such things?  Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day?  Or

shall a nation be born at once?  Isaiah 66:8 – CY – 2019)

 

 

31 “Heaven and earth shall pass away:  but my words shall not pass away.”

Here is a distinct prediction that the present structure of the universe will pass

away; that is, that it will be changed, that it will perish, as far as its present state

and condition are concerned; but only that it may be refashioned in a more

beautiful form. "We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth

righteousness" (II Peter 3:13). With this declaration of our blessed Lord

ALL THE DISCOVERIES OF SCIENCE COINCIDE!   Astronomy and

geology alike concur in the conclusion that THE  WHOLE SYSTEM OF

THE UNIVERSE is moving onwards to its change. (When my mind and

soul assimilated this, I became emotional as I rejoiced in what God is creating

and for the fact that this will occur with or without you and me!  OH SINNER!

TIME IS RUSHING ON!  WILL NOT YOU TRUST CHRIST TODAY

AND GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE?  -

CY – 2019)  (Ponder:  “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: 

and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.  But be ye glad

and rejoice for ever in that which I create:  for, behold, I create Jerusalem a

rejoicing, and her people a joy!”  - Isaiah 65:17-18 – CY – 2019)  Our blessed

Lord did but affirm that which is demonstrated by science. But my words shall

not pass away; not merely the words which with his full self-consciousness He

had just uttered respecting Jerusalem, but all His other words - all the

revelation of God, all the words of him who is the Truth.

 

 

32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which

are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”  He who from all eternity has

decreed the time when this day is to come, is pleased to hide it in the hidden

depths of His own counsels. But the eternal Son, and the Holy Spirit, both

alike one with the Father, are of His counsels. They are not excluded from this

knowledge; they, equally with the Father, know the day and the hour of the end,

since they are of the same substance, power, and majesty. Why; then, does Mark

here add, "neither the Son"? The answer is surely to be found in the great truth

of the hypostatic union. The eternal Son, as God, by His omniscience, and as man,

by knowledge imparted to Him, knows perfectly the day and the hour of the future

judgment. But Christ as man, and as the Messenger from God to men, did not so

know it as to be able to reveal it to men. The ambassador, if he is asked concerning

the secret counsels of his sovereign, may truly answer that he knows them not so as

to communicate them to others. For as an ambassador he only communicates those

things which are committed to him by his sovereign to deliver, and not those things

which he is bidden to keep secret.