Mark 13: The End of the World, Part 2

Well, I used up all my confident interpretations yesterday. Today, just some food for thought (I hope).

In Mark 13, the apostles do not specifically ask about the end of the age. They asked about when the temple would be destroyed (Mark 13:1-3). (That one we can predict because it already happened: A.D. 70.) However, Jesus does address the issue: “Those [things] must happen, but the end is not yet” (v. 7).

Again, these things are addressed in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 as well. In fact, the end of Luke 17 has a paragraph that is on the same subject.

I can’t put together a series of events from Jesus’ statements, but here are some things I think are either probably true or at least worth considering:

Fulfilled in A.D. 70?

When Jesus begins, it sure sounds like he’s talking about more than 40 years (the time from A.D. 30 or so when he’s talking until A.D. 70 when the temple was destroyed). He says:

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For these must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains.

That seems like a lot more long-term prophecy than 40 years.

I want to point out here something a friend pointed out to me. These things—things like wars and rumors of wars—are not evidence of the end, but evidence that “the end is not yet.”

At Least One Thing Was Fulfilled in A.D. 70

When you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. (v. 14, parentheses original)</blockquote)

There may be—in my opinion, will be and has been—a future abomination of desolation standing where it shouldn't. However, I'm pretty convinced there is not going to be another abomination of desolation standing where it should not that is a sign to flee Judea.

In A.D. 70, when the Roman general Titus came to Israel, it was to desolate. Gavin Finley, M.D. cites Josephus, the Jewish historian, as saying that Titus did not want the temple destroyed. Rogue soldiers did that.

Whether that is true or not, Titus desolated Jerusalem, and his soldiers swarmed the temple. This qualifies as an abomination of desolation in my eyes. More importantly, it qualified as an abomination of desolation in the eyes of the Christians who were in Judea in A.D. 70, and they did exactly what Jesus said. They fled to the mountains. All of them survived.

That part of Mark 13 was very literal to the Christians of that generation. They acted on it, and it had practical benefit.

We can be confident that part of Jesus’ prophecy was at least partially fulfilled in A.D. 70. Personally, I think his prophecy also applies to the fall of the western Roman empire in A.D. 476, but that sort of thing is speculative enough that it does not belong with the rest of the things I am posting about Mark 13.

I have one more interpretation I want to throw out concerning Mark 13. We’ve done enough today, however. I’ll cover that tomorrow.

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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