The Jews were asking, "When will these things happen, and what will be the signs?" and Mark 13 gives us Jesus' response to their questions. We don't need to know when He will return but the details of what we need to be doing while we're waiting. Specifically, we need to study prophecy not so that we can prove that we're right but so that we can rightly divide the Scriptures and follow what their teaching.
False Promises, Prophets, Messiahs and Manipulations vs. the Truth
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 4
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 3
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 2
Prophetic Terms, Timing, Persecutions, and Promises, part 1
One of These Days: What to Expect and What He Expects of Us
Matter Only Matters if the Bible is not a Matter of Fact
Wonders of the World vs. the Wonders of a Magnificent Obsession
The Purpose and Product of Prophecy
Father, thank you for this morning with friends. Thank you for this topic you've given us that really ties our whole Scriptures together and makes them make sense and lets us know that you're a God who can be trusted. As we look at your Word today, and as we race through the big picture, we are reminded of your faithfulness to your Word. In fact, we're even reminded that you are faithful even when we are faithless. We'll see that specifically in relationship to a group of people who you chose called Jews (the nation of Israel).
We'll see how we fit into that, and like them in their faithfulness, they found you faithful, we will too. Although we are not always perfectly obedient to your call in responding to the way that we find you are faithful to us even when we are sometimes faithless. We're so grateful today that we can gather, not as a group of people who are going to present to you a resume, but that we're going to go and glorify you because you've given us a Redeemer.
So that forms the basis for our worship today, and frankly, Lord, it forms the basis for our hope. We are grateful that our Redeemer lives and we will reign with him on that day, how your Word points to that, and how we can be sure that it is true. Would you teach us now from your Word and change us by it? For your glory and our good. In Christ's name, amen.
We are working our way through Mark 13 as a means through which, really, to work our way through all prophecy in the Scripture and how it points to a completion of what God's Word is about. Let me remind you what I said last week. In no way do we think these last two messages especially are something you can absorb as we go through them. However, we do feel like we need to go through this however quickly.
The information we're talking about right here is information that our world has always debated and will always debate and part of our job of growing in Christ together, is growing in our ability to rightly understand what God has shown us: to represent him and to be as Noah was (heralds of righteousness declaring what is true).
Our city is celebrating the fact that there's a man who for the last 60-some-odd-years of his life has been a herald of righteousness, professing who this Jesus is, who 2,000-years ago was crucified, buried, and resurrected. What's now going to happen with those who trust in those Jesus and what will happen alone to those who trust in this Jesus, is they will find forgiveness in the face of a God who is and one day will be with him for eternity.
The Bible is all about God revealing who he is. He does that through creation where he shows his omniscience, his omnipotence (which means his all-knowing, his all-powerful, his greatness that he does through creation), and God speaks things into existence. In order to reveal who is he made us and this world we are on.
Just making this world alone was not enough to reveal every attribute of the character and nature of God. There's this event called redemption which starts when those who he created to walk with him turned from him and went their own way, therefore deserving not just to be banished for a moment, but because we've offended an eternally perfect and holy God, we deserve to be banished eternally. Yet in the greatness of God, he is revealing his love, his mercy, his grace, while not denying his justice and his righteousness and holiness.
All of human history is an event to glorify God. In the midst of God attempting to reveal himself and his glory, he is offering to you and to me an opportunity to live with him and participate with him, although we ourselves deserve judgment. There's your Bible. Prophecy means to declare before. It's all about God telling you how he is going to most fully accomplish his purposes.
Here's the Bible in a nutshell. We mentioned this before. I'll say it again. All of the Old Testament anticipates how God will ultimately reconcile the world that has turned away from him back to himself and how he will not deny his justice while he is still a God who is loving and gracious. The whole Old Testament anticipates the means through which God will do that.
In the New Testament, you have this one whose name is Jesus come on the scene, and he manifests (if you will). It is the manifestation of what has long been anticipated. He is the anticipation manifestation of God's provision. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John talk about this coming manifestation of God.
Then after that, you have the book of Acts which talks about how the truth of what Jesus has done is going to be proclaimed. It starts in a little city called Jerusalem, and it will work its way to a region just north of there, called Judea which is, if you will, the region that Jerusalem is in, then to a region just north of there, called Samaria, and then it's going to explode to the outermost parts of the earth. So the book of Acts is about the proclamation of this manifestation which has long been anticipated.
From Romans to Jude, you have the explanation of that which has been proclaimed. You have men who give us an explanation of who this Jesus is and what he has accomplished in his coming. Then the book of Revelation ties it all together with the consummation of the coronation of this Jesus as King.
God has chosen to do all this through a group of people who he chose, by grace, whose father was Abraham, who, as you know by the song, had many sons. "Many sons had Father Abraham." Abraham was the man who was no greater than any other pagan idolater of his day. But he was a man who, by grace, was called and chosen by God to declare his greatness whom God would do a great work through him through which other nations would receive the proclamation of Abraham about the Messiah who would come to his people through which he would explainthey could one day live with him as their Redeemer.
When one of the followers of this Jesus (when he was here on this earth) named Peter, reflected back on all he could share in light of where we were in understanding God's revelation of himself, he said this in 1 Peter 1. He said that as to this salvation, this thing which Jesus has accomplished in his coming, his death, his burial, and his resurrection and ultimately in his return, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries.
They were also looking at the Scriptures trying to understand how all this tied together. It says they sought to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. We're going to look again today at some of the Scriptures that talk about what seems to be a mutually exclusive idea that when God would come in the person of his Son, who is God in the flesh, he would suffer and die and be a sacrifice. Yet at the same time, he would reign forever.
How could somebody who reigns forever die? It says the prophets who told you beforehand things that were to come were constantly wresting to understand this. Ultimately, the Spirit spoke to them thousands of years ago and said, "This is not really about you. You're not writing this for yourself. But you and these things, which now have been announced to you through those who preach the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, are being revealed now."
These are things in which angels have always longed to understand and always longed to look. They've tried to understand how God would wrap this all up and declare his greatness and draw to himself people who did not deserve to be drawn, and by drawing them to himself, he still would not violate his holiness and his justice in the name of love.
I'll throw this out because people sometimes ask me, "Is there anything that God can't do?" It's one of those questions that folks who sometimes wrestle with the character and nature of God like to debate. I sometimes say, "Yes. There is something God can't do." They ask me, "Can God make a rock so big he can't move it?" To that one, I usually say, "Yes, and then he'd move it." Since God is all-powerful, he can create a rock so big he couldn't move it, but because he's all-powerful, he could move it.
Specifically, here's what God cannot do. God cannot do anything which would contradict his character. God cannot be loving at the expense of being just. He cannot do anything which would violate his nature because he would stop and cease at being perfect and glorious and worthy of worship.
So this book is about how God is going to satisfy his desire to know us, love us, and fellowship with us, even though we are not holy as he is holy, and how he will bring us into his presence and allow us to know him forever without compromising who he is.
Mark 13 is when some sons of Abraham in physical descent and sons of Abraham by faith are with Jesus, and Jesus has just described to them that not only is he about to be turned over to the authorities and crucified and buried and eventually resurrected in three days, but also the very city in which they live (the capital city of God), Jerusalem, would be razed to the ground.
They were confused by this, so Jesus is answering two questions: When will these things happen? and…What will be the sign of, ultimately, your coming? We know the prophets have a long time ago told us you would suffer, but they've told us you would reign forever. So in Mark 13, Jesus is unfolding an explanation of how all these things work together.
Here's an outline we've given you now for a number of weeks for Mark 13. Don't be deluded by dopes who will come and tell you there is no return of Christ or that they will be false messiahs and saying that they themselves are that Messiah who should return. Don't be diverted by disturbances whether it be natural disasters or wars and disasters we create.
Don't be surprised by the suffering that comes upon you as followers of Christ. Don't be scared about your speech when you're delivered up to talk about this Jesus whom you have faith in, but study your Word, rightly understand how to divide it, and be aware of the fact that God will speak to you at the appropriate time. Don't forget who to fear because they'll kill you. Don't fear the one who destroys your body, but fear the one who destroys the body and soul and casts them to hell for eternity.
He says in Mark 13, "Don't bet on the hour when I'm returning because no one knows, not even the Son of Man." Somebody asked me after last week's service, "Todd, explain this to me. How can Jesus be God and yet not understand, as the Son of Man, the hour that he returns?" Let me give you a simple explanation of that, and ultimately, it crosses our wires.
God, in his very revelation of himself, creates a paradox. He says, "I am one." There's only one God. This one God exists in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's called the Trinity. The word doesn't appear in your Bible, but the concept does. We put a tag on it called Trinitarianism, where we understand that God, who is one God, exists in three persons, not depending on the temperature.
God is not described like H2O. He is not two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen that, according to the temperature or climate or the circumstance, exists in three different forms. That is a heresy. It's called modalism, which believes God adopts a certain mode depending on the need of the moment.
The Father is there when it's room temperature, and the Son is there when it's a little bit hot, and the Spirit is there when it's cold. Water can exist in liquid, gas, or solid. Some people would say that's the best way to explain it and understand the Trinity. That is error and not to be rightly reconciled with your Scriptures.
The Bible says that God is one and that one God is three persons. Those three persons relate to each other in a subordinate way where there is perfect and eternal love and community and mutual submission and honor. You go, "I don't understand that," and I would say, "Neither do I. God is God, and I am not." God has said, "That's why you are you, and I am me. My thoughts are too wonderful for you, and it blows your little finite categories and your limited dimensional thinking. I am not limited as you are limited, and one day you will know me as I know you now and more will make sense."
How does this relate to the fact that the Son of Man did not know the hour he was returning? In the same way that God is three-in-one, when the Son of Man came to this earth, the Scriptures tell us, he did not stop being God. Yet, at the same time, he took on the nature of man. Jesus, during the manifestation of God's solution to sin and justice and love, is fully God and fully man.
So that he might relate to you and me, it says in Philippians that he did not regard a quality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself. Of what? Did he empty himself of being God? No, that is heresy. He continued to be God, but he did not allow himself to rely on his deity to exercise things for his own benefit.
He walked as you and I do, as men or women of faith, trusting in God. He did it perfectly as a man would who is always yielded to his Spirit, and because he is God, he was the perfect man, not deserving judgment. Therefore, he took a judgment he did not owe so that he could give that judgment that he paid for those of us who did owe it. That's the verse, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
As the perfect God-man, he's saying "The Father is not choosing to allow me to tell you right now when I'm returning. I don't know it as the Son of Man. Do I know it as the eternal second person of the Trinity? Absolutely. Do I know it now? No, I don't, because I'm walking as you walk and emptying myself of my right to know in sovereignty all that there is to know and empower all that there is to do. When I do great things, the works that I do, I do by the power of the Spirit of the Father who lives in me, for his glory and to reveal to you who I am, the perfect God-man."
I told you, we're going to cover your Bible today. We've knocked off Trinitarianism and the hypostatic union. Let's move forward. When you get to this little section here, it says, "Don't bet on the hour because even the Son of Man doesn't know that," and he says, "Don't mess around with him." That him is where we're going to really focus today. "Him," is the Antichrist, the one who will come and hold himself up as the Prince of Peace, the one Israel can find hope and security in.
Jesus will say, "Don't trust him. Even worse, when you know it's him, don't hang around with him because trouble with come." Then next week, we'll close with, "Don't get napping," that's where we'll do our little illustration of false messiahs and how they will be, in some ways, impressive and other different things.
For today, we're going to talk about, "Don't mess around with him." Jesus says, "The last things you need to know are not so much the details about when he will return but details about what you need to be doing." So last week, I gave you these little charts. These charts talk about three different forms of millennial thought in reference to the thousand years that is spoken of in Scripture.
There's the amillennial view which believes, ultimately, there is no such thing as a literal thousand years. You'll see the post-millennial view which adopts that same idea except it says the thousand years will exist within some state within human history where the church is very effective. So the amillennialists will say, "No, there's really no thousand years." The post‑millennialists will say, "There are a thousand years before Christ returns. It's a thousand years where the kingdom of God is preached and largely accepted by the world and the righteousness of Christ reigns in and through the church."
Then there is the third view, which we think is the most biblical, and we're going to expend our time talking about that now, explicitly today, and closing this up. It's the pre-millennial and even the pre-tribulation view which talks about the event of the second coming of Christ, a distinct and separate event from the rapture where God removes his church and continues his work with the people of Israel.
Jesus says the last things you need to know are not so much when he will return, but what we should be doing. So here are two huge takeaways I want you to hear as a point of application for this whole thing. I'm mentioning them regularly, weekly, lest you miss the heart of what we're doing.
Watch yourself. "Don't be so absorbed in the signs. The signs are there to tell you I know what I'm talking about but watch yourself." He says he's not going to come back and check our charts; he's going to come back to check our hearts. He's not going to come back to see who was right about the date of his coming; he's going to come back to see who did right in light of his commands that he was coming and that we're accountable to him.
Our job is to be ready. It's his job to return. If we focus in concerning ourselves with his business when he's going to return, we will be so absorbed in trying to figure out that, that we will be delinquent and irresponsible and absent fulfilling the command which he has left for us. We want to be about what he told us to be about, which is loving one another, faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and rightly dividing the Word of truth, yielding to the Spirit, manifesting the goodness of the power of the Spirit of God in us, and waiting faithfully for the day.
That being said, it doesn't mean we should be ignorant about his kingdom program and when he is coming back. We talked last week about why we believe the pre-tribulation or pre-millennial view is the most biblically responsible position to take. The very first reason we offered that is because all of Scripture anticipates a time when God will accomplish his Word with his people.
It goes way back to Genesis 12. I have a friend who says if you want to know somebody's ability to understand Scripture correctly, you ask them if they understand this thing in Genesis 12, which is called the Abrahamic covenant. The rest of your Bible pivots, hinges, unfolds from Genesis 12. It's referred to again in Genesis 13, Genesis 15, and Genesis 28.
Ultimately there are three things God promises this man by the name of Abram. He says, "I promise that one day I will give you a land. That land is from the two great rivers, one being the river Euphrates and the other one is the great river in Egypt, which is to say that one day, Abraham, you and your descendants will have land from the Euphrates River all the way to the Nile River."
If you look back in the history of Israel, Abraham's descendants have never had that. So there's a great debate. Will they ever have that land? I'm going to offer to you today, that I believe a responsible reading of the Scripture suggests that the answer will be yes. Now the question is when? The answer is only when Jesus himself returns, not as a lamb to be sacrificed, but as a lion to rule, to claim it for his people.
He didn't just offer the people a land, but he told him, "Abraham, through you there would be a descendant who would be the Father of Blessing," if you will. We find that Paul explains in the Scripture, in Galatians 3, that is accomplished through the person of Jesus Christ himself, a singular male, through which all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
That blessing is the third part (land, seed, and blessing). From the very beginning, I want you to see that it was God's intention, not just to show favoritism for the Jews for the Jews' sake but to use the Jews as a means through which all the families of the earth will be blessed.
So the Abrahamic covenant is the means through which God is going to accomplish reconciling this world he created, which has rebelled, and the people in it, which have rebelled, back to himself without doing the one thing God can't do, which is doing something that contradicts his character, and be both just and the justifier of those who love him.
Let me show you, again, looking back towards last week when Jesus showed up. In Luke 4, the very first time he had a little public ministry, he offered this. He said, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME." He referenced Isaiah 61:1-2 and says,
"…HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."
Jesus stopped there, short of talking about the fact that he would also come to bring vengeance on the ungodly. Jesus began to show that he was going to come twice, once offering peace, and once bringing judgment and only bringing peace to those who are rightly related to him. I'm going to show you that what Jesus chose from Isaiah 61 to represent is no small idea. We're going to see why it lends itself to an understanding that we literally will have Christ accomplishing what he said he would accomplish with Israel through Abraham.
Look at Isaiah 9:6. You're about to get a flood of these verses in the mail. You see them every year around Christmas. "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us." That's exactly what happened at Christmas. The rest of your Christmas cards that have this Scripture on it are anticipating a literal fulfillment of Jesus's promises to Abraham. Here it comes.
"A son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called [by all people] Wonderful Counselor…" What does that mean? One day every knee will bow. One day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. They will see him as "…Mighty God…" just like he said he was. They'll understand that he is "…Eternal Father…" and that he wasn't out of his mind when he said, "I and the Father are one. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."
There will be a day that that will happen. He will be the "…Prince of Peace." The greatest desire and prayer of Israel to this day is what? Peace in the land. People are always begging you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray as the Father taught us to pray.
"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come." **When his kingdom comes, there will finally be peace. At that point,"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this."** The zeal of the Lord to do what he said he would do, which lends yourself to a literal understanding of Scripture and its prophecy relating to Israel. You'll see where you fit in, church.
I'll show you again; this is no small idea. We saw it in Isaiah 61, Isaiah 9, and Zechariah 9. This is a little verse here. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; he is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey,"
During the first coming, Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and I'm going to show you that it was on the very day that Daniel prophesied he would; to the day. "Riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey," which is how kings would travel in the ancient near middle east when they were coming at a time to offer peace or the means through which they could have peace with him. Not riding on a steed, on a stud, on a horse of war, but on a humble donkey, as a humble King coming to restore relationship so he might not have to bring judgment to you.
This same King is going to come again. This time, not riding a donkey, but we're going to find out, riding a white stallion, Revelation says. This next time he will come, he will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, which is a region that has been at war with him. Not only that, it says he will take the horse from Jerusalem. Ephraim being the largest tribe in the north. Jerusalem being the capital city. He said, "There's no longer going to be a need for defense and a militaristic existence."
"And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." This is what will happen during that time when he comes to reign. Isaiah 2:4 says this. "And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war."
What's so tremendous about this verse is two things. First of all, there's a prophet by the name of Joel. Joel was writing to God's people, Israel. Through Joel, God was telling them, "You guys are out of whack in terms of relationship with me. You're not being faithful and accomplishing what I told you to accomplish as a kingdom of priests and as a kingdom of people who declare who I am and call people into a relationship with me. As a result of that, war is going to come upon you and judgment is going to come upon you, and I'm going to discipline you back into faithfulness."
So he tells them, "It's going to be such a terrible war that you'd better take all your instruments of agricultural improvement, your shovels and your plowshares, and you'd better make them into spears. I'm going to send an army of judgment towards you."
But then he later comes back and he says, "After that army of judgment comes and sweeps over you and disciplines you, I'm going to come and I'm going to be your Deliverer. I'm going to give you what you will not be able to get by yourself, by your militaristic operations, by your trees and alliances, and by your own hard work. I will come and deliver you in a place that only I can deliver you in a place that only I can deliver you."
What will that be? He said, "It's going to be a time when you can take your swords, and you can go back to making them farming implements because peace will reign in the land." What else is interesting about this verse is not just that it turns John 3:10 around, but it is the verse that has been adopted by an organization that exists to bring about world peace. What's it called?
The United Nations has adopted Isaiah 2:4. If you'll go up there, you will see, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares. And their spears into pruning hooks," talking about how, through diplomatic efforts, we will bring about world peace. I say go for it. But I also say it isn't going to happen because sin continues to reign in the land.
Men will not humble themselves underneath God, because men will not honor human dignity in other people, because men have a lust for power, a lust for passion, and a lust for exalting self and suppressing others, and because we are sinners alienated from a holy God who leads us into a life of love and peace and gentleness and grace and humility. Until God breaks our hearts as a species and he comes and rules himself with a rod of iron, there will always be war. The United Nations will not accomplish what the coming King will.
Now watch this. It's about to really get good. What I want to do right now is walk you through what Daniel the prophet, who Jesus refers to in Mark 13, says is going to happen that will lead up to show a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation view of Scripture is the correct one. If you have your Bible, open it up to Daniel 7. We're intentionally moving quickly because I'm trying to show you the big picture.
Why is this important? It's important because if you go to the Billy Graham crusade, you'll find folks out in front handing you pamphlets trying to explain to you that the tribulation period started hundreds of years ago with the coming of the Reformation and how the millennial reign started shortly after that. They'll teach you either a post-millennial or amillennial idea.
Do you know that over 40 million people in this country alone have read books that talk about prophecy in the Scripture, through the whole Left Behind series? If you have friends who are at all familiar with the cultural current, these topics will continually come up. You should be informed as students of God's Word who are increasingly competent in how to respond to that in a biblical way.
The Left Behind series are novels, but I will tell you they're novels with a fictional account of how possibly, I think, an accurate understanding of how the Scriptures might roll out. I don't think the details are accurate. I think the framework upon which those details are built is biblical and accurate and that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. LaHaye did well. Not with the fictional details, but with a foundational truth.
They believe Christ will come and remove his people from wrath, the church, and that he will reconvene his efforts to accomplish what he said in Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, and 28. God will do what he said he would do with Abraham, and 2 Samuel 7, and Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 and 37. This is the Bible. If you're here as a guest today, I want to let you know. We acknowledge there's a firehouse being sprayed upon you, and you may go, "What in the world?" But this is significant stuff, and at the very end, I'm going to tell you what this has to do with you.
There was a period of time in the nation of Israel's history when they had been disobedient for so long, had suppressed the revelation of prophets for so long, that God finally said, "Enough is enough. I'm going to bring judgment upon you." It was called the exilic period, when they were taken from their land, and they were taken specifically to Babylon.
While they were in Babylon, God raised up a young man by the name of Daniel, who was a prophet favored by God. Daniel was a man who had many visions. Daniel prayed constantly for the peace and restoration of Jerusalem. Daniel was given a vision early in this chapter, where he saw four different creatures.
The first you can see right there in verse 4 was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. Like the eagle is associated with the United States, the lion and the eagle were two symbols that Babylon held often to itself. It says, "I kept looking until its wings were plucked…" In other words, there was a time when it was no longer accomplishing its great work.
Then there was another creature that came. Verse 5 says, "… a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth…" It was probably raised up on one side because the second great world civilization that would come at this point was not just Babylon. The Babylonian Empire was defeated by the Median Empire.
Then the Persians and the Medes joined forces, in a sense. So the Median Empire was big, but the Persian-Median Empire (Medo-Persia) was even bigger, so it was bigger later. The three ribs in its mouth were in reference to the fact that it consumed all that the prior powers had before it had done Egypt, Syria, and Babylon. It devoured those kingdoms.
Then it references a third. The third one was like a leopard which had four wings on its back like a bird, and it had four heads, and dominion was given to it, which means ultimately that Medo-Persia was defeated. Another world government would come, this one lead by a guy named Alexander, who had a nickname, "the Great." He was from Greece.
One of the amazing things about Alexander the Great is that he defeated the Medo-Persian Empire, which swallowed up the Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian Empires, in four years. From 334 BC to 330 BC, he sweat the cross, the earth. When he died, guess what happened. His kingdom into how many parts would you guess, looking at Scripture? Four. In 63 BC there was a forth creature that came. What's interesting here is it says in verse 7,
"After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great boasts."
This is a reference to what we know as the Roman Empire. It was different than the other empires described before this in Daniel's vision, and Daniel could tell there was something different about this empire. He talked about how there are 10 horns, three horns specifically that would first be swallowed up by an eleventh horn that would come. Then eventually that eleventh horn that took over the three would take over the other seven.
Are you tracking? Probably not, but listen. It's all going to be there to go back and listen to. Stream for free on the internet or get your CD to play in your car, and the Scriptures are there posted. Watch what he is saying he will do to Daniel. Daniel was troubled by his vision. So he prayed, and he asked God to explain more to him about this beast. So if you'll jump down with me to Daniel 7:15, Jesus (the Spirit) did for Daniel what he did for his disciples when he was on the earth. He would tell a story, and he would explain the parable.
"As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 'These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.'"
This is his way of saying, "These four kingdoms are going to come right now, and they're going to reign. It's going to be called the time of the Gentiles when there's not going to be a Jewish leader reigning over the earth like David and Solomon and others because the Jewish folks aren't doing what I've asked them to do. So I'm going to raise up some Gentile folks, and they're going to bring discipline to the Jewish people. But don't worry. I'm going to do with your people what I said I would do with your people when the time of the Gentiles is completed." He says,
"Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn…"
That eleventh horn that swallowed up the other 10. It says, "… that horn [who is called a whore in Revelation] was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom." What's that mean?
What he's referencing here is that the Roman Empire will come, and it's going to wage war against God's people. It's going to do it through one who will come and bring together 10 different kings and will bring them together in a one-world government. It's going to be, if you will, a revival of the Roman Empire.
You hear much talk about the European Commonwealth. Some people are trying to make the 10-nation European Commonwealth a fulfillment of this. Who knows if it will be. There's going to be one who's going to get behind them. He's going to overcome three first, and then the other seven. He's going to make a claim to rule the world by declaration, and then you're going to find out that there are more details that are offered in the Scripture about what will happen in the end.
*"Thus he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.'" * That's what he says is different about this one. The other one will be basically the dominant power of the earth, but this one is going to be a one-world government, and it's going to crush it.
"As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them…" There's that eleventh one again. ** "…and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings."** Now watch this. "He will speak out against the Most High [God] and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law [in the way that people view reality and truth] ; and they will be given into his hand [the saints] for a time, times, and half a time."
That is one year, two years, and half a year. When you add one, two, and a half, you get three and a half. At the end of time, times, and half a time, "'… the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One;
His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.' At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself." Why? "Because 1 Peter tells us these things were not given for you Daniel, but for jokers like me and you later."
Fast forward two chapters. Daniel has continued to think about this. He's a man of great prayer. In Daniel 9, he is asking God, "Hey listen, Lord. In our previous time together, you told me what would happen to non-Jewish nations and how they would be exalted. You told me these non-Jewish nations would be doing awful things to people who knew you. What about us? What about the Jews?"
"Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city…" Who is this prophecy to? It's to a Jewish prophet. He's telling this Jewish prophet, "I'm going to tell you what's going to happen to you and the Jews and you and your Jewish city." Six things are listed there in chapter 9:24.
"…to finish the transgression…" In other words, their history will come to an end. There is no opportunity for them to sin anymore under the current relationship with God. "…to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy…" At the end of 70 weeks, he will wrap up all that he has promised he will do "…and [will] anoint the most holy place," so you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This is great stuff.
He says, "There's going to be a time, Daniel, when there is a decree that is given to go back and restore and rebuild Jerusalem. There will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks." In our day in age, we think in terms of 10, called decades. Back then, they thought in terms of sevens. There were seven days in a week. There were seven years before a Sabbath year of rest. There were seven groups of seven years before there was what's called the Year of Jubilee. They thought in heptads.
There's not really any debate that when Daniel talks about 70 weeks here, he's not talking about 70 days, and he's not talking about 70 groups of 7 weeks, he's talking about 70years. He's talking about 70 groups of 7 years or, if you will, 70 weeks of years. So what's 70 times 7? It's 490.
This is unbelievable stuff. After Daniel's time in Babylon, the Medo-Persians, ultimately in 539, through a guy by the named of Darius, conquered Babylon. Then a few short days later after that event, there was a beginning for folks to be allowed to go back and return to Jerusalem.
First, they rebuilt the temple and then rebuilt the city. Then you have a book in your Bible called Nehemiah, where there was a king by the name of Artaxerxes, who was one of the Medo-Persian rulers. He gave Nehemiah and the Jewish people an opportunity to go back and do something that had never been given before, which was to rebuild the walls of this city which was, in a sense, to give them a chance to be a little bit more sovereign as a state. That was March of 444 BC.
Daniel says, from then forward, you have the beginning of the 70 weeks. From that date, he says, "There will be 7 weeks and then 62 weeks." So if you do your math, 7 times 7 is 49, and 7 times 62 is 434. Add the two together; you get 483. So 483 years from that date, in verse 26 it says, "The Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the Prince who is to come will destroy the city and its sanctuary."
In Mark 11, you have one who comes riding on the foal of a colt of a donkey, into a city called Jerusalem, where he offers himself as their King. The people say, "Hosanna, Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Guess when that was. It was 483 years to the day of Artaxerxes saying to the people of Israel, "You can go back to your land and rebuild the city."
Jesus is saying, "Because I am denied as the Messiah and because I am being rejected by the people there is going to be this gap. I will come this time offering peace. Since the peace is rejected, I will come again offering judgment." It says, "Its end will come. In the end, there will be war, desolations are determined, and he will make…" Who's the he? These are the people of the ruler of the Prince who is to come, who is also the eleventh horn, who swallowed up the other ten horns, and who will persecute God's people.
"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering…" There's this little gap from the offering of Christ on that day we call Palm Sunday, until the seventieth week of Daniel. It says the seventieth week of Daniel will begin when he makes a treaty with the people of Israel, promising them a time of peace.
"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week…" The Antichrist, the eleventh horn, will tell the people of Israel, "I'll give you peace." It says that will be for one week. "…but in the middle of the week…" What is the middle of seven years? Three and a half years. Also known as, "…time, times, and half a time."
This is unbelievable stuff. It says, " … he will put a stop [in three and half years] to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate," which is to say, "He will get his." When will he get his? When the child who's born to us returns, who is mighty God. Not somebody trying to claim his throne, but somebody who is God, in fact, in the flesh. Jesus said in Mark 13:14, "But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION…"
If you were a good Jew, you would run to Daniel 9:27 and go, "Oh. When somebody who said they're going to bring us peace that we trusted in, and who said they'd be the prince of peace puts himself in the temple in Jerusalem and says, 'Worship me because I just delivered you from this warring Arab and warring Russian world that will come oppress you,' and then he says to the Jewish people, 'Take the mark of the Beast. Take the mark that you trust me. Take the mark that you're my worshipers.' Jesus says, 'Nuh-uh. You run for the hills, and you get out of Jerusalem.'"
That's when Jesus says, "Don't mess around with this guy. For time, times, and half a time he's going to have dominion. But guess what happens? At the end of that seventieth week, the King comes." Look at Revelation 13. I'm going to show you how all your Scripture fits together.
"And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore." The dragon from Revelation 12 is an individual who was cast out of heaven, see also: Satan at a specific time in the end times. "Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…" The sea is always in reference to Gentile people, the mass of humanity. Not the Jews, but the mass of everything else.
Here comes one, and this one has, "…ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion." Who does this sound like? It sounds like a compellation of all previous world powers. It sounds like the guy that he talked about in Daniel 7 and 9.
"And the dragon…" Who's that? Satan, the Scripture says, cast out of heaven for a specific time in history. "…gave him his power and his throne and great authority." It talks about how this one, this Antichrist, will be slain and apparently resurrected, in some form or fashion. "And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon [Satan] …"
This beast pointed people to the worship of his god, not the God of the Scriptures. "…and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?' There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him." How long is 42 months? One year is 12 months, plus 12, plus 12, which is 3 years, plus 6 months. That's three and a half years.
In Mark 13, he's saying, "This is a Jewish Messiah was responding to Jewish men who had a question about the future of a Jewish state. Given the fact that the Jewish Messiah has been rejected, what is going to be the time that you come back if you're leaving us and accomplish the fulfillment of what you said you would do to us as Jewish people? When will this happen?"
Answer: It'll happen at the end of the seventieth week. When's the seventieth week start? Answer: When the Antichrist comes on the scene and offers Israel what Israel is longing for, even today. What does Israel long for? Peace. He says when the Antichrist, the individual, the mighty horn with blasphemous names, who will be a world ruler, offers Israel a convenient in saying, "Come, align yourself with me, the greatest power in the world. I will give you peace."
It says for the first three and a half years of that seventieth week there will be general world peace. But then something's going to happen three and a half years into where he gets, if you will, a big head, that he already had and he reveals who he is: somebody who doesn't just want to give them peace, but somebody who wants all of their heart, and he's going to call Israel to worship him.
If you're listening to this as a non-Jewish audience, what are you thinking? Just what Daniel was thinking when Daniel heard about what was going to happen to a non-Jewish audience. He goes, "What about the Jews?" So you're sitting out there, I'm telling you about what's going to happen to the Jews, and you're going, "What about the non-Jews? What about the church? What about us?"
Next week I'm going to show you how the church will be removed and when the church is removed, why that makes sense that there's going to be not only hope for the church (because we're going to be removed before this hits), but an opportunity for what the Scriptures have always said will happen to happen.
Paul is writing this letter to the nation of Israel to believers in Jesus Christ in two books called 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. He talks about the rapture, he talks about the second coming, and he talks about the Beast. He tells how it all works together, and it's all right there in Mark 13, and it's all right there from Genesis to Revelation. It's all about the King.
Next week, I'm going to wrap this up for you. I'm going to show you now that we've established the 70 weeks of Daniel and the Antichrist, and where he fits in and what that means about Mark 13 with the abomination of desolation. What does that mean that we should do in light of all that is coming?
I'm going to tell you now that it has to do with not being worried about when this is going to commence but be worried about what he has commanded us to do. That is to be a faithful people who talk about the one who came to reconcile God's holiness and love on a cross and who will one day rule. All who by faith relate themselves to him will not just escape the coming horror of a temporal reign of horror on this life but will escape the horror of all eternity. You'll hear Mr. Graham preach it tonight, and you'll hear us preach it every week.
If you don't know Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace, we'll be here all day today talking to you until you want to go home. We'd love to tell you about him and how you can have hope in him and how peace comes only through him and not by making a treaty with work or a treaty with another person, a covenant of love with another person, or making a treaty with beauty. Hope only comes by aligning yourself by faith to him.
If you've never done that, there would be no greater joy in my life and the life of my friends who will be up here afterward to talk to you about that. Do you want to know where you non-Jews fit in? We'll see you next week.
Father, as we go may we go more convicted of the greatness of your Word and more convicted of the greatness of your name and your power. We thank you that you have not left us here to speculate as fools, but you have told us very clearly, "This is history. Mark my word and my name by it, and then be faithful."
As we walk out of here today, Lord, I pray for my friends at Watermark that we would be faithful, and that we would be humble. Lord, we are well aware that knowledge puffs up. We don't want to walk out of here as a puffed-up group. We want to walk out of here as individuals who are filled with your Spirit, as a fulfillment of your coming and sacrifice, and who carry the mark of your Spirit, that we love one another.
By this, all men will know that we are your disciples. Will you help us to do that, then? We realize when our eyes open, the world hits us with great force and our insecurity hits us with great force. The busyness of the day hits us with great force, but I'm grateful that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. Might we be filled with the Spirit which we have been given at the point of belief.
May we as a body manifest more of the presence of that Spirit today than ever before that folks would want to know you, the one who has always been, the Ancient of Days, the Holy One, the Redeemer of humanity, and the hope of this church. We worship you. We thank you that our Redeemer lives, will come, and that we will stand with him on that day. In that we have peace. Father, draw to yourself those who you died for and enable us to serve you as we come. In Christ's name, amen.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 13.