Mark 13:14-23 (ESV)

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Jesus continued to answer the questions his disciples asked. They wondered when the temple would be destroyed, when the other End Times events would occur, and what sign God would give before these things happened. According to Jesus, the Abomination of Desolation will be the key incident, signaling that the final things are about to take place. In the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel, the Abomination of Desolation is mentioned three times. The original event took place in 167 bc when Antiochus Epiphanies from Syria plundered the temple, then sacrificed a pig to Zeus over the altar.  “Let the reader understand” is included by Mark to trigger something in the mind of those who study his gospel. An episode like the one that occurred in 167 bc was to happen again. Many believe Jesus referred to an ultimate event that hasn’t taken place yet. In fact, 2 Thessalonians 2 predicts the coming of a “man of lawlessness” who will defile the temple and exalt himself as God. The man 2 Thessalonians speaks of is commonly known as the Antichrist. Jesus warned the disciples not to be caught off guard. All sorts of false christs, wonders, and signs would arise. After Jesus’ death, the temple where Jesus and the disciples spent so much time was destroyed. But this was not the final event Jesus spoke of to his followers. He said the last tribulation will include more persecution than any event that has happened to date (v. 19).

Although Jesus and Mark gave us insight into the last events that will take place on our planet, we are still left with the need to be watchful. No one knows when Jesus will return. We all live and will continue to live with a subtle tension regarding the timing of the final events. The phrase translated “be on guard” is actually a command. Things will get dark, but the call and charge to the followers of Jesus is to stay awake and watchful. It has been said that when the road gets dark, the unfaithful are those who depart at that point. Let’s determine to be steadfast, immovable, and faithful until the end. And to do that, we must be steadfast, immovable, and faithful in what God has called us to today. We live with a measure of uncertainty about things unknown. But we can be prepared,