April 7, 2011

Friday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Day Twenty-seven


Lectionary

Morning - Psalms 95 & 102, Exodus 1:8-14, 1 Corinthians 14:26
Evening - Psalm 107, Jeremiah 16:5-13, Mark 13:14-23

Mark 13:14-23

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:  For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

             Commentary

The abomination of desolation in verse 14 refers to the Roman army sacking Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as Antiochus did in 163 B.C. (Daniel 9:26).  Christ is telling the disciples that when they see the Romans approaching they are to leave Jerusalem immediately.  Several verses describe the urgency of their escape.  Flee to the mountains (14).  Don't stop to gather belongings (15).  Don't even stop to gather your coat (16).  The escape will be difficult for those with child, and they are to pray that it will not be in winter (17 & 18).   The devastation of the city and its ensuing suffering is shown in verses 19 & 20.

It would be natural for the Jews to look for the Messiah to appear at this time.  Taught to expect a military leader to deliver them from the Romans, they would expect Him to arise when the Roman army surrounded the city.  It would also be natural for false christs to come, claiming to be the Messiah (13:6), and for others to claim that the Christ is in the desert or in some other place (21-22) preparing to attack the Romans.  Even Christians might be tempted to believe Jesus had returned and was preparing to lead the attack on Rome.  But verse 23 shows the vanity of such claims.  Jesus is saying He has foretold all of this, and the Christians are to "take heed."

Devotional

We must never allow ourselves to forget that the people who resisted and rejected Christ were religious people who considered themselves good and right with God.  Yet Christ said these very people would be judged and destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem. The Corinthians were also convinced of their own righteousness, yet Paul's word to them was "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5).  Do people today live under the same delusion?