Do not be alarmed; those things must take place.
Mark 12:38-13:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And in His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like personal greetings in the marketplaces, 39 and seats of honor in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive all the more condemnation.”
41 And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and began watching how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large amounts. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two lepta coins, which amount to a quadrans. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
13 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, look! What wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things come about, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and they will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are only the beginning of birth pains.
9 “But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
In times such as we are experiencing, it is good to remember and meditate on the promises of Psalm 91. Verses 1-7 say: One
who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who rescues
you from the net of the trapper And from the deadly plague. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may take refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and wall. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the plague that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that devastates at noon. A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you… The protection of God is for those who dwell and abide with Him, for those who remain under His covering. We cannot claim the promises if we wonder from the promise keeper. It is not enough to come into His presence once a week, or even for a few minutes each day. We must abide and dwell with Him and in Him. In Deuteronomy 31:6 God says: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” He will not stop us though from leaving or forsaking Him, something that we as a nation have done. What good is it then for a leader to say God bless America, when America has forsaken God?
For those who believe, who abide and dwell with God, for those who have not forsaken Him or His words, there remains the promise that we need not fear. His faithfulness is a shield and wall. Still in John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” What are the things Jesus spoke that we may have peace even in the midst of the tribulation of the world. In verses 13-15 He said: “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.” When we can’t see God with our physical eyes, our spirits can remain at peace because His Spirit abides with us and in us. In John 14:17 Jesus says: “The Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.” For us then, we need to walk in the balance between the natural world, where there is tribulation and the heavenly realm, where we have peace, by the Spirit.
Today’s text reads much like it could have been taken from the page of a new service today rather than having been spoken two thousand years ago by Jesus. It says: “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and they will mislead many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are only the beginning of birth pains. But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit. And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” We are not promised a life free from the tribulation of the world, just ask the believers in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the many other countries where believers are under attack and persecuted. Rather Jesus warns us and even assures that: “those things must take place.” We are promised peace, even in tribulation.
May Romans 8:31-39 be our declaration in the midst of the present world tribulation: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Just as it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.