When The World Falls Apart

Opening Prayer

Lord God, “Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease” (John Greenleaf Whittier, 1807–1892).

Read Mark 13:1–27

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

Reflect

Turn down the volume and tune in to God. (Literally take a moment to turn off devices and quiet your environment.)

Jesus has been preparing his disciples for the cataclysmic overthrow of the Jewish Temple and state. Throwing over the Temple’s tables was a prelude to the very structure falling (2). Small wonder the disciples wanted more details (4)!
With the savage Jewish-Roman war of 66–70 A.D., Jesus’ warning of wars, famine, persecution and betrayal (7–9,12) would all come to pass. Choosing to flee (14–16) rather than fight, Jesus’ followers would be particularly hated (13), since they refused to side with either Rome’s militarism or Jewish nationalism.
It wouldn’t be easy to stay true to Christ. There would be unprecedented distress (19), but the cosmic turmoil (24,25) shouldn’t make them believe that God had lost the battle. No! He was still working out his purposes (20,26,27).
The historic context of these words points to their relevance today. In a world torn by war, famine and persecution we still faithfully await the final coming of the Son of Man (26) for judgment and the restoration of all things (Matt. 19:28). So, stand firm, watch out, be on your guard (5,9,13,23)!

Apply

Pray today for Scripture Union staff working in conflict zones around the world (https://scriptureunion.global/pray/).

Closing prayer

Father, “…take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace” (Whittier).

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider