Sermon by Pastor Tom Brown · Aug 13, 2023 · Mark Series

This morning we are continuing our look at the last days according to Jesus in Mark 13. Last week we saw the Christian view of the last days.

The Christian View of the End

  • A fixed date when Jesus returns
  • God will judge the living and the dead. Resurrection and Judgment.
  • A new heaven and a new earth.
  • Eternal life w/out death, sorrow, mourning or pain.
  • Forever in God’s glorious presence.
  • Preceded by “tribulation” and counterfeit Messiahs, anti-Christ

God has given us the knowledge of these last days to shape and guide our daily lives.

End times prophesy is given to us to

  • Reveal God’s plans for his creation.
  • Protect us from counterfeits. (13:5)
  • Comfort us in our suffering. (John 14:1-3, Romans 8:18-23)
  • Give focus and endurance to our labor. (1 Corinthians 15)
  • Shape our desires and aspirations. (Colossians 3:1-5)
  • Quicken us in our holiness. (1 Jn 3:3, 1 Pe 3:17)
  • Awaken our faith and zeal. (Mark 13:37)
  • Transform our character with unshakeable hope.

Through verse 13, Jesus has described the preliminary signs of the last days, the birth pains of war, famine, earthquakes, false Messiahs and persecutions.

These must come but they are not the end.

In verse 14 we are given the sign marking the beginning of the end.


The Abomination of Desolation

This unusual title comes from the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel.


And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.

Daniel 9:26-27


Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Daniel 11:31


And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.

Daniel 12:11


The prophet Daniel was given a revelation concerning a leader who would rise, commit an abominable act and cause desolation.

The word abomination is used often in the OT, referring to sin, particularly idolatry.

The disciples would have been very familiar with the language and with a historical figure who fit the description all too well.

Antiochus Epiphanes was a Syrian general who ruled Palestine from 175-165 as a representative of the Greeks.

He took on the title Theos Epiphanes (manifest god) but was nicknamed Epimanes (madman).

Epiphanes forbid circumcision and Levitical sacrifices among the Jewish people.

He caused further outrage in 168 BC when he set up a statue of Zeus in the temple and then forced the priests to sacrifice a pig on the altar and eat the pork.

In that time he also set up a brothel in the temple chambers.

In those days the Jewish people abandoned the temple until they could expel Epiphanes and his forces.

This was certainly an abomination that causes desolation.

And yet Jesus, speaking roughly 200 years later, anticipated a future abomination.

That sign would be followed by times of terrible suffering. A great tribulation.


The Great Tribulation

This language was also familiar to the disciples.

Daniel spoke of a coming time of tribulation.

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. -Daniel 12:1

Within 30 years of these words from Jesus, Jerusalem would experience a very difficult time in what became known as the first Jewish-Roman war.

Here are the details of what happened:

  • Zealots in AD 67 rebelled against local Roman government and took over the capital and occupied the temple
  • They cast lots to establish their own high priest, a man named Phannias, an uneducated man who did not even know what the high priesthood was
  • They allowed criminals to enter the most holy place
  • They even murdered men in the temple
  • Titus, the future emperor of Rome, besieged the capital with an army of 60,000, allowing Jews in to celebrate Passover but not allowing them to leave
  • The city was filled with hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims
  • This began 47 days of siege and famine
  • Josephus the historian wrote that 1 million died from crucifixion, starvation, etc.
  • Titus had the temple completely destroyed
  • Eusebius wrote that the Christians in Jerusalem had received a prophetic revelation from God leading them out of the city and into a town in the Transjordan called Pella

Those who remembered the words of Jesus and remained alert were saved from a terrible tribulation.

The Jewish-Roman war was most certainly a great tribulation for the people of Jerusalem and fit many of the details of Mark 13. But not all of them.


The Son of Man in the clouds with great power and glory

The tribulation will be followed by the coming of the Son of Man. A glorious and unmistakable return of King Jesus.

The Second Coming will be Personal, Physical, Visible, Unexpected, and Triumphant and Glorious. -Millard Erickson

“When it comes, no one will miss it; until it comes, no one should be misled.” -James Edwards

We will talk more about this next week. The return of Jesus is the great hope of two thousand years of Christianity.

Today we will finish by remembering an essential aspect of end times prophecy.

Last week we talked about the Near-Far element of prophetic foretelling. The prophets often spoke of contemporary events, but at the same time of larger and later events. Like a person looking at two mountain peaks in a line of sight which causes them to appear as one peak.

The events of Jerusalem in 66-70AD were certainly anticipated in Mark 13. But there is a scope to those words which seems to describe a greater scale of events.

It is likely that Antiochus and Titus were forerunners of a future figure, a man who will rise in the last days to carry out the ultimate abomination of desolation. A man whose activities will initiate a series of events leading to the glorious return of Christ.

If that is the case then studying the histories we have talked about today is like watching film of a future opponent. We can see the strategies and tactics used by the great enemy of God and anticipate something of what the world will experience in the last days.

The end is coming, be ready.

Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown