(Today’s readings.. (Exodus 28), (Psalm 83,84), (Mark 13)
Today we read the answer Jesus gave to the 4 disciples who sat with him on the Mount of Olives, they earnestly asked, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” [Mark 13 v.4] Jesus had astonished them earlier “as he came out of the temple” and they were admiring its “wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings”- by telling them that “There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” [v.2]
We conclude that his words – as far as v.23, are a prophecy of events that will fulfil this. According to Matthew’s record of this conversation, they also asked, “What will be the sign of thy coming and the close of the age?” [24 v.3] Therefore, after v.23 in today’s chapter, Jesus is answering the second question, probably in asking it the 4 disciples thought that both events would happen about the same time.
Luke’s record of this conversation – in his 21st chapter – includes some significant extra wording; Jesus says “there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” [v.23,24]
Jerusalem was trampled underfoot – until 1967 – “the times of the Gentiles” are now fulfilled and the situation in the Middle East is increasingly ominous with its portents for the future. Psalm 83 was also a remarkable reading we had today! It describes the nations surrounding Israel who say, ” “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” [v.4] The Psalmist’s prayer about this is, “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O LORD. Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.” [v16-18]
On the surface this seems contradictory, but we think it means that those who say “Come, let us wipe them out” are the ones who “perish in disgrace.” We should say and pray, ‘Let all the nations in the world, ‘know, the LORD is the Most High over all the earth.’
Back in Mark’s chapter we read at the end some challenging words for us in 2021 “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come … lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” [v.33,36,37]