Christians are increasingly referencing Mark 13:6-8, proclaiming we are in the “END TIMES”. They site the news stories of floods, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars as evidence to support their conclusion. But is that true?
Today, I am going to show you biblically that while we are progressing towards the “END TIMES”, in truth, we are NOT IN the “END TIMES”. Furthermore, such a misunderstanding of God’s Word does nothing ore than to take our eye off what God has for our lives as it affects our mission on earth as believers.
Welcome to Reason For Truth. As a result of the misunderstanding about our current state in history, Christians everywhere are panicking to the point of apathy due to their belief that we are literally in the Tribulation or “END TIMES” of the world. My first response off the cuff is “so what”? If it’s the End Times, we will be with Jesus within a matter of months. My second response reflects back to the entire Bible in that the United States is not mentioned in the Bible, and that biblically speaking, while we may be experiencing what the Bible (Jesus himself) calls “birth pains”, it’s not the End Times. Let’s read Mark 13:
Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 13:6-8.
“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” (Mark 13:6-8)
WHY WE ARE NOT IN THE END TIMES-UNDERSTANDING: “BIRTH PAINS”
I keep hearing people say we are currently in birth pains. What does that mean? This is the second point Jesus made regarding end times. In an effort to gain true context as to what Jesus was talking about, it’s important to look at verses 1-5. In verses 1-37, to be fair, Jesus is speaking of the future. In verse 2, Jesus asks his disciples, as they left the temple, to look at the great buildings and that there will not be one stone left upon another. The “buildings of the temple” were constructed under Herod the Great Temple in 20B.C. And it was finished in A.D. 64. That is what Jesus’ disciples were looking at. Their questions related to the temple and end-time events leading to Messiah’s kingdom, not questions concerning the church, which is never mentioned in this gospel. Jesus was simply warning the disciples of deceivers who will come in His name, wach one even declaring that he is the Messiah. Then Jesus says, “there will be wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes, and famines. these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs”. Jesus was picturing for them the coming of the end of days with the birth of a child. It’s to be noted that a woman’s labor can extend for some time before the birth and this would have been understood as such in relation to what Jesus was saying.
WHAT ABOUT NATURAL DISASTERS: FLOODS, EARTHQUAKES AND WAR?
In verses 7-8, His second point, Jesus warned His disciples against misrepresenting contemporary events such as WARS and NATURAL DISASTERS such as floods, earthquakes, etc. as indications that the end is at hand. The were NOT to BE ALARMED and thereby DIVERTED from their work whenever they HEAR OF ears (sounds of battle close at hand) AND RUMORS (literally “reports”) OF WARS far away. It is necessary (dei, by Devine compulsion; cf. 8:31; 13:10) that these things come about. They fall within God’s sovereign purposes, which include permitting wars as a consequence of human rebellion and sin. BUT THE END-of the present Age and the establishing of God’s rule on earth-IS STILL YET TO COME (lit. “Is not yet”) in the Greek.
This is confirmed Greek word “gar” or “for” and expanded: NATION WILL RISE (lit. “Shall be raised” i.e. by God; Isaiah 19:2). In armed aggression AGAINST NATION. In Addition THERE WILL BE EARTHQUAKES and FAMINES, suggesting divine judgement. That THESE (“these things”) ARE just THE (lit. “A” not “the”) BEGINNING OF BIRTH PAINS. The words “birth pains” are used vividly by God here to depict the sharp pains preceding childbirth, giving us a snapshot of His divine judgement (cf. Isa. 13:6-8; 26:16-18. These verses along with Jeremiah 22:20-23; Hosea 13:9-13; Micah 4:9-10 refer to the period of intense suffering preceding the birth of the new Age, the messianic kingdom.
ARE THE END-TIMES YET TO COME?
The emphasis-“the end is still to come” (Mark 13:7d) and “these” [things] are the beginning of birth pains” (v.8c) suggests that an extended period of time will precede “the end.” It’s important to note that an EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME means not in the PRESENT or immediately. Each and every generation will have its own wars and natural disasters. The truth is that these events fall within God’s purposes.
A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT JESUS SAID
A proper exegetical understanding of what Jesus meant (said) has one, singular meaning, which is that human history is heading towards the birth of the new Messianic Age as opposed to being in that period of time in the present. So WHY did Jesus say these things? Jesus said these things to His disciples to prepare them for suffering BECAUSE of their allegiance to Him. That’s the point. We are no different today as human beings than when Jesus taught His disciples. We too need to be reminded that Christianity is not a sport or past-time, recreational sport. It’s real. Today, you and I and Christians all over the world are re-learning what it means to live “biblically”. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Christians all over the world who already live under some form of persecution, so it’s nothing new; just new to the West , especially Christians in the United States.
In these few verses in Mark, God speaks to you and I today as He did our parents and grand parents generation and as he does our children. His message is simple: Be vigilant, strengthen our faith, and prepare for tough times in the present in preparation for the what God brings or allows us to face today and in the future-tomorrow. We have a choice to stand on our faith in Jesus Christ and not denounce that faith or denounce Jesus as the true God. We also have the choice as to if we will run and hide in some dark remote corner of the world or stay in the game, depending on God to provide for us despite the circumstances and outcome. The latter is God’s will and the former is not. As for the time of end of the age. Well…that’s up to God the Father to decide. As Jesus said in Matthew 24, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son (Jesus himself), but only the Father”. If Jesus doesn’t know the hour or day, how do we? Think about that before you head for the hills for the wrong reason. It’s good to prepare, but not good to over-prepare. Jesus spoke about over-preparation in Luke 12:16-21. You can read that for yourself. It’s good and wise to prepare, but not to over-prepare to the point of depending on self over God.
As we as Christians wisely prepare for what is upon us and yet to come, let’s be wise to understand two things. FIRST, we need to do what we are able to do, but ultimately depend upon God for what we cannot see in the present and future. SECOND, we must not allow apathy to stifle our God given mission for today and tomorrow, should God grant us another day of life on earth. With Christians increasingly referencing Mark 13:6-8, proclaiming we are in the “END TIMES” this is a real threat to fulfilling God’s will for our our life. With all the news stories of floods, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, in truth-biblically speaking, while we are progressing towards the “END TIMES”, we are NOT IN the “END TIMES”. Let’s not take our eye off (the ball) what God has for our lives as it affects our mission on earth as believers.