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21: The Last Days (Mk 13:1-37)
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I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

In the last days of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He focused on preparing His disciples for the things to come. Watch for the signs, He said. There would be tribulation and false christs and false prophets. Jesus promised that He would come again. A servant of God must remain faithful until that day.

B.     Key Verse

            “When you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (13:29, 33).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      Temple (13:1): The temple, which was part of Herod the Great’s reconstruction of Jerusalem, was an architectural wonder. A huge platform was erected over the sharp drop of the terrain to enlarge the grounds to 330 by 500 yards. It was supported by a retaining wall made of massive stones. On the platform stood the temple building, porches, and courtyards flanked by beautiful colonnades. The temple itself, which was not fully completed until A.D. 64, was built with large white polished stones (some were 37 feet [14 m] long, 12 feet [5 m] high, and 18 feet [7 m] wide) and was generously decorated with gold.

2.      “Not one stone shall be left upon another” (13:2): Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled literally in A.D. 70, when Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings. Stones were pried apart to salvage the gold that had melted when the temple was set on fire.

3.      Mount of Olives (13:3): A mountain range directly east of Jerusalem, running north to south. In Jesus’ time, it was rich in olives; but later was stripped bare of trees. The tallest mountain rose to about 2,700 feet (1040 m), providing an impressive view of the city and the magnificent temple.

4.      Sorrow (13:8): The NIV translates this as “birth pains,” which is a frequent analogy of the day when the Lord shows His power and exercises His justice (cf. 1Thess 5:1-3; Isa 13:6-11; Rev 12:1–2).

5.      Councils (13:9): The Jewish court system consisted of the Sanhedrin (the highest court) and the lesser courts, of which there were two in Jerusalem and one in each town of Palestine.4/258 Each court, which was made up of Jewish elders, was granted legal and religious authority to judge local matters.10/1501

6.      “Beaten in the synagogues” (13:9): Synagogues were used not only for worship and teaching, but also for confinement before trial.7/1581 Sometimes the Jews flogged the prisoner up to 40 times.9/571 Jesus, however, endured a more severe flogging at the hand of the Romans (cf. Lesson 23, Did You Know 8).

7.        “Abomination of desolation” (13:14): Jesus was referring to Daniel’s prophecy (Mt 24:15) that the temple would be desecrated (Dan 9:27; 12:11). This was fulfilled when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. It may also point to the rise of the antichrist in the future (cf. Mk 13:5,6; 1Jn 2:18,4:3).

8.      Housetop/Roof (13:15): People often relaxed on the flat roofs, where it was pleasant and cool (cf. Lesson 4, Did You Know 1).9/501

9.      Clothes/Cloak (13:16): An outer garment that protected against cold night air.3/170 Jesus’ warning in this verse echoes His command to the twelve disciples (cf. Mk 6:9).

10.  Four winds (13:27): Refers to the boundaries of the physical world, most often in the context of describing the Lord’s mighty works (cf. Ezek 37:9; Dan 11:4; Zech 2:6; Rev 7:1).

II.    Observation

A.     Outline








B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. General Analysis

1. How do you stay on top of current events? How does the knowledge benefit your faith?

2. What should be the correct attitude in interpreting the signs of the last days?

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     13:1-20

1. What were the disciples’ two questions (4)? To them, which was the more important question? In what order did Jesus answer their questions? To Jesus, which was the more important question?

2. Ask a mother about experiencing birth pains. Why did Jesus compare the signs to birth pains (8, NIV)?

3. List the sequence of signs recorded in verses 5-23. For each sign, if it has already taken place or is taking place, how? If not, how will it?

4. Explain verse 12. Why will family members betray each other?

5. What are we the readers supposed to understand about the “abomination of desolation” (14)?

6a. How does the description in 14-17 add to the impact of Jesus’ warning?

6b. What does “flee to the mountains” mean (14)?

7. How do we prepare ourselves for the coming tribulation?

B.     13:21-23

8a. Give examples of false christs and false prophets.

8b. How do false christs and false prophets deceive?

8c. How do we guard against false christs and false prophets?

C.     13:24-27

9. List the signs of the Lord’s Second Coming recorded in verses 24–27.

10a. When will Jesus come again?

10b. Why will Jesus come again?

11. What do you feel when you think about the Lord’s Second Coming? Why?

12. In light of the fact that the world will end, what are your plans and objectives?

D.     13:28-37

13. Who is “this generation” (30)?

14a. How many times did Jesus mention that no one knows when the time will come?

14b. Why didn’t Jesus (“the Son”) know the day or hour (32)?

14c. Why doesn’t God reveal the time to us? What is the danger of trying to pinpoint the exact time of the end of the world?

15. How is the fig tree growing leaves in summer a lesson?

16. Why did Jesus stress that His words will never pass away (31)?

17. What does each of the following in the parable (34-36) represent?

17a. Owner of the house (Mk 12:1; Mt 25:14)

17b. House (1Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19; Heb 10:21)

17c. Servants (1Pet 2:16; 2Cor 4:5)

17d. Doorkeeper (Ezek 33:6; Jer 6:17; Jn 10:3)

18. Explain this parable.

19. Compare the parable in 34-36 to the three parables in Mt 25:1-13, 45-51, and 25:14-30.

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