Doomsday Signs—A Signal of His Grace
This section in the Book of Mark, is one dealing with the End Times and with one of its most popular subjects: The end of the world.
When would it occur and what would be the signs?
This topic and these questions have fascinated men since the very beginning. Throughout history many have attempted to come up with details and even dates, and multitudes of visions and dreams have been recorded. So many books have been written but what makes our text section most exceptional is that these predictions have come directly from Yeshua Himself.
This chapter of Mark 13 is like a hub of biblical prophecies in that Jesus gathers the many sayings of the Hebrew Scriptures’ prophets and those of the New Testament’s prophets and wraps them together. With that as the fundamental baseline, He then adds new detailed information, along with precious advice and guidance covering the period of time from the moment He uttered these statements to the time of His Second Coming. These prophecies therefore concern every believer.
Technically speaking, the End Times had started when Yeshua’s Kingdom offer was officially rejected by the world with His resulting sacrificial death and resurrection. And as for the signs of this Kingdom Age, what this chapter will lay out for us has been clearly seen throughout these last 2000 years, however with a marked increased intensity especially in these days.
A key term that we find in Yeshua’s explanation of End Times, one found in the Hebrew Scriptures and throughout Jewish writings is in vs. 8 when after listing the main signs, Yeshua says, These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. The term birth pangs, one word in both the Greek and Hebrew, conveys an increase in the number of signs and an increase in strength and intensity until He comes back. And this intensity can be seen and felt growing in our planet today, so much so, that even the scientific world has joined the prophets of the Bible to warn us of the impending wars and natural catastrophes ahead.
Numbering the Signs
As for these signs which accompanied the Body of the Messiah throughout the ages, Yeshua lists four of them in Mark 13: we can briefly sum up before we look at them in more detail. First, there will be and already is the presence of false teachers who are here called false messiahs or christs, because of the direction they take; they want to replace Yeshua’s position of authority. These will increase with time and this prophecy alone, this sign of the end that Yeshua chose to announce first, encourages every believer to stay close to God and close to His people. We know that false christs will try to isolate every believer and redefine some major bible doctrines, as Yeshua said, in order to lure away even the elect (vs.20).
Second, we will hear about the emergence of wars and rumours of wars. Wars have always been there, but as history testifies, these wars have markedly increased, especially surrounding the time of the return of the Jews to their land, to Israel. We can see this prophecy fulfilled with the advent of the combined First and Second World Wars which ended only 3 years before the return of the Jewish people to their land. This return was a major trigger to initiate the last part of the end times.
Third, there will be natural disasters such as earthquakes in various places. These also always were from the beginning, and today we realize their presence even more with new technologies which allow the scientists to daily measure these geological tremors. But the Bible speaks of major earthquakes that are to come, accompanied with other destructive natural disturbances such as hailstones and floods in some cities and at the same time dryness and dehydration in other areas. We today, can already feel these birth pangs with the world’s climate changes.
Fourth, comes what usually follows the first signs, that is famines. Wars, natural disasters and especially man’s growing coldness of heart, will cause not only spiritual, but physical famine as well.
After these 4 signs in Mark, Yeshua gives so many details concerning the moments just preceding His Second Coming, moments of such great intensity, a time of which He Himself said in vs. 20a that Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved. This statement is one of grace and it comes after God had given man the wheel to steer this planet. What has been the outcome? So much self-destruction that Yeshua would need to come to stop us in our tracks.
Signs Which Signal His Grace
And when considering all these predicted calamities we may also ask, why does God allow such difficult times to linger and eventually to increase to such a great force? It is because He desires that every human being comes to a saving knowledge of Yeshua and so He allows for this increase of birth pangs, so that man may eventually see he cannot make it on his own. Every sign, every fulfilled prophecy is a call to salvation, a signal of grace. These birth pangs then, become an indication of a new life to come, a new era of peace and harmony with God.
After all, these times, those explained here for us, are very short. Daniel speaks of 7 years, John of 42 months or 1240 days, and each day, each hour is counted and will not go beyond these times. Contrary to that, our new life in Yeshua is for ever and ever. That is why God takes so long to resolve the problem of evil. “Come to Me, He says, before it is too late”.
How Must We Act?
And how then should we today, in the face of these increasing signs, be or act? It seems that this is Yeshua’s main concern. The feeling that one gets when reading all these powerful prophecies is that Yeshua is much more concerned about how we live and we grow in our sanctification than all the details given here.
For instance, throughout this chapter, there is one thing that Jesus repeats over and over. He speaks to every believer and gives what we may call, the 12 warnings of Mark 13; it is all about how we respond to these things. As He warns us of the coming of many false teachers, He tells us in vs.4, See to it that no one misleads you. He is so concerned for our spiritual growth and walk on the narrow.
As He spoke of wars and rumours of wars, He tells us in vs.7 not to be frightened. God is and always be will sovereign and even more so at such times when danger threatens His lambs. We need to trust Him. He asks us, in vs.9, that we be on our guard always, for we ought to do our part of the fighting. He adds in vs.11 that we should not worry for every day. This means we ought to run to him for faith and strength in prayer in His Word, in fellowship and always with a servant’s heart. In vs.21, we see Him always concerned that even one lamb might fall into the mouth of these deceptive teachers and again He warns us to check out our information before believing anyone.
Towards the end, even His warnings intensify; in vs.23 He tell us to take heed. In the same verse He again admonishes us by saying He already told us about these things in advance. And again in vs.33 he tells us to Take heed. In the same verse He adds; Keep on the alert. In the next vs.34, He adds: Stay on the alert. Again in next vs.35 He says: Be on the alert. And again in vs.37 the last verse, His last words in this prophecy are: Be on the alert!
We can see that by repeating these words, Yeshua is really concerned for each one of us and that every one who belongs to the family of God is called to action, to search, to know and to grow in his or her relationship and knowledge of God, especially in these times.