"Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" (Mark 13:4)
Within a week of His approaching death, Christ sat down with His disciples to talk of the future. He would be leaving, terrible persecution would come, but He would return. Purposefully no date was given. Their curiosity was no doubt great, but Christ had other charges for them. Instead, Christ focused on other issues, and His instructions apply to us just as surely as to the disciples.
Whether things are going well or not, we must not be misled into a false sense of security. The disciples were looking at the beautiful and serene temple and grounds, but Christ predicted unprecedented destruction. "There shall not be left one stone upon another" (v. 2).
Nor should we allow ourselves to be deceived by false prophets (vv. 5-6). Scripture gives ample information to allow us to identify and shun these "wolves in sheep's clothing." But to our shame, false teachings permeate our churches and television airwaves.
Furthermore, when natural calamities and world turmoil cascade in on us (vv. 7-8), we must not be frozen with fear. These things must come (v. 7). Persecution must come also (vv. 9-12). We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated in our witness or tripped up by bitterness.
Instead, we must "endure" and remain loyal to Him (v. 13). We must be at work to spread the gospel to all nations (v. 10) in spite of the opposition. And, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is" (v. 33).
As the events in the Middle East escalate and take on a character which could lead to the sort of conflagration Jesus prophesied, let us commit ourselves to the attitude of heart and life He commanded. JDM