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The Signs of the Times

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2021 12:01 am

The Signs of the Times

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 25, 2021 12:01 am

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus warned His disciples about coming days of tribulation. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the book of Mark to discuss the difficult times that Christ described.

Get R.C. Sproul's Expositional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/1638/mark-expositional-commentary

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. We say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church for dear friends. It's a fact of history that not all of the professing Christians went to their deaths, singing hymns, there were those who betrayed their friends, their parents their brothers their sisters to save their own neck. Jesus predicted the end times in Mark chapter 13. He said the brother would betray brother fathers would betray the children. The children would have their parents put to death. Many assume that those events will happen in the future but is it possible they've already been fulfilled. Today we continue Dr. RC Sproles verse by verse sermon series from the Gospel of Mark this morning were going to continue our study of the gospel according to Mark were still in chapter 13 were looking at the all of the discourse and I'm going to begin reading at verse nine through verse 20 past conjugation stand for the reading of the word of God. But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils and you will be beaten in the synagogues.

She will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations, but when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry before hand or premeditate what you will speak but whatever is given you in that hour speak that word is not you who speak. But the Holy Spirit.

A brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death and you will be hated by all for my namesake, but he who endures to the end shall be. Say so when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not let the reader understand, then let those who are on Judea flee to the mountains with him was on the housetop not go down the house to render to take anything out of his house, let him it was in the field not go back to get his cloak load of those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days and pray that your flight might not be in winter when those days, there will be tribulation, such as not been since the beginning of creation which God created in the till this time, nor ever shall be, unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake, whom he chose.

He shortened the day's.

This is the word of God. Please be seated.

Last Sunday I made mention that there is no passage in the New Testament that gives more compelling evidence of the supernatural character of the Bible and of the person of Jesus in terms of his detailed future predictions of the destruction of the Temple and of the destruction of Jerusalem, which things came to pass within one generation after that prediction, yet at the same time, there's no portion of Scripture that is been more subject to criticism by skeptics, then the all of the discourse, because within that discourse. Jesus speaks of his coming at the end of the age on clouds of glory, and so the three things that he announces the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem and is coming at the end of the age are all within the framework of what Mark calls all these things, and when the disciples asked Jesus point-blank, when will these things take place and what will be the sign of the coming of all of these things Jesus made mention of a timeframe of one generation saying that this generation shall not pass away until all of these things are fulfilled, and because of that prediction. People like Bertrand Russell and biblical scholars of criticism in our day have said to see the Bible can't be trusted. Neither can Jesus be trusted because he predicted all of these things within the framework of that generation. I mentioned last week, there been many attempts to deal with that difficulty, some by redefining the meaning of the word generation frankly and torturous ways that I don't think will stand up others by suggesting that what we have here in this predictive prophecy is that kind of thing that we would find in the Old Testament where prophecy is made that has a short-term application and then has a more full application.

Later on in history, and so perhaps this is what is in view here in still another attempt to interpret Mark 13 Matthew 24, Luke 21 the all the discourse is to see that what Jesus was talking about. Here was not his final coming at the end of time, but his judgment coming at the end of the Jewish age, which would have been fulfilled in A.D. 70, and that view is one that has become more and more popular as criticism has intensified in our day, so I will do this morning is to show you ways in which this text may be understood in terms of its first century application.

I did that briefly last week with respect to the wars and rumors of wars, the earthquakes and the famines in the beginning of sorrows.

Verse nine we read, watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils you will be beaten in the synagogues, you will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. In the gospel must first be preached to all the nations when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry or whatever to give you new in that hour speak that Ford is not you who speak. But the Holy Spirit now hear this portion of the prophecy. Sounds like an outline for the book of acts does not, because in the book of acts as we watch the apostolic spread of the gospel in the first century, we see the repeated experiences of the apostles being subject to persecution.

First, the very serious persecutions that are inflicted upon the apostles by the Jewish community and then later by the power of Rome. We see Paul for example, in his missionary journeys going into the synagogues and all of the major cities of Asia minor and throughout that area, and at times being thrown out bodily sometimes beaten with rods sometimes stoned and left for dead. We see Paul standing before Agrippa, in chains, saying to the king you know that his own testimony in Agrippa St. Paul. Almost all persuaded me to be a Christian apostolate with that you were not only almost altogether such as I am except for these chains and there is this sense in the book of acts of the early church is awareness of the presence and power of God the Holy Spirit who would deliver them out of the hands of these kings and rulers and counsel giving them what to say on the appropriate occasions. Remember that these words of warning were not given to us originally, but they were given to the leaders of the first church and of the 12 disciples apart from Judas. Of course, who hung himself. The only disciple that was not martyred in the first century was John all the rest were put to death for the testimony of their faith, that you may balk at verse 10. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations again. Remember, Jesus is answering the question.

When will these things take place. Specifically, the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem. Now he says that the gospel must be preached to all the nations, all the after Norway all the Gentiles, and of course the gospel was preached to the ethmoid in the first century and the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Romans. Rejoice that the gospel had already now been spread abroad through the whole world was a way to minute gospel didn't go to Argentina gospel and go to China. The gospel didn't go to Australia gospel and go to the American Indians, surly Eskimos. By this time, so how could Paul writes that the gospel had gone to the whole world. He was speaking about the Mediterranean world. The world of that time, the known world where the gospel had been preached in that first century. Remember Jesus earlier had said you will not go through all the cities of Israel till you will see the kingdom of God coming in power and so even that text in that degree was fulfilled before 70 A.D. and he goes on to say now brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all for my namesake, but he who endures to the end shall be saved. Now one of the most difficult problems with the early church had to deal with historically was that problem referred to as the lap see problem.

Many Christians today are not even aware that there was such a problem called the Lapsley problem.

Some interpreters of the book of Hebrews believe that one of the main reasons why the book of Hebrews was written, however, was to address the Lapsley problem, which began in the first century what we hear about from that era on that time of persecution, both from Jewish persecution and especially from Roman persecution is of the heroic stand that the martyrs made under severe persecution being made human torches to illumine the gardens of Nero being fed to the lions in the arena being slaughtered by gladiators in the arena and in the Circus Maximus in those places where Christians in their death throes were made sport for the Roman spectators in the Coliseum and elsewhere and we say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. But, dear friends. It's a fact of history that not all of the professing Christians went to their deaths, singing hymns, there were those who caved in. There were those who lapsed. There were those who betrayed their profession of faith. There were those who betrayed their friends, their parents their brothers their sisters to save their own neck in a word, there were traders to the faith. In the first century just as Jesus warned that there would be. I'll never forget.

In 1965 we were living in Holland. I had gone to the market than I was coming back from the market, walking, carrying a bag of groceries and as I approached the home.

We were staying in this little village I saw a woman approaching me on the sidewalk and just as a matter of common courtesy I greeted her say something like good afternoon, and her face lit up like a lightbulb and she stopped in her tracks and it wasn't enough for her to say good afternoon, she began to ask me questions and engage me in conversation so no I didn't know this lady.

I stood there on the sidewalk right in front of the place where we were staying and I talked to her for 10 or 15 minutes and then finally, the conversation ended and I took my groceries and went into this house where we had rented a room and our landlady greeted me at the door and she was livid.

She was beside herself in fury and rage, and she began to berate me because I was talking to that lady out in the street and I said you know what's with this. What's the matter with that I do wrong. She revealed that that woman had been a collaborator during World War II. The ward been over for 20 years, but nobody in that village would talk to her. Even now, because of her treason because of her. Some of the young men in the village had been carried away to prison camps in Germany and so how I discovered firsthand the pain. The people had in the reluctance that they had to forgive those who had betrayed them. And Jesus predicted that this would happen before the fulfillment of the prophecy member in the middle of the 1950s when the Russians occupied Poland.

Christianity was outlawed and not only were children not allowed to pray in the schools but they were not permitted to pray at home and the rules were that if the parents read the Bible or parades with their children.

It was the children's obligation to report them to the authorities when they came to school and that happened, dear friends in many of our lifetimes today were children betrayed their parents and were persecuted. Then Jesus goes on. So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it not let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains now many scholars see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled in the second century BC with the sacrilege committed by Antioch us epiphanies and others sought here in the beginning of the first century. During the reign of Caligula when and as I mentioned last week he ordered a statue of himself fight more than one statue of himself erected in the Temple in Jerusalem. Again the Jews protested so strongly and vehemently against that that that project was abandoned, but according to Josephus, the Jewish historian the greatest desecration of the temple of God took place under the direction of the Roman general who later became Emperor Titus at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. I know that people have the most part read the Gospels, read the New Testament you would do well to read Josephus accounts of the Jewish war because we have a firsthand report of what happened in Jerusalem in the destruction of the city at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D. that was a watershed moment for all of redemptive history and Josephus himself barely live to see that he lived in a different village and he was a warrior in general and all of his troops and all of the villagers were killed except Josephus and he was captured by the Romans, and because of his great valor and because of his knowledge, he became a friend of Titus, who took over the leadership of the invasion of Palestine from his father when his father was recalled to Rome to become Emperor, but in any case, while he was imprisoned by the Romans.

Josephus pled with Titus to save the city. In fact, he was used by Titus as the mediator to negotiate a truce between the Romans and the Jews asking the Jews to surrender. Remember when the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem. They didn't just march into Jerusalem destroy the city, Jerusalem was a walled city and was seen to be of an impregnable fortress and so first of all, the Romans for many many months. Set siege to Jerusalem and it was during that siege that under a white flag. Josephus came forth and spoke to those who were inside the walled city begging them to surrender, not because he was trying to be a traitor but because he knew that they would all be killed if they didn't, and even more important to Josephus was Josephus did not want to see the holy Temple destroyed and his descriptions of those events are of great importance but anyway he considered the fulfillment of Daniel to be Titus is entrance into the holy place and destroying it. There in 70 A.D. and he said then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

This is Jesus here telling the people to flee elsewhere. He said when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies flee to the mountains I mentioned last week that the first-grade Holocaust of the Jewish people took place in the destruction of Jerusalem 11.1 million Jews were slaughtered, but strangely, the Christians were not among them. Why because Jesus had warned about this tribulation that was to come. And he told his people to flee to the mountains now understand that advice to flee to the mountains at the time of an invading army was completely against all common strategy in the ancient world, what people would do with the first site of an invading army was to flee from their villages. But where did they go they didn't run for the hills. Then going to the mountains.

They made haste into the walled cities which they believed was the safest place the and there were not normally 1,100,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem at that time. The reason why so many Jews were killed in the destruction of Jerusalem was because when the Roman invasion of Israel started people from all the villages as soon as they got word about it. They made a beeline to Jerusalem because there they thought they would be safe. But the Christians didn't do that because Jesus told him not to well so they say that his mood was on the housetop them go back into the house.

Don't enter to take anything in the house as you see this happening, make a beeline for the mountains.

Don't go back for your suitcase, let him ooze in the field not go back to get as close woe to those who are pregnant to those who are nursing babies in those days and pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as not been seen since the beginning of creation which God created until this time there ever shall be, unless the Lord has shortened those days, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake, and we chose. He shortened the days. Now, dear friends, you will know as well as I do that when Jesus speaks about the great tribulation that the standard view of this text in our culture and in the church today is that he was speaking simply and only of a tribulation that would occur at the very end of time prior to his return in glory when you can watch Christian television for very long or listen to Christian radio without hearing somebody talk about the approaching tribulation, the great tribulation, and the how the crisis can come before the tribulation for which God can find a single verse anywhere in Scripture that teaches that, but in any case, it may be. As I said the Jesus was predicting something that would have a short-term fulfillment and long-term film and I don't know but we don't have to look beyond 70 A.D. find a perfect fulfillment of what he's talking about… Earlier passage that is caused a great deal of speculation about the end times today here on Renewing Your Mind. We pretty compelling perspective from Dr. RC Sproul glad you joined us for the Sunday edition of our program pie we web and if you've joined us. Each Lord's day over the past several weeks you've heard Dr. Sproles verse by verse exposition of Mark's gospel will continue our journey. In the weeks to come.

So I hope you'll make plans to be with us every Sunday. Our resource offered today will be a great study companion for you as you continue your study when you contact us with a donation of any amount will be glad to provide you with a digital download of Dr. Sproles commentary on Mark. This is an online offer only. So we encourage you to go to Renewing Your Mind.org that's Renewing Your Mind.org.

Our purpose here at later ministries is to awaken as many people as possible to the holiness of God. We do that by providing trustworthy teaching on the Bible, theology, church history, apologetics in Christian ethics. Your financial support allows us to continue this effort around the world in many languages so we thank you for coming alongside is prayerfully and financially. Next Sunday Dr. Strohl would continue his examination of Mark chapter 13 with a message titled Christ coming in his glory.

I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind


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