Introduction: If I could tell your future, would you want to hear it?
Would you prefer to know the general outline instead of specifics?
This week our study is one of the most interesting and perplexing in
the Bible. Jesus tells His disciples about the future. There is
little doubt that they did not correctly understand it at the time.
I’m not so sure we can get it right today, but let’s jump into our
study and see what we can learn!

  1. Destruction

    1. Read Mark 13:1. Why do you think Jesus’ disciple made this
      remark to Him? (The temple of Jerusalem was one of the
      wonders of the world. I recently read Josephus’ The Jewish
      Wars and his description of the temple is just
      astonishing. When the sun reflected off the gold of the
      temple, Josephus says that it looked like fire. Josephus
      describes some of the massive stones in Jerusalem. He also
      discussed some of the parks, fountains and waterworks. As
      I considered Josephus’ description, I thought “What a
      wonderful city. I would like to be there.” This was not
      rural Judea!)

    2. Read Mark 13:2. Put yourself in the place of this
      disciple, when Jesus said this, what would you think? (I
      live just outside Washington, D.C. If I were told that
      “not one stone here will be left on another,” I would
      conclude that the United States would likely be destroyed.
      Add to this thought that Jerusalem was the center for the
      worship of God. The catastrophe for your nation, your God,
      your religion, is almost beyond belief.)

      1. Do you think the disciples at this time believed in a
        “last days” and the resurrection? (They had just
        heard Jesus speak of the resurrection and heaven.
        ( Mark 12:25) It is logical that Jesus had taught the
        disciples what He taught Martha – who clearly
        believed in a resurrection at “the last day.” John

      2. What relationship do you think the disciples saw
        between the destruction of Jerusalem and the “last
        day?”(Read Matthew’s account of this question.
        Matthew 24:3 shows that they believed the destruction
        of Jerusalem and the “end of the age” were the same

    3. Read Mark 13:3-4. Why would they come to Jesus privately?
      (We have seen a pattern of this. Jesus’ disciples do not
      want to look foolish asking questions in front of the
      crowds. Since they can come to Him privately, they do. See
      Mark 9:28.)

      1. What do they want to know? (When this will happen and
        how can they have advance notice.)

        1. Are these things on your mind too when it comes
          to the time of the end?

  2. Instructions and Warnings

    1. Read Mark 13:5. Jesus is coming down to the end of His
      life here on earth, and He is giving His final
      instructions about the coming tribulation. What is His
      very first advice? (Watch so that you will not be
      deceived. Friend, this is invaluable advice. So many
      people think they know precisely how things will happen.
      The fact that the Jewish leaders missed Jesus’ first
      coming is a stark warning against religious arrogance.
      That fact is all the proof we need (as if we needed any)
      of the critical importance of Jesus warning for us to

      1. We know from Matthew 24:3 and history that the
        disciples had the wrong assumption – that the world
        would end when Jerusalem was destroyed. Why didn’t
        Jesus say to them “You are already confused. Let me
        straighten this out for you – then watch so you do
        not get confused or deceived again?”

    2. Read Mark 13:6. What are we watching for? (Deception about
      Jesus’ Second Coming.)

    3. Read Mark 13:7-8. What does Jesus say about these signs?
      (The are the beginning of a tribulation period. The time
      of trouble begins with these signs.)

    4. Read Mark 13:9, 11. Is Jesus talking about the Second
      Coming here? (No. He is talking about Jewish courts and

    5. Read Mark 13:10. Is Jesus talking about the Second Coming
      here? (It seems He is.)

    6. Read Mark 13:14-16. Is Jesus talking about the Second
      Coming here? (Leaving immediately was important advice.
      Josephus’ The Jewish Wars tells us that after the Romans
      laid siege to Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders would kill
      anyone who tried to leave the city. Our lesson (Tuesday)
      points to Josephus’ account of the Christians escaping
      Jerusalem before its destruction based on their
      understanding of Mark 13:14 and obedience to Jesus’
      instructions. When Jesus refers to “those who are in
      Judea” He is talking about Jerusalem.)

    7. Read Daniel 9:26-27. How does this text relate to Mark
      13:14? (Jesus is quoting Daniel!)

      1. What is Daniel discussing? (Daniel is giving us a
        prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by the

      2. Notice Daniel 9:27. The NIV does something that most
        other translations do not do. It inserts “of the
        temple” after “wing.” (The brackets show us it was
        added.) Just leaving the Greek as it is (“on a wing
        he will set up an abomination that causes
        desolation”) makes sense to me. The Roman standard
        was the eagle. It had prominent wings. Josephus tells
        us that there was a tremendous dispute when the
        Romans mounted their eagle standard to the outside of
        the temple. Whether we are talking about the symbol
        of the Roman empire, or the empire itself, Rome was
        the abomination that caused the desolation of

    8. Read Mark 13:17-19. Is this a reference to the Second
      Coming or the destruction of Jerusalem? (Josephus recounts
      what happened in Jerusalem just before and during its
      destruction. The account is horrific. None of what Jesus
      predicts is worse than what Josephus says happened.
      However, I am not sure this is a “Jerusalem only”

    9. Read Mark 13:24-26. Is this the destruction of Jerusalem
      or the Second Coming? (Obviously, Mark 13:26 is the Second
      Coming. Somewhere between Mark 13:19-23 Jesus is making a
      transition. Mark 13:24 says “following that distress” and
      then discusses the sun being darkened. That seems to refer
      to a period of time after the destruction of Jerusalem.
      Although I recall that Josephus recorded that during the
      seige of Jerusalem the sun was darkened one day.)(Note to
      the reader. I listened to an unabridged recording of The
      Jewish Wars. Thus, I have not given page references.)

    10. Is it appropriate to try to draw the lines that we have
      been making between the Second Coming and the fall of
      Jerusalem? (Perhaps not. Mark 13:24 starts out “But in
      those days,” referring to the verses that seem to describe
      the fall of Jerusalem. Mark 13:26 adds another time link
      “At that time.” Jesus ties these together, but is not
      giving us a bright time-line.)

      1. As another example, read Isaiah 13:9-11. Jesus quoted
        this text in Mark 13:24-25. To what time period does
        this refer? (Isaiah clearly says this deals with the
        Second Coming (“the day of the Lord”). See also, Joel

      2. Is there some other approach that you think is more
        appropriate than trying to sort out which prophecy
        applies to which event? (Some Bible prophecies have
        more than one fulfillment. See, for example,
        Zechariah 8:4-8, which referred to the first
        rebuilding of Jerusalem and which could also apply
        (in part) to the New Jerusalem.)

  3. Bottom Line

    1. Read Mark 13:32-34. How much should we depend on what we
      studied in this lesson to determine when Jesus will come
      again? (After talking about specifics, Jesus says that we
      should not depend on them. What we should depend upon is
      being on guard and being alert.)

    2. Read Mark 13:35-36. What is the most important advice that
      Jesus gives us about His Second Coming? (Watch! Jesus ends
      this discussion on the same note as He began the
      discussion: Mark 13:5 “Watch.”)

    3. Friend, I find Mark 13 confusing. But, I think that is
      Jesus’ point. Jesus is telling us, to give us comfort,
      that He knows the kinds of terrible events that are
      coming. The lesson for us is to be constantly alert, and
      not be arrogant about our understanding of prophecy or our
      predictions based on Jesus’ statements. He knows our
      future and we need to know our task: Watch!

  4. Next week: Betrayed and Arrested.