Monday 29 April 2019

Bible Book:

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (vs. 12-13)

Mark 13:5-13 Monday 29 April 2019

Psalm: Psalm 148


Mark 13 is sometimes called ‘the little apocalypse’ – the Book of Revelation being the great apocalypse. An apocalypse is a revelation, an unveiling of that which is at present unknown, both things in heaven and future events on earth. But apocalyptic writing veils what it describes in symbols which are usually mysterious and often fantastic. It might seem strange that veiled language is used to express an unveiling but apocalyptic deals with the things of God, of whom Isaiah says, “Truly you are a God who hides himself” (Isaiah 45:15), and whom Paul describes as dwelling in unapproachable light, “whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Where factual language is inadequate, symbols may communicate.

The risk of symbolic language is that misguided, self-confident readers will interpret texts literally, in a way which was never intended by the authors. Hal Lindsey, in his book The Late Great Planet Earth, written at the time of the Vietnam War, saw the signs of the ‘end times’ in contemporary events, and declared that the armoured locusts with stings in their tails of Revelation 9:1-11 were helicopter gunships!

Mark 13 has much symbolic imagery too, but today’s passage presents us with very plain language, promising the first Christians that they would experience suffering. In the course of Christian history, from the first disciples to whom these words were originally addressed, down to the 21st century, there have been many who have suffered in the way described in verses 9-13. Not all Christians are called to take up the cross in this way, but the way of Jesus is always the way of the cross.

These straightforward although daunting words are set within the larger context of the little apocalypse of Mark 13. In the chapter as a whole, time and eternity are compressed, so apart from the risk of reading symbolic language too literally, we shouldn’t be too quick to apply the words like those in verses 5-8 to our contemporary situations. Too often Christians have seen every earthquake or war as a sign that eternity is about to break into time.


To Ponder:

  • What is your response to apocalyptic passages in the Bible?
  • In what ways in your own life are you called to “endure to the end”?
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