Mark 13:11-14 NLTse But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (12) “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. (13) And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (14) “The day is coming when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be.” (Reader, pay attention!) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.
The disciples were still wondering why Jesus answered their question the way He did. They asked Him specifically about His comment concerning the stones of the temple, not one will be left upon another. This caught their attention. They wanted to know all the details about the temple. Just think of how they could use such information. Think of the respect they would gain. Now why did Jesus answer their question, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?” By answering, ““Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.” What does the Messiah have to do with the temple? Better yet, what does a false Messiah have to do with the stones in the temple?
Jesus quickly moved on to wars between nations and kingdoms. Now the disciples were trying to figure out how the three were connected. What is the common thread between the temple, false Messiahs, and wars? Jesus quickly added natural disasters, earthquakes and famines. All of these pointed to an end of the world they never considered. Their version of prophecy pointed to an end of the opposition, but not them. Jesus called all of His warning the beginning of birth pains. Why birth pains? Was Jesus using a simple cliché, or was He pointing to the start of something new?
Suddenly Jesus’ warning became personal, “watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.” These things weren’t supposed to happen to them, only their enemies. Was the Good News they were going to preach a part of the birth pains? Was the Good News the beginning of the birth pains? The disciples looked at one another hoping to see signs one of them understood what Jesus was talking about. All of this seemed so new and confusing. They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority–quite unlike the teachers of religious law. (Mark 1:22 NLTse).
The disciples saw little comfort knowing the Holy Spirit would tell them what to say when the time came. They would much rather know what was coming and when. At least they knew they would not face this crisis alone. Jesus told them “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. Everyone wanted to, but they were all afraid to ask Jesus for additional details. Then Jesus told them, “everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
The disciples were wondering, the end of what? Jesus told them some strange things and details were getting stranger. Jesus used vague descriptions up to this point. Now it was time to send the disciples back to scripture. Jesus knew the disciples were looking for easy answers He was not going to give them. Did the disciples forget their training already? How was Jesus going to get His disciples to reply on scripture and the Holy Spirit?
Once again Jesus used a long pause to show His disciples He was about to explain an important detail. He rose to His feet and walked around, looking at and touching each of His disciples. Each disciple thought Jesus was about to reveal the answer to them, but Jesus passed by each one of them. Walking a short distance, Jesus turned and said, “The day is coming when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.”
Jesus knew the key word, desecration, pointed the disciples to Daniel which contained a number of texts adding more detail. Jesus already told them about wars. Their questions began with the temple, the only detail Jesus needed to add was the sacrilegious object that causes desecration. Finding the proper texts in Daniel showed how Jesus understood this prophecy. It pointed back to everything He was trying to teach them, the prophecies they saw fulfilled that week, and of course continued efforts by the enemy using the same deceptions over and over again.
Jesus wanted the disciples to look beyond questions to the answers. Knowing the sacrilegious object causing desecration stands in the temple made the prophecy easier to understand, and pointed to another vision describing the role of the temple, especially the continued and ultimate misuse. Of course the prophecies Daniel was given provided only a portion of the answer. Ezekiel was given additional details.
This is the basic law of the Temple: absolute holiness! The entire top of the mountain where the Temple is built is holy. Yes, this is the basic law of the Temple. You have brought uncircumcised foreigners into my sanctuary–people who have no heart for God. In this way, you defiled my Temple even as you offered me my food, the fat and blood of sacrifices. In addition to all your other detestable sins, you have broken my covenant. Instead of safeguarding my sacred rituals, you have hired foreigners to take charge of my sanctuary. “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: No foreigners, including those who live among the people of Israel, will enter my sanctuary if they have not been circumcised and have not surrendered themselves to the LORD. (Ezekiel 43:12, 44:7-9 NLTse)
Ezekiel made it clear anyone standing in the temple with no heart for God has not surrendered themselves to the Lord. They have defiled His sanctuary. Ezekiel used the symbol of an uncircumcised foreigner to represent the desecration standing in the temple. They are uncircumcised in the heart. Ezekiel describes this symbol as having no heart for God. They are foreigners in God’s eyes. This is why Jesus pointed to birth pains, destruction of the stone temple, and the Good News preached to all nations. Jesus was preparing them for the end of the organized religion they knew and the rebirth of worship established in Eden.