Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mark 13:1-8 Living through the Birth-Pains

KEY TEXT: Mark 13:8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. 

KEY THOT: We read earlier this week in Daniel 12:1, 4 that Daniel foresaw there will be a “time of trouble” just before the “time of the end” (Dan. 12:1,4). Jesus re-affirmed Daniel’s vision by elaborating what the “time of trouble” will be like: it will be a time of widespread religious deception, international conflicts (hot wars), natural disasters like earthquakes and famines (caused by droughts and floods), including the “roaring of the sea and the waves” (Luke 21:25, hurricanes & tsunamis?). Jesus also spoke in Mark 13:9-13 about the worldwide persecution of Christians: "you will be hated by all for my name's sake" (Mark 13:13). And in the midst of these birth-pains, the gospel will be preached to all nations. But he gave this warning: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” To the church under persecution, Jesus’ word is: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10). 

Jesus compared these “time of trouble” with birth-pains. As the intensity and frequency increase, we will know the birth of the new world order is imminent. And we are living in this “time of trouble”. The question that every Christian needs to answer today is: “Will I be faithful unto death so that I might receive the crown of life?” If we have faith, we will be faithful—even if it means losing our lives. 

The best defence is offence. Jesus said that before the “time of the end” arrives, the “gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations” (Mark 13:10). We should not be investing our time, money and energy in building treasures on earth, but building treasures in heaven. 

The things that are eternal is God’s Word and the souls of men. If we invest our time in these two eternal treasures, we would have lived well because when the troubles start, none of the earthly treasures we now have in our possessions—our bank accounts, our properties and our jobs—would mean anything. If we are still breathing, we should be engaged in missional activities that will bring the gospel to the lost—locally and oversea. The countdown to the Day of the Lord has started: we must work while it is still day: “We must work the works of him…while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). 

Father, grant us a sense of urgency of the task before us, that we are living in the time of trouble, the time of birthpains that Jesus warned us. May You open doors for us to proclaim the gospel while it is still permissible. Amen.

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