Disclaimer: These comments here are exclusively on Mark 13. A timeline of Matthew 24 HERE. I’ve yet to glance at Luke 21. So, this is not an exegetical explication by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve also tried to stay away from Daniel and the Apocalypse and some verses of Saint Paul. The next step will be to look at Luke 21, Daniel, Saint Paul and the Apocalypse. And then put them all together in a careful, legit manner. That’s not easy. You gotta start somewhere. Hold on for the ride:
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” 2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” [Jesus ignores their question about the destruction of the temple and, it seems, speaks to the persecution between His Ascension and His second coming, a period of time in which, as we read in verse 10, the Gospel will have first have to have been preached to all nations at least before His second coming.]
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. [None of these will be the antichrist, who will instead hold himself to be God, thus doing away with all idols.]
7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. [Here Jesus thus lays out the timeline: (1) His sojourn on this earth; (2) the period of time between His Ascension and the “days of distress”, what He calls just the beginning of the birth pains; (3) those days of distress which He notes are worse than anything experienced since the foundation of the world, days of distress that will never see their like repeated again; (4) a period of time after those days of distress; (5) the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds with great glory, the second coming; (6) the harvest wrought by the angels; (7) the final judgment.]
[Still in the time of the birth pains, though for anyone going through them it will seem like the end of the world and may well be the end of their earthly sojourn:] 9 “You must be on your guard. [No one expects to be betrayed because you can only be betrayed by those you trust.] You will be handed over [betrayed] to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. [And because so many church leaders receives monies from the State…] On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. [“We have no king but Caesar” they shriek.]
10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. [This is a parenthetical reprimand right in the middle of describing the beginning of the birth pains. One is not to react immediately to every single untoward incident of suffering and persecution and claim that it is the end of the world. Instead, one might well be in the midst of the beginning of the birth pains, and not yet in the days of distress and, therefore, not yet at the time preceding the second coming. Also, note that this “first be preached” statement doesn’t mean that all nations will convert, just that the Gospel will have to have been provided to all nations.]
[Continuing with the description of the birth pains:] 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. [I can’t resist saying that there is no precedent in human history where we have been just one small step away from this.] 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. [Jesus warns us of the reason for the betrayals: the breakdown of the family, with such hatred being presented to wokista judges. The answer, of course, is love, that man/woman/marriage/family is the image of God. That will bring you to being a martyr. Thanks be to God.]
[The beginning of the birth pains in reaction to Jesus’ sojourn on this earth will go right up the time of the “days of distress”, which we will recognize. How’s that? Jesus simply tells us:] 14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ steadfastly standing where it must not be by divine mandate [δεῖ] – let the reader understand – [This parenthesis of Mark confirms that this is a time future to that of the Apostles themselves] then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. [All Judea is mountainous, so this refers to the spiritual heights.] 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. [You can go to the spiritual heights starting where you are. There’s nothing material that’s going to help you.] 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. [No matter where you are, there’s nothing material that’s going to help you.] 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! [Again, I think of this unprecedented time of abortion, of pharmaceutical extraction of organs from live babies as they’re being ripped out of the wombs of their mothers, of the insane increase in miscarriages caused by “vaccines”, etc.] 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, [Again, it is not infrequent that during exorcisms that the air will become extremely cold even on the hottest summer day.] 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equaled again. [Thus, this is not the end of the world, but refers to these “days of distress”. Jesus is here citing Daniel verbatim.]
20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. [Daniel speaks of 1,290 days, but our Lord decreases this number by thirty days, down to 1,260, exactly a time, times and half a time, three and a half years, 42 months. If not for the dispensation from those 30 days, no one would survive. Think about that for a moment. Not one.] But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. [Thank you, Jesus!] 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. [I don’t think any false messiahs or prophets will be interesting themselves, but people will be tempted to follow them because that “anyone” saying something to you is someone for whom you are politically correct and follow just so as to fit in. Jesus is extremely merciful here with our weakness, instructing us and commanding us to be “on guard.” That’s our job in his grace.]
24 “But in those days, after the tribulation, [So, note “in those days” described as “tribulation”, that is, immediately following the tribulation but still in those days, the idea being the tribulation instantly changes to what happens next with no intervening period of time. What follows is part of “those days”:]
“‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ [So, there are a multitude of passages with analogous wording. There is much to say about this. This is very significant. The point here is just to give a timeline. This happens immediately following upon the “days of distress.”]
[Jesus then begins to speak of His second coming.] 26 “And then will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son [as the Son of Man, but He knows in His divine nature], but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” [We watch with a bond of love with Jesus provided by Jesus.]
5 responses to “Apocalyptic Mark 13: Timeline distinctions”
As with many of Our Lord’s teachings, this is a paradox. It is both frightening and, yet, reassuring. All the horror we see around us will lead us to the greatest moment in all of history…the return in triumph of the GodMan. We are commanded always to be ready for we know not the day nor the hour. Christ is risen Alleluia! Truly He is risen. Alleluia
I think the word is maranatha.
I believe you are correct, Fathr.
Re “8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom … These are the beginning of birth pains.”
These “birth pains” seem well advanced in our day, the size of confrontations and number of casualties having increased dramatically. Wars became world wide for the first time last century; moreover, advances in science and technology have expanded the killing capacity of weapons making war more deadly.
Could revolutions and wars grow any worse? I suppose so since surveillance devices and more deadly weapons are still being developed and produced and the nuclear threat looming for the last three-quarters of a century is still threatening. Hence, the “birth pains” spoken of in the Bible seem not only well advanced but coming to a head.
Re “10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
The progress of that preaching can be divided into two stages: Stage 1, 1st to 16th centuries, the Gospel spread throughout the Old World (in Europe quite thoroughly, Asia to some extent, and also in Africa before Islam invaded there from the 7th century ); Stage II, approximately 16th to 20th centuries, the Gospel crossed the oceans first to the New World (the Americas) at the the dawn of our present times (around the beginning of the 1500s), and then the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) by the late 1700s. It also continued its spread in Asia and Africa. Hence, the Gospel has been preached to all nations although there are a small number of tiny isolated communities (termed “uncontacted tribes”) where the modern world has not yet penetrated and the Gospel not yet reached.
It seems pertinent that as stage II began the “Woman of the Apocalypse” (Our Lady of Guadeloupe) appeared and as the spread of the Gospel to all nations (although not to all small, isolated communities) was achieved, and the “birth pains” involving war increased drastically, St Michael the Archangel and then Our Lady of the Rosary appeared at Fatima.
Re “12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” I disagree “that there is no precedent in human history where we have been just one small step away from this.”
The French Revolution set in train revolutions throughout Europe which finally made it to Russia
early last century, the Bolshevik Revolution bringing nation-wide atheistic communism into being. “Big Brother” / political correctness became a thing wherein neighbour reported on neighbour to the government on perceived non-approved sentiments or activities, and even children reported on their parents. A person so charged could be imprisoned, tortured or even killed.
Communism has since spread to other countries (China and some other parts of Asia and Latin America) and I think that if a global /world government is achieved in the future, as some speculate, it may well be an atheistic communist dictatorship, the peoples of the world in the grip of an all-encompassing anti-Christian power. Such, I think, would qualify for “days of distress”.
If the beginning of “birth pains” are now well advanced, then the “days of distress” appear near. Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima did warn that if we do not stop offending God worse calamities are to come. Just over 100 years have gone by since that warning and persecution of the Church is indeed picking up and the likelihood of a 3rd World War seems more likely from one month to the next as relations with Russia and China continue to deteriorate.
I do like how the lamb in Our Lord’s arms has been drawn, innocent and trusting, nestling into his shepherd who he knows will protect him; the cruelty and fierceness of the wolves also exceptionally well portrayed.