Read the red bits and pray for power
I’ll never forget the words of David Carr – “Read the red bits and pray for power”. The red bits are the words of Jesus. Read them and ask for power to do what He did. In today’s passage Jesus debunks a lot of end time nonsense, encouraging us to keep pressing on and showing us that we will need to pray for power to endure and bring the kingdom of God wherever we are.
Beware, some religious cows will be shot as you read on…
In verses 1-2, Jesus prophesies the final destruction of the temple. That happened in AD 70. The temple had been the place of God’s presence on the earth and with the coming of Jesus, and especially the Spirit filling believers, is no longer needed or relevant. Jesus came and “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14 – literal translation of “dwelt among us”). He was the new temple, the old one wasn’t able to box God in anyway. Then when He rose again, we became the place of God’s dwelling on the earth as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Jesus doesn’t prophesy another physical temple in the end times as it is no longer relevant or needed. To interpret Old Testament prophecies of a new temple as yet unfulfilled is at best misguided and at worst downright heresy. Why would there be a need for a new temple with sacrifices after Jesus has done away with the need for sacrifices with the finished work of the cross?
Jesus takes Old Testament promises of the land, like “the meek shall inherit the land” (Psalm 37:11), and gives them new and greater promise and fulfilment – “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). He shows us that He is The Temple, not the building in Jerusalem. The gospel is the global fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that all families on earth shall be blessed. So the land has served its purpose, which was to provide the backdrop for the Messiah’s ancestors and the place of His birth. It was the launchpad for God’s rescue mission from where the apostles would take the gospel to the whole earth. In the New Testament the land and the temple are part of the old wineskin.
Jesus has declared the law, the land and the temple redundant in God’s new covenant.
Jesus next blows away the theory of a secret rapture before the tribulation. He prophesies an increase in troubles – wars, rumours of wars, famines, earthquakes, tribulations, martyrdom and lawlessness. While the world gets more evil, the gospel increases, (Romans 5:20 “as sin increases, grace abounds even more”). We must endure to the end, not be raptured out of it. God will carry us through to completion (Philippians 1:6) – so read the red bits and prayer for power to see His kingdom increase through you!
Many will come claiming to be Christ, v.5 and 23, even with false signs and wonders to deceive people. But they are not. Don’t be deceived. Jesus’ return will be visible, obvious and glorious – in the clouds, v.27 and 30 – with a trumpet sounding and glory. It will be sudden too, v.27; no-one knows when, except the Father, so do forget any dating prophecies!
Abomination of Desolation
There have been many attempts to wipe out the Jews – the abomination of desolation occurred in 168 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar and turned other temple rooms into brothels. After Jesus’ first coming, His prophecy came true in AD 70. Between AD 68-70 the Roman Empire tottered on the edge of ruin with wars and rumours of wars. The temple was destroyed, a million Jews were killed and 97,000 enslaved. Many horrors happened, yet Jesus prophesied, v.6, the end was still to come. Prophecy is not meant to be a detailed blow by blow account of what will happen (probably time to throw out the ‘Left Behind’ series too then!). It lifts our hearts in expectancy and exhorts us to be ready. The early followers needed to be ready for the persecution and fall of Jerusalem.
We must be ready for persecution and difficult times, but not panic about them. Instead read the red bits, pray for power and get the gospel to the ends of the earth!
For further reading on why Christian Zionism is so unhelpful check out Stephen Sizer’s Zion’s Christian Soldiers