Daniel 12: 1 – 3
Hebrews 10: 11 – 25
Mark 13: 1 – 8
“Do you see these great buildings?
Not one stone will be left here upon another;
all will be thrown down.” - Mark 13:2
Our church year is coming to a close; soon, on Sunday, December 2, the new church year will begin with the season called Advent leading us up to Christmas Day. This Sunday in worship, we will close the Gospel according to Mark for awhile.
We began this church year where we will end it, in Mark chapter 13, where Jesus warns his disciples to get ready for a time of persecution and distress, and then the coming of the Son of Man as Savior.
The beautiful Jerusalem Temple that wicked old King Herod built would indeed be thrown down by the Romans, about forty years after Jesus’ crucifixion. That prophecy was fulfilled.
We in the church are still awaiting Christ’s final return to gather his people and end the present age altogether. Now, we seem to be living amid the “wars and rumors of wars” of which Jesus spoke. We feel that our world today has far too much conflict. But Jesus is still reminding us, “Do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” - Mark 13: 7 – 8
Maybe, like the radio stations that are already saturated with Christmas songs, you are ready to be over it, already, and get to the adorable baby in the manger (not to mention the day(s) off from work and the Christmas presents !).
There is no bad reason to say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” !
But part of our mission as followers of Jesus is to carry on, abiding in the peace that Jesus gives, even in the midst of fears, rumors, and many terrible events.
This past Sunday, we had a lot of good things to do during our morning worship time, and I decided to leave out a part of what I had prepared for the sermon. Here, while I am on the subject of living through stressful times, I want to share it with you.
In 1 Kings 17, we read that God sent prophet Elijah to wicked King Ahab of Israel to tell him, “As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before Whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” To put it another way, Elijah was telling Ahab that God was cursing the Kingdom of Israel with drought— and the famine that goes with drought— until further notice. This meant that the people of the land would be suffering, not only because of King Ahab’s wicked behavior, but also because the heavens gave no rain and the ground grew no food. Troubled times !
So Elijah executed the mission God gave him, but then he had to run away to escape the wrath of wicked King Ahab. Elijah was living through a bad time, himself ! At first, he camped out in the wilderness, where God sent ravens to deliver his breakfast and supper, and there was a brook for water. Pretty rough ! And strange ! (Have you ever had your meals delivered by birds?)
But when the brook dried up— hard times !— God told Elijah to travel far North, leaving Israel for what today is Lebanon: “I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” (1 Kings 17:9).
Elijah found her near the town gate, gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” This, when she was about to starve.
So first, God commanded birds to take time out from their full-time jobs as birds to feed the prophet in the wilderness.
All this during a drought and a famine.
Read the whole story in 1 Kings 17.
But don’t be too surprised that God keeps calling us to persevere through some strange and difficult times.