"How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!” (Mark 13:17)
The events in Ukraine reveal the horror Jesus foretold about the destruction of Jerusalem (Mark 13:14-37). A year ago today, the picture above was seen around the world. A pregnant woman was carried out of a bombed-out hospital in Mariupol. She and her baby both died.
Mark wrote his gospel in the mid 60’s AD. Sporadic rebellions against the Roman empire were already happening in Judea. By 66 AD, the rebellion became a full-fledged war. (Read more here.) In the summer of 70 AD, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. No wonder Mark adds a parenthetical remark into Jesus’ discourse: “Let the reader understand…” Was he crying out, “Apply this to yourself! Now is the time to be prepared!”
“Let the reader understand…”
This is the Holy Spirit’s call to us. “Let the reader understand…” This is my prayer to the Holy Spirit, “Let the reader [me] understand…”
Let me understand as I read the Scriptures and current events…
- How quickly all that I love in this world can be taken from me!
- How desperately I need the promises about “the elect.” 1) God rules this world “for the sake of the elect.” 2) He will not let the elect be deceived. 3) He will gather the elect on the last day. They are precious to him!
- How important it is that I fulfill my calling to be the watchman at the door, reading the signs (wars and rumors of war, pestilence, famine, etc.), and announcing to friends and family and all who will listen that today is the day to be ready for Jesus’ return.
“The LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:9).
Yet, our view of the future is not one of fear. Like the 12 spies of Numbers 13-14, we have seen the Promised Land. The Holy Spirit has allowed us to get glimpses of heaven in our daily Bible reading.
People around us may be filled with fear because the “Nephilim” [translate “violent attackers”] appear on the world stage and in our personal lives. Let us be like Joshua and Caleb. Now is the time for us to announce, “The LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:9). Now is the time for us to give hope and confidence.
And let us pray like Moses. Let us remind our LORD of his promises and pray for our neighbors, our enemies and the world like Moses prayed:
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” (Numbers 14:17-19).
Let us, as readers, understand the times and understand our calling to be watchmen, warning of the coming judgment but also announcing the LORD’s forgiving love in Christ Jesus. Amen.