“You must go or send a substitute.”

Oswald J. Smith

TODAY’S READING: Mark 13

Jesus referred to the “abomination of desolation” in Mark 13:14, and there is some conjecture about what that was/is. Daniel’s use of the term[1] was perhaps fulfilled when the Greek (Syrian) Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig to Zeus in the temple in 167 B.C. Jesus was perhaps referring to Jewish patriots slaughtering priests in the temple in 66–70 A.D. or the Romans sacrificing to their army standards on the temple mount in 70 A.D., then building a pagan temple there after another Jewish revolt in 135 A.D. Perhaps Jesus was referring to something in the future. It’s not super clear, but what is clear are the signs that will precede fulfilment. When His disciples asked Jesus about the timing of the end of human history and the physical, literal, comprehensive, eternal reign of God, He laid out signs—and they are all missions centered.

Nation will rise against nation (v 8). War is indeed hell, but wars pave the way to heaven. When we see yet another news story about yet another conflict, let us leaven our sorrow with the joy that we are one step closer to the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the King who will include all peoples in His kingdom, coming back in power and glory to kill death once and for all.

The gospel must first be preached to all the nations (v. 10). We cannot escape the biblical focus on ethnicity. Over and over again, the Bible centers the mission of God as intentionally pursuing representatives from every people. Yes, we must plant churches in cities. Yes, we must plant churches across the generations. Yes, we must plant churches among the poor. Yes, we must plant churches among the influential. But none of these are the repeated focus, biblically, of missions, making disciples, and proclaiming the gospel. The Bible ever and again points us to unreached people groups—the inclusion of every ethnicity globally.

When they arrest you, it is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit; you will be hated by all for My name’s sake (vv. 11–13). Arrest is just a matter of time if we are Spirit empowered. At some point the Herodias of our time will come unglued against the John the Baptist role we must take up. If we want Jesus to come, we must break the laws that restrict the gospel being proclaimed to every person in every tongue, and when we are resented for turning the world upside down, we must lift our heads to heaven, for our redemption draws nigh.

False christs and prophets will arise (v 22). We probably don’t have more spiritual shenanigans per capita than in days past, but we certainly have the technology to better broadcast their poisonous ideas. What is false is proliferating both within and without the body of Christ. In this tragic proliferation, we take one comfort: We are that much closer to King Jesus coming, and when He comes, the Son of Man will indeed gather from the farthest parts of earth (v. 27).

[1] Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11.

Prayer Focus: Indonesia

Today’s Unreached People Group: Minangkabau
Population: 6,716,000
Language: Minangkabau
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.01%
Estimated Workers Needed: 134

[Source: Joshua Project]

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