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author on March 3rd, 2010

Over the past several weeks now, we’ve read Jesus’ response  (Mark 13:5-27Mark 13:5-27
English: World English Bible - WEB

5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 6 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he! Literally, “I AM!”’ and will lead many astray. 7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. 10 The Gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. 14 But when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not , then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, 15 and let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out of his house. 16 Let him who is in the field not return back to take his cloak. 17 But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babies in those days! 18 Pray that your flight won’t be in the winter. 19 For in those days there will be oppression, such as there has not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones, whom he picked out, he shortened the days. 21 Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ don’t believe it. 22 For there will arise false christs and false prophets, and will show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones. 23 But you watch. “Behold, I have told you all things beforehand. 24 But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, 25 the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

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) to the disciple’s question in Mark 13:3-4Mark 13:3-4
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?”

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. It has been both frightening and yet encouraging, because in the end Jesus returns and His angels will gather us together to be with Him (Mark 13:27Mark 13:27
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

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).

Now Jesus gives two examples, or lessons, to illustrate the conditions signaling His return. This week we’ll discuss the lesson of the fig tree (Mark 13:28-33Mark 13:28-33
English: World English Bible - WEB

28 “Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near; 29 even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors. 30 Most assuredly I say to you, this generation The word translated “generation” could also be translated “race,” “family,” or “people.” will not pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.

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); and next week we’ll discuss His illustration of the man going away (Mark 13:34-37Mark 13:34-37
English: World English Bible - WEB

34 “It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you don’t know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning; 36 lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping. 37 What I tell you, I tell all: Watch.”

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Jesus tells us that just as we know Summer is near when the twigs of a fig tree become tender and its leaves come out, so also are the indicators that Christ is returning (Mark 13:29Mark 13:29
English: World English Bible - WEB

29 even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors.

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).

Jesus assures us all these things will have happened before this generation passes away (Mark 13:30-31Mark 13:30-31
English: World English Bible - WEB

30 Most assuredly I say to you, this generation The word translated “generation” could also be translated “race,” “family,” or “people.” will not pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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). This “generation” is not a generation as we normally think of one – it refers to the age of grace, the New Covenant, which placed the Law of the Old Testament upon our hearts.

Christians recognize this age of grace by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, teaching us through the daily study of His Word, from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Yet even with all that, God has not – and will not -reveal that day, that hour in which Christ will return – to anyone, not even the angels or His own Son (Mark 13:32Mark 13:32
English: World English Bible - WEB

32 But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

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). Only God knows that time.

So Jesus tells us to be on guard (Mark 13:33Mark 13:33
English: World English Bible - WEB

33 Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.

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). How do we do that? We’ve already discussed how a lot of what Jesus describes has been happening since recorded history. It’s not necessarily that these things will intensify, though they may; it’s not that there will be something different about these events as that day draws closer.

What we are to do is to be alert and pray. If we live our lives without studying God’s Word daily – not just studying the end-times, but His entire Word, we enable the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, to make us more Christ-like, so we can recognize the unique and subtle nuances of all aspects of our life here on earth and respond to each new situation and circumstance as God would have us. Such study will enable us to discern right from wrong, to recognize false teachers and even expose them – and it will make us alert as Jesus commands us.

Is Jesus returning soon? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But we know the signs Jesus has given us (Mark 13:5-27Mark 13:5-27
English: World English Bible - WEB

5 Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. 6 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he! Literally, “I AM!”’ and will lead many astray. 7 “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them. 10 The Gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 13 You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. 14 But when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not , then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, 15 and let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out of his house. 16 Let him who is in the field not return back to take his cloak. 17 But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babies in those days! 18 Pray that your flight won’t be in the winter. 19 For in those days there will be oppression, such as there has not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones, whom he picked out, he shortened the days. 21 Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ don’t believe it. 22 For there will arise false christs and false prophets, and will show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones. 23 But you watch. “Behold, I have told you all things beforehand. 24 But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, 25 the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

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), and we know what we need to do to be on guard: study His Word.