This is a fresh devotional written each day. This summer we are going through the gospel of Mark.
5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but those who stand firm to the end will be saved.
Thoughts: "The end" (vs. 7) is "still to come" obviously. But Jesus is saying here that history is not circular- that this world will not go on forever- or at least humanity will not go on forever. A hundred years ago and all the years before it, it was a dream that people could possibly destroy themselves. Now there are biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons- "weapons of mass destruction" and now there are terrorist nations (South Korea, Iran is close) who have little conscience of using them- and a deterrent (that worked in the cold war) means little to those who are willing to be suicide bombers. The Doomsday Clock has moved up since the cold war ended in 1989 to 6 minutes til midnight. There is huge interest in the mayan doomsday date of 12/21/12, and tons of movies coming out about the end of time (eg. "The Day After Tomorrow"). Understandably, lots of people will be seeing the end before it comes, and some see the end from a totally secular point of view saying it has nothing to do with God or spirituality (perhaps the ultimate separation of God from real life- making God basically toothless/useless). Jesus links here spirituality with real life. He did this in the shadow of the prophets who predicted the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 AD because of spiritual problems. He was making his own prediction of the temple's destruction again, but saw this as a foreshadowing of the ultimate human destruction at the end. I am sure in 586 BC and 70 AD many thought their world was coming to an end. Some of the signs Jesus gives are the preaching of the gospel to all nations (accomplished basically by 1990), the persecution of his followers (hundreds of thousands now- think of 10 doctors on Afghanistan yesterday), brothers betraying brothers; children rebelling against parents; and our responsibility is still the same- in every generation- to stand firm to the end.
Prayer: God be our refuge and strenght an ever present help in trouble.