The Great Tribulation – Mark 13:14-23

By John Bellingham on July 3, 2016
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The Great Tribulation

Mark 13:14-23

I.  The ‘Abomination of Desolation’ (v. 14a)

1)     Jesus borrows this phrase from Daniel’s Prophecy and instructs the reader to understand

  • Daniel 9:26-27 – The ‘Anointed One’ (The Messiah) is cut off ( crucified/killed) and makes a covenant (The New Covenant) with the many (God’s People/ Church) for one week ( the ‘last days’/ Pentecost à return of Christ), thereby putting an end to Temple sacrifice.   This saving work of the Anointed Messiah in the middle of the ‘70th week’ is followed by the appearance of ‘one who makes desolate’ (anti-Christ)
  • Daniel 11:32– Prophecy about a King/ Army that will profane the Temple and set up the ‘abomination of desolation’.
  • Daniel 12:11 – Prophecy about the final resurrection & judgment of the dead which will be preceded by the cessation of sacrifice and the setting up of the ‘abomination of desolation’.

2)     Multiple Fulfillments & Multiple ‘Abominations’

  • 167 BC – Antiochus IV Epiphanes erects statue of Zeus in Temple and sacrifices pig on altar (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:54, 6:7)
  • ‘Great Tribulation’:  AD 70 – Titus and the Roman Siege of Jerusalem/ Temple
    1. 1.1 million Jews were killed by the Roman Army without mercy
    2. Unspeakable atrocities were committed
  • Future Tribulation – ‘man of lawlessness’/ eschatological Anti-Christ will be revealed shortly before the Second Coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 John 2:18 )

II.  The Flight from Judea (vv. 14b – 23)

1)     A Description of First-Century Events

  • Details mentioned by Jesus in these verses strongly suggest a first-century, Jewish setting
  • Luke explicitly connects Jesus’ warning about ‘Great Tribulation’ with the events of AD 70 (cf. Luke 21:20-24).   Luke specifies that the fall of Jerusalem will trigger the ‘times of the Gentiles’
  • Jesus’ words in v. 19 suggest that the ‘Great Tribulation’ he’s describing in these verses will not be the final time of tribulation God’s people experience, but it will be the worst:  “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.”

2)     Fulfillment of the ‘Flight’ in the Early Church:

 “The people of the Church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed on Christ traveled from Jerusalem…”  (Eusebius, Church History)


– The fulfillment of this remarkable prophecy in AD 70 demonstrates both the deity of Jesus Christ and the reliability of Scripture.  This should give us great confidence that what Jesus says in the Gospels is absolutely trustworthy and true

– Although the ‘Great Tribulation’ spoken of by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse has a definite fulfillment in history, it foreshadows another time of Tribulation that is still coming upon the Church.   The final return of Christ will not come until the ‘man of lawlessness’ (final anti-Christ) has been revealed (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

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