Final Thoughts on Why Mark 13 Matters Today! [Earthquakes…Signs of the Times, 10 (Mark 13)]

Final Thoughts on Why Mark 13 Matters Today! [Earthquakes…Signs of the Times, 10 (Mark 13)] May 10, 2010

This is the tenth and final post in a series titled: Earthquakes… Signs of the Times?  I invite you to read the rest of the series here to catch up (the first post would be extremely helpful)…


We began this series with the observation that the combination of attributing natural disasters to God’s judgment and popular futurist eschatology can lead to some very practical questions regarding supposed ‘signs of the times.’  This link makes it quite easy to entertain the thought that perhaps the “earthquakes” mentioned in Mark 13 (and other signs), may be an indication that the end of the space-time universe is coming soon.  This becomes even more of a concern if we read into the cosmic apocalyptic language of verses 24-25, the literal destruction of the cosmos.  Such a view can easily breed into a desire to escape the troubles of the present world (because it is all going to be destroyed at any moment).  This, then, can create a paradigm in Christian ethics that the only thing that matters is getting people to accept the ‘bullet points’ of the gospel, so that they too will be able to escape the coming turmoil.  As important as evangelism is, if this is our only task, we miss a main component of the Christian call of discipleship—a call to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8).

For a Christian to attribute the Haitian earthquake to the divine hand of God’s wrath is not only bad theology, but has practical ramifications.  Because if ‘God caused it,’ then those people deserve what was coming to them.  This could very easily become an excuse to ignore the call to justice in this and other natural disaster scenarios.  That is why it is imperative that we continue the process of refining and discerning theological issues, such as those presented in Mark 13.  But if we choose to read the scriptures for all they are worth, then perhaps we will find the need to join with God and help navigate the creation project towards its completion (Revelation 21, Romans 8).  This definitely includes partnering with God to pull back the rubble of the Haitian earthquake as a sign of the new creation!

The church in the West is transforming in many ways, and situations like the one Pat Robertson created with his detestable words, are becoming less and less acceptable by the standards of many Christians.  But these theologically flawed judgments will continue to be an issue in the coming years as hyper-fundamentalists continue to extort the Scriptures.  Jesus set his face against the Temple and prophetically cast his judgment in opposition to it.  As we demonstrated from our text, much of this had to do with the religiosity and corrupt nature of the system it represented.  Jesus’ prophecy called out the religious elite of his day for falsely representing Israel’s God and for perpetuating a system that caused much oppression and marginalization.  Perhaps the question here for us ought to be: Who in our day will take up the mantle of Jesus and prophetically call out the Christian leaders who continue to make false public judgments? Who will speak a counter-message to those who falsely represent the God of the Scriptures?  Who will choose to be a prophet who calls out the false prophets? Not to start a war of words, but rather to declare to the outside world that the Church of Jesus Christ and the God they serve have no affiliation with those who speak condemnation to a culture who is searching for hope.  Perhaps one of the greatest tasks of the Church in the present is to do justice both in our acts of compassion (for Haiti and other disastrous situations) and in our interpretations and appropriations of the Scriptures.  May we all choose to proclaim in both word and action – a hope-centered gospel!

Thanks for reading this series!  Feel free to leave some final thoughts…


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  • Who will choose to be a prophet who calls out the false prophets?

    Look in the mirror, my friend! Just remember what happened to all those other prophets, and watch your back! We’ll try to watch each other’s, OK?

  • Michael Todd

    Why do Charismatics, who often have the most open and hopeful view of God’s goodness so often married themselves to futurist eschatology? In contrast, why do Reformed Presbyterians, a denomination that has such a low opinion of humankind, that I sometimes think they are denomination ran by the prodigal son’s brother, are often keyed into the most hope-filled eschatology – postmillennialism? It makes little sense to me.

    Eschatology matters. Abolitionists were postmillennial. Pat Robertson is premillennial. Personally, I’d rather be with Wilberforce and affect this world toward Christ through international policy issues.

  • Josh Wise

    Great series bro. I really enjoyed it. God bless.

  • jasonekk

    Great job Kurt… great post and great series… I have learned a lot (still lots of questions… but those will always remain).

    Now comes the most important part… taking this stuff into the real world… that is… lets do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God!

  • I remember Jack Hayford (Church On The Way, CA) lamenting that very fact: Pentecostals embraced Dispensationalism though Disp. dispense with “miracle gifts”, a big contradiction.

    That’s the sad extent of Disp. popularity, which, hopefully, has begun diminishing.

  • Michael Todd

    Jack Hayford is a smart man.

  • John Holmes

    Michael, very astute observation. I once heard a very scholarly charismatic preacher up in Canada, tell the head of the Assembly of God, to take note of the books he was reading. He saw on his shelf, many Dallas Seminary dispensationalist books, and he said do you realize there system is thoroughly cessationist and against everything you believe? He had tried to merge the eschatology of dispensationalism with the Holy Spirit gifts in his church movement. Some of them just didn’t see the problem theologically.

    I am a pentecostal postmillinarian, so Michael they have not killed all the prophets…HAHA.. My issue with some of the reformed camp is there postmillinialism seems to go backward to the old testament Kingdom, thus theonomy, and other extremes, not forward to what we see in Acts, ” and the word of the Lord prevailed,…” The Kingdom is a Spirit filled, grace filled, Christ-filled reality not a return to the mosaic covenant. I could be shot for saying less in many reformed camps, but that is the rub!

  • This is the first post I have ever read on this blog. Came across it on facebook. FANTASTIC. I will definatly be back to read more!

    • Cherie! Glad to have you. Please come on back and feel free to contribute any time!

  • Tiggy

    There are not more earthquakes now – I checked it out with a geophysicist. There are just more populated centres in earthquake zones and more international news.