Stand Firm to the End (What the Bible Says… : Part 3)

Stand Firm to the End (What the Bible Says… : Part 3) April 27, 2024


“Everyone will hate you because of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13 (CEB)


The world can be a depressing place. It can seem to us that God isn’t actively involved in our situation. We might even begin to wonder if He’s even real, or if He is, does He even care about us? Jesus saw this coming, of course. This is why He admonishes us, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The notion of “standing firm” reminds me of a statue or rock that will not move, no matter what happens around it. We should note, however, that in this case, “standing firm” does not mean “standing still.”

Rather, this is more a picture of perseverance. It is more about being undeterred than being unmoved. It is about steadily plodding toward a goal in the face of opposition. Doing this requires laser focus on that goal. Again, as we said before,  the goal is to spread the Gospel to the whole world, not to monitor the signs of the times so that we can set our Apple watches for the apocalypse.

Jesus also mentions that the reward for standing firm to the end is salvation. Now theologically speaking, we are “saved” when we first put our trust in Christ. However, we “work out our salvation” by obediently doing the work that Jesus planned for us in the building of His kingdom. Standing firm to the end is the evidence that our faith is, and always has been, genuine. This is what ensures our salvation. Those who fall away because of shallow faith have always had shallow faith, although they may have denied it.

The Abomination of Desolation


Jesus gets more specific about the end when He starts quoting Daniel in verse 14:


“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14 (NET)


Mark even cuts in on Jesus with a “let the reader understand.” Both Jesus and Mark wanted us to be very sure to understand that he was referring to the “abomination of desolation” Daniel wrote of in 538 BC:


He will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator. Daniel 9:27 (HCSB)


So, what is that exactly?


Well, simply put, we don’t know. This may have been a specific warning to Jews 2000 years ago, but its meaning has been lost to history. Also, the trouble with mystical prophecies like this is that they don’t make sense until they’re fulfilled. Then you can look back on the events and say, “Oh, yeah. I see it now.”

Even so, Mark was careful to interject “let the reader understand,” so I’m going to do my best here. We could break down the Hebrew several different ways. My best paraphrase would be, “An idolatry will spread that will be so abominable that it will leave us horrified and speechless.”  One theory that seems reasonable is that this abomination is an idol of some sort raised in, or on top of, the temple. It is unclear if the word “wing” is literal or figurative in this verse. However, in Daniel 11:31,  it appears that this abomination is going to be literally set up in the temple as a sign of desecration.

One thing is a bit perplexing regarding the timing, though. Daniel repeatedly states that the abomination will be set up at the same time the daily sacrifice is abolished at the temple. There hasn’t been a daily sacrifice going on since 70 A.D. when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. So, is this really a prophecy of the end times, or is this something that has already happened?

Or could it be both?


The Antichrist


And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven. Revelation 13:5-6 (AMP)


Both Daniel 9:27 and this passage in Revelation clearly reference the Antichrist,  that is, the one who will come in the last days to oppose God and His people. Daniel speaks of “weeks,” which we commonly understand to be a period of seven years. The final “week” Daniel references is often referred to as “the Tribulation.”  This is the seven-year period in which the Antichrist will reign on earth. The “abomination of desolation” is to be established in the temple when the sacrifices are abolished, halfway through the seven years. Then, according to Daniel 12:11,  the tribulation will last 1,290 more days. These are the 42 months that Revelation 13 references.

So, when were these days supposed to start?


Prophecies or cycles?


If you apply Daniel’s prophecy to his own time, then the events of this prophecy line up with the rise of Antiochus IV.  Antiochus persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar. He was put down in the revolt of Judas Maccabaeus in 164 BC. This account makes the prophecy more literal. And yet. . .

Those events happened nearly two centuries before Jesus spoke this prophecy to Peter, John, James, and Andrew. And Jesus was speaking about the future. So, it appears that with prophecy everything old becomes new again.


But is this so weird?


All throughout scripture, God shows his people on earth copies of things in heaven to give them a taste. The tabernacle was a copy of the tabernacle in heaven. Jerusalem was a forerunner of the Holy City in Revelation. Jesus’ resurrection foreshadowed our own.

The purpose of prophecy, then, seems to be not so much to tell us exactly what is going to happen and when. It’s more to give us enough faith to realize that more is going on in the world than we can even comprehend, much less control. When it does come to pass, it will all end well.

Daniel himself did not understand what the prophecies meant when he wrote them down. He was over 90 years old when he received this final prophecy. Even then, he still didn’t understand exactly what it meant or when it would be fulfilled. God simply gave him the vision to pass on, then said to him:


“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” Daniel 12:13 (NIV)


In other words, God gave Daniel the message and told him to pass it on. It’s not for him to worry about what it all means or when the deal will finally go down. He has just the one mission—record the prophecy.  Or to be more general…


Obey in faith.


God’s instructions to us are the same. He gives us each work to do in and for His kingdom. He also equips us with the spiritual gifts we need to complete that work. We have access to Daniel’s prophecies along with all the others. Rather than worrying over which of these prophecies might occur in our lifetimes, we should instead focus on what we are supposed to do with our lives. Whatever our individual calling may be, interpreting scripture to try to calculate the end of days is not it.

Even Jesus didn’t know when these events would take place. In Mark 13:18,  He says, “Pray that this will not take place in winter,” which implies that even Jesus isn’t sure. He actually confirms this later in verse 32, saying, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Bottom line—if Jesus didn’t know, you and I aren’t going to be the ones to figure it out.

(Come back next week for the conclusion. Click on the Free Newsletter link so you don´t miss it!)



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