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Mark’s first-century biography – page 40

“But whenever you (Jesus speaking to four of his disciples, c. AD 39, Jerusalem, looking at the magnificent Herod’s Temple there) may see the abomination of desolation standing where he must not (note to the reader: understand!), then, those who are in Judea: flee to the mountains. The one who is on the housetop: do not go down, nor enter his house to take anything out.  And the one who is in the field: do not turn back to take his coat. But, oh dear, those carrying in the womb and those breastfeeding in those days!" 
The disciples have asked for more information about “when” “not even a stone upon a stone” will remain of the magnificent new buildings and Temple. They also asked him for an early warning system – a “whenever”.

As part of the “whenever”, Jesus asks them to look out for “the abomination of desolation”. In particular this “abomination” will be “standing where he must not”. We’re all very much acquainted with “desolation” in our world through wars, production, consumption and downright cruelty. But what exactly is the “abomination” that has such “desolation” as its inevitable outcome?

Does self-interested desire lead to hurt and damage to others? Is that motivation within every human the root cause of “desolation” all over the world? Communism. Hitler. ISIS. King Richard III, the Newell brothers.

What about “standing where he must not”? The greater the power in unfettered individual hands, the greater the desolation. Imagine a global leader "standing" and claiming god’s authority.

‘Self-love is cunning, it insinuates itself into everything, while making us believe it is not there at all.’ (Francis de Sales, writer and preacher, 1567-1622)
Jesus foretold that “Judea” (with Jerusalem its capital city) would be central to this terrible suffering. In AD 70, both Temple and City were totally destroyed by the Romans following a religious rebellion against Roman authority. Still today, Jerusalem is central to much global conflict. It seems AD 70 may be a parallel for the final end.

"But pray that it may not come into being in winter for in those days there will be such strife as has not come into being from the beginning of creation that God created until the present, and may never come into being. And if the Lord did not cut short the days, all flesh would not be saved. Nevertheless, through the selected, whom he selected, he cut short the days."

The merciful “shortening of the days” of tremendous strife and desolation will, it seems, be brought about by those “selected” – those who by patient following of Jesus try to serve as he did and to curb self-interest. 

‘He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah, Judean prophet, c. BC 725) 
"And then if anyone may say to you, ‘Look, here is the christ!’ or ‘Look, there!’ do not believe! For pseudo christs and pseudo prophets will arise and will give signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the selected. But, see! I have said all to you beforehand."

Jesus’ disciples should beware of powerful leaders with strong religious claims – maybe calling themselves the Christ, the Messiah or the Mahdi. 

“But in those days, after that strife, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling out of the sky, and those powers in the skies will be shaken. And then they will discern the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather together his selected from the four winds, from extremity of earth to extremity of sky." 

In answering questions about the “when” and the “whenever”, Jesus may be declaring that the desolations which are taking place in our world (and will take place in the extreme at the very end) actually give rise to folk “seeing the Son of Man” in his “great power and glory”. His “great power” is the power of “love-in-action” and his “glory” is in completely dying to himself to bless others.

“But from the fig tree learn its parallel: as soon as its own shoot may become tender and put out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, whenever you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation may not pass away until, for it, all these very things may come to be. The sky and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

“Whenever you see … you know that he is near …” Jesus seems to be teaching that it will always be within turmoil and strife that folk will “see” that what they need is not yet more earthly power but the “love-in-action” of the Lord God. It’s then that Jesus will be near willingly to give and to forgive. 

Sinner Syvret

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