Is it time to start running?

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Mark 13:14-23

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” v. 14

When the Devil is standing in the pulpit, it’s time to leave town. Unfortunately, we run the danger of not recognizing him when he’s standing right in front of us.

In today’s passage, Jesus is beginning to predict two things at once. His disciples have asked him about the destruction of the temple and of his return. As we said earlier, he has predicted, war, famine, earthquakes, false Christs, and the preaching of the gospel to every nation on earth. When that happens the pushback from the darkness moves into high gear. This begins with “The Abomination that causes desolation.” standing in the Temple. Quick explanation here. Jesus makes reference to Daniels prophecy (9:27) of one who come and attack the people of God, by first desecrating the temple.

As in many prophecies, there is usually an immediate and an ultimate fulfillment. In a.d. 168 Antiochus Epiphanes set up a pagan altar in the Jewish Temple. This was a time of horrible tribulation for the Jews, sparking the Maccabean revolt. That was the immediate fulfillment. But there is more to come with Daniel’s prophecy.

Jesus referred to this prophecy to say that before Christs return, one like Antiochus, but clearly much worse, would seek to oppose Christianity, in a way unlike any other in history. This ruler is referred to as the Antichrist. (2 Thess. 2:1-12, I John 4, Revelation 13) Jesus said, in effect, “when you see the Antichrist in the temple, it’s time to head for the hills, because things are about to get ugly for the people of God. You think Antiochus was bad, you aint seen nothing yet!”

How foolish it would be to see evil so clearly displayed in the house of God, and just shrug our shoulders and go on with business as usual. When the Devil is standing in the pulpit it’s time to do something. Here is the thing that frightens me. Today there is such a growing tolerance for compromise with darkness among many in the church, that I fear a time may come when we are so comfortable with the darkness of the world that we wouldn’t recognize such a person if he were standing in our pulpit on Sunday morning.

I our day of watering down the gospel to accommodate our culture, increased worldliness and materialism among God’s people, and a “don’t judge me, I can live any way I want” attitude among God’s people, how can we recognize the antichrist unless we are faithfully following Christ? Friends, even today the devil is standing in pulpits, and people are happy to listen to his message.

I write this with trembling, knowing that none of us preachers have it all together. I have no desire to slam any denomination or go witch hunting for bad preachers. My point is not to accuse but to warn us all to be on guard, as Jesus said. We must be on guard against the antichrist message pervading our culture. It’s even coming from pulpits.

Jesus said when you see the antichrist, it’s time to run. Some of us need to do that. If you are hearing a false gospel it’s time to run. You might want to head for the hills if you are hearing a gospel…

…..with no cross or resurrection.

….with no repentance of sin.

…with no salvation by grace through faith.

…with no obedience to God’s word.

…with no concern for the lost and broken world.

…with no love for God and neighbor.

…with no Jesus as Lord and Savior.

These are days in which we can no longer afford the luxury of just getting along and getting by. Jesus has called us to be his disciples, who lay down our lives for his gospel. We have to be on guard against the spirit of antichrist that is already at work among us. the best way to steer clear of the antichrist is to fully embrace the true Christ. Let us follow him wherever he goes.

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