…For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
– Mark 13:22-23
Mark 13, like its parallel account in Matthew 24, is a tough chapter to grapple with. Jesus says that in the time leading up to His Return there will be whispers of wars, actual wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution of Christians (imprisonment, flogging, trial, universal hatred, etc.), the Abomination of Desolation, and deception writ large. In sum, things will not be good.
And then things become truly crazy. False “Christs” and false prophets will rise up. They will even produce demonstrations of power for attestation of their ministries. The power and the deception will be so great that even the elect (“if possible”) may succumb to their deceptions. But here is the thing: We have the Bible. And as evangelical Christians, we actually use this thing. We ascribe to it terms like inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency. Why do we think and speak of Scripture the way we do? Because Jesus tells us to:
But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
How do we know what to look for as the days grow evil? Jesus has told us in the Bible. How can we possibly be prepared in the event of great persecution? We listen to His words and we cling to them with a death grip as though our lives depended on our holding on. How can we overcome? The difficulty of the age to come surely surpasses our own capability, but this we know: God is working on our behalf, and His strength is more than sufficient for every trial. As Jesus tells us, “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days (Mark 13:20).” Do you know what I really love about that verse? Jesus is speaking of future events, and yet He speaks of the acts of God in the past tense. He has already shortened those days. God is not bound by time, and He is certainly not bound by what powers of darkness there may be. The days when darkness are sure to come, but they will be short because God is working on behalf of we who belong to Him. And He has told us “everything in advance.” Let us work all the more diligently to take heed of what has been spoken, to behold the One who spoke it, and to cling to Him as though all of eternity hinged on Him.