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August 18: 1Ki 13 | Jer 39 | Mk 13

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Reading 1 - 1Ki 13

"So he [the old prophet] said to his sons, 'Saddle the donkey for me.' And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, 'Are you the man of God who came from Judah?' 'I am,' he replied. So the prophet said to him, 'Come home with me and eat' " (1Ki 13:13-15).

Though not prepared to fight for the truth himself -- which seems evident from the earlier part of the narrative -- the "old prophet" was quite happy to spend (that is, waste!) the time of those who did!

"The man of God said, 'I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the LORD: "You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came." ' The old prophet answered, 'I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: "Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water." ' (But he was lying to him)" (1Ki 13:16-18).

Many years later the apostle Paul warned against just this sort of thing: succumbing to the allurements of those who merely CLAIM to have a revelation from God -- without "testing the spirits"!

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal 1:8).

Do not be turned aside by the words, 'I prayed, and/or had a revelation from God.'

Peace and ease beckon seductively to us in many forms. But all are of sin: "But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23).

Reading 2 - Jer 39:7

"Then he [the king of Babylon] put out Zedekiah's eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon" (Jer 39:7).

Jeremiah had prophesied that Zedekiah would actually see the king of Babylon, and speak with him face to face, and that he would go to Babylon (Jer 32:4,5) -- whereas Ezekiel had prophesied that, even though Zedekiah would go to Babylon, he would NOT see it (Eze 12:13)! These two prophecies seem ALMOST contradictory, until it is understood that they were fulfilled in just this precise manner: (1) First, Zedekiah saw the KING of Babylon, then (2) his eyes were put out, and finally (3) he was taken to the CITY of Babylon, which he would NOT see.

John Gill calls this "a full proof of the prescience of God; of his foreknowledge of future and contingent events; of the truth and certainty of prophecy, and of the authority of divine revelation."

Reading 3 - Mar 13:14

"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' [ Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11 ] standing where it does not belong -- let the reader understand -- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Mar 13:14).

And they did, fleeing to Pella -- in a similar fashion as Lot and his daughters fled from Sodom (Gen 19:17).

"To advise anyone to flee from a city already encircled by a besieging army sounds the height of absurdity; nevertheless this was the instruction, which the saints of those days received from their Lord. Nor was there any absurdity, for throughout the siege Titus, the Roman general, seems to have been actuated by an earnest desire to keep destruction of both life and property to a minimum -- so much so that, according to Josephus, in the early days of the siege there were several opportunities for flight. At one time, for example, the siege of Jerusalem was as good as raised for a period of four days, so casual was the watch maintained by the Roman army. In another place Josephus writes (2.20.1): After the first attack upon the city many of the most considerable of the Jewish folk forsook it as men do a sinking ship. Eusebius, the Christian historian, has this similar narrative: 'The whole body of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine Revelation given to men of approved piety there, before the war removed from the city, and dwelt in a certain town beyond Jordan, called Pella; there those that believed in Christ having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judaea, the divine justice for their crimes against Christ and his Apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of those evil-doers from the earth' (Eccl Hist 3.5)" (Harry Whittaker, "Revelation").

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Robert Prins

We are living in the time that Jesus describes as "The beginning of birth-pains." (Mark 13v8) In many ways it is quite a frightening time with terrorist attacks, wars, earthquakes and famines. But if we follow this chapter through we can be left in very little doubt that things will get worse before they get better. The time will come (and is already here for many people) when we will be betrayed, hated and put on trial just for being Christians. And when we see "the Abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong," (v14) then we will know that the worst time of trouble is just about upon us, "because those days will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now - and never to be equalled again." (v19)

If we look back through history - and even recent history - there have been some really bad times. This will be worse than them all - never equalled in the past and never again in the future. Then, after that, Jesus will return. The real lesson for us is to be on our guard; to be prepared and ready for the trials that may come upon us. So while we have the freedom to so so, let's fill up on God's word and prayer. Then we will have stored up reserves to see us through, being prepared and ready for our Lord's return.


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