These are strange times in which we are living and this passage from the Gospel of Mark reads like this morning’s newspaper:
When you see the abomination of desolation…let the reader understand…For those will be days of tribulation, the kind that hasn’t been from the beginning of creation until now and never will be again. If the Lord had not cut those days short, no one would be saved. But he cut those days short for the sake of the elect, whom he chose. Then if anyone tells you, “See, here is the Messiah! See, there!” Do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. And you must watch! I have told you everything in advance. (Mark 13:14a, 19-23 CSB)
Do you remember the legendary radio personality Paul Harvey? He was famous for telling some amazing anecdote acquired from his travels across America – stories that had some amazing point with an amazing punchline. He was so well known for this that when you caught his distinctive voice passing through the dial, you would automatically stop just to hear those iconic words after his well-delivered, powerful punchline – “And, that my friends, is the rest of the story.” Then, he would close the segment with, “Good day.”
In this passage, Jesus does the same thing, only better. And, it is much more than a story Jesus tells. He is recalling the events of a previous time and outlining the events of a coming day in which His followers will suffer many persecutions and hardship. The news is ominous at best, horrifying at worst.
The Abomination of Desolation in verse 14 is something from their history (Daniel 9) and something in their future. The presence of God had been reviled and ridiculed and it was going to happen again. The phrase “let the reader understand,” is a reference to me and you reading this today! And, boy, do we understand. Jesus and His glory are profaned and treated with ultimate disrespect by a culture growing increasingly hostile to the holy, indignant with the righteous.
That’s why the closing phrase of Jesus in this passage stuns us and gives us the “rest of the story.” He asserts, “I have told you everything in advance.” There’s no other shoe to drop, no other unexpected outcome. Read the rest of the chapter. Jesus is coming back and setting everything right.
And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.
So, child of God, rejoice that we serve a Savior who knows it all, and still tells us not to lose heart. He has never broken a promise and He won’t break this one. When we see the walls crumbling around us, we can rest in the assurance that He has it all in His hands. That’s why we can close this story the same way Paul Harvey closed every one of his –
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.