The Sunday before He was crucified, Jesus entered Jerusalem and fulfilled prophecy as the triumphal King tragically rejected. When the clamor of that day came to an end, Jesus “looked around at all things” (Mark 11.11). He is the Man of Sorrows standing alone in His Father’s house which had become a den of thieves.
Monday morning, Jesus approached a fig tree for some breakfast. It was filled with nothing but leaves. He curses the tree and cleanses the temple. Peter noticed on Tuesday morning that the fig tree had withered (Mark 11.21). Jesus connected the temple cleansing with the cursed tree. Empty, fruitless worship comes from corrupt leadership.
Jesus debated this corrupt temple leadership on Tuesday. They questioned His authority (Mark 11.27-12.12), the legitimacy of withholding or paying taxes to Rome (Mark 12.13-17), and the doctrine of the resurrection (Mark 12.18-27). One scribed inquired about the greatest commandment in the Scriptures (Mark 12.35 ff.). As Tuesday draws to a close, Jesus is leaving the temple with His disciples. He ascends the Mount of Olives with them, and laments over Jerusalem (see Matthew 23.37-39).
The disciples are thinking of the fact that Jesus has just said that Jerusalem’s house is left to Israel as a place of desolation. “Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here’” (Mark 13:1)! The disciples just heard that the temple would be left desolate. They struggle with the fact that this could be true. How could this magnificent temple be left deserted? Jesus answers, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2).
Jesus not only affirms the desolation of the temple, but He also tells the disciples that it will be destroyed. The destruction will be complete. Jesus affirms that not one stone shall be left upon another. Here is where we have room for differences in interpreting this passage.
Some believe the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction took place completely in 70 AD when Titus, son of Vespasian, took Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Josephus, an ancient historian of the Jewish Wars, wrote:
While the sanctuary was burning … neither pity for age nor respect for rank was shown; on the contrary, children and old people, laity and priests alike were massacred (VI.271).
I believe that since some stones have been left one upon the other, the prophecy of Jesus in Mark 13.2 has not been completely fulfilled. This awaits a yet future day. Why do I believe this?
- I believe in a literal interpretation of Scripture. Scripture gives an objective standard by which we may measure the way we look at each prophecy. This does not mean that I do not hold to literary features such as symbolism, hyperbole, allegory, and so forth.
- I believe in a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. That is, God will fulfill promises to Israel in specific ways and deal with that particular nation in the future as He said. These promises made to the nation of Israel will not be fulfilled through the church.
- I believe Christianity will grow increasingly corrupt and apostate as time marches forward. That is, “in the last days perilous times will come …men will be lovers of themselves …lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim 3.1-5). So, I look at the world as getting increasing worse as the last days come. Jesus states, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” This is not pessimism but an optimistic view of reality.
- I believe that the church will be removed from the world before a literal seven-year tribulation which will fall upon the nation of Israel. This pre-tribulational rapture means that Jesus “will keep [the church] from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3.10). The purpose of the Tribulation is to turn Israel’s eyes to the Messiah they pierced (Zechariah 12.10). The pouring out of God’s wrath has occurred at the cross for believers. We shall be saved from that hour of tribulation upon the unbelieving world.
- I believe Christ returns at the conclusion of the tribulation period in great glory – the glorious revelation of the King. The literal kingdom of the Lord Jesus upon the earth will begin. This millennial reign of 1,000 literal years fulfills the Davidic Covenant and Old Testament promises made to Israel.
- I believe in the Eternal State. Christ will reign forever and ever. We shall reign with Him. We shall always be with the Lord.