sexta-feira, 14 de abril de 2017


Nation will rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be earthquakes in various places,
and famines.
These are the beginning of birth pains.
Mark 13:8 (read 13:1-8) - NIV

There has always been sensational preaching that we are in the end times! This message has been preached from the first generation of Christians up to this day. In every new generation there are people who insist they have received new revelations that the end is near. They all use these same biblical texts and use these same arguments pointing to the signs of wars, earthquakes and famines. These things have always been present in the history of our "civilization." Even after two thousand years of this prophetic preaching no end has come. They should begin to suspect that they are “barking up the wrong tree”.

Jesus warned against this kind of preaching, saying that it is false. History proves its falsehood. This passage is a warning not to run after the end of time fads that are always present in church circles. Fads lead us to nowhere.

The discussion began with disciples’ admiration of the sumptuousness of the temple and surrounding buildings. Jesus informed them that all of that would be destroyed without trace. Amazed, they asked: "When" The question was wrong and he replied as they should have asked the question. Jesus did not speak of "When" but of "What".

Jesus described the violence of wars, earthquakes and famines as the "beginning of birth pains”. The pains are actually birth pangs of something new. The temple represented power, oppression, pride and human self-aggrandizement that are destined for destruction, and something new would be born in their place.

Human birth is painful, but the pain has purpose: to launch new life into the world. When we use these words of Jesus to support unhelpful speculation about the end of history we completely miss the message of the gospel. These are not words of warning and fear, but of comfort. In the divine economy, tragedies are not the end, but are openings to something new and better. Tears can wash our face, making it ready for a smile. This is hard to believe, especially in times of suffering, when we are in agony and unable to see beyond the pain. It is a message to keep us from falling into despair.

Violence and destruction are factors that we have inherited from human history, and the news reports are dominated by it. Everything that we build is designed to be destroyed and disappear without a trace. We will all die and be forgotten, just like the billions of human beings who have been born and died before we came along.

The disciples were deceived by the huge buildings. We also deceive ourselves by our accomplishments and forget that everything is transitory in life. But the pain of destruction may be offset by the hope of the birth of something better in its place.

Losses can be victories in disguise. In the divine economy there is no absolute tragedy. In the long run even tragedies contribute to future well-being. The gospel message is this: by grace, life can be born from death.


As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

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