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Trust in God’s Providence

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
Trust in God’s Providence: Mark 13:9-13
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday March 7, 2021

Keep the church in Rome in mind.  Think about what they are going through and what they hear in these passages.  Think about why it was vital for them to hear this particular message because we know that all that Jesus taught could not be contained by the books of the world.  So this message was important for them.  They couldn’t pick and choose.  It was sent to them, purposefully.

Mark 13:7-8 (NASB)

6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and they will mislead many.

7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.

8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are only the beginning of birth pains.

They had just heard about the birth pangs.  Don’t be afraid.  It is to be expected.  Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes.  All such things.  Merely the beginning, yet not the end.  So don’t look at that and be fearful.  Plus, you must trust in God.  that what will happen is exactly what He desires will happen.

V9

9 “But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

Let’s begin.  The public teaching is over.  Jesus is speaking to the disciples.  Jesus has told them not only about the end of the temple but also have pointed to the end of all ends.  Blepete!  Look out.  Keep a watchful eye.  Not to escape.  But to know and recognize what is going to happen.  Don’t be surprised.  You are the messengers.  The witnesses to Me.  You are the foundation of the church.  Your role is not coming to an end, it is just beginning.

And this beginning for you may look like the end but it is not.  It is all part of the Father’s glorious plan for salvation.  You, here with me, me be afraid.  But listen…they, friends, family, acquaintances, people on the street, they will hand you over.  They will turn you in.  Because of Me.  They will do this so don’t be surprised.  Be watchful, but don’t flee.  This is your witness.

You my friends will see and be part of these things firsthand.  You will be handed over to councils.  You will be handed over to synagogues and beaten.  Lashed 39 times; because the maximum punishment was 40, Deut 25:3.   And you will be before the pagans.  Before governors and kings.  You will have to stand there as a witness, a martyr.  This is what will happen.  These are the birth pangs of the church.  You are the ones who will build upon my foundation.

Deuteronomy 25:3 (NASB)

3 He may have him beaten forty times, but not more, so that he does not have him beaten with many more lashes than these, and that your brother does not become contemptible in your eyes.

Matthew 24:9 (NASB)

9 “Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

This is a near future prophecy of Christ.  And they must be prepared.

V10

10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

And now Jesus seemingly switches gears in the schema of time.  He tells them that the good news must be preached to all the nations.  That this message, repent and believe the Gospel, must reach all the nations.  A phrase that seems strange in its placement but in reality speaks to the whole nature of the good news.  Notice how in last week’s teaching that there was the phrase nation will rise against nation.  Could they comprehend that?  The Roman empire was so powerful it could be argued that this phrase didn’t even register with them.  But it was a phrase that was not immediate in nature but pointed to future events.  And so it is here.

All the nations are in a future time frame.  Not the one in which the arrests and beatings will occur.  The first should not be read that the Gospel will be proclaimed to all the nations before the arrests and beatings will occur (although an argument can be made for the day of Pentecost – but not a strong one).  One could argue that in a representative view this could have occurred around 60 AD due to the language of Paul in many locations, including Colossians 1:623.  But this does not seem to be the case.  And if we look at Matthew 24:14 we will find the support.

Colossians 1:5-623 (NASB)

5 because of the hope reserved for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth,]the gospel

6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth;

23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Matthew 24:14 (NASB)

14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Furthermore, as this passage develops one can see a back and forth between the immediate future and the deep time future (and we will find more in v12).  Therefore, this connects better to the birth pangs, that before the end of all ends, the gospel must go to all nations.  Heaven will have representatives from all the nations.  That includes those in the church in Rome.  Those listening to this gospel being read.  They are hearing about a great multitude that will make up the true church.  The true believers.

V11

11 And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit.

Now Jesus goes back to the immediate future.  Reminding them of the impending arrest and handing over.  That this is a time of great stress and consternation.  Jesus is warning them but it has to be somewhat alarming to hear this.  We will be arrested and handed over.  Our lives will not be our own.  We will be controlled by others.  Enemies, pagans.  And Jesus knows they will be anxious.  Who wouldn’t be.  They have been travelling with Jesus for three years and have been in a few tight spots, but no arrests, no prison, nothing before governors and kings.  This has got to be hard for them to hear.

Think about the words which they will hear from Jesus.  Those words in John 15:18 that the world hates them because the world hated Him.  This is coming up.  More warnings.  Yet Jesus promises them something.  He promises the Holy Spirit.  Look at John 15:26-27.  The Holy Spirit will come to help them.  Just as He says in these verses.  Don’t worry about what to say.  The Spirit will enable you.  The Spirit will give you the words.  He will give you the testimony.  Don’t trouble yourselves as I am providing provision for you.

John 15:18 (NASB)

Disciples’ Relation to the World

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

John 15:26-27 (NASB)

26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, namely, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify about Me,

27 and you are testifying as well, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Now the church in Rome, who is under persecution, is hearing this too.  They are hearing how the disciples will be seemingly on their own.  But that is not the case.  The Holy Spirit will come.  So the church in Rome knows about the Holy Spirit but the disciples haven’t experienced Him yet.  They are essentially one up on the ones in the disciples.  The same Holy Spirit that the believers in Rome have is the same one that the disciples will receive at Pentecost.

Proceed with caution.  The Spirit comes to the disciples in a manner different from the subsequent followers.  They are empowered to build the church as immediate witnesses to Christ.  Their job is different.  We should not expect to be given what to say without having studied the scripture.  They get it first hand from the Holy Spirit, we get it from the Holy Spirit through the scripture.

The big takeaway here is don’t be anxious for I am not leaving you alone.  From the time of belief till the death of your earthly body and your presence in heaven you will never be alone.  An unending stream of God’s presence.  And that goes for the persecuted church in Rome.  The same church who heard about the calming of the sea in Mark 4.

V12

12 And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.

Jesus, now goes to the time in a further future.  Drawing directly from the Old Testament in Micah 7:6. And it speaks directly to the church in Rome.  He is talking about families turning against one another.  Think about the disciples.  None of them have children.  So now it must be speaking of the future.  A time of believers with families.  Believers like we find in Rome.  Believers under the thumb of Nero.  Believers who could be outed by their own families and thrown into the Circus Maximus to be torn apart by wild animals.

Micah 7:1-6 (NASB)

The Prophet Acknowledges Injustice

1 Woe to me! For I am

Like harvests of summer fruit, like gleanings of grapes.

There is not a cluster of grapes left to eat,

Nor an early fig, which I crave.

2 The godly person has perished from the land,

And there is no upright person among mankind.

All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;

Each of them hunts the other with a net.

3 As for evil, both hands do it well.

The leader asks for a bribe, also the judge,

And the great one speaks the capricious desire of his soul;

So they plot it together.

4 The best of them is like a thorn bush,

The most upright like a thorn hedge.

The day when you post your watchmen,

Your punishment is coming.

Then their confusion will occur.

5 Do not trust in a neighbor;

Do not have confidence in a close friend.

Guard your lips

From her who lies in your arms.

6 For son disavows father,

Daughter rises up against her mother,

Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

A person’s enemies are the people of his own household.

This warning is directed beyond the disciples.  A warning of how belief will divide families.  Will divide those who worship the true God and everyone else.  Be on the lookout but don’t be anxious.  Salvation is not the result of bloodlines but is the result of who the Lord saves.  The Holy Spirit is like the wind.  He comes to who He comes to – John 3.  Your true family is your family in Christ.

V13

13 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Jesus now combines the immediate future with the far future.  Both coalesce in this verse.  You will be hated by the world – again John 15:15 – because the world first hated Jesus.  Jesus has come to save, to redeem yet that is not what the world wants.  The world desires sin.  The world lives in darkness.  The prince of the air rules here – Ephesians 2.  There is no one righteous, not one.  This is Christ’s warning to those disciples there and to those believers who are far off.

Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.

John 15:15 (NASB)

15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

But.  The great conjunctions of the bible.  Those stop gaps of doom.  The conjunctions who cause a sentence to repent of its direction.  You will be hated.  And that’s not fun.  But.  You will be arrested and beaten, and it will hurt, but.  You may die because of your allegiance to Me, but.

But…you who endure will be saved.  You who make it through this will be saved.  The sense of endurance here is one of bearing a great weight and not being crushed.  One that bears up under the load of many miseries.

Now this is not salvation by works.  That their ability to endure will save them.  It is not endurance that rests or falls on our own strength.  These are not the ones of Matthew 24:12 whose love grows cold, but something else.

Matthew 24:12 (NASB)

12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold.

Think about who is there with Him.  All the disciples, including Judas.  Judas will not endure.  He will express hatred towards Jesus by his actions.  When he sells Him out for pay.  He is not one who endures.  He is a son of perdition and gets his due.

But this is endurance through God.  Look to Jeremiah 32:40 – God secures the salvation.  That 1 Peter 1:2-8, how God supplies what is needed.  Jude 21 and 24 where it is God who keeps them from stumbling.  Those who do fall away are ones who were never saved to begin with.

Jeremiah 32:40 (NASB)

40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, so that they will not turn away from Me.

1 Peter 1:2-8 (NASB)

2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Jude 20-25 (NASB)

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting;

23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

24 Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy,

25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Where do we go with these passages? There is both the here and now for them plus the then and later for us.  There is the immediate and the distant.

We must keep that in mind when we deal with these scriptures.  Importantly, we can look at these verses from the viewpoint of the persecuted church in Rome.  What were they to learn?

First and foremost, that Jesus saves completely.  He is not a partial savior.  He is not a savior that depends on the works of man.  He is a complete savior.  Those whom He saves will never be lost.  Those whom the Father gives Him cannot jump out of His grasp.

This is certainly important for them.  Because the Roman machine of persecution is starting.  Friends and family will turn them in to avoid persecution.  And later on, under Diocletian, they will receive rewards for turning Christians in.  The threat for them is real.  They could be reading this letter, hearing this letter knowing that not only have members of their church been killed but they could be next.  So, the warnings are real.  But so is the savior.  Even if death were to come to them, they are in an unending stream of presence with their savior.

Don’t worry these things will happen.  And Jesus knows.  These things will happen.  And Jesus saves.

The message is the same to us.

These things will be coming.  And when we look to the world today it seems that they are coming at breakneck speed.

Are world is topsey turvey

For example we have a president that says that states that take away the mask restriction are neanderthals yet he also supports abortion even to the late term and does not see it as neanderthalithic

Our Canadian neighbors have arrested a pastor for preaching to a church that had too many people, and he’s still in jail, yet they have released a sex offender and warned the town that they believe he is still a threat.

You can somehow choose your sex but you can’t change your chromosomes

You can say that you believe in science but only when it is convenient with the sinful desires of your heart.

We are living in a world where we are told that lies are the truth

We are living in a world where we are told that evil is good and good is evil.

Isaiah 5:20 (NASB)

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitutes bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

We therefore should not put our trust in the world

We should not align ourselves with the world

We should not seek to be like the world.

Look at the words in Job 8:15, what happens when one trusts in the world

Job 8:15 (NASB)

15 He depends on his house, but it does not stand;

He holds on to it, but it does not endure.

And compare it to Jesus’s teaching in the beatitude, Matthew 7:24-25 – building on the foundation that is Christ

Matthew 7:24-25 (NASB)

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

We should trust in God’s providence

What is God’s providence?

It is how God uses the millions/billions of seemingly ordinary events through the course of time, including our free will decisions, to bring about His plan of redemption.

And when we trust in God’s providence we have no fear of the future.

Look to Joshua 23:14 (NASB)

14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; they all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.

Listen to those words

All His words, all His promises will be fulfilled.  Not one will fail.

Jesus is the complete Savior

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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