Mark 13:5-8: Creation groaning.
“5 Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 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. ” NIV UK
‘’We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’’ (Romans 8:22).
Jesus knows what is going to happen before it happens. Here he gave His disciples signs – things to expect to happen before the fall of Jerusalem. History says they did happen:
- False Christ’s did appear (see also 21-23). Before and during the Roman invasion certain Jews rose up and claimed to be the Messiah. They urged their fellow-Jews to fight the Romans;
- Between 62 and 66 AD, just a few years before Jerusalem was destroyed, there were many wars throughout the Roman Empire. There were also many rumours of revolts against the emperor. The Empire had enjoyed a measure of peace (the ‘Pax Romana”) for multiple years; but as it decayed and nationalism developed, it was inevitable that nations would start to fight one another;
- There were famines in various parts of the empire before Jerusalem’s destruction (see, e.g. Acts 11:28). According to Roman historians, there were also several earthquakes in different parts of the empire during that time;
- In Luke 21:11, Jesus also said there would be ‘’great signs from heaven’’ before the destruction of Jerusalem. According to both Roman and Jewish historians , these signs did occur. The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, said a comet appeared over Jerusalem for many nights with a tail shaped like a sword.
But it is important to note Jesus said, ‘’These are the beginning of birth-pains’’ (8b). When a mother is in labour, the contractions intensify as the time draws near for the baby to be born. Something you see as you study Mark 13 is that the signs of Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70, and those of the end of the age, are similar. There is an overlapping of these two things. So, Tom Hale observes: ‘These events that occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem were only the beginning of the events that will ultimately lead to the end of the world. We know that in the past 1900 years, even greater wars have occurred, and even greater earthquakes and famines. False Christ’s even today are rising up in different parts of the world. Jesus’ prophecy not only was fulfilled before the fall of Jerusalem, but it is also continuing to be fulfilled right up to this present time, as we await His coming again at the end of the world.’ ‘The applied New Testament Commentary’, p.267.