Our home group was discussing Mark 13, and specifically where Jesus speaks of the terrible times that will follow the appearance of the "Abomination of Desolation."
His statement was clearly prophetic, and yet, what was he referring to? There had been such an event over a century before. And yet, he is clearly speaking of something else, something future.
So as we look down the road from his viewpoint, the next obvious event is in AD 70, at the destruction of the Temple. That seems to fit fairly well.
But is there more? Is there an additional meaning, more pertinent to our times today? That's a more difficult question.
There is no Temple today, if we consider only the physical Temple that Jesus entered and talked about. Yet, that may not be thinking with a large enough perspective.
Consider Paul's words in I Corinthians 3:16-17:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are."
The occurrences of "you" in this passage, as in much of the New Testament, are plural. Paul is not talking to you and me, but to us.
So if we consider that we are the temple of God, what does that mean? The Jerusalem Temple was a place where people came to worship and meet with their God. They offered sacrifices, they prayed, and more. It was God's designated primary contact point with his people, and through them, the world.
So what about the church? What about the living, sanctified, called-out people of God?
One might argue that the church serves much the same function as the Temple, though on a larger sense.
But what about the abomination that desolates? What is that, if anything, relative to the church? What disgusting thing can leave the church desolate?
In the first occurrence, Antiochus slaughtered a pig on the altar, which had the consequence of making the Temple "desolate" -- and sparking a war. Yet the Temple was intact, with no record of any physical change. so how was it desolate?
Its desolation was that it was no longer fit for the presence or worship of God. It was no longer fit to serve its intended purpose. As such, it was useless. Desolate.
So what about us, the church?
What is there that could be brought into the church, the community of the people of God, that would make us unfit for our intended purpose? What would bring desolation upon us?
How about willful disobedience? "I'll do it my way!" Or delayed obedience, which is another word for disobedience.
Or willful ignorance? We don't consider the things of God either pertinent to our lives, or worth our time. So we don't read, either our Bible, or anything else related to it.
Or, wrapping all the issues in one giant economy size: complacency. We just don't care. We are so wrapped up in living our own lives that we haven't any time or interest in God.
Complacency is perhaps the most common problem, in the church and out of it. And at its root, the real problem is that we don't believe anything we have read or heard about God. We don't believe the Bible. We don't believe Christian teachers. And so we don't care.
One of the greatest threats to the fitness of the church is complacency. Willfully chosen lack of caring. And that comes from disbelief. And disbelief comes from shallow, superficial teaching and preaching.
The other is arrogance. "I understand both scripture and God perfectly well, and if you don't agree with me, you're a heretic!"
The evangelical church in America is in grave danger, and that danger is both from the state of our culture, and contributes to the state of our culture.
Pray that the God of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them would forgive us our many sins and restore us to a living, intimate, humble, joyous and life-transforming knowledge of him.