In his Gospel, Mark emphasized Jesus’ teaching on discipleship. As Jesus approached the cross, He warned the disciples to be watchful and endure tribulation knowing that God was sovereign over any persecution they would suffer. In Mark 13, Jesus employed prophetic themes from the Old Testament to inform the disciples that difficult days would precede His glorious return.
(1) In Mark 13:14, Jesus quoted Dan 9:27 to instruct the disciples concerning the period of persecution that would proceed the coming of the Son of Man. Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would be in exile for seventy years (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10). When Daniel read Jeremiah’s prophecy, he turned to God in prayer (Dan 9:1-4). As Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel came to him with the answer to his prayer. Gabriel informed Daniel that the Messiah would come for a time but when He is cut off, one who opposes God’s people would set up an abominable symbol in the temple (Dan 9:27). In A.D. 68-70, the Romans invaded Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed. Like Gabriel, Jesus described God’s sovereignty over future events—including the tribulation that would come upon God’s people (Matt 24:15-22//Mark 13:14-20; 2 Thess 2:1-12; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Peter 2; Rev 8:7-9:12). Jesus told the disciples that the number of days that tribulation would reign upon the earth were limited so that all of the elect would be saved (Mark 13:19-20).
(2) In Mark 13:24-25, Jesus described a future celestial cataclysm in language that echoed expectations of end-time cataclysm predicted by Israel’s prophets. The authors of the Synoptic Gospels recorded Jesus’ predictions that upheaval of the heavens would signal His return to earth (Matt 24:29-31//Mark 13:24-27//Luke 21:25-28). Jesus said that when the sun was darkened and the celestial powers are shaken, the disciples should look to heaven for the glorious return of the Son of Man. Jesus’ language echoed Isaiah’s prophecy on the Day of the Lord, when Babylon would be judged, the sun and moon would be darkened (Isa 13:10). Joel also prophesied that the sun and the moon would be darkened when the Day of the Lord arrived (Joel 2:10).
(3) In Mark 13:14, Jesus employed imagery from Dan 7:13-14 to describe for the disciples the glory of His return. While Daniel was in a dream, he saw four beasts coming out of the sea, each representing a world power. He then saw the Son of Man coming as the final ruler, coming on the clouds of heaven to rule with great power over all nations (Dan 7:13-14). When Jesus’ disciples heard Him say that after the celestial cataclysm “they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:14), they would have recalled Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus was informing His disciples that the final rule of God on earth would be realized at His return.