Throughout the history of the Church, the so-called Olivet Discourse in Mark 13 has spawned repeated speculation about the end of the world. As Christians have endeavored to discern their place in the history of the world, they have applied the imagery of the Olivet Discourse time and again to their own day, asserting that certainly in their day the end of the world had arrived and the Second Coming of our Lord was going to occur in their generation. Yet as we consider their predictions we find that they have, as Gary DeMar has noted, two things in common: those who made them were sure of their prediction and they were all wrong.
What then are we to make of these words of our Lord? First, what is it that he is addressing? Second, when did he imagine that these things were going to take place? Third, why does he use the type of language that he uses to describe these events? These are the questions we must answer. To do so, I want to break our survey of this chapter into two portions. This week we will consider the first two questions – what is he addressing and when did he think these things would take place? Next week we will examine particular portions of the discourse and explain why Jesus uses the language he uses to describe this particular event. Lord willing we will be equipped to avoid the silly speculation that has characterized many of our brothers and sisters throughout Church history as well as be equipped to respond to the accusations of men who accuse our Lord of being mistaken in his supposed description of the end of the world.