Mark 13:14-23 – The Desolating Sacrilege
“But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’—do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything.
When I was in college, one of my dear friends bought a new University of Colorado hat (mind you that the colors for CU are black, gold, and silver). Only one small problem with this hat…it wasn’t black, white, gold, grey…but it was red (maroon actually, but its still a shade of red). This unleashed a tide of cries about sacrilege…For those who are unaware, the primary rival for Colorado at the time was Nebraska (colors are scarlet and cream according to the Nebraska website). This goes back to when Bill McCartney started at CU in the 80s and labeled NU as the red-letter game for CU each year. I still have fond memories of the first time I remember beating NU (20-10 in 1986) as well as many other classic games in the years following. But it was my practice at the time that red was an off-limits color, especially during Nebraska week. We would use words like “sacrilege” to talk about wearing red during Nebraska week, and of course when my friend donned his red CU hat.
We come to one of those passages in Mark that has about a 1000 different interpretations – what is the desolating sacrilege? Its clearly much more than wearing the color of your team’s rival. Some say that it is a statement about what would be set up in the temple at some point in the future, other interpreters say that it is a statement from after the fact about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Regardless of the interpretations, it is a statement about watching for when the unholy is brought into the holy and the beginning of a warning against being deceived into following someone or something other than Christ.
(And even though they aren’t in the same conference any longer, I am still don’t like NU)