“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:24-26).
The thirteenth chapter of Mark, from which this passage is taken, is known as The Little Apocalypse. It bears the same characteristics found in the Old Testament book of Daniel and in the New Testament’s Revelation. It is part of a literary genre known as apocalyptic writing. Many critical scholars believe this chapter was inserted sometime after Mark’s gospel appeared, perhaps just prior to or soon after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and burned down the temple in 70 A.D.
Apocalyptic writing depicts cataclysm on a cosmic scale. It is always aimed at the demise of an oppressor and the ultimate liberation of the oppressed. In the case of Mark and Revelation, the oppressor was Rome. Daniel’s oppressor was Persia.
It’s important to point out that the purpose of an apocalyptic message is to encourage the persecuted to hold fast to their faith, that things are about to change. Mark’s apocalypse clearly points this out: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place” (13:30).
To use any aspect of scripture as a prophetic roadmap through current events is to ignore the historical context and literary nature of apocalyptic writing. The writer is always directing his message to the persecuted of his day. And the message is always, “Yes, it’s tough, and it’s going to get tougher. But hold fast, your day of salvation is about to dawn.”
From a spiritual point of view, the apocalypse occurs within the individual who begins to awaken to their own divinity. A great battle occurs between the old, material-based belief system and the new understanding that we and the world we inhabit are spiritual in nature. The old body-based consciousness is challenged by the unfolding understanding that, as spiritual beings having a human experience, there is infinitely more to us than what transpires between the bookends of physical birth and death. The son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory, is not a reference to Jesus. The son of man is the human being now seen in the light of profoundly clear spiritual understanding.