Today's devotion from Mark 13. Scholars debate this chapter. Jesus appears to be speaking eschatologically, looking at the end of time. Yet, there are some clues that lead us to think that He is preparing the disciples for something that is much more immanent. This interpretation seems to be supported by the fact that Jesus' teaching has consistently become more centered on the cross.
Many scholars note a difficulty in accurately presenting the words of Christ in English. So, they attempt to walk us through this hard section. It essentially is understood that two things are happening. First, there are "these things" and "all these things" that are explained up to verse 23. These are the things that this generation will see. Historically, we know this is correct, too. The Temple was destroyed in 70AD, and that pieces of it have been found in Roman era architecture after that date.
The desolation and abomination of the temple had originally been prophesied in the Old Testament and carried out by Antiochus Epiphanes, but Jesus states that something like it would happen again. The phrase means to profane the holy place of God. Some argue that this happened during the Roman occupation, others that zealots committed sacrilegious offenses, and yet others view this as the act of destroying the temple itself.
When these things happen, in the lifetime of the generation speaking with Jesus, the stage would be set for the events of phase 2 outlined in verses 24-27, which is seen by some as the destruction of Jerusalem proper. With the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem itself, the people would find themselves in a dire situation, and they must be prepared.
This discussion began with an off-hand comment by an unknown disciple regarding how impressive the temple structure was. Jesus' intention is clear: this temple will be destroyed, but the church will stand for all time. His words are profound when we consider that within that last generation, the temple would be rendered meaningless and destroyed. David had longed to build it, Solomon was famed for accomplishing it, the book of Ezra celebrated its reconstruction, and Herod enhanced it with finery, but in God's plan, the temple was always destined to become obsolete and doomed to destruction.
You, members of the church indwelled by the Spirit, were destined to be far more impressive than some stones stacked in Jerusalem.