Today’s readings.. (1 Chronicles 11), (Ezekiel 24), (Luke 21)

How natural it is to be terrified when all the things around us are falling apart: The earthquakes and Hurricanes are recent examples of this.  When Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, the disciples were very anxious to know when, what sign there would be when it was about to happen. Our reading in Luke 21 shows how Jesus then went on to describe far more  trouble that the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem – these troubles would not be an indication of his imminent return. He said, ‘when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, but the end will not be at once.” [v.9]
He said they would be persecuted, but “this will be your opportunity to bear witness” [v.13].  He promised them, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” [v.15] When he then said, ”By your endurance you will gain your lives” [v.19], it seems evident that he means eternal life – and isn’t that true for us too!
The nation was going to come to a tragic end and “be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” [v.24] Gentiles means – non-Jewish nations. And it happened in AD70 – but not for ever – only “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”– and the next verse tells us that then, “there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and foreboding of what is coming on the world…  For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming …” [v.25,26]
Are the sun, moon and stars literal – or symbolic of the ruling powers being in great chaos?  Maybe both – but verse 33 indicates a symbolic meaning for “heaven and earth will pass away.”  Jesus told the parable of the fig tree in v.39-41 and the fig tree is symbolic of Israel (Joel 1 v.7), when “they come out in leaf … you know the kingdom of God is near.”  “That day,” says Jesus, will come, “suddenly like a trap      … upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth” [v.35] “but stay awake at all times praying …” [v.36] and “do not be terrified.”


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