Wake Up From Your Sleep

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First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 2:1-5

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:36-44

Psalm 122

 

Allow me to take the liberty of reviewing Matthew 24:32-35, part of the introduction to Jesus’ words for today. Learn what the fig-tree can teach you. As soon as its branches grow full of sap and produce leaves you know that summer is near. So when you see all these things happening you may know that he is near, at your very door! Believe me, this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place. Earth and sky will pass away, but my words will never pass away! Phillips

The fig tree stands in the middle of a long passage in which Jesus spoke of the end times (eschatology). He wants us to see the turmoil of the end as a good sign, the sign that the tree will sprout leaves and bear fruit.

But he also spoke of the signs of the times in a general sense. Jewish rabbis used 75 years as a generation instead or our idea of 20 years, or even 40. The simple way to read the words of verses 35 and 36 is a specific prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem some 40 years in the future at the time Jesus spoke the words. (There are other possible explanations.)

Some try to force those two verses to represent events literally at the end of this universe, or at least at the end of life as we know it on this earth. I have not seen any discussion along those lines that I can accept.

But about that actual day and time no one knows—not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, only the FatherPhillips This statement can refer equally to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD or the end of this earth, or more likely both. I think Jesus gave first-century believers a symbol of the final eschatology: the horror of the slow starvation and final assault of the fortress of Jerusalem, and the later the destruction of Masada.

The symbol for John, Paul, Timothy, and the many other followers of Jesus who survived the destruction was that they would also survive the end times. Also, Jesus said there would be such a destruction in their generation; it happened. We must also believe his statement that he will return.

Perhaps the symbol for us is the four airplanes that shattered our illusions in 2001. Or perhaps the nearly 16 years of war since then, with no end in sight. Or perhaps it is more personal; a car crash, a house fire, unemployment.

The signs of the end are happy signs. That is what we cannot forget.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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