Monday, November 16, 2015

The End of the World


Anybody here remember the millinium bug? The millennium bug was a computer problem that threatened the operations of corporations, utility companies, finance industries, government agencies and even science. On the stroke of midnight between 31 December 1999 and 1 January 2000, the fear was that all computers had the potential of shutting down. This led many people to stash years supplies of dehydrated and preserved emergency rations; purchase and keep in their homes large quantities of gold; and, of course, weapons and ammo. Many even moved to remote areas and set up fenced and armed compounds. The world ended,and I missed it!
In the last century Pat Robertson prophesied that 1980 would "be a year of sorrow and bloodshed that will have no end soon, for the world is being torn apart, and my {God's ] kingdom shall rise from the ruins of it."
The Great Tribulation would begin in October or November 1982, following an invasion of Israel by Russia There would be a worldwide economic collapse in 1985
Jay Rockefeller would be elected President of the United States in 1996.
After his prophecy of 1982 failed to pass, he changed it to 2007, because 2007 is 40 years since the Six-Day War[wp] and 400 years since the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The world ended, and I missed it!

In the early 80's, billboards appeard in Portland announcing the end of the world on a specified date that came and went. The world ended, and I missed it!

And, of course, as we all remember, on December 21, 2012 the Mayan calander ended, and along with it, the world. For at least the third time in my life the world ended, and again I missed it!

The end of the world has always been near. At the turn of the year 1000 (which was celebrated on at least 4 different dates depending upon what part of Europe you lived in, some folks sold all they had and gave the proceeds to the church; others prostrated themselves on church floors in fervent, fear-inspired prayer, while flagelllants beat their backs to a bloody pulp in anticipation of the end. In the 1840's the Millerites built their churches without roofs because they knew the end was coming and wanted nothing to impede their rapture.

Jesus' own time was also filled with apocalyptic expectations. This was the time, said many, when the Messiah would come riding in on a white horse, throw off the yoke of Roman oppression and restore Israel as the power she had been under David. Surely these prophesies were known to, and on the minds of the disciples.

As this exchange with his disciples opens, Jesus has spent most of the day arguing with the Pharisees and Sadducees. The debates have left him tired and ready to eat and rest. Then one of his disciples looks around and seeing the massive stones forming Herod's still under construction temple comments on the size and strength of the structure. Sort of like we might comment on the size and strength of the Grand Coulee Dam, or the big church next door. Jesus, however, does not seem to be impressed. Mar 13:2 Jesus answered, "You see these great buildings? Not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one of them will be thrown down." That was quite a prophecy. The temple had been under construction for over 40 years. Some of the stones were as big as half a semi trailer; covering the top of Mt. Moriah, it stood some two hundred feet above the ground and cast an image of dazzling whiteness and blinding fire from its marble stones and golden dome. Jesus statement silenced the disciples with unbelief. Yet just a few years later, in 70 A.D. The Romans would mercilessly crush another Jewish revolt and tear down the temple leaving only the foundation, and what is, today, known as the wailing wall.

Resting on the Mount of Olives, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, like so many today, want to know when this will happen. Jesus doesn't really answer them, but, instead, promises that Mar 13:6-8 “Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, 'I am he!' and they will fool many people. (7) And don't be troubled when you hear the noise of battles close by and news of battles far away. Such things must happen, but they do not mean that the end has come. (8) Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be earthquakes everywhere, and there will be famines. These things are like the first pains of childbirth.”

“Don't be troubled” he says, and yet we are. Eschatology (the study of the end times) is big business. Countless would be scholars and prophets pour over scriptures and other ancient texts, apply the rules of numerology and astrology and develop complex algorythms to determine when the end will come. But all to no avail. I am no eschatological scholar, but it seems to me that if Jesus, himself, said: Mar 13:32 “No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don't know, and the Son himself doesn't know. Only the Father knows. “ Then the chances that I, or anyone, can correctly predict it are somewhere close to nil.

And that is exactly the point. The angels don't know, Jesus doesn't know, and we don't know when: we only know that. When Jesus told his followers (33) “So watch out and be ready! You don't know when the time will come.” they took him seriously. The disciples and the early church lived in expectation of the imminent return of Christ. But as the years turned into centuries, and the centuries into eons, The church, and Christians, became, for the most part, complacent.

But the truth remains: we don't know how much longer we have; individually, or as a planet. Seedtime and harvest could continue for eons; or climate change and polution could slowly cause the planet to cook in its own juices and boil away; We could blow ourselves up in a nuclear holacost, or be crashed into by a life destroying asteroid or comet. It is not our task to determine the when or the how. Our call is to
Mar 13:33-37 Be on watch, be alert, for you do not know when the time will come. (34) It will be like a man who goes away from home on a trip and leaves his servants in charge, after giving to each one his own work to do and after telling the doorkeeper to keep watch. (35) Watch, then, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming---it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise. (36) If he comes suddenly, he must not find you asleep. (37) What I say to you, then, I say to all: Watch!"


No comments:

Post a Comment