NO CAUSE FOR ALARM
Luke 21:5-19, Isaiah 65:17-25 November 13, 2016
Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, 6 “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another, all will be demolished.”
The Temple was the center of Jewish faith. Even as Jesus predicted it's destruction, it was 46 years into it's second restoration The grand symbol of security to the Jews at the time, it was where God and humans interacted. Four football fields wide, and five long, it was made of marble so pure that, from a distance, it looked like a snow capped mountain. There was a wall of gold that shone blindingly brilliant in the sun, and it was filled with treasures from around the known world. For Jesus to prophesy the destruction of this magnificent edifice was baffling, and almost blasphemous.
On Wednesday morning many Americans awoke despondent; the unexpected, and to them, inexplicable victory of Donald Trump left them pondering the words of Henry Kissinger: “More than at any time in history, mankind faces a crossroads--one path leading to despair and utter hopelessness, the other leading to total destruction.” The election result brought chaos to international financial markets ,(but that seems to be calming down) and has both our allies and our opponents questioning the solidarity of their relations with the United States. Some ask, “Are we returning to the 1950's America of racism ,prejudice, oppression and, even McCarthyist red-baiting and witch hunting?” .There was an explosion in search traffic on Google for terms such as "emigrate" and "how to emigrate to Canada,” while huge numbers of internet surfers worldwide also began googling the phrase "end of the world" when the news broke. Others, I am sure, are stocking up on food, gold, guns generators, guns and ammo in preparation for the cataclysm they see coming. Others have taken to the streets.
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?” Many of us wonder the same thing. Jesus doesn't give a direct answer, he doesn't tell us that it will be two weeks from the second Wednesday of March, 2019. He simply tells us to be faithful. And yet there are still those who claim to know when the end will come. The latest prediction, August 21, 2017 when a total eclipse is expected to spread across America. with western Europe experiencing a partial eclipse. It will be the first total eclipse to travel from one coast of America to the other, for almost a century .Conspiracy theorists have pointed to passages from The Book of Revelation to support their predictions. “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Cautions Jesus, Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them.” The politicians are not our salvation. The President can neither prevent nor halt what God has planned. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions,” Jesus continues, “don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.” Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky.”
The things Jesus prophesied were then, like they are now, current events of the day. Rome was always fighting rebellions and other lands. Disease and hunger were almost a universal norm. But, says the Lord, as bad as things are, this is not the end. .
The editors of The Wesleyan Study Bible believe that the “Wars and rebellions” of v. 9 refers to the Jewish uprising of 77AD when the temple was destroyed, while others say we cannot tie the prophesies to any particular event in the first or subsequent centuries. Whatever century Jesus is talking about, the important thing for us is to be faithful, especially when we face uncertain times; especially when we feel disenfranchised, that no one knows or cares about us; that what we think and feel doesn't matter.
However we voted, and I'm pretty sure that we did not all vote the same, we are still in Christ, and we are called to reflect that in how we treat and respond to others. Whether you think the election is the best or worst thing to happen to the United States, we are all in this together. This is a time for reconciliation and prayer.
The times they are a changing. The future may look bleak. Great or ungreat, this nation will never be the same; but there is no cause for alarm. We do not and cannot know what the future will bring; but we need not live in fear, for we can and do know the one who brings us the future: a future of promise, a future of hope, a future of joy. A future described by Isaiah, who promises in God's name a new creation, a new Jerusalem, even more fantastic than the first.
The times they are a changing. The future may look bleak. Great or ungreat, this nation will never be the same. We do not and cannot know what the future will bring; but we need not and should not live in fear, for we can and do know the one who brings us the future: a future of promise, a future of hope, a future of joy. A future described by Isaiah, who promises in God's name a new creation, a new Jerusalem, even more fantastic than the first.
My chosen people will use your name as a curse. I, the Sovereign LORD, will put you to death. But I will give a new name to those who obey me. Anyone in the land who asks for a blessing will ask to be blessed by the faithful God. Whoever takes an oath will swear by the name of the faithful God. The troubles of the past will be gone and forgotten." The LORD says, "I am making a new earth and new heavens. The events of the past will be completely forgotten. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create. The new Jerusalem I make will be full of joy, and her people will be happy. I myself will be filled with joy because of Jerusalem and her people. There will be no weeping there, no calling for help. Babies will no longer die in infancy, and all people will live out their life span. Those who live to be a hundred will be considered young. To die before that would be a sign that I had punished them. People will build houses and get to live in them---they will not be used by someone else. They will plant vineyards and enjoy the wine---it will not be drunk by others. Like trees, my people will live long lives. They will fully enjoy the things that they have worked for. (SEE 65:21) The work they do will be successful, and their children will not meet with disaster. I will bless them and their descendants for all time to come. Even before they finish praying to me, I will answer their prayers. Wolves and lambs will eat together; lions will eat straw, as cattle do, and snakes will no longer be dangerous. On Zion, my sacred hill, there will be nothing harmful or evil."
“ Stand firm in the faith,” says Jesus. “Remain obedient to God. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and be saved.