As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. ‘So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; someone on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; someone in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Messiah!” or “There he is!”—do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, “Look! He is in the wilderness”, do not go out. If they say, “Look! He is in the inner rooms”, do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Wow! What a lot to take in! Images of Jesus arriving on a bolt of lightning and pictures of false prophets telling us things that aren’t true.
Many have linked the change in climate to the End Times – the storms, the floods, the fires, the extremes of temperature. Is the end on its way? We don’t know. No-one knows. We are told there will be signs to look out for – but how do we know what signs are the right ones? Will God communicate with us as to when the end will be? Or will we continue to add 1+1 and make 3??
Advances in technology and in understanding have helped us to move forward in our predictions of the future. We now have 7 day weather forecasts; political fortune telling; financial forecasts and lots of other ways to know what is coming. Even pandemics are predicted – despite not recognising one when it came!
We are obsessed with knowing what is coming next instead of being in the moment now. Our focus is on how we can move forward; get more; get ahead; leave the past behind. Yet without our past, we would not be who we are. If we look too far into the future we will lose sight of the now. There are many needs to be met today that need to be considered so that the future can be bright.
May our focus be “upwards” rather than “forwards” that our response is to the Word of God which never passes away rather than material gains that will be gone long before we are.
Lord, the present is a gift that we often take for granted in our search for the future. Forgive us that we are so desperate to know what is coming that we lose sight of what we can do today. Help us to learn from our past and embrace our present so that we are ready for the future when it arrives. Amen
The Rev’d Ruth Watson SCM MediaCityUKChurch, Salford Quays