“Signs, Times, & The Christian”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our King, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
Our Gospel message today, which we just read from St Mark, locates us in Jerusalem. This passage of scripture is one that people have mulled over in great detail for over 2000 years! Every generation has had those who thought Jesus would return in their day; from the time of the first Apostles until now!
Because it has not yet happened some have turned to spiritualizing the prophesy away; as something that will happen in our hearts.
Others have taken it literally and looked forward to more information being revealed as we near the actual time of Christ's return!
Those who believe in a literal return point out that all God's previous prophesies have been fulfilled literally and there's no evidence that God has changed!
Many mystics, and those who spiritualize the prophesy cannot believe that God will upset the status quo and take over the world!.But
did you know that there are over 300 prophesies and specifications that were predicted in advance to apply to Jesus' first appearance and that He fulfilled all of them? The odds of that happening by chance were calculated to be 100,000 times more than the number of atoms in the universe to 1?
Brothers and sisters as 21st Century Christians let us not be caught “napping or unbelieving.” but live in expectation of the return of Jesus Christ, in power and glory!
We should also note that there are two very similar prophesies which Jesus gave around this time. Luke details events surrounding the temple destruction in AD70; and Mark details events to come 2000 + years later!
The temple had been destroyed twice by invading armies. King Herod undertook the rebuilding, expansion and beautification of the temple around the time of Jesus birth.
When completed it was acknowledged as one of the most beautiful building complexes in Biblical times, and the disciples could not help but marvel at its majesty!
There were gates and arches, tunnels and stairways, white gleaming stones with extensive gold overlay. The outside was decorated with marble walls and columns. The eastern side of the temple was plated with gold, and the ten gates into the temple were covered with gold and silver. It must have been quite a sight, as the middle eastern sun shone on the metal. For the people of Jerusalem, the temple was a sign of the glory that would return to Israel.
When we look at Jesus' prophesy about the end times we see that the first section was fulfilled exactly. The temple was burned to the ground by the Arab mercenaries hired by the Romans to help control it's vast empire (See Josephus). As the Romans wanted the gold, all the stones were upturned to extract all the melted gold between them!
After detailing the destruction of the temple Jesus went on to give an account of a number of signs of many things yet to occur, before the end would come. They were told, as recorded for us today, to be careful not to be deceived by false Christs; wars in various places, earthquakes and famines. These, Jesus said were just the beginning of the earth's sorrows but the end was and is still to come -the beginning of the end but it's not till later that we will see the end of the beginning! [ birth pangs]
So why is Jesus telling us this? One, because the precise moment when the end will occur is known only by the Father. Secondly, he would not want us to become blasé or take things for granted. If we have eyes to see we'll realize that the past shows that God can be trusted regarding his revelations for the future and we should be aligning ourselves four-square with the God of the Bible!
There is bad news and there is good news. Yes we will see sorrows in the world, and many things that humanity put trust in will be gone, but this is just a prelude to Jesus' return and a new world beginning.
We see outlined the horrific events that will take place in the middle east as Satan makes war on God's people Israel, but as we've read the end of the book we know that with God, victory is certain! Our God and His promises of love, strength and endurance, for the journey, and the joy of eternal life are all that we will need.
That's surely the best good news that we can pass on to a world shaking in fear. We preach, we teach and we evangelise ,as Jesus requested we do and will do...before the end comes!
Events in the Middle East pull at our heart strings as we see the plight of refugees fleeing from persecution, and death. Jews had been driven out of those areas long ago. Now it's the turn of Christians and moderate Muslims to be made homeless.
This will have a negative impact on the area and will also affect the nations into which the refugees settle. I'm sure that we are all playing our part as we have the opportunity to help support the Church and charities which are reaching out to help those refugees who have already come to these shores.
Jesus calls us to be a light in the darkness. Dickens stated:-“these are the best of times; these are the worst of times” thoughts are divided especially when the news media constantly keeps us up to date with the atrocities happening all over the world…
The most recent, being the Paris tragedy. 129 dead and over 300 injured by 6/7 suicide bomers How do we react to such as Christians, representing Christ? Are we on the best side of the ledger? That's where Jesus wants us to be! We ask ourselves- How would Jesus react?
Jesus' life and ministry revealed shimmering light amidst the evils of his day.
In Christ, the true and only light, let each day become the beginning of the rest of our lives, not merely a day nearer the disastrous end of the world, but using any remaining time to grow in wisdom of God and to love and serve our fellow human beings, thus walking in the light. We must not chose to surrender to hopeless darkness, while dwelling unproductively on the signs of an unspecified end. We can accept today's defects as powerful motivators for the graceful transfiguration of our institutions and ourselves. God holds us responsible for our responses. In the end His will and His will only shall be done!
Along the way as we struggle for righteousness we can endure with the Word, The Spirit and Prayer as our greatest resources. Prayer, such as- “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
My brothers and sisters,
I leave you with the words of the poet-
God has not promised, skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways, all our life through. God has not promised, sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain-
but God has promised, strength for the day, rest for the labour, light for the way.
Grace for trials, Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love!...so then, as we worship and pray together this morning, as we share the peace, and the holy bread and wine, let there be light rekindled within our hearts and minds, shining forth in our words and deeds from this day to the end of the world.