Summary: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stalls” Mal. 4:2.
Text: Mal. 4:1-2; 2 Thess. 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
What would happen to you if the centre of your world were suddenly destroyed? This is an experience that no one can escape and some people have actually lost their lives as a result of this. In His prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, our third Scripture reading, Jesus teaches the right response to just such a situation, a situation that would occur when Jerusalem is destroyed. Jesus knew what the city of Jerusalem meant to the Jews. He knew that for them it was not only the centre of the world but also the most important place in the world. It was the site of the Temple famous for its architectural design and expensive decorations. Being the site of the Temple it was a holy city blessed with God’s special presence and every Jew was required to visit and worship there specific times every year. Therefore to talk about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was to talk about the destruction of the Jewish world and the Jewish identity. Jesus, however, indicated that it would not be the end of the world for the Jews because they would have to face another end – the final one. History has confirmed this as the Second Coming of Christ is yet to be fulfilled. The judgment of God upon the nation Israel because of their disobedience that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple on the one hand and the final judgment that would take place at the end of the age should have a sobering effect on our conduct and behaviour. When we face tragedy and our world appears to have come to an end our behaviour should not be that of resignation but that of endurance until we can rejoice in God’s restoration and have the assurance of spending eternity in His presence.
Endurance can bring us closer to God especially when we trust Him to restore us. Everyone will face a time that his or her world would appear to have come to an end. Once we are alive this is not the final end. The final end is our death or the Second coming of Christ. This time or times that we experience are to serve a very important purpose. They are to teach us that restoration is possible no matter the situation or the problems that had threatened to destroy us. They are also to teach us that we should be prepared at our death or at the Second coming of Christ, whichever comes first. We have no excuse no matter how sudden or surprising our final end might come. Our many previous experiences in life should have alerted us and pointed to it. The fulfilled prophecy of the end of Jerusalem should serve to prepare us for the yet to be fulfilled prophecy of the second coming of Christ.
The disciples imagined that their two questions, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” referred to the same period. They assumed that the destruction of the Temple would also mark the end of the age. But our perspective, with over 2000 years of history to back it, should be different. The destruction of the Temple occurred in 70 A.D. but the end of the age has not yet come. Between the two periods there is enough time for restoration and enough time to prepare for the end of the age. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple Israel ceased to exist as a nation. The Jews were dispersed and scattered all over the world. Many false messiahs have come and gone and some are still with us today. Events such as wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences and strange events in the heavens are occurring with increasing frequency and anti-Semitism continues to incite hatred towards the Jewish people. All these have happened yet the world has not come to an end. We are not to be deceived to see in these events a timeframe for the Second coming of Christ. Not only are we not to be deceived we are to understand that these events are reminding us of the end. Many modern day prophets have become experts on predicting when the end will come based on their interpretation of certain scriptures. A few years ago many people were made to believe that the time had come and they removed their children from schools, stopped work and got rid of their property only to find out that they had once more been deceived. We should be used to such deception by now, as the method used is not new and first took place in the Garden of Eden. It always begins by suggesting that somehow we had misunderstood what God meant and ends by changing the Word of God. To see deception at work in our world today we just need to look at the way we treat sin. In the minds of many people, we have misunderstood what God meant by adultery and an “improper relationship” is different from adultery. In the same way there are many people who see nothing wrong with an “alternative” lifestyle and do not see it as homosexuality. The only sure way to prevent deception is to know and obey the Scriptures i.e. to grow spiritually. But just as you can only begin to grow physically after you have been born, you can only begin to grow spiritually after you have been born again. You are born again the moment you confess Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord believing that He died and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for your sins.