9 Jan 2010

When will these things be?

Submitted by theshovel
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This Shoveletter came from a recent Shovel Shack post I made that had been suggested as making for a good Shoveletter. You can thank Dave for the suggestion. :)

And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down." And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs."
Matthew 24:1-8

Take a look at the intro that brought Jesus to later say what he did. Try to catch the flow of this scene. Jesus just came out of the temple and was going away, and his disciples stopped his departure to "point out the temple buildings". Why do you think they may have done that?

And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down. Matthew 24:1-2

As one who loves sightseeing and picture-taking, I often grab the attention of those who may have overlooked some fascinating points of interest. Those of you I have visited know that I will wander off to take an endless number of photos. The truth is that I am quite impressed by many scenes, especially the grand ones.

I suspect they were in awe of the temple structure itself, and may have been a little perturbed that Jesus didn't even pay attention to it. I also suspect that they didn't get to see these structures as often as I used to assume. After all, they were often on the outskirts of the city. Even when in Jerusalem, I think their attention was drawn elsewhere, and this particular situation gave them a rare chance to actually admire the majesty of the buildings around them. However, why would I be wasting so much time on this point? Simply to get a clearer picture of what may have been going on in their minds, and I think the results say a lot. For here they were, waiting for Jesus to validate that which awed them: the earthly temple of God. And how did Jesus respond? He told them that everything they were impressed with on that day would be destroyed. And that was the end of that scene.

Now, the Mount of Olives is not far from the temple, but I don't know how long it really took before they made it there. However long it was, the wheels must have been spinning wildly in their imaginations. I mean, why would God let the temple be destroyed ... and when will this happen?! That's what I would be thinking, wouldn't you? I'll bet they were about to wet their pants in anticipation. But didn't they miss the real reason Jesus said what he did about the temple being torn down? Wouldn't their misunderstanding reflect the same as in this famous scene:

and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise." His disciples remembered that it was written, "ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME." The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews therefore said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
John 2:16-22

They misunderstood what the true temple of God was, and they wanted Jesus to be impressed with their perspective. It must have been a real downer to have it hit them like this, but after his resurrection they came to see it differently. However, as the passages of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 details Jesus' words to them before the resurrection it must be understood in view of their misperception. Now, I don't mean that Jesus was pandering to their misunderstanding, only that we can't simply ignore what was going on. Otherwise, we skip right over the obvious.

And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs."Matthew 24:3-8

The obvious is: what are they really asking ... and then, what is Jesus really answering? They want to know when it is happening, but Jesus' first answer goes right to the lie that WILL come from those who WILL try to mislead them, all under the guise that the answer comes from one who is anointed of God. They are looking for specific signs by which they can nail down the time, but Jesus sums up all potential signs given by those who use signs to make claims as merely being "the beginning of birth pangs". In other words, many will come after Jesus and point to physical signs, especially relating to the temple of God on earth, to validate their own authority. To all this he says, Don't listen to them! Impressive physical signs have always been used by those who do not understand what the real temple of God is, and so the destruction of any physical representation of this temple only highlights the the truth that cannot be seen according to outward appearance.

Jim

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Comments

I am not sure what you mean here. Are you making an apologetic against premillenialism here?

theshovel's picture

At one time, I did claim the title of premillenialist, though not any more. However, my post has nothing to do with proving or disproving any end time position. What I desire you to understand is easily overlooked when viewed through the lens of Eschatology.

I remember a time in my life where I witnessed two brothers hashing it out over their pre- versus post-millenialial viewpoints, and I sat and watched the tensions rise as each tried to prove his point. I unsuccessfully attempted to interject something in the conversation (of which I seemed to have originally been a part of), but I was invisible to them and their arguments.

What I noticed was that neither one of them was really listening to the other, for they were too busy formulating their next points. Both of them were teachers at the local church we were sitting in, and they agreed on many things, but once they got into their argument, the former agreements of life in Christ took a far back seat. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for discussion, but the simple fact is that we too often go into another mode that has little to do with reality and more to do with our arguments. It's when we stop actually hearing one another that we might ought to wonder what we're really discussing.

Now, it might sound as if I'm avoiding your question, but I told you all that for a reason. For I suspect that you're trying to figure out what I mean in the same way the disciples were trying to figure out what Jesus meant, and therefore missed the simplicity. Consider this closing statement in the letter I sent:

To all this he says, Don't listen to them! Impressive physical signs have always been used by those who do not understand what the real temple of God is, and so the destruction of any physical representation of this temple only highlights the the truth that cannot be seen according to outward appearance.

The real temple of God is US, we who are in Christ. And that is the very first thing that gets overlooked in most doctrinal discussions, especially when it comes to End Time discussions. If we are going to be prepared for anything regarding how things are going to work out in the end time, we should surely recognize that things just aren't going to work out as we expected, and that we will easily lose sight of the only real bond that means anything to us. That bond, of course, is Christ, our common life. Knowing that the world does not accept the life that is in us, we should not let anything sway us from loving one another, and should be fully prepared to be unprepared to do anything apart from his life in us. How we discuss things with one another reveals much about how we see one another in Christ alone.

And this is my real message. I would rather have you see Christ than to agree with my viewpoint on how the future of this world is going to pan out. I would have you find confidence in Christ in how you deal with yourself and those around you, rather than in a positional understanding of future prophecy. There are simply a lot of things I don't care a whole bunch for because of the life that blows all systems of thought away. And this is not meant to slight any particular understanding of scripture you may have that truly highlights this life in Christ that we share together.

I know that was long-winded, but I hope it gives you some understanding as to what I did and did not mean. :)

My best to you!
Jim

I don't think it is by accident that I found your blog this morning. I have been reading it all day! Long story VERY short, I grew up in the Church of Christ, but struggled all my life with an addiction. The addiction nearly took my life, even after much "accomplishments" in minstry. I was in fact a minister, when it call came out about my life. I then got into recovery for 5 years, and found that none of that worked. I then met a former addict who showed me the true meaning of grace and how identity and what you believe affects what you think, which in turn affects how you behave. I had unlearned most of my legalism (I thought) over the last 3 years with regard to church stuff, but man o man, how I still read scripture legalalistically for myself! I had been going through the scripture with this new lens of understanding of mine, about freedom in Chist, and have been wanting to go through the biblical text with that mindset. I had a question in Galatians, and hence found your site. Anyway, thank you for the site. I still struggle with some of the addiction stuff, but am convinced that it stems from the old legalisms. God is dramatically changing my view of who I am in Christ, and the more I come to accept that, the more power for holy living I believe I will have. Love to hear your thoughts.

theshovel's picture

I am so glad you found the web site. I hope to hear more from you. I love hearing stuff like this! :)

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