Day 24 of #DailyMatthew. The Apocalypse.
When will the world end? That is a question that philosophers, cosmologists, and theologians have wrestled with since the very beginning. It is also a question that the ancient writers of the scriptures explored through the genre of Jewish Apocalyptic literature (eg, Matthew 24, Revelation).
1st century Jewish apocalyptic writing is notoriously difficult to interpret (high use of symbolism, emotional and visual language, cryptic images, etc), but even in this one chapter, we can catch a glimpse of what Jesus is wanting to communicate.
“Don’t be deceived” is a theme that Jesus repeats. Why? Because then, just as now, many people were passionately proclaiming that they alone knew how and when history would end. Just believe them. Trust them. Follow them. Or, as Jesus said, do not be deceived. How do you and I not be deceived? The best way is to know the entirety of the Bible so that its comprehensive truths can be discerned, rather than just a few strategically chosen “truths”.
“The Son of Man will return” is another dominant theme. The question isn’t if, it is when. Notice, though, that Jesus doesn’t actually say when. Or how. In fact, all he says is that he will come back. All other details are irrelevant (regardless of how curious you and I might be!).
So what do we do with a passage like this in the Bible? Should we ignore it? No. Should we obsess about it? No.
What we should do, I think, is simply be content with what it says. Know that history will have a concluding point (just as it had a starting point), and know that discerning the truth will not be easy, given the myriad of confusing voices that are speaking we hear.
For a follower of Jesus, we are simply called to live like Jesus, in the world that we are currently experiencing. The future will happen, when the future happens.