GNB 2.42

February 19, 2023


Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold; be the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. This gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations- and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24.12-14)


Let’s keep the timing of Jesus’ teaching about the “last day” or “last season” in proper perspective. It was on Monday following the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with the throngs gathered for the Passover celebration in 29 A.D. that Jesus offers these teachings. He does so on the steps of the Temple as He was departing from a different kind of “temple cleansing.” On that Sunday, after being cheered into the city and right up to the very steps of the Temple, Jesus stepped into the Temple courtyard where the “buyers and sellers” gathered on every day but Saturday (actually from Friday night to Saturday night) to set up for their usual business transactions. They had their assigned places. I have no doubt they paid a pretty penny for those up at the front positions where they were highly visible to both the people and the Temple administrators. You might equate their places to the honored seats at the banquet table with the Chief High Priest as the host of the “house” in which the banquet would be held. It was a great honor to sit at the right and left hand of “the host.” You might see the basis for the conversation between James and John, or their mother, and Jesus about “the end time” seating arrangement in this particular light. Jesus quickly redirected that conversation to put it in its appropriate context. He said, “It isn’t up to me to determine who sits at My right and left hand. Those places are designated to those for whom they have been prepared [by My Father.]” (Mark 10.37f, Matthew 20.23) Jesus kept everything in its proper perspective. Even if Jesus dared to suggest such favored places for James and John, He would have been in the wrong. Jesus knew the pecking order and it was always “God First.” It was God first on that Sunday morning Temple visitation. As He stepped into the plaza and was overwhelmed by the din of “business” being conducted there, He became so frustrated that an anger rose up in Him which challenged His air of righteousness. The Temple was meant to be a place of worship and praise directed to Yahweh Elohim but it wasn’t. This wasn’t Jesus’ first visit to this very scene. He had watched it since He was 12 and first visited during that Passover season. He had been born under the shadow of Passover in Bethlehem. On the Passover of His 2nd birthday, magi arrived having travelled down from Jerusalem being led by a sign in Heaven of where He could be found. It seemed that in each of those remembrances, the spiritual aspect of the Temple remained sadly the same: uninformed, ill-equipped and fervently not humble before God. The stories of the condition of the Temple and its leadership from the days of the prophecies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah apparently survived the revival and rebuilding of the Temple seventy years later. The more things changed, the more they seemed to have stayed the same. So entrenched was this prevailing attitude, what Jesus called “a house of prayer transformed into a den of robbers,” that even with His terse declaration punctuated by the crack of a whip and the turning of tables was already forgotten by the following morning. Oh, there may have been some raised eyebrows of skepticism and rumbles of angst under their breath as He entered into the Temple plaza on Monday, but no one seemed to dare bring up what had happened. If they didn’t, they maybe He wouldn’t. Those very conditions were the foundation of the teachings He would offer concerning “The Last Day and the End of the Age.” Apathy was the breeding ground for a final judgment.

The question had been broached before and it was again brought to light by the disciples as to “when will THAT day come.” For many believers today, the answer is one that is fervently if not desperately sought. Jesus made it clear then, as we should know He is making it clear now, that the “signs of the times” are merely that…”signs of the times which are a prelude to “THAT” time. When would the end of the age of despair and lawlessness happen? I have little doubt that the disciples who were called to follow Jesus and enter into preparation for service of the Kingdom really wanted to know “when will the Kingdom of peace and righteousness come and the age of hope and prosperity begin”? They wanted to focus on the positive outcome and not the negative challenges ahead of them. Despair, peace and hope. Lawlessness, righteousness and prosperity. The cadence of the walk of faith and faithfulness is not difficult to remember…1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3. So, then imagine when the remaining disciples following the resurrection (remember Judas of Kerioth was not among them) gathered on Mount Tabor {where Peter, James and John had previously experienced the “Mount of Transfiguration”} and heard Jesus commission them all to the ministry of “preaching the Good News” with the words “make disciples of all nations.” They should have heard the echoing of His teaching on that Monday after rearranging the focus of the Temple Plaza. When they were leaving the Temple on Monday there was no raucous turning of the tables. It was obvious to everyone that the places were set like “weebles who wobble but don’t fall down.” The age old practice of buying and selling as a “profitable” venture of Temple righteousness was resilient. It bounced right back in place as if nothing had ever happened. It was a battle of wills between the House of God and the House of Cards. On that Monday, Jesus shuffled the deck and declared that the House of Cards would not stand. It was His way, I believe, of turning the tables so that the disciples would see it from a different perspective. And now that perspective had come full circle for them as they sat on the ground to Jesus’ right and left hand listening to His final words. It was there that Jesus had put them back in order whether they worshipped Him or doubted Him. They were, for Him, His friends and His disciples. They were the new Age to come as the former Age was passing away. Did they seize upon the echoing message of six weeks previous? Was it long enough a time with some serious troubled water under the bridge that the words on Passover Monday would have been forgotten by this time forty days after His resurrection when the “stone had been rolled away”?

Mighty ones of God, I invite us to hear this “sign of the time” and decide for ourselves if it will be the “end of the Age.” What Jesus said there on the Mount of Olives looking back to Jerusalem as the sun set over the horizon was and is critical to how we address the question asked today. Sadly, it is not being asked by many because, as He declared “the increase of wickedness [i.e. lawlessness] will cause authentic love to grow cold.” When I hear the question of “How will we stop all these shootings, killings and murders which are increasing exponentially?” answered by “Gun control and the outlawing of weapons of mass murders!”, I shudder. I say to myself out loud, so few people ever hear it, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people with guns; if not guns, then knives; if not knives, then vehicles; if not vehicles, then bombs; if not bombs, then viruses; if not viruses, then by their bare hands…and worse than all of this- by neglect.” What is neglect but a cold heart! The evidence of a cold heart is lawlessness. The evidence of lawlessness is the desire to live immorally without authentic love. How will we know what is “love” and what is authentic love? We will know it by the hearing of the Word of God! Paul wrote to the community of faith in Christ throughout the Roman Empire saying (Romans 10.17) “Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the preaching of the Word of God.” But, the evidence of such preaching comes by faith in hope with love. We know from Paul’s writing to the community of faith in Jesus Christ found in Corinth “If one does not have love, then one is merely a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13.1) He goes on to say, “There are only three gifts which remain as the true identity of an authentic community: faith, hope and the greatest of all…the love which resembles, reflects and resounds God’s love.” (1 Corinthians 13.13)

So, here is my proposition for you to reflect upon: if you want to see the end of the age of despair and lawlessness and the beginning of the age of peace and righteousness which leads to an age of peace and prosperity, then you must preach the gospel as the authentic good news that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who is without question our Lord and Savior in whose image we were first created, in whose likeness we are recreated and in whose presence we shall have life eternal and abundant.” Isn’t it time we actually trust in the Word of God incarnate and take up our cross to follow Him all the days of ours lives? Well, as you might expect, there is more to reflect upon with this line of thinking in respect to our current culture, climate and outlook. I will do my best to keep this conversation going and ask you to pray with me that we will be more than “Word” sayers and become “Word” portrayers sent out to all nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.


Father, You have made Your Word abundantly clear. It rings in our heart, mind, body and soul by the very Spirit of all that is holy and true. Make it ring so powerfully that we are truly moved from our sticking place and into the promised land where faith, hope and love abide and abound in a community of faith in Jesus as the Christ. It is in His Name that we live, pray and serve to Your glory and the spiritual welfare of others. Amen.

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