The day on the church Calendar is the last Sunday of the Church Year, sometimes called Christ the King. The sermon completes our reading through Jesus’ last things sermon from Mark 13. You might call it the distinction between the end of a world, a time of tribulation, and the end of the world, the deliverance of Christ the King. The first of those we should be able to recognize by the “sign of the fig tree.” The last of those, we do not know, but we await that day. For that day is the day the Kingdom comes in its fullness. The Day of our deliverance.
I hope this sermon was not a snore. It is one of those that I think is operating at a very simple level, but also I hope operating at a much deeper level. The very simple level is: a problem, a solution, and a wait. This world wears away. Good news, it will end. Until then we watch, never becoming too attached. The deeper level is the juxtaposition the title. Today, this world is an impermanent dwelling that holds within it the permanent. The core of many of the temptations of the devil, the world and our own flesh is that we trade that eternal element for some promise of immortality. I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you worship me. The glory and fame of all the world can be yours, if you give up eternity, seeing the true God. The sermon attempts to think about this in our vampire stories – the literary example of immortal characters who are caused pain by the eternal or things that contain hints of the eternal. I think there is a great and fruitful contemplation in that juxtaposition of eternity and immortality. We watch because we are looking for eternity while spurning the flimsy offers of immortality.
Three problems with the what the Bible actually has to say about the end times. 1) It’s real message is incredibly boring. One word. Watch. About that day and hour, nobody knows. No elaborate timelines. No warnings or signs. 2) So much of it is given to us in a language that we just don’t understand anymore. It is not that we can’t understand it. It is just that it takes either a bunch of time cross referencing Old and New Testaments and looking up apocryphal literature of the time and when you do that you get a sense of time wasted because it is boring. (I did all that and I don’t have a date or at least a Mayan calendar?!? 3) Much of it happens to refer to a historical which requires us to know history. 3a) Ok, one more. There is a deep hermeneutic question that is just really unanswerable and really is something that just can’t be brought into the pulpit.
If you want to discuss the hermeneutic question, come to bible study next week. (We started it this week and will continue next week). That question to me is to what extent can AD70 and the parts of Mark 13 that talk about it be treated in a typological way. Not typological to THE LAST DAY as that is ruled out by the text, we don’t know, but typological to churches or an End of An Age. My question in study started with what would a modern abomination that causes desolation look like. I think there are some modern parallels that don’t point to an easy future if read typologically. But, that is not pulpit type stuff because it is ultimately just refined speculation.
It does lead back though to what I did take into the pulpit – watch, be on your guard, wake up, lest when He comes suddenly, He finds you asleep. Now is the time of grace. Fill your lamps.