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Monday, 5/15/2017

“The Ruler of the Kings of the Earth”

Matt. 25:1-8
Having finished the Gospel of John we will now begin a study of an important but often puzzling work written by John of Patmos who may have been the “beloved disciple” who wrote the Gospel.  This book is the last one in the Bible, the Book of Revelation.  Its literal title is “The Apocalypse of John.”  What does the word, “Apocalypse” mean?
This term means to unfold or to reveal.  It is used to identify a number of Biblical books (Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation) and passages (Isaiah 65-66; Zechariah 14; Malachi 4: Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21, II Thess. 2; II Peter 3) that have become known as “Apocalyptic literature.”  The general view is that these books predict the future.  That however is not really correct.  While they often deal with future events, the focus of these works remains on the present.  These Apocalyptic writings give us guidance and direction for the world in which we live.
Before we begin to look into the Book of Revelation it would be good to look at other examples of Apocalyptic literature in scripture.  A clear example that goes directly back to Jesus himself is the discourse he gives on the  Mount of Olives.  There are three versions of this discourse in the passages noted above.  We will begin looking at the version found in Matthew chapter 24.
Jesus and the disciples have just come out of the temple.  The disciples are admiring the various buildings which make up the temple.  Jesus then says to them, “You see all these, do you not?  Truly I tell you, not one stone, will be left here upon another.”  This would have been a shocking statement for the disciples to hear.  The re-built temple was the center of the faith of Israel  It was God’s home on earth.  The disciples then ask Jesus, when will this happen and what will be the sign of Jesus’ coming in power?  These are two different questions.  The destruction of the temple occurred in the year 70 AD a Biblical generation after Jesus said these words (around 30 AD).  Jesus’ coming in power and glory has not yet happened.
This is the nature of Apocalyptic literature.  It interprets the present in the light of the future.  To only be told that the temple will be destroyed would be despairing to the disciples.  They need to know that Jesus is the end and the fulfillment of history. He will have the last word and he alone will bring in the kingdom of God.  We need to understand this as we look at the upheavals in our world today.
Most faithful and merciful God and Savior, I thank you that both the present and the future are in your hands.  May I hold on to this truth when I see the distress not only in my own life but in the world in general.  Strengthen my faith in you.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.