If you could ask Jesus,
Lord, what are the signs of your second coming and of the end of the world? would you want to know the answer? It’s a teasing question, isn’t it? And yet, I think, most people do. And all your life, if you’ve paid attention to the world of religion at all, this idea of
the end of the world has hung around in the background of your consciousness somewhere. I heard that expression when I was just a boy—maybe six or seven. Everyone in my family began to look at the Bible with the start of World War II. It didn’t look good at all in those early days, and we started thinking about the end of the world. I can remember sitting out on the little concrete porch in the summertime, listening to the adults talk about the
signs of the end of the world. I was just a young boy with my dog and a countryside to explore, and I didn’t like the sound of this
end of the world stuff even a little bit.
Well, I had to grow up a bit before I came to understand what it was all about and what Jesus really meant by
the end of the world. This arose out of a discussion with Jesus on a day when were visiting the Temple. And as they were coming down, the disciples (like the country boys they were) were gawking and pointing—admiring the impressive buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said:
Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.
That had to be like a dash of cold water in the face of the disciples, and it’s hard to over-estimate the importance of the Temple to a Jew of any generation—it was the center of their religious life, it was the place of the presence of God, it was a massive structure built with great stones and infinite care. Jesus’ disciples (like every other Jew of their day) were smitten with the temple—its beauty, its massiveness, and, mainly, its permanence. Nothing could ever happen to God’s temple, could it? And yet Jesus said that it was all coming down. And the idea wasn’t entirely new. Let’s begin by looking at a passage in Jeremiah 7, from the age of the First Temple…