I am pretty convinced that most of us will be somewhat surprised if we hang on too tight to our convictions about the parousia of the Lord (literally meaning ‘presence’, and used in the Graeco-Roman world for the arrival / presence of the emperor upon visiting the city, so the opposite of ‘absence’). If the expectations among Jews at the time of Jesus was diverse – one Messiah, a kingly one, a priestly one, two Messiahs, no Messiah – not to mention how do we bring in the kingdom – hence the sects, the debates as to who was Israel, and the classification of ‘the sinners’ was not as a result of a quoting of Rom. 3:23 evangelistic style, but a classification that ‘birth certificate says Jewish’ but cos you don’t fit with our approach, you are not viewed as ‘a true Jew’ but a ‘sinner’. OK point of that convulting sentence was that the ideas and practices surrounding Jewish expectations regarding the kingdom of God was varied. Turned out none of them were right… hence ‘repent’ was the first requirement, a change your mind, not a repeat after me ‘I am a guilty sinner and a very bad person’.
The likelihood is none of us have it all right either. There are some views that just seem so untenable, others such as mine that I don’t think distort Scripture, but who knows? Anyway been thinking about an OT Scriture so want to put a spin on it today. OT Scritures relating to the future are so challenging, for once they are read through the NT lens the meaning they seemed to have carried gets significantly changed (yes I am in Ezekiel in my readings this morning… wow not even sure where to begin with a NT lens at times on that one!).
Jesus is coming back to the MOunt of Olives, the mountain splits… blah, blah, millennial rule from Jerusalem etc:
On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward (Zech. 14:4).
The kingdom… future, past, ongoing? Or to put it another way how many horizons are there in reality? For me some big ones: the Incarnation through to Ascension; the outpouring of the Spirit; the Jewish wars of 66-70AD; some final parousia and maybe a few smaller horizons in between and among all of those when the kingdom comes in some way, where we ‘see the Son of Man coming in the clouds’.
At Passover time Jerusalem became ever so crowded, those with money and connections and got in there early could get accommodation in the city, but a sizeable number, certainly in the thousands made camp on the Mount of Olives and slept there overnight. This is why the authorities needed Judas to guide them to Jesus as his group was one of many on the Mount, as it would have been an incredible task to find someone amidst that number.
So ‘on that day’ his feet did indeed stand on the Mount of Olives, and the thousands of Jews there were split (and split representatively of the nation as a whole) as a result of the ensuing events, some for Jesus, a crucified Messiah (getting over the offence of such an idea), and others who could only see such a figure as a blasphemer who was judged by Rome, Jewish Torah obedience and ultimately by God.
I throw this concept out there. Might not be right but I think (if we are looking for a ‘fulfilment’) fits much better than the idea of Jesus descending to the Middle East at some future time.