Before I start this post I recommend reading the comment by Anne to my last post… I was deeply struck by her statement that we are living on a new planet NOW. I am working on updating my material on eschatology so that by the end of next year I hope to complete a set of videos and notes and wonder, at one level, how informed perspectives such as she brings fits with it all – for the hope of Scripture is not that we escape from here and all eschatology (if it is at any level resonating with Scripture) calls out with a question – how then in the light of that understanding will you now live?
At so many levels our world is changing, and this is indeed a challenge to eschatology. Biblical language that seems to speak of an end marked by cosmic catastrophe (sun darkened, moon to blood, stars falling) was never understood to speak of the end of the world, but of the end of the world as it was known, of marking a shift from one world (order) to another.
I have a friend who was on his way to a gathering and pulled in to the service station to fill up the gas tank on his car. As he stood there he was sure he heard the voice of God – ‘today the world changes for ever’. He did not understand what that could mean; he reflected what he heard to those at the gathering. The question was – so what does that mean? what will take place? No answers, but later that day…
The date – September 11, 2001 – better known as 9-11.
I have for some 20+ years been saying there is a move from west to east and north to south… Who would have believed that North Korea could become a player in world events? Yet there he (Kim Jong Un) came to meet with Putin to work on a deal of supplying weapons. There is a shift taking place. On the global order of things the world is changing.
Hope is real, it is tangible… it does not come through burying our head in the sand and then speaking niceties. It is ‘the Babylonians are coming; the temple will not save us; we will be relocated; but if we can learn to live in the relocation God will be present where s/he has been formerly absent’. We can bring the message up to date, but the element of relocation (and the pre-relocation word ‘dislocation’) remains constant.
I sang back in the day ‘These are the days of Elijah…’ And we need that old Elijah approach, but I remember singing that some 25 years ago and hearing ‘These are the days of Amos…’ I suspect we now need to ‘sing’, ‘These are the days of Jeremiah…’ Not the most popular prophet but with a vision beyond his immediate horizon, and with a vision that called people to see Babylon as the land of fruitfulness. Now that is a vision of some scale.
The world is changing; old power centres are fading; new powers will come and go. As I still contemplate what I will write about borders / boundaries maybe I should at least drop the seed here that if we draw the boundary around ‘Jerusalem’ we might just see ‘armies surrounding the city’. Maybe we could abandon that city (whatever ‘that city’ means for you and me) and learn how to live in a new planet, with all the hostility that is there, but live there with the Prince of peace – I think it will be hard to pray for the peace of Babylon if we are not at peace.