This is Monday of the fifth week of Lent. The reading is Matthew 24, with a focus on verses 1-14. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
Wright illustrates the difficulties of Matthew 24 by recalling a time he looked through a book of political cartoons from the late 1800’s and found most of the specific references historically obscure. He implies that the prophecies of Matthew 24 similarly require a ‘historian by my side’ if we are to understand them. I’m not sure I fully agree with this, because I see a pretty good commentary on Matthew 24 in Revelation 6 and other places. As we’ve walked through Revelation these last few years, we’ve said that Matthew 24 may have been partially fulfilled in 70 a.d. with the destruction of the temple, but the fulfillment will be completed in the end times when Jesus comes and rescues his people from a greater judgment.
Wright is more focused on the judgments of the first century, but sees the bigger picture as well “All these things, Matthew undoubtedly believed, took place within a generation. Jesus was exalted as sovereign over all (28.19); the Temple was destroyed in ad 70. But wise readers ever since have seen this specific prophecy as resonating out in wider circles. One day there will be an even greater moment of judgment and mercy, at the time Jesus called ‘the renewal of all things’ (19.28). Pondering and praying our way through the turbulent first century can give us a clue to how we should be, faithful and prayerful, in our own day and beyond.”
When I was young the song that made all this real to a lot of people was Larry Norman’s “You’ve Been Left Behind.” Here’s a fairly thoughtful version by someone called Owl City You’ve Been Left Behind
Verses 29-31 always remind me of the old Sandi Patty version of We Shall Behold Him