Monday, 8 September 2008

JR on eschatology 3

Thirdly, the Christian obscession with signs of the end is rather unhealthy. John pointed out that the two marks on the forehead of Rev 7 and 13 come from Ezekiel 9, in which they are part of Ezekiel's vision. John commented that he's never ome across anyone who expects to see a visible mark of the Lamb, or has wanted to make a film about it, but endless 666 films and theories. Why do our end-times fascinations always dwell on the dark side?

We spent most of our time in Mark 13, and you can see more of John's thoughts on his own blog.

[John had a number of background observations which were superb and eye-opening.
  1. Temple translates the Hebrew "house" and "palace", so we see in Ex 25, for example, that the Temple is God's house to live in the midst of his people, and his palace from which he rules over them. The Temple is also the dwelling from which God's rule extends to fill and subdue creation.
  2. In Gen 4 God puts a mark on Cain to preserve him as he wanders through the earth,which is remarkably similar to the mark of God in Ezek. 9
  3. After the expulsion from the garden Israel is never again able to enter God's presence. When the glory-cloud descends in Ex 40 on the Tabernacle, and 1 Kings 8 on the Temple, Moses and the priests have to leave.]

Back to Mark 13, much of that was background to show that the question from the disciples Jesus is answering is about when the glory cloud presence of God will return to his Temple, a la Malachi 3:1. At this stage John was very positive about NT Wright's work on this. We could add Dick France's excellent NIGTC commentary on Mark.

Jesus' answer is that it won't be as quick or smooth as the disciples hope. The lord's return will be preceded by a time of division, deception, proclamation and Israel will be found unready and unworthy. The abomination will render the Temple spiritually inoperable, and so it will not be this Temple the Lord comes to.

The coming of the Son of Man then in v. 26 cannot be the Second Coming. Also of course because of the this generation prediction in v. 30, which John said used to tie him up in knots until he realised it didn't have to be the Second Coming, an experience many of us have shared at times.

The coming of the Son of Man, Daniel 7, should be understood in the light of Mk 14:62. So John suggests that the resurrection and ascension and subsequent events, possibly up to AD70, are in view, those things whhich the High Priest and his cronies would have seen and experienced.

This coming of the Son of Man is his coming to the real Temple, that is the glory-cloud presence of his Father, the Ancient of Days in the heavenly places, which happens at the Ascension. This tallies with Acts 2:32-34 where Jesus is enthroned before the Gentile mission, the reference to angel/messengers in Mk 13:27.

Thank you John for a tour de force. I'd like to add that when I use to think this was about the Second Coming, I couldn't get past the language of apocalyptic disturbance in 24-25. Dick France has shown that this language is used in OT of judgement against Babylon (Is 13:10) and Edom and other nations (Is 34:4), son doesn't need to be understood of physical cosmic upheaval. In support of John Richardson, I would also add the contrast between Jesus' level of knowledge about those days, those days, those days (all the same time frame, vv. 17, 19, 24), and his ignorance [not getting into that now] about THAT DAY (v. 32).

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