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History (Christian) foretold (2)

(AD 30) “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24: 7 - 14
Maybe because I’ve reached a certain age, many people whom I know and love have had to face bad news. Cancer, heart failure, dementia, brain tumours. What awesome moments when one attends a confidential consultation to be told that.

Back in AD 30 Jesus’ disciples had a confidential consultation with him on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. If any of you have been there, one can see the present gold-covered Dome of the Rock across the valley from that Mount. 

When Jesus was there Herod’s magnificent new Temple was in view where the Dome now stands. Jesus had just stated to them that not one stone of the Temple would remain atop another. This symbol of the power of the Jews would be destroyed as one of the consequences of the decisions which were, that very day, being made by them.

These disciples wanted to know more about the prognosis – Jesus’ prognosis - about the future of this wonderful building. When would it fall, what prior symptoms of that fall could they expect?


‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’ (Corrie ten Boom, awarded ‘Righteous among the Nations’, Ravensbrook survivor, 1892-1983)
When you, one day, may see a consultant to hear the diagnosis about your immediate future, will you expect the truth? What Jesus said to these Christians has the ring of truth - and what he told them has also proved to be absolutely true during the following 2,000 years. He had bad news for them

He said that nine things would be symptomatic for his followers in future. Here are eight of them. “First, they will give you away to oppression; second, they will put you to death. Third, you will be detested by all nations for my name’s sake. Fourth, many of you will be stumbled because of me. Then, fifth, you will give one another away and, sixth, you will detest one another. Seventh, many false prophets will arise among you and, eighth, they will lead many of you astray.”

Do you like that prognosis – that forecast – for the followers of Jesus? It’s a mess isn’t it? A prognosis of constant oppression from outside and inside, of constant opprobrium by outsiders and by other Christians, and of constantly being plagued and led astray by false teachers. Will any now follow Jesus? If so they’ll have to be a very, very good reason to stick close to him.

But there was a ninth factor in the prognosis. Matthew the eye-witness biographer, recorded this. Jesus said, “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” The Greek word for lawlessness which Jesus used was a-nomia which literally means no-laws. It can indicate barbarians – those who have no respect for law itself or for other people. 

But another way of putting a-nomia is to use the word “liberal” – meaning “free of law” - “permitted to do whatever I want”. Today’s all-pervasive neoliberal agenda fits well.

“Because barbarity and liberalism will increase, the love of many will grow cold.” Why would that be? When self-love is the only law, when we all do anything we want to do, does love for God and love for neighbour grow cold? 


‘The man who does not set himself under the law of God sets himself above it.’ (John Blanchard)
When I get complete freedom by law, I will also hate to be responsible, before or after death, to Almighty God above. My vertical love (such as it is) will be cold. When I seek complete freedom by law, I will see others doing the same – and receiving the consequences. Because those consequences will be the results of their decisions (not mine) my love for my neighbour will grow cold.

One day I may receive an unpleasant – but truthful – prognosis. Maybe the consultant will try to provide hope in the darkness. That’s exactly what Jesus did there on the Mount of Olives looking at the magnificent Temple. Yes, wars, famines and earthquakes in the world will abound. Yes, liberalism will abound. But...

But he reminded them of the good news (“the gospel”) of the newly available kingdom of God - a realm out of this world - to which his messed-up followers would bear witness.This …. will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations…”

Sinner Syvret

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