Signpost for Sunday 13 November, 2016: Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19.
We are dealing with the big issues today. In the Gospel reading Jesus is fronting up to the religious leaders on their own ground – the Temple. There is more to the story of the Temple’s destruction than a warning that buildings, however magnificent, are unimportant against God’s rule of freedom, justice and love. The Temple was figuratively as well as factually much more than our own beautiful and much loved Christ Church in Whangarei and Holy Trinity/St Mary’s in Auckland, or for that matter the many even more magnificent cathedrals and abbeys in Britain, Europe and other parts of the world, all built for the glory of God. The Temple was literally the place where God dwelt, the very centre of Israel’s being, and to destroy the Temple was to destroy the nation. And here is Jesus telling the hierarchy that they have got it all wrong, that the chosen people have failed to be a light to the world, that they simply have not carried out their part of the Covenant. Jesus is in fact, throughout this part of Luke’s Gospel, laying claim to ownership of the Temple and all it stands for. No wonder they wanted to get rid of him.
The Isaiah passage, written 600 years before Luke, is inspired, superb poetry giving an inspired, superb insight into God’s plan from the outset – his new creation, which finds the beginning of its fulfilment in Jesus, his death and resurrection. We cannot read the Second Testament except in the light of the First.
It is not for me to write about either of these mighty themes. The New Testament reading is easier to get to grips with. I dare say none of us nowadays live in idleness because we believe the return of the Lord is imminent, but we do know there are plenty of busybodies within the faith community. Let us strive to follow Paul’s instruction and do our work quietly and not be weary in doing what is right (in God’s eyes, not our own version of what is right).