What I’m Thinking: Looking Ahead

Jeremiah and Jesus both looked ahead to things they hoped – or warned – would happen in the future. We may have some ideas about what is coming, but we never fully know, do we?

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:14-16) and about the 21st chapter of Luke (Luke 21:25-36). This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, the season of anticipation. We are looking forward to and preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Both of these passages are about looking ahead. In Jeremiah 33, the prophet has just experienced the great tragedy, the fall of Jerusalem to a Babylonian army in 587. At this moment, Jeremiah dared to say the days are surely coming, says the LORD, when the nation would be restored, when the exiles would be brought home, when those who had remained in the land living under foreign domination would be freed, when once more Israel would be Israel. That is looking forward to a profound blessing.

But in Luke 21, the opposite: Jesus has been warning his followers about the crisis to come. Once again, the crisis would be the fall of Jerusalem, this time to a Roman army after a rebellion against Roman domination. And Jesus told his followers to watch for the signs, that like the fig tree putting forth its shoots there are things you can look for and know that the terrible times are just ahead.

One prophecy about restoration and hope; another prophecy, a warning about suffering and loss.

We have been for a year and a half now accustomed to being in a looking-ahead time, and not being quite sure what is to come. We’ve been absolutely confident that the pandemic has ended, and suddenly seen waves of new illness claim the health and the lives of our neighbors. We’ve also started to wonder, “Could this ever get better?” and another round of precautions takes place, and the number of people admitted to the hospitals shrinks.

Although Jesus was absolutely right – from the fig tree learn its lessons; look at the signs of the times; there are ways to anticipate what is to come – sometimes those signs, they just don’t tell us all that we want to know. For centuries, people had looked to God for some one to come, to be God’s representative on Earth. They thought that person might look like a king. They thought that person might look like a miracle worker. They thought that person might look like Moses or Elijah. What they got was Jesus, who could see the signs of the times, and recognize the terrible tragedy to come, but whose real purpose on Earth was to open that door to God for each and every human being, so that whatever comes of hardship or of triumph, that each human being experiences that in the presence and the blessing and the love and the grace of God.

So, looking ahead to better times, or looking ahead to the possibility of more struggle and trial: Let us make those steps in courage and in faith, knowing that God is always with us, as God was with Jesus every day of his life.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , , | Posted on November 22, 2021

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