- Isaiah 65:17-25
- Canticle 9 (Isaiah 12:2-6)
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
- Luke 21:5-19
Jesus’ words about the destruction of the Temple are reminiscent of previous prophecies about God’s judgment, sharing what the cosmic signs of the end of the world will be like. The coming day of glory and judgment is ushered in by a time of frightening upheaval and persecution. Jesus urges his followers, “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
For many, the Temple in Jerusalem was a symbol of the coming Reign of God. Isaiah 65:17 describes what this transformation will be like – God is “about to create new heavens and a new earth.” God will “create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight” (v. 18). In contrast to the sorrow of the past, no longer will the sounds of weeping and distress be heard. Long life was seen as a blessing of the Lord, and in this new creation, people could expect to live beyond a hundred years.
Today, as in the early Church, the Eucharist is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet (BCP 482). We hear this imagery described in the Burial service: “inheritance in that kingdom where there is no death, neither sorrow nor crying, but the fullness of joy with all your saints, through Jesus Christ our Savior” (BCP 498).
Living in a post-modern world (some would say post-Christian) Christians continue to face persecution – by secular competition, idols of many sorts, and false prophets.
- In Luke 21:9, Jesus warns against impostors who come in his name. How can we identify and avoid such false prophets in our world today?
- Jesus also warns his followers that they can expect persecution (v. 12). What adversities do we as Christians face today?
- Persecution will provide Jesus’ follows with “an opportunity to testify” (v. 13). How will they be guided when this happens? What are the opportunities that we have today to defend our faith?
- What promises does Jesus make here to those who would follow him? How are we inheritors of these promises today as well?
Sing, pray and swerve not from God’s ways, But do thine now part faithfully; Trust the rich promises of grace, so shall they be fulfilled in thee. God never yet forsook at need. The soul secured by trust indeed. Georg Neumark
The Descending of New Jerusalem (acrylic on panel) by Scott Erickson is part of The Vancouver Project, encouraging artists to create sacred worship art by the church, for the church. The term New Jerusalem occurs twice in the New Testament, in verses 3:12 and 21:2 of the Book of Revelation. A large portion of the final two chapters of Revelation deals with John of Patmos’ vision of the New Jerusalem. He describes the New Jerusalem as “‘the bride, the wife of the Lamb'”.
After John witnesses the new heaven and a new earth “that no longer has any sea”, an angel takes him “in the Spirit” to a vantage point on “a great and high mountain” to see the New Jerusalem’s descent. The enormous city comes out of heaven down to the new earth. John’s elaborate description of the New Jerusalem retains many features of the Garden of Eden and the paradise garden, such as rivers, a square shape, a wall, and the Tree of Life.