Saturday, May 17, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 32)

In response to the scoffing, the author of the letter appears to remind them of the days of Noah, in which the Creator God is said to have initially warned Noah about the pending judgment (thinking about the judgment that Jesus pronounced in the Temple, the carrying out of that judgment by the Romans in the year seventy, and the judgment rendered in favor of the saints of the Most High God when the Son of Man receives His kingdom, which Jesus linked to the fall of the Temple), but withheld the watery judgment of the earth for what appears to be at least one hundred years (and possibly one hundred twenty years), writing “For they deliberately suppress this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water.  Through these things the world existing at that time was destroyed when it was deluged with water.  But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, by being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (3:5-7). 

Now if the mind is allowed to wander, there will again exist the temptation to retreat into inappropriate ways of hearing what has been said.  However, if one remains focused, it is possible and appropriate to hear the Daniel seven context and the favorable judgment on behalf of those being persecuted.  Without going into too much detail, one can also think about the fact that Jesus, at His trial, had accused the High Priest---the chief Temple authority---of being the very entity that was warring against the saints of the Most High God in the seventh chapter of Daniel.  According to the book of Acts, Stephen made this same accusation at his trial.  In both instances, the accuser died at the hands of the accused. 

Together with talk of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly, one must also consider the usage of “heavens and earth,” which could not be more important, as this can be rightly understood to be a reference to the Temple---the place where heaven and earth meet.  Yes, the Temple was the place of the coming together of heaven and earth.  Any reference to “heaven and earth,” especially if it is in the context of talk of the Temple, is a reference to the Temple itself.  Though this is offered as conjecture (though not unsupported conjecture) when it comes to second Peter, it is far from being conjecture when such talk is heard in the Gospels. 

This prompts a brief return to Matthew twenty-four (though one could also look to both Mark and Luke), as are minder of of Jesus saying, as He answers the question about when the Temple will be cast down with not one stone left upon another, that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken” (24:29).  Though the reference to Isaiah ends there, it has already been noted that Isaiah continued on to eventually write “So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation” (13:13a).  Isaiah, as has been established, was referring to Jerusalem and the Temple being overcome by Babylon, using apocalyptic language of heaven and earth that reaches beyond mere symbolism and drama, conveying Jewish opinion concerning the Temple---the place where heaven and earth came together. 

The tradition of such thinking concerning the house of the Creator God reached all the way back to Jacob, as it is when he is in Bethel (the house of God), that he has the dream in which a ladder reached from earth to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending.  Yes, the house of God is where and heaven and earth came together.  Little wonder then that the Gospel of John, in its portrayal of Jesus that reflected the development of Christian understanding about Jesus and a better grasp, in the late first century in the time period after the fall of the Temple, of Jesus’ sayings about Himself, has Jesus telling Nathanael and the other men that had been called to be His disciples, that they “will see heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (1:51b). 

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