18 November 2007Luke 21:5-19
"And he said, 'Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, "I am he!" and, "The time is near!" Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately'. Then he said to them, 'Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven'". (v.8-11)
Hardly a week goes by without there being some mention of 'wars
and rumours or war' in hot spots such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
North Korea, Sudan. And courtesy of improvements in
telecommunications and 24-hour news, we are aware of the tornadoes,
typhoons, tsunamis, floods and famines experienced right across the
As Christians who are concerned about our world, what are we to make of these events? Do they signify the onset of the end times - as mentioned in today's reading - or are they a result of global warming and/or the excesses of globalisation? Equally, if the latter is the case, is Christ calling for us to take greater heed of climate change, and the need for a fairer system of wealth allocation between rich and poorer nations?
This passage comes from the final week of Jesus' life when he talks about the signs of the end of the age. However, Jesus tells some of his disciples to 'watch out that you are not deceived'. His message is that we should focus on the world around us, but ensure that we do not become too fixated by external events in regards to his second coming, as this may take our eyes off the Lord.
We worship a sovereign God who reigns supreme, even in the midst of a hurricane or a war, and his divine purposes are being worked out, despite the calamities of war or natural disasters. Our responsibilities are to 'watch and pray' and remain faithful to our God, who is 'an anchor who keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll' (Hymns & Psalms 689).
What would we want to say to God when we hear of tsunamis and earthquakes?
What does 'watch and pray' mean to you?