Jesus and the “End”

This post is a continuation, listing various hyperbole found in the Bible. Clicky here, for all my posts detailing what I’ve found.

It’s the worst time EVER!

Scene: Jerusalem at Passover

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.

“Do you see all these things (buildings)?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, wanting to know more.

“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of the end of the age?”

In answering this question, Jesus gave a long description of the signs of that time. Since we know the temple was leveled by the Romans in 70 CE, in other words…”not one stone was left on another”…, we have the advantage of history to study Jesus’ words concerning this time.

Jesus described it like this: “For then there will be great distress (tribulation), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”  (Matthew 24:21)

Was it really unequaled in distress? Was Jesus lying? Or was he using a favorite speaking device of his…the hyperbole?

Jesus’ language mirrors earlier prophets describing the first destruction of Jerusalem in 586BCE

In describing the judgment of Jerusalem during the time of the Babylonian captivity, Daniel says, “… Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.”(9:12) Ezekiel, a prophet living during the same disastrous time, says this, “Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again.” (5:9)

Sounds familiar, eh? God said the same thing the first time Jerusalem was destroyed.

The End HAS Come

This particular hyperbole led me down a path from one set of eschatological beliefs to another. If I take Jesus’ words literally in this case, ignoring the precedent set by earlier prophets who tended toward non-literal exaggeration, it would lead me to believe that this “worst time ever” hasn’t happened yet. It is still yet to come. Hence, all the other signs of the end that Jesus details haven’t happened yet either.

But…

If Jesus is employing the use of exaggeration not meant to be taken literally, then his words have already come to pass. Which flip-flops what I’ve always believed to be a future time of horrible tribulation.

Jerusalem was destroyed in an “unequalled way” by the Romans in 70 CE. There have been anti-Christs and wars and rumors of wars. (Mat 24:5-6) Famines and earthquakes plagued the land. (7) False prophets  appeared to many and performed signs and miracles. (11, 24) The abomination that causes desolation has seen the holy place. (15) The gospel has been preached to the “whole world” and the end has come. (vs 14)

Wait a minute! But we are still here. Nothing ended! Are you sure?

With the destruction of the temple, came the end of the Jewish faith as it was practiced for centuries. Something new was being born from the ashes…

“No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.” (Luke 5:34-37)

Out with the old, and in with the new.

Stay tuned…there is more hyperbole glittering in the midst of this end of the age prediction.

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