March 29, 2022
1 Peter 4:7 NIV
7 The end of all things is near.
Rehearsing the three ways from yesterday: 1. Apocalyptic Anxiety, 2. Apathetic Indifference, 3. Eschatological Hope. Keep reflecting on this framework and where you land.
Some days I wish I had a white board for the Daily Text . . . a lot of days actually. I don’t tend to trust people who bring complicated charts and detailed timelines to discussions on “The end of all thing is near.” I am more open to white boards though. So since I don’t have a whiteboard today to draw on, I am going to ask you to draw in my stead. At least do it in your mind’s eye. I want you to draw two overlapping circles (like a two-circle venn diagram). Label the circle on the left, “the present evil age.” Label the circle on the right, “the glorious age to come.” Now, label the overlapping part of the two circles, “the end of all things is near” (aka right now).
We are living in the overlap. The glorious age to come, the age of the Spirit, the age of the Church, has broken in on the present evil age. We might also call it the epic age of the mercy of God and the era of the salvation of Jesus Messiah. In other words, we are now living at the end of the age. As noted yesterday, we know this not because of cataclysm, calamity, or tragedies which happen in every age. We know it because the definitive event has happened signaling the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end—the resurrection and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.
If there is one struggle I have had in my own faith in earlier years it is this—why has it taken so long? The first Apostles believed Jesus would return at any hour, and in every generation of the church since, there has been expectation of his immanent return. At the same time, in every generation of the church so far faithful saints have inquired, “Jesus, what is taking so long?!”
In Peter’s second letter, which we will begin to engage now, he deals with a group of people he calls “Scoffers.” Notice the contours of his point here:
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:3-7)
Now watch how Peter gives those early Jesus people the encouragement of perspective. This is what I call eschatological boom sauce!
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
The God of heaven and earth plays the long game of eschatological hope. Back to our overlapping circles. Think of how much time elapsed in circle #1, the present evil age—thousands of years. Now, think of how much time will elapse in circle #2. It will not ultimately even be measured in time, for at the end of all things, time will give way to immeasurable eternity.
So no matter how long the period of time represented by the overlap of the ages, in the scheme of things it will be short. It’s why two thousand years later Peter’s word is as certain now as it was then:
7 The end of all things is near.
According to the calendar of the triune God, it’s only been a couple of days.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for your patience and your mercy and though the millennia seems like delay to us, they are only your love for this world. This world is your project, Jesus. Bring us deeper into your mind and mentality and even more so into your love. Holy Spirit orient us with all these things in the deepest way such that our lives could move with yours, for the will of God and his glory. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Have you struggled with the long period of waiting for the Lord’s return? Or have you become more indifferent and even apathetic? Or is eschatological hope rising up in you?
For the Awakening,
P.S. Get some of Timothy Tennent’s most important writings in this collection of his work, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Resource for Catechesis and Disciple-Making. You can watch a video interview and preview the book in our store.