Sunday, November 20
Matthew 24:15-31 NRSV
“So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat.
Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’—do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the suffering of those days 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. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This gradualistic phase of the coming of the Kingdom was clearly taught by Christ—it comes like silent leaven, grows like a grain of mustard seed, develops like the corn, which is first blade, then corn, then full corn. Jesus emphasized this gradualism and yet He was also emphatic about the catastrophic, apocalyptic coming of the Kingdom. In this He was realistic, for, though gripped by the fact of the sudden cataclysmic coming, He did not overlook or despise the quiet, unobtrusive coming of that Kingdom in individual acceptance and in corporate permeation. His realism is seen when He taught that the Kingdom is coming like lightning and coming like leaven, coming like a blast and growing like a blade, coming with “power and great glory,” and yet as unobtrusive and tiny as a grain of mustard seed—and as growing!
E. Stanley Jones, Is the Kingdom of God Realism?