Psalm 107:1–3, 23–32; Job 37:1–13; Luke 21:25–28
One of the most useful tools invented, and also one of the most irritating is the clock. Humanity has long felt the need to measure time. Multiple cultures used some iteration of a sundial to divide the day. The Egyptians invented a “clock” that used water drops to measure time (both day and night). Even in the beginning, God marked the boundary of day and night with the sun and moon (and stars). The Jewish calendar was built around the cycle of the moon, and the sun set the day. The Jews were not unique in that.
Looking to the skies was also important, since having an idea of weather (even if only a few hours ahead) provide some idea of which tasks needed to be done immediately. Rain, snow, hail, lightning, all come from the skies. The dreaded locusts came by sky, too (granted, by flying). There were dust and sand storms. When everything is subsistence, and even now, watching the skies is important.
Then, there were the astrological signs. We’re not talking about the “signs of the Zodiac”, per se. We’re talking about comets, eclipses (solar and lunar), the planets (as they appeared and disappeared based upon their respective orbits). We admire eclipses, for example, because they are pretty cool. We also understand them. In ancient days, most people didn’t have the knowledge to understand them, and those that did often used it for their power and advantage.
Thus, when we read the Scriptures with all their weather and astrological signs, we have to understand this is about human awareness of how much they didn’t know and understanding that there was a bigger picture beyond them (a lesson many more highly “learned” people need to re-learn). We may think it strange that ancient cultures attributed to God (or gods) weather and astrological signs that we “know” are “merely” systems with a structure, rules, and logic.
For Job, these were signs of God’s majesty and control. They showed that God was in control. This is also Job’s acknowledgment that God has a plan and that he (Job) doesn’t understand it. Job actually points to all the signs as proof of God’s existence, and that he (Job) is merely a finite person in the eyes of the infinite God.
Even Jesus points to astrological signs. Yes, Jesus also points to more “earthly” signs, which are equally out of the hands of humanity. Jesus then combines the Godly with the earthly to make the point of unification between God and Creation.
Will Jesus really come back on a cloud, or is this just a figure of speech? Depends on who you ask. The underlying point isn’t how Jesus comes back. The point is that Jesus does come back. Even in the ancient church creeds, the important part was that Jesus was coming back, not how.
- Do you believe that Jesus is coming back? Why or why not?
- Do you think that the return to Jesus an important part of being a Christian? Why or why not?
- Is Jesus‘ return an important part of your Christian life? If so, how is that expressed through your life? If not, how do you understand Jesus‘ return as being part of your faith, if it is?
Lord Jesus, many of us long for your return to end the pain of the world. Many of us want your return delayed to assure we can bring more into your kingdom. Help us to grasp emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that there is an end that is coming, and that you will be there. Amen.