“The prophet Daniel said that the disgusting thing that will cause destruction will stand in the holy place. When you see this (let the reader take note), those of you in Judea should flee to the mountains. Those who are on the roof should not come down to get anything out of their houses. Those who are in the field should not turn back to get their coats.
“How horrible it will be for the women who are pregnant or who are nursing babies in those days. Pray that it will not be winter or a day of rest, a holy day, when you flee. There will be a lot of misery at that time, a kind of misery that has not happened from the beginning of the world until now and will certainly never happen again. If God does not reduce the number of those days, no one will be saved. But those days will be reduced because of those whom God has chosen.
“At that time don’t believe anyone who tells you, ‘Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ False messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will work spectacular, miraculous signs and do wonderful things to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen.Listen! I’ve told you this before it happens. So, if someone tells you, ‘He’s in the desert!’ don’t go out looking for him. And don’t believe anyone who says, ‘He’s in a secret place!’ The Son of Man will come again just as lightning flashes from east to west.” (God’s Word Translation)
Midwest American summers can be brutally hot and humid. And the winters can be terribly frigid and full of snow.
Having lived in various university towns and worked with many college students, every Fall there are always new international students, and students from the American Deep South, that have never experienced a Midwest winter and snow.
I might tell them, repeatedly, of the need for a sturdy winter coat before the snow flies. Yet, having never known sub-freezing, let alone sub-zero temperatures, it’s difficult to imagine such cold when the weather is warm.
There is little belief that everything around them will change in a few short months to the point that it will be felt down to the bone.
At the coming of winter, I, or someone else, helped ensure they had a suitable coat. Even then, those students often bodily shake all winter and never take their scarves off.
Since none of us have yet experienced it, it might be difficult to imagine that someday Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.
So, in order to help the disciples to grasp the coming future, Jesus told them to use discernment. Although it may seem improbable now, a time is coming which will be loaded with cosmic and cataclysmic changes.
Sometimes, even for myself who has lived through many hard winters, it’s incredible to know that the landscape, as it is right now, will be completely different in another six months.
Seasons come and go. Eventually, the sky and the earth as we know it now will pass away. However, the words and ways of Jesus Christ will endure for all time.
If we are attentive and alert, we will be ready. We will have a warm winter parka on hand.
For now, it means taking off the old clothes of fear, insecurity, hopelessness, and hate; and putting on the new clothes of righteousness, peace, and love in the Holy Spirit.
You may not think winter is coming. But it is. It may even be here sooner than you believe.
Do you feel that chill in the air?
Almighty and everlasting Father, we long for the coming of your kingdom in Jesus Christ our Lord. We lament before you the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. The signs of brokenness and divisions, oppression and abuse, poverty and loneliness, are everywhere present in this present world.
So, we cry out from the depths of our being for you to come and bring us humility, wisdom, discernment, comfort, and hope. Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord who with you and the Holy Spirit reign as one God, now and forevermore. Amen.