“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.” – Luke 21:20 (NRSV)
Yes, thank you very much, Jesus, for that prescient reading. That the desolation of a city is imminent after it has been encircled by multiple armies is definitely not a conclusion we could have reached without you.
Although, who am I to say which events have obvious meanings? I mean, there are still those who claim what happened in Washington, DC, on January 6th was some sort of victory for democracy. There are still those who think an assertion that Black lives matter necessarily implies an assertion that the lives of police don’t.
Probably when Jerusalem was actually surrounded by armies, somebody stood on the walls telling everybody not to worry because God was going to save them all. I bet he really, really believed it. I bet it seemed super obvious to him that salvation was nigh as the walls crumbled around him. Probably Jesus knew this about us, knew that we really shouldn’t be left to our own interpretations.
How do you know what’s real, and what’s not? How do you decide what the correct interpretation of the available data is? How do you know what this particular situation portends? I’m not asking rhetorically, by the way; I want you to answer, please. How do you know? What’s your plumb line, your guiding principle? What weight do you give the various voices screaming interpretations at you?
And maybe most important of all: once you’re convinced of a thing, what would it take to change your mind?
Reveal to me what I should trust, O God. Show me how to come to understanding. Failing that, just state the obvious, please. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.