Imagine a village destined to be drowned for a new reservoir. It will not take place for a few years; no-one has to move for a while. The kind, generous government has offered compensation for the houses at above the market rate, but it will take a few years before anyone has to decamp. There is a broken hinge on the garden gate at Rose Cottage, but it is hardly worth repairing as the owners will be gone soon. The road really needs resurfacing at Cooper's Corner, but fishes have no need of smooth tarmacadam, so why bother? Slowly the village becomes shabbier and more distressed; there is no hope for it.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never is, but always 'To be blest'.
wrote Alexander Pope. Is that still so? Have we given up waiting for something better? Or is Kipling more to our taste?
We are done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung;
Mark chapter 13 is one of the most controversial in the whole gospel. Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and he talks of the Second Coming, but they are mixed up and confused. We have seen the fall of Jerusalem. Those great stones dislodged and degraded. The site built on by an alien religion. Jesus had already told his disciples that the time for Temple worship was over; that there was a new covenant. It is summarized in the letter to the Hebrews: 'It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins'. 'Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.''He sets aside the first to establish the second.' 'But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.'
Naturally, the Temple would be destroyed. It was no longer fit for purpose.
But when oh when is he coming again?
Mark chapter 13 tells us not to be lulled into complacency. We are to watch as we wait. 'There will be many who come in my name, claiming I am He'. We are not to be gulled. There will be wars and rumors of wars. We are not to be impatient. There will be trials and tribulations. We are not to be discouraged.
There have been many cults with their charts and maps who claim to know the date of his return. Jesus said, "No-one knows about that day or that hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." We are not to be disappointed as milestones pass.
But be assured He will return. Unlike the inhabitants of the soon-to-be-drowned village, we should not neglect our post. The coming of the Lord is as close as a swallow swooping over the lake for Mayflies. And although we do not know the day when we 'will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory' for each of us there is a finite time of waiting with an indeterminate end. Our next breath might be our last.
'So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay... But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.