Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turbulent heavens (Luke 21)

Prophetic language is poetic language, using a "right brain" vocabulary of vivid images to convey truth in unforgettable word pictures. The Olivet Discourse fits neatly into the category of prophecy. Like the Old Testament warnings and exhortations, it draws from a set of standardized metaphors. For example, if Isaiah or Jeremiah want to talk about political disarray, they'll describe bizarre things happening to the heavenly bodies. Or, if you want to go back a little further, when Joseph had his dreams about the future political structure of his tribe, he spoke of sun, moon, and stars.

One of the most tormenting situations humanity knows is "waiting for the other shoe to drop."[1] For example, you "read the writing on the wall,"[2] and know that you'll soon be in the job market again. Business is slowing down, and the manager's demeanor is preoccupied. Meanwhile, you show up, do your work, and wait.

At the time Jesus gave this prophecy, it looked as though the governing powers of Israel were firmly ensconced. The political order in place looked stable, enduring, final. But, appearances were deceiving. Serious instability was in the cards.[3]
Luk 21:25 "Güneşte, ayda ve yıldızlarda belirtiler görülecek. Yeryüzünde uluslar denizin ve dalgaların uğultusundan şaşkına dönecek, dehşete düşecekler.
Luk 21:26 Dünyanın üzerine gelecek felaketleri bekleyen insanlar korkudan bayılacak. Çünkü göksel güçler sarsılacak.
Luk 21:27 O zaman İnsanoğlu'nun* bulut içinde büyük güç ve görkemle geldiğini görecekler.
Luk 21:28 Bu olaylar gerçekleşmeye başlayınca doğrulun ve başlarınızı kaldırın. Çünkü kurtuluşunuz yakın demektir."
Let's look at a few phrases:
  • Çünkü -- Because
  • göksel -- heavenly
  • güçler -- powers
  • sarsılacak -- will be shaken
  • kurtuluşunuz -- your salvation
  • yakın -- near
  • demektir -- standing is.
Anxious bureaucrats do not portend the end of the world. Quite often, political crises are ginned up to justify the rapacious seizures of the liberties and properties of the citizens. An ugly German word, Reichstagbrand, refers to the time Hitler torched the German parliament building, then blamed the communists, in order to ensure his own political future.

Jesus assures his people that the other shoe will drop, but life will go on.

[1] This American metaphor dates back to the old "boarding house" days. You have a small downstairs room. Just as you are dozing off, the renter upstairs drops one shoe on his floor, your ceiling -- and you can't get to sleep, while "waiting for the other shoe to drop."

[2] A reference to an incident in the Book of Daniel, when an angel's hand wrote a fiery message on the wall of the palace, curing a licentious feast. It was bad news.

[3] This idiom refers to the practice of divination using Tarot cards.

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