Date: November 17, 2019

Bible Text: Malachi 4:1-2, Luke 21:5-19 |

Have you ever been up against it so hard that you just wanted to quit? Almost certainly! Well, you aren't alone (which is why I can say "almost certainly!"). Sometimes when things get really rough in life, people feel like giving up or want some kind of justice or even revenge on those who are making it bad. Often what they want is some relief. One of our texts this week gets at those feelings. The Malachi passage, while short, describes this exactly – The Lord will punish the evildoers, but the righteous will rejoice! There are times, though, when relief does not come quickly, and things go from bad to worse. This seems to be more what Jesus was describing for the disciples in our Luke passage. He predicts the destruction of the temple, a variety of calamities, and persecution for his followers. His message is not that of Malachi, no promise of justice. Instead, "by your endurance you will gain your souls." We'll take a look at both paths and how they might apply to our walk of faith.

Notes From the Preacher

Here's a link to the Netflix documentary I referred to, Greatest Events of World War II in Colour, Episode 5, "The Siege of Stalingrad." It's a harrowing story for both the Soviets and the Germans, with hundreds of thousands dead between them, and worst of all, it was entirely unnecessary. Both sides were forced to endure dire circumstances as the tide of battle swung. Indeed, human endurance is a remarkable phenomenon.  And Jesus knew it, too.

Next, here's a link to the book I mentioned by Dr. J. Christiaan Beker, Suffering and Hope: The Biblical Vision and the Human Predicament, published by Fortress (my copy is from 1987; the link is the 1994 edition). Dr. Beker was one of the New Testament professors at Princeton Seminary when Molly and I were there. He was brash, unconventional, alternately playful and acerbic, and brilliant.

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