Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Apocalyptic. For some reason, that’s become a popular descriptor of unpopular situations. Plagues, famines, earthquakes, tidal waves, acts of war. Apocalyptic. Dare I mention . . . no, better not. Everyone’s been talking about that for the last two weeks to flatten the curve.
In Acts chapter two, the disciples start speaking of the glories of God. The people from many different nations, cultures, and language groups, all gathered in Jerusalem because of their desire to be present for the feast of Pentecost, hear them speaking in their native languages, from all around the region. God is communicating with them all about his glory, telling them about it in the language dear to their hearts, the language in which they dream.
Is it necessary for God to provide this gift so they would understand? Yes and no. Notice when Peter explains it to them, he does not seem to have the gift operating. He is heard from them in the very language in which he speaks, and he is understood. The people can understand what is happening. They didn’t need a translator. But they did need an interpreter.
How often are we confronted with God’s glory, his majesty, his works of mercy, and we fail to notice? We don’t need a translator, but we do need an interpreter. We need to be kicked in the shins and told to look at how Jesus is working a miracle when a baby is brought for baptism. We need someone to tug on our ears and remind us to listen up to the reading of God’s Word because he will create faith through it. Our minds wander in prayer and we need someone to catch our attention and tell us, once again, that this is a real live chance to bring our needs before God and that He is listening. We need that interpreter to tell us about the times.
Sometimes, though, we realize that the situation is apocalyptic. It is going to lead to an unveiling of God, which will bring a final judgment. We still need the interpreter for this. Some of the people in Jerusalem who were having faith created in their hearts by God’s Word were fearful about the time of the end. Some people in our culture are as well. Notice I used the term “apocalyptic” only for things we would consider to be terribly destructive? What does Peter have to say about them?
They are frightening, yes. But they are part of God bringing his people to himself at the end of time, gathering them as a mighty community from every place and every age, showing them that they are partakers of his mercy and grace, that nothing can harm them in the end. Peter gives apocalyptic signs as signs of hope.
In this coming season of Pentecost, may we have grace to watch for Jesus’ gracious presence and the signs of his coming. It will be a time to see!
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