Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ (Luke 21:25-28)
When I started in Year 7 it was a bit of a shock to go from Primary School where we all did all our work together as one class in the same classroom to High School where each subject was in a different room with a different teacher and I did not know many other kids at the school. I found it extremely daunting to look at the year 12’s and I thought that I would never be able to pass Year 12 as the work was so hard. This was what terrified me and gave me anguish.
At the same time, I was attending a mid-week bible study group after school with some other youth group peers. The studies were focused on the more spectacular parts of the bible with studies on the five crowns of glory and the gift of tongues among other passages.
It was against this background that I read in the newspaper one day that in two or so years’ time the nine planets in the solar system would line up in a row for the first time in human history stretching out from the sun and that the combined gravitational pull was very likely to change the orbit of the planets and might lead to a cataclysmic event and even the end of the world.
I am fascinated that when looking back I was not terrified and fainting about this. Instead, I was relieved as it meant I would not have to complete year 12!
Because of the bible teaching I was receiving I was expecting the apocalypse so reading that the heavenly bodies would be shaken was confirmation of that teaching – there were signs in the sun, moon and stars and I simply expected that Jesus would come back riding on the clouds. I read the redemption as individual not corporate as that is how I was being taught to read the bible.
Since that time, I have grown older and hopefully learned a bit having read the bible more and done some study. I now read this passage as corporate and not literal and not imminent. I believe that Jesus calls us to live in this world as though the kingdom of heaven has already come and not to use the expectation of the apocalypse in the near future as an excuse to avoid responsibility.
So, rather than welcome catastrophic climate change as a means of bringing forward the apocalypse and hence the return of Jesus, I now believe that Jesus calls us to work together to avoid or limit such a terrible impact on the world.