As we enter this new year many will be wondering fearfully what it might hold. Newspapers are increasingly peppered with stories of violence, perversion, and technological misuse. Nuclear weapons, once only in the hands of super-powers, are now available to rogue states. Terrorists are on the increase. “Men’s hearts are failing them,” as the Gospel writer declared. And we are still within the maximum of sunspot activity and there’s a possibility that a major ejection from the Corona will fry all electrical apparatus from the National Grid down to our cell phones.
With these thoughts in mind, how shall we approach the year? First of all, the Gospel declares, “When you see all these things, look up, for your salvation draws near.” Our eyes should be on the Lord, on His word, on the sure hope and expectation of the Lord’s return, rather than on the daily papers.
One of my grandsons had a large magnifying glass for a Christmas present. Apart from using it to see tiny things in more detail, he noticed that it compressed the sun’s rays, and was thus able to ignite a piece of paper at the focus. Parallel rays of light coming from the sun, on passing through the lens, were being brought to a focus. The process is often likened to a sharpened pencil, with the writing tip as the focal point.
This is a useful analogy to help us understand our Lord’s words concerning the last days. Two Greek words are found. The first is TELOS, meaning the END, the focal point. The other is a compound of that word, SUNTELEIA, which suggests “many diverse things being brought together towards the focus, the TELOS, the END POINT.”
Jesus said in one of His parables, “The harvest is the end of the world.” What a shame the translators used such language. From the Greek it reads,“The harvest is the SUNTELEIA of the Age.” Just before THE END comes, there will be a great harvest of souls, spoken of in Rev.7 “as the sand of the sea for multitude”. As events gradually come to a FOCUS, so the Lord will gather an abundance of souls to stand before Him in white robes.
The disciples asked the Lord, “What shall be the sign of Your coming, and the SUNTELEIA of the Age?” The Lord began by outlining a scene of increasing unrest, but said, “Be not troubled, . . the TELOS is not yet.” The rest of Matthew 24 contains a catalogue of world-events which has caused expositors a lot of trouble interpreting. But the important thing is that all these items are like the parallel rays of the sun, they pervade the world at all times, and have done so throughout the last 2,000 years, and never come to a focus. But a time comes when they are made to pass through the Divine Lens and begin inexorably to gather to the flame point. They enter a time of SUNTELEIA, a time of closing in to the FOCUS.
Just as my grandson’s lens brought fire to the paper, so the gathering together of all events in the SUNTELEIA will bring fire to the earth. This is what Jesus meant, and what His Disciples understood. Peter, writing some time later said that “The elements will melt with fervent heat, and the earth with its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) Do we see here the evidence of a nuclear holocaust, from which no one will survive? If so, then we have not learned the lesson of the lens. Peter was using figurative language to describe the conditions that will prevail just before the Lord returns, and the fires will be such as to burn away all the evil, violence, and perversion to make ready for the Lord’s Kingdom to begin.
When the SUNTELEIA has therefore run its course, and done its cauterising, and the Lord has gained His last great harvest, then the TELOS will come – the return of the Lord Jesus from heaven. Perhaps this “flame point” is now very near.
A fresh look at Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 (the Olivet discourse) will bring light, hope, and joy to the hearts of all who eagerly desire the Lord’s return.
I wish all my readers a spiritually prosperous New Year, a time of great blessing, a time to “focus” one’s thoughts on Jesus, our Saviour, our Lord, our Master and Friend.