Eternity messes with my mind.
Eternity means forever, without beginning or end, right?
But how can we have a concept of forever if we didn’t have a concept of now.
Yet it is not possible to have a “now” in eternity because a “now” implies that there is a beginning and an end to a particular moment – something that is not possible in eternity, right?
So what does Jesus mean when he says in Matthew 24:25
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—
I thought Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) was prophesying about the abomination of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167BC) who erected a statue of Zeus in the Jewish Temple? Or maybe Daniel was prophesying Emperor Gaius (40AD) who ordered a statue of himself to be erected in the temple. Yet Jesus seems to be indicating that the abomination that causes desolation is yet to come! Perhaps he was prophesying about Nero’s torturing of Christians in 64AD or perhaps the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD under Emperor Titus. But Jesus seems to be indicating that the abomination that causes desolation will occur at the end of all things – the eschaton.
So which is it?
I think it is all of these. When reading apocalyptic prophecy (like Revelation or parts of Daniel) what we are viewing is eternity. In eternity there is no sense of time past, present or future. The pictures we get from these writing overlap each other like overhead transparencies (remember them?) laid on top of each other. So the abomination that causes desolation has happened, is happening and is yet to happen. In all of this, what we can be sure of is that this world is broken, and broken people continue to cause breakages. This shouldn’t surprise us. But it should cause us to put our hope in the only one who can fix it. God, the creator, and Jesus his redeemer.
I’m glad eternity messes with my head, because its something so far beyond our human existence, that if I understood it now I would loose my sense of wonder in God and his greatness. Its fun to speculate, but it will be even better when we get there.
(Or maybe I’m already there????)