Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, February 19, 2007

In those days

“In those days” (eg. Jer 3:16; 5:18; Zec 8:6) or “in that time” (eg. Isa 20:2; Jer 3:17; 4:11) is a formula for an eschatological term and in later prophetic traditions became a characteristic of eschatological style. The expression “on that day” also appears as a technical eschatological term in a number of other OT passages (cf., e.g., Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:7, 18; Amos 8:3, 9; Hos 2:18, 21).

Judaism, as reflected in the Book of Jubilees and a number of other early Jewish writings, anticipated a period of deep trouble before the arrival of the kingdom of God. This feature appears in Isaiah 26:17, Jeremiah 22:23; Daniel 12:1; Hosea 13:13 and Micah 4:9. These troubles later became known as the “woes of the Messiah.” The calamities attendant upon the close of the present age and the beginning of the new age are identified as “the birth-pangs” of the new age. Matthew and Mark both include

“this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.”

The woes, in accord with Jewish teaching, are:

1) wars, earthquakes and famines, “the beginning of travail”;

2) the great tribulation;

3) commotions among the heavenly bodies.

Matthew and Mark have added to Luke “the abomination that causes desolation”; “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, the elect” and the word “tribulation.”

Luke uses the phrase “in those days” uniquely with respect to Jesus being in the wilderness for forty days and his account of the Transfiguration. He also tells us: “The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”

In Acts 14:22, Luke wrote “that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” He also used the phrase, “In those days Peter stood up among the brethren” and “in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” The phrase is also included in Stephen’s last sermon, “And they made a calf in those days” and in the story of Tabitha, “In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.”

Luke includes the thought of eschatological judgment in his account of John the Baptist with his “axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” and with his reference to the process of winnowing and burning the chaff with unquenchable fire. The Lucan Jesus warns: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and you be like men awaiting their master.” There is clearly an eschatological reference in the table discourse of chapter 14 with these words: “Blessed is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.” In agreement with Bo Reicke, “The meal serves only as a starting point for eschatological reflection.”

Luke has a strong eschatological interest. He saw that “The kingdom of God has come near to you” and is “among you.”

Copyrighted 2007


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