Readings: Psalm 122; Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
In the days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains…the word of the Lord shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2, 4 NRSV
But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, or the Son, but only the Father…Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. Matthew 24:36, 42-44, NRSV
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone and the day is near. Let us then lay aside works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Romans 13:11-13, NRSV
Isaiah shares a vision of the future, when God’s children will let go of violence and ignorance, throwing out the directions on how to win at the expense of others. In the days to come, resources and time devoted to destruction will be invested in restoring the environment and making sure everyone has all the basics to live a meaningful life. It won’t come without a lot of work, though – swords don’t beat themselves into plowshares, after all. But Isaiah didn’t give the when along with the vision.
Jesus doesn’t provide the when, either, because he doesn’t know. God only knows, he tells us. The reign of God will come like someone breaking into your house, so be ready. Again, it doesn’t seem to be something that just happens – like a good meal, it doesn’t cook itself.
When it does come to pass, how we treat each other and understand our own worth is yanked out from under us; it feels like the end of the world, maybe, but it’s really just the end of what kills us. The thief takes away our darkness and leaves behind revelatory light. Whenever it comes to pass…
Perhaps the reason God only knows when this will be is because it’s connected to our actions. Until we put in the work, until we start living transparently – acting the same whether anyone is around to see us or not – it will stay in the realm of whenever.
But don’t forget that we already know what time it is. It’s Advent – time to wake up and live into the reign of God. How amazing is that!