When one comes to view human history as God views it, that person understands very well why our times fairly bristle with excitement. The mere mention of the ancient prophetic writings–their secrets long judiciously hidden, leaves us white-hot with apocalyptic expectation, eager to experience all that God has prepared for his People. That is not surprising considering the facts. Joined to Jesus, we are part of God’s unfolding story of divine reclamation and redemption. The story includes his rescue of us as individuals, to be sure, but it also encompasses very much more–the fulfillment of our humanity, the liberation of this created earth, and, too large even for imagination, the summing up of the entire universe in Jesus Christ (Heb 2:8-10; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20).
This stupendous future and exciting present both derive meaning in the light of a long-awaited past. Through the adventures of the man Jesus of Nazareth and the pouring out of the Spirit that Jesus made possible (John 7:37-39), the Messiah has come, the resurrection has started, the Spirit is given, sins are forgiven, and the End of the Present Age has begun. What is more, the canonical writings of the Hebrew prophets and the non-canonical, “pseudepigraphal” writings of Second-Temple Judaism agree that these very acts and events (plus the restoration of the earth) form a cluster of elements expected to accompany the retirement of the Present Age and its replacement by the Age to Come at the “end” (telos)–the goal and climax–of God’s salvation story.
So, illuminated by the Spirit to decipher the significance of the Jesus-story, the Apostles recognize the true nature of End-time events as they occur (John 14:26; 6:12-15). The inference is inevitable. The “end” or purpose of the ages has begun to arrive (1 Cor. 10:11). The meaning of the prophetic writings–a long-hidden secret–is now uncovered (apocalypse) or revealed (Romans 16:25-27). The Messiah is now at God’s right hand in heaven, but only temporarily–“until” God’s appointed time. Then Jesus will reappear to judge the world, restore all things, and bring in new heavens and a new earth (Psalm 110:1; Acts 3:17-21, 24). Meanwhile, we wait and work and watch and pray. Maranatha!