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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The End of the Ages

Okay, so we've been here before; 'why bring it up again?' Well, maybe because when we see the words, 'The End', it's only natural to think, 'it's over!' We've reached the conclusion of the matter, there is no more, the story's over, there is no more. However, though 'the end' may & often does connote cessation; in the case of Covenant History in particular, it indicates the Goal of history: as Solomon, king of Israel wrote, 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all' ( Proverbs 12:13 ) To know the Creator & to follow His Word, His Son is the Goal, the End of Covenant History!

As pointed out recently by a good friend of mine, the Hebrew worldview knew of two 'ages', 'this age' & 'that age', ( Luke 20:34 ), also known as the Old Covenant Era & the New Covenant Era, or 'the age to come' ( Matthew 12:32, Luke 18:30, Ephesians 2:7, Hebrews 6:5 ). The apostle Paul & the writer to the Hebrews told their audience that 'the end of the ages' had come upon them ( I Corinthians 10:11, Hebrews 9:26 ). It is interesting to note here that the writer to the Hebrews uses the Greek 'συντέλεια'. or 'syntelaia' which basically indicates completion or consummation, whereas the apostle simply uses the Greek 'τέλος' or 'telos', which points toward a specific goal. The plural form 'ages' is an addition in some newer versions, including the New King James Version, for whatever reason, but it is clear, as my friend pointed out, that the 'age' or 'ages' to which they referred were simply to be understood as covenant 'ages' or 'eras', not epochs of Time, or world history as we know it!

As the Messiah of Israel, Jesus was He whom His people had longed for! The Presence of the Creator on earth, in the flesh, so to speak, was the Goal, or End of Covenant History. Just as a marriage is consummated when two become one, so the ages were brought to completion, or consummation when Jesus, the Son of the Father, came to earth & become One with His Bride, the Church ( the Organism, not the organization ). The Marriage of Heaven & Earth was the Goal of Covenant History, but even though that Goal, or End was reach, fulfilled, Covenant History, per se', did not cease to be: as the beneficiaries, the Offspring, you might say, of this Marriage, we are fulfilling this Covenant through Relationship & Communion!

Through the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Consummation of the Ages was accomplished, but as in any marriage, it was far from over; the Goal had been reached, but there is still much to do! Here is where Covenant History intersects with World History, as it has for the past 'ages';  though Jesus fulfilled His role as the End of Covenant History, His Offspring, His Children, so to speak, continue His work of reconciliation, bringing into that Blessed Relationship those who previously have merely existed in Time, living simply in World History. Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, yes, but He became so much more: He is the Savior of the World & through His Bride, the Church, is reconciling the Creation to the Creator, in essence bringing together Covenant History & World History!

World History, since the beginning of Time, has experienced many ups & downs; one might note, in fact, that it is subject to a cycle of sorts! Time is in progression, but as we are all familiar with the saying, 'history repeats itself', one may fairly easily note that this 'cycle' has produced many of what we call atrocities. Simply because people did not learn their lesson the first time, as well as continuing ignorance of this history, Time is almost forced to repeat itself. Beginning with Adam & Eve, continuing through the sordid history of Israel, up until their final rejection of their Messiah & denial of the Son of God, the Creator Himself, Covenant History reached its Peak, its Completion, its Perfection, in the first century & so World History continues to progress toward its own Completion in the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The End of the Ages was reached in the first century & in that sense, one might even say, with the translators of many of the older versions of our Bible, 'the end of the world'! However, understanding that 'the end', especially in the context of Scripture, indicates that the Goal has been reached, the Consummation has occurred, rather than that it came to a stop, or ceased to be once it had been fulfilled, then, embracing that End for who He is & who We are, we may feel free to continue forward, knowing that, having consummated the Marriage, the covenant blessings are now flowing outward into the World, effecting a change for the good!

Charles Haddon Shank

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