Simply put: it's easy to mess up a difficult passage like Luke 21. You may find yourself applying something regarding Jerusalem's destruction to the end of the world—and vice versa. You may get bogged down in so many details that you miss the big picture. You may not foster the right tension of fear and hope. Mitchell sets the ground rules early on in the sermon: humility is the best attribute to guide you through this labyrinthine text. In the shadow of that humility, Mitchell helps the audience see the big picture nature of the text first and foremost, with extra attention given to those details that matter most to correct interpretation. Along the way, he also stirs a profound Christological witness.
The day before terrorists attacked New York and Washington, a fifth grader in a Dallas suburb told his teacher that World War III would begin the next day. Rhonda Lucich, the director of elementary education for the school district, said the boy approached his teacher on the afternoon of September 10 and casually told her: "Tomorrow, World War III will begin. It will begin in the United States, and the United States will lose." The child then missed the next two days of school. The statements were passed along to the FBI, but Lucich didn't know whether the agency had acted on the tip. An FBI spokesman couldn't be reached for comment. "It's one of those things I sincerely want to believe was coincidental," Lucich said.
I don't know about you, but I'm skeptical about that kind of stuff. I think it probably was a coincidence. You have to consider the source. But let's face it: the idea of predicting the future fascinates us.
What if I told you ...
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