Thinks may not be as they appear! Our parents warned us with these words as children in order to be safe. Looks are deceiving. This is why you don’t just touch a stove, but you feel first for heat.
In scripture often things are not as they appear. The landscape of reality is changing in today’s texts. In our Old Testament reading, Judas Maccabeus is celebrating and recounting the dramatic victories over Apollonius and Seron.
In Revelation, the dead are judged with Death and Hades giving up its dead, only for all to stand before the open books, including the book of life. After all have left Hades, it is destroyed. This gives way to a new heaven and a new earth.
In Matthew is the retelling of the transfiguration. Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, head up the mountain. Bright clouds and voices change the way the disciples view his future glory, and his place in history.
Looks indeed are deceiving. The spiritual life is a complex thing, and must be understood on a deeper level than just literal understanding. The metaphors and dazzling visions may cloud the scientific mind – but they illuminate the spiritual world.
We look to God for complete understanding, but we will not attain it. This is what is meant to be human – to not have all the answers, but to struggle to find meaning and purpose.
What was happening at the transfiguration? What will the end of time look like? Will Death be swallowed up for good, as Revelation says? Will we live in a world where our faces shine in brilliance and where pain is no more?
I wish I had the answers. But perhaps part of the power and hope of today’s text is that very thing: we are in God’s hands. Despite this world not making much sense to us, amidst the immaturity of our leaders and the chaos of our current government, on top of our own brokenness and struggles in this life, ultimately we rest in God’s hands.
God is above and beyond this little mess we have created. And that is good enough for me.