Isaiah here is who is known as "Third Isaiah" by scholars, sharing a new word with God's people following their return from Babylon exile. The hype of "Second Isaiah" is gone, and the dark reality of their circumstances and condition has led to a gloomy depression, even despair that they've been forsaken again.
Yet the plea remains for God to "tear open the heavens and come down." God's people know and confess their sinfulness while affirming to God, "We are the clay; your are the Potter." The light of hope still shines, however faintly, as if from a single candle, that they may yet enjoy new life from God.
All of Mark 13 is about signs and portents of the end of the age. The condition of God's people is not a whole lot different from the era of Third Isaiah; only the occupying power has changed to Rome. In their despair of change coming from any of their efforts, the belief that only when God intervenes will there be a chance for new life became popular. God's Messiah, a Savior, was awaited.
Jesus reviews the popular talk and affirms dire times ahead of the end of the age. However, God's will must be fulfilled and the Son of Man will come to gather the righteous and bring about a new day, new life in the Lord's Kingdom of justice and peace.
"No one knows the day or the hour," Jesus says, exhorting his disciples to be awake, alert and watchful. What does that mean for today's disciples who light the first candle of the Advent season, also eager for the good news of new life from God?
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