Maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention. Somehow when I wasn’t watching, somebody just ran a whole decade right past me! Where did the 90’s go? Time sure is fleeting!
And that’s the focus of our word today, proskairos (pros ky ROSS). Jesus said that when hard times come, faith without deep roots is fleeting (Matt 13:21). Fortunately, the reverse is also true--when faith does have roots, we realize that this world with all its hardships and false pleasures is temporary (2 Cor 4:16-18). Therefore, like Moses, we have to make a choice. Which will it be: enduring faith or fickle, fleeting pleasures (Heb 11:25)?
This word fleeting was little used in writers before the New Testament, and was not used at all in the Septuagint. But based on the key verses mentioned above, the word fairly exploded onto the pages of the writers of the early church. By the time the church had gone through two or three centuries of persecution, her people had learned very well what was fleeting and what was eternal.
In the Epistle to Diognetus an early Christian writer contrasts the transient fires of persecution with the eternal fire of hell. In this same way Chrysostom admits there is temporary grief, but promises eternal joy. Irenaeus sets the fleeting existence of earthly life in opposition with the blessings of eternity. In the crucible of suffering the church was learning that the things that are seen are short-lived, but the things that are unseen are eternal!
Eusebius relates the touching story of Biblis, a Christian lady who faced martyrdom in Gaul A.D. 177. Under the agony of intense torture she broke down and denied her Lord. Later her captors brought her back for more torture, so they could enjoy hearing her blaspheme her God. This time, however, the searing pain suddenly shocked her into a brave realization. “Being reminded through this transitory punishment of the eternal torments in hell . . . she confessed herself a Christian and was added to the ranks of the martvrs.”