Nothing itches the ears like end times. Unfortunately, most of our discussions concerning the “last days” have revolved around who will be left behind. Interest spiked at the turn of the century, but for the most part, we are as last day ignorant as ever.
You might ask “What’s wrong with a healthy ignorance of end times? I don’t have time to worry about end time timetables. Can’t I just do the work of the kingdom and leave all that last days stuff to God?”
Well, first I’d like to thank you for asking the question, otherwise I’d have very little to write about. But most importantly, I’d say that your view of end times matters immensely, because it will influence they way you view and do everything. In fact, if you want to be an effective, Kingdom of God advancing Christian, you need to have this matter settled before you try to save the world.
As a boy I read in the Bible that no one could predict the hour or day of Jesus’ return. Since I was so fearful of this event happening, every night before I went to sleep, I predicted Christ’s return. Hoping my prediction would keep Christ from returning. If no man could predict, then no boy could either.
It’s rather humorous to think about the serious effort I exercised to thwart the second coming of my Savior. I can imagine the trumpet being readied when all of a sudden one of the angels shouted, “Wait! Not tonight. That little boy from Auburn, Washington predicted our Savior’s return again. Now, now, no grumbling. Remember, it is clearly written that this day will not be predicted.”
As you are all aware, there have been many end-time prophets who have refused to heed this rather simple to understand scripture. Some of the less extreme Armageddon prognosticators temper their predictions with “I know that no man can predict the actual hour or day that Christ will return, but I still think I have a rather good estimate on His general arrival time.”
Whenever someone goes boo in middle east or the economy takes a down turn, these doomsday prophets stir and unfortunately begin to stir the Christian community. Now reasonable people can disagree on many important issues, but I’d still like to point out a few things before you hunker down in a bunker somewhere or head to the Holy Land to see the clouds part.
1. Jesus will come again like a thief in the night. In Matthew 24:42-45 Jesus says, “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this; If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” In other words, expect the unexpected.
We don’t prepare ourselves for signs of the end. We prepare ourselves for the end. An end that can happen at any time, without notice, without warning. The only way to do such a thing is to live daily in right relationship with God.
2. We have been in the last days for the last 2000 years! That’s right, you read correctly. The Apostle Peter points this out in Acts 2:16. Peter states, “No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
Now before we investigate the sun turning to darkness and the bloody moon, let’s look at what Peter is proclaiming. Peter is clearly telling us that Jesus ushered in the last days. At Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples, Joel’s prophesy is fulfilled. Not all of the prophesy, but most of it.
That is the tension of the age of Christ. We live in an age when God does not dwell in temples but in the hearts of men and women. The signs of the end times are that Messiah comes, the Spirit of God dwells with humankind, the dead rise from the grave, and the righteousness of God is established. All of these thing were ushered in by Christ.
Messiah has come, he has risen from the dead, and he has poured out the Holy Spirit. However, the fullness of all these things will not be realized until He comes again and we experience the miracle of our resurrected bodies. It is a good thing to be alive in the last days, no matter how long the last days last.
3. God does not motivate us by a Spirit of fear. I John 4:18 states, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Here is a simple rule of faith. If you are listening to Christian leaders who are stirring up fear in your heart about an imminent, cataclysmic future, then please read the scripture before you listen to another one of their doomsday proclamations. Most likely they are stringing together out of context Scriptures, for the sake of getting you to follow their prophetic lead. Be wary of any teachings that require the profound or secret knowledge of the teacher to make sense of it all. God does not want you to fear the days. It is not Biblical to be motivated by a spirit of fear, even for apocalyptic purposes.
It is crucial that every Christian understand that these are truly the last days. The days when we dwell with God through his Holy Spirit. When hard hearts are softened by God’s presence, when the righteousness of God is established in the souls of his children. In light of these profound realities, we are more than just preachers of the Gospel. Rather, we are messengers of God’s glory, temples where God’s glory dwells, ambassadors of God’s presence. These are resources worth utilizing when confronting the daily struggles of existence.
Yes, it is important to know what is going on in the world. But I think it is a bit arrogant to believe that we can remotely begin to understand the cosmic timetable of existence. For those of you desiring Christ’s speedy return, you will have to find that little boy who keeps predicting His imminent arrival. His prediction is obviously prolonging the process. For now, the best we can know, with complete confidence, is that the end is near! Praise God!