Kevin H: Common Sense On the End
So the disciples ask Jesus, when will be end of the age?
What will be “the” sign? Jesus answers them not with “the” sign, but rather a whole bunch of them.
Some, if not many of these signs have been occurring with regularity since Jesus’ days here on earth. He also tells them to not be “led astray”, and to “endure”, and to be “ready”. Additionally, He tells them that they are not to know the day and hour. That no one knows but the Father, not even Jesus himself. (Matthew 24:3-51)
Now, I am not a Biblical scholar and there are many who are much more studied and knowledgeable than me. At the very least, however, it would seem that much of prophecy is one of the most challenging things in the Bible to fully comprehend, at least in the forward-looking sense. Anyone who confidently claims to have it all, or just about all figured out, I view with a very suspicious eye. Were not the large majority of the religious leaders wrong about Jesus the first time around when He came? And they were the recognized experts. That is not to say that we are doomed to get the details of his Second Coming all wrong. But it should in some measure give us pause and a dose of humility.
I find myself in circumstances more often than I would like where I encounter the newspaper eschatologists.
You know, the ones that love to take every newspaper headline and somehow apply it to the end times. Every tragic or immoral event that happens. Everything that our government is doing or what Russia or Iran is up to. And most especially Israel. If someone sneezes in Israel, it is a sign that the end must be near. (I jest…..mostly). And then you’ve got the United Nations and the Euro and the Pope and all things ecumenical. All elements they are sure are going to play major roles in the End Times. Oh, and of course, the madness of things like the Blood Moons and the Shemitah.
So many of these things I hear spoken of with such confidence that they demonstrate we are in the End Times. Not the End Times in a general sense beginning from when Jesus ascended and we started awaiting His return. No, the “definitive” End Times that are to occur just prior to Jesus’ return. That all these things are indicating His return must be right around the corner. That we must be the last generation. That it must be the End of the End Times.
Now my dialogue thus far has spoken mostly to the pitfalls that plague some who are of pre-tribulation, pre-millennial persuasion in their eschatology. I speak to these things because they have been primarily my experiences. They are also the most prevalent of eschatological pitfalls in the American evangelical culture. However, those holding to differing eschatological systems can fall into similar traps of pride, overconfidence, and misplaced focus. It’s not just a “crazy dispensationalist” thing. So we all should be on guard for such things than can trip us up.
While we long for Christ’s return where He will ultimately set all things right and make all things new, we should be focused on being about His work in the here and now. Sharing the gospel, helping those in need, providing for our families, being a good employee or employer, trying to ensure justice as we can, and/or whatever God would have for us. We should devote ourselves to endure in our faith and be ready to bear whatever trials and tribulations that are still to come upon us.
We should have a spirit of readiness for His return and not neglecting the possibility. That spirit of readiness will help to propel us to be about His work. Not into some anxiousness to escape this world and the work the Lord still has for us. Getting caught up in all the sensationalism of news headlines and prophetic scenarios or into unnecessary arguments about eschatology only serves to distract us. I know I already have more than enough distractions and deterrents keeping me from being everything that God would want of me. I don’t need anything more.
The centrality of the Christian message is that which Christ did on the cross.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for and redeem us from our sins. He rose victorious and conquered death and if we repent of our sins and place our faith and trust in Him, we will be saved. By God’s grace we are forgiven and granted salvation here and now and will forever live with Him in His Kingdom. This is the gospel and the message of Christianity. We can rest in it. Let us not be distracted from it. While the study of eschatology and also the events happening in this world do hold importance, let us not lose our focus and priority.
Thank you Kevin….. I had to laugh out loud at your paragraph about the newspaper eschatologists. hahahhahah
“You know, the ones that love to take every newspaper headline and somehow apply it to the end times. Every tragic or immoral event that happens. Everything that our government is doing or what Russia or Iran is up to. And most especially Israel. If someone sneezes in Israel, it is a sign that the end must be near. (I jest…..mostly). And then you’ve got the United Nations and the Euro and the Pope and all things ecumenical. All elements they are sure are going to play major roles in the End Times. Oh, and of course, the madness of things like the Blood Moons and the Shemitah”
My first 37 years of being a christian were in churches steeped in stuff like that…. My husband grew up in the liturgical church and never heard any of that “End Times” stuff. To this day, news stories trigger my ‘newspaper eschatologist’ and my husband always says “Oh, hmmm”.
Amen….. steer clear of the multitude of distractions and focus on the heart of the Gospel.
It is a challenging section, but it gets easier when you realise the disciples as two separate questions about three separate things.
-When is the destruction of the Temple buildings
-Sign of his return
-End of the age
The immediate answer was, take heed that no man deceive you. That is the most important thing to understand about all three questions.
I find it a little strange that India…China and Africa..South America are seeing massive conversions.The Book of Acts being played out before us.Yet here in America…….
The single most interesting thing about this sort of eschatology today is the ascendence of Trump…who meets a large number of qualifications to be an anti-Christ.
The same people that are warning us all the time about “not being deceived” are embracing an adulterous strip club owner who has never asked God for forgiveness as their leader of choice.
Trump figures have come and gone for centuries. I am enjoying the same the ironies and hypocrisies noted by Michael.
My history professor warned of our lust for just this kind of leader 40 years ago when I was in College. He expected us to get so frustrated we would turn ourselves over to anyone who would promise to restore order.
Saeed emerged publicly yesterday admitting marriage issue and promising a book and an ongoing ministry.
The industry of religious profiteering wins far too often. But I am way too well taken care of to get too righteous about it.
“Saeed emerged publicly yesterday admitting marriage issue and promising a book and an ongoing ministry.”
Of course he did…he’s right on schedule.
I totally agree with your comments on Trump. It’s almost eerie how the truth doesn’t matter to anyone when it comes to him and every charge just falls to the ground. Seems almost supernatural.
I’m certainly not saying he’s “the guy”.
I am saying that he is great practice for the guy when he appears…
I got that and I agree with that too.
“He expected us to get so frustrated we would turn ourselves over to anyone who would promise to restore order.”
Why not? the German people did that also.
But if Trump gets the nomination he will just be the reincarnation of Barry Goldwater. – with the same results.
If only the Bible would tell us if the anti-Christ is orange or not, then we would have a better idea. 🙂
Kevin H…that was rich. 🙂
I wish I believed your Goldwater comparison.
I think Trump can win…and I think that will be disastrous on many fronts.
He has given angry people a group to scapegoat while claiming that he will protect them from those they believe will harm them.
He is the standard bearer for those who want a pound of someones flesh…but as I said before they will learn too late the flesh will be their own.
I used Matthew 24 as a start, but my broader point is that understanding all of prophecy in the Bible is not an easy thing to do. Some may find some sections easier to understand than others. I am wary, however, of those who think they have it all figured out, regardless of their eschatological framework.
And I am not one to cross swords on the subject as I’m not studied enough to take a strong stand on one position or another. My observation, limited experience, and intuition, however, tell me it’s just not so simple.
Glad you’re feeling well enough to participate already. Just don’t overdo it. We don’t want any relapses caused by high blood pressure. 🙂
Thanks Kevin. 🙂
I’m taking it pretty easy today…
Michael – Trump is a media hype. If he had any traction on his own he would garner more than the 25% – 35% of the vote he gets.
Goldwater was an oddity, but he had mainstream republican support. Rockefeller barely had a voice at the convention. I don’t see that in Trumps future.
if we ever did find out the genesis of Trump’s run, we might be surprised
and, as is pointed out, he only has about 1/3 of the declared Republicans… he’d fade in a flash if all the other hopefuls could get behind one person, i.e. Cruz (what i like about him is that the other politicians don’t like him)… but everyone seems to wanna be the big shot with the message – dunno
as a nation, we’re not very good at finding strong, honest leaders – or so it seems to me
barring divine intervention (Lord, please intervene – please), it’s President H Clinton in 2016…
Two thoughts that aren’t even remotely connected:
1. The devil must be laughing at how the Second Coming has been twisted from being the great hope to being something feared (though folks will say it ain’t Jesus their scared of, but all the other stuff).
2. If Trump wins, he will do for the national Republican party what Arnold Schwarzenegger did for the GOP in California: leave it weak and lagging, as if full of “girlie men”. By the time Arnold was done, there were no up-and-coming Republicans in CA. It was Democrats as far as you could see in all directions. I think Trump will have the same magical touch if he wins.
My narrow example is that really, nobody is bothering to read the Scriptures carefully. That includes both those who disbelieve prophecy, and those that do believe and interpret Scripture using a newspaper.
It’s treated as a joke.