Kevin H: Common Sense On the End
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.