Start talking about the end times and people will look at you like you’ve gone off the deep end. Trust me, I know. And certainly, it does seem a bit crazy and doomsday-ish, reminiscent of Terminator-type paranoia. Really, who wants another world war, plagues, the moral decline of mankind, and the ultimate destruction of earth? Nobody, that’s who! But let’s think about it the other way – who wants to to understand how the puzzle pieces fit together, to live with God and His perfect love forever and ever?
I have a heart for end-time prophecy. But I learned early on in my Christian walk that this can become an obsession – I can be so preoccupied with Jesus’ return that I fail to merely live with Him. And in the current atmosphere of economic and political unrest, keeping up with current events can fuel this obsession. I read a great blog the other day about how, if we so choose, we can easily interpret every significant news event as a sign of the last days. Having a fear-driven faith isn’t as exciting as a Jesus-driven faith, whether He returns soon or not.
I think for this reason many Christians shy away from prophecy – and they also don’t want to be seen as a nut! But I’ve noticed a downside of this “shying away”– many of us have stopped watching and anticipating. New Testament writers talked about Jesus coming back constantly, as if He would return in their generation. Of course, He didn’t. And as time went on, I think we as a collective Christian body lost hope.
What? Lost hope? In a way, yes. We have hope in our salvation of course, in the knowledge that someday we’ll live with God in heaven. But what about passion for Jesus’ actual return? Do we look toward the clouds with anticipation? Do we observe world events with the understanding that everything will eventually line up politically and physically for His return, that wars and earthquakes are birth pangs? That persecution of Christians will increase? Do we really believe any of that stuff?
Obsession can be harmful, but we can’t write off end time prophecy all together. This isn’t symbolism reserved solely for the fire-and-brimstone pages of Revelation. Jesus Himself frequently discussed the end times. In fact, Jesus explicitly told his followers to watch and wait, lest we be taken unaware.
Few of us are watching. And this can be dangerous – the world has a way of convincing us, over time, that it will continue forever just as it always has. Earthquakes happen. Wars happen. Famines, riots, floods – these things have happened since the beginning of time and will continue to happen indefinitely. Do you feel the complacency? These things have a definite end. Human suffering has an end. And we have hope, not only in the Cross which saves us, but also in the knowledge that God will bring about the end of the human struggle.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:34-36