With, pestilence, famine, and war all happening in recent years, it has many Christians questioning again if the end of the world is near. Let’s talk about it.
First, let us remember that for millions, famine and pestilence, even war, are a constant. The end is always near for them.
But for those of us blessed enough not to live in perpetual tragedy, whenever there are wars or rumors of wars, our eyes shift North expecting the return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So is the end of all things near? It definitely could be the end of you. If World War III ensues and a nuclear bomb hits your area, the end has likely come for you. If the Coronavirus happens to mutate into an extremely deadly variant, you’ve most likely met your end if you contract it. If the rumored food shortages become severe enough to where there is nothing to eat, maybe then it would be the end of all your things.
But are the war in Ukraine and rumors of World War III, the Coronavirus, and food shortages (among the other things you are thinking of) signs of Jesus returning and the cosmic end of the world?
I argue the answer is no. Here’s why?
If you’ve my children’s novel, Brumbletide and the Daughter of Eve, you know Maggie is afraid of the end of the world throughout most of the story. This is because she has had a traditional narrative told to her that everyone believes is in Pippin’s Puzzle, the sacred book of the Castle. But later in the story, Maggie finds out that this narrative that has been told throughout the generations is, in fact, not what Pippin’s Puzzle actually says. There is a sinister reason for this in Brumbletide for the reader’s pleasure, but in real life, and this same thing has indeed happened in real life, I don’t think there is anything quite so nefarious going on.
If you are still looking into the sky every time the world acts like the world, one of a few things has occurred. You are either like the people of Little Ipswitch and haven’t read the sacred book, or you have been reading the Bible as if it was written to you and not for you. On top of these two things, there is also the tradition of expecting Christ to return in our lifetime. Every generation has thought it was them!
Here are some of the verses that are used to prophecy the end of the world:
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:7
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6
There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. Luke 21:11
Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12
Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. Revelation 13:16-17But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
There are many more verses that are used to point out the signs of the times but we do not need to list them all here. All we have to do is actually read them in context, or when we read them all again in context ask ourselves, “Who is the speaker speaking to?”
Again, the Bible was written for us, not to us.
Go back and read the Bible again, or read it for the first time, keeping this in mind. In Matthew 24, when Jesus is giving the Olivet Discourse, who is He speaking to? Us? No.
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3
Jesus is speaking to his disciples in Matthew 24. And what is he telling them? He is telling them that Jerusalem will be destroyed and the signs that they are to look for that will warn them to flee. This was going to be the end of their world. Everything they knew. The destruction of Jerusalem was going to be a judgement from God on those who would not accept that Jesus was the Messiah. There was a New Covenant now, and it was going out to the entire globe. The old was passing away, God’s former holy dwelling on earth, the Jerusalem temple, was passing away, and Christianity was going forth into the nations. Because of Jesus Christ, God would now dwell in the hearts of His Church.
So the “end” spoken of in Matthew 24, is the Destruction of Jerusalem that happened forty years later in AD 70.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34
The “generation” Jesus is speaking about is the one right in front Him at the time.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Alright, that’s Matthew, but Revelation really tells about the end of the world!” To this, I say again, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Gary Demar explains all of this much better than I do. I will direct you to a great talk of his on Revelation, but not until the end.
First, l must tell you the most important part of the Bible before you read it for yourself in the context of a unified story leading to Jesus.
Step out of your house or, God forbid, turn on the news. Anyone can see mankind’s attempt at righteous existence is not working. Our best efforts seem to always result in destruction. This is the same for mankind as a whole or as individuals. The reason for this is sin. As long as we are our natural sinful selves, things will go as they always have. We need a Savior. The Bible has two testaments, the Old and the New. Read the Old Testament, you will see why we are the way we are and your heart will cry out for salvation. Jesus is that salvation, and you will read about Him in the New Testament. In our natural state, we do not have peace with God. We are actually in rebellion against Him! But Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross taking the punishment that we deserve. Through Him we can have peace with God. With this comes the gift of eternal life in Heaven, but not only that. When Christ comes into our heart, we are made new day by day! This is a miracle for the here and now. Our situations may not change, but we become more and more loving, joyful, kind, good, peaceful, patient, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23). Do you see? Not only does Christ save us from the bondage of sin, but He really is the hope of the world. The more of us who accept God’s grace and mercy given in Jesus Christ, the better this world will be.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2
Now, as promised, here is the link to find out what Revelation doesn’t say.