Perhaps my favorite Sunday School teacher of all time was my middle school boys class teacher, Don. How he could excite and engage our class of neighborhood hoods to love the Bible. HOW could anyone do that?!
One Sunday, Don did not show up and someone came in to tell us Don had moved away. What I later learned was Don had abruptly quit his good job and moved his family to their remote vacation retreat to wait for Jesus to return at any moment. I never heard what happened when Jesus did not return.
Are these perilous times of pandemic, economic uncertainty, and hate-intensified and personified burning cities “signs” of the end times? Answer: Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Many of us have not known times like we are going through. While life is regularly tough for many, these unnerving times feel different. Only an ostrich hasn’t seen or isn’t concerned. What do you think: Is this the beginning of the end? And if so, what can we do?
Like you, I have been influenced by the Scriptures and a number of Christian voices. Here is my humble contribution.
These times should drive us to the vast portions of prophetic Scripture. And where will they lead us? Answer: To troubled times before Christ actually returns, to the realities of evil, and to be faithful servants and stewards (Matthew 24-25). Godly followers of Christ view Scripture prophecy in a variety of ways. Prevalent views see the growth of evil throughout history, “signs” before the physical return of Christ in one or two stages (rapture plus second coming), the reign of Christ for a thousand years, and the establishment of a new heaven and new earth. This is certain: Our personal place in history is ALWAYS an occasion to be prepared for and look for Christ’s return. How then can we do it?
Starting with Matthew 24:36-51, I draw these principles for our troubling times. Followers of Christ are: joyfully persistent and growing in imitating and pleasing the “Master,” Christ; we are looking and preparing for Christ’s coming; we have a Christ-centered and motivated certainty-hope while we faithfully serve and wait; and we are urgent about the tragic destiny of those without Christ. Escaping to our hills—figurative or real—are not options. Notably, someone pointed me to John 16:33 where the promise in troubled times is not foremost deliverance, but Jesus Christ Himself. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ.” Give up your favorite TV show for an hour and chew on that.
Is the end of time and history as we know it near? Jesus tells us we cannot know and we have a greater mission than to run to the hills or to live in hopelessness and fear. He graciously calls us to be faithful and wise servant-stewards right now and right here.
How are you and your church working that out?