The end of the world is near—December 21, 2012, to be exact—according to theories based on a purported ancient Maya prediction and fanned by the marketing machine behind the soon-to-be-released 2012 movie. But what does the Bible have to say about the end of planet earth? Noel Horner’s article in The Good News says this about that.
Horner said, nearly two millennia ago the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth asked Him a question that has intrigued people ever since: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mathew 24:3). People in every generation since have wondered about this. Will the world literally end? If so, how? Why? And when? What does the Bible really say about this crucial and disturbing question?
Religious people aren’t the only ones asking these questions. In recent decades people from many walks of life have expressed concern about the possibility of the end of the world, as we know it. Politicians, educators and scientists foresee the potential destruction of our world from a number of causes —including nuclear warfare,
environmental disaster, planetary pollution, overpopulation, killer diseases and collision with a comet or asteroid.
A few signs
Here are a few signs of the times that Jesus told His disciples, there would be many wars and other conflicts between nations and ethnic groups. He also spoke of famines, massive disease epidemics and earthquakes.
Robin Calamaio, in her article, The End of The World And The Bible, says, the heavens and earth will be melted down and recreated (II Pet 3:7-13). The new heavens and earth will be eternal and very different from our current order. There will be no decay (Romans 8:19-22) and no longer any curse (Gen 3:17-19 and Rev 22:3). There will be no need for the sun or the moon’s light (Rev 21:23) and yet, there will be no nighttime (Rev21:1,25). Death will no longer exist. Mourning, crying and pain will pass away (Rev 21:4). All animals will peacefully coexist (Isaiah 11:6-9). Only righteousness will exist, (II Pet 3:13 and Rev 21:8,27), with Jesus visibly ruling this active eternal state (Rev 22:5). The coming marvels are incomprehensible (Rev 21:24 and I Cor 2:9).
Many of the references related to the end of the world, actually mean the end of the age. The age that will end is the one we live in where Satan, sin and materialism flourish. The actual earth will be cleansed and refitted as a new earth for habitation by Jesus and His saints. I guess we can look for better days ahead.
Jesus said, “ No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”(Mathew 24:36-42) NIV
Why doesn’t God show up now and end all this? C.S. Lewis, a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland, (1898-1963), gives this answer. “God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage, the play is over…
“God is going to invade, all right, but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else-something it never entered your head to conceive–comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others, (The lost), that none of us will have any choices left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side… That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not.
“Now, today, this moment is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.”
The Bible gives many examples of signs that should warn us of the coming end of the age. Jesus gives six such signs, Paul gives two characteristics, and eleven other occurrences are given by the prophets to occur prior to or soon after the end of the age.
While we are also told we will not know the time of the “End”, God obviously wanted us to know when that time was getting closer. As the Christian church is increasingly drawn into the interfaith movement, and as more and more churches go into isolation, preparing to sleep through the growing attacks on their faith, perhaps God knew it would take a few signs to wake us up and remind us that we have work to do.
It is increasingly obvious that the time of our Lord’s coming is drawing near. Prophecy is being fulfilled daily, and at a faster pace than ever before. Whether you believe in a pretribulation rapture, or believe Christians will be witness to the full tribulation, wrath, and final judgments, matters not. The beginning of birth pains and the signs of the times should have the same effect on all of us. It should motivate us to save as many souls as we can in the time that we have left. The Great Commission tells us to make disciples of all nations, bringing the message of salvation through Christ to all people. If the Church is raptured before the tribulation, it is important that we leave behind an explanation for the trials and judgments those left behind will face. How else will they recognize the deception of the anti-Christ and seek instead the truth of the Bible? If you believe that we are to endure the tribulation along side the lose left behind, you will need to be prepared to not only share the message of salvation, but share with them the reasons for God’s judgment and hold it up as further proof of their need to be saved.
Here’s what to look for to know we are in the end times and the end of the age is near.
- Matthew 24:11 “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.”
- Matthew 24:6 “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.”
- Matthew 24:7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.”
- Matthew 24:8-9 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
- Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
- II Timothy 3:1-5,7 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
- I Timothy 4:1-3 ” Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth..”
The Apostle John, author of the book of Revelation, prophesied of seven deadly sins that were prevalent among those living in the, “End Times.” (Rev. 9:13-21) These sins are; demon worship, idolatry, murder, magic/witchcraft, sexual immorality, theft, and refusal to repent. Rev. 9:13-21 This a portrait of the period of time during the tribulation but it is important to know that most of the seven deadly sins are present today in our society.
Luke gives us the record of what Jesus said to do when we see these things, (Luke 21:28), “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” NIV
Until Next Time
Rev. John Marinelli