Thoughts on the End of the World
I’m writing this on September 24, one day after the most recent in a long-string of ill-advised predictions about the rapture, the end of the world, or whatever cataclysmic event was supposed to have happened on September 23. Every time one of these so-called researchers predicts a date, I groan silently and roll my eyes. Some people simply refuse to learn from history, and some persist in thinking they have discovered the hidden, secret, cryptic formula for calculating the end of time. What equally troubles me is how gullible others are to jump on the bandwagon and believe these types of things.
There are three things serious followers of Christ should remember in these moments:
First, while the whole world did not end dramatically on September 23, the world did end for thousands of people, as it does every day. A quick look at a few websites reveals that approximately 151,600 people die each day around the world. This is most sobering, especially in light of Hebrews 9:27 that states, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” People can get so caught up being carried away by false predictions that they forget that every single day is someone’s “last day.” Eternity matters, and not just a little bit; Eternity matters infinitely. Instead of theorizing and speculating about what date the end might come, I believe the church is called to proactively demonstrate and fervently proclaim the love of God to lost humanity. That is our job—calculating dates is not.
Second, the Bible does make some definitive—and I believe very reliable—statements about the return of Jesus Christ and actual end-of-the-world events that are to occur. One of these is found in 2 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT):
I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
It is sad if people mock because they despise Jesus and the Bible. It is equally tragic if they mock because people claiming to represent Jesus mindlessly continue to set dates and repeatedly make false predictions. Please, may we stop making and believing in bogus predictions and simply do what Peter instructed? In the same context of his statement above, Peter admonishes believers to live “holy and godly lives” (2 Pet 3:11, NLT), and to “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight” (2 Pet 3:14). Let’s just be solid Christians and live godly lives.
Third, remember that ours is not the first generation of people who are curious about dates and specific times. As Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, his earliest disciples asked him a timing question: “They asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6). Notice that Jesus did not give them a secret formula or a mysterious code to enable them to predict coming events. Instead, he tells them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). In short, Jesus told them something that we need to hear today. Quit focusing on specific dates, get filled with the Holy Spirit, and fulfill the Great Commission.” I don’t think Jesus has changed his mind.