Yesterday was a rough news day.
Arson fires in Australia
Plane shot down yesterday
Earthquake in Iran
Airstrike by Iranian forces
I woke up this morning to messages from people wanting to know my opinion about social media posts saying that President Trump was fulfilling some part of Daniel 8. "Is this the beginning of the end?!"
Now, I’m old enough to have lived through the end of the world before. A few times, actually. Anyone remember Y2K?
But yesterday's events made me think about kids and young adults. They don't have the same perspective that us older folks do. They are genuinely concerned about these events. It can feel overwhelming and scary for them!
So, it's probably a good time to review some basics. I want to make 6 points to help us find stability in uncertain times. My hope is to help equip you to comfort the kids in your life and help to instill in them a distinctly Christian point of view about living in troubled times.
1. The world IS going to end. But it will only end when GOD wants it to end. And not one minute before.
2. Only God knows when it will end. Scripture makes this clear on repeated occasions (Matt. 24:36).
3. If someone is telling you that they know WHEN the world is going to end, you probably shouldn’t believe them. In fact, I know you shouldn't believe them. And definitely don't give any of your hard earned money to them!
4. What events should Christians look for in the future? I have found the ancient creeds, like the Nicene Creed, to offer a good summary of the main events that will mark the end of the world.
[The Son] will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end...
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come.
If we are going to keep the main thing the main thing, then we want to focus on these specific events: the second coming of Jesus, the resurrection, the final judgment and the eternal state (heaven and hell). These are the events that the church as historically identified as of most importance when it comes to thinking about end times.
This means that we also need to keep a posture of humility about things like the anti-Christ, rapture, and the 7-year tribulation. Those weren't even in the church's vocabulary until about 150 years ago.
5. Tragedies around the world do seem to be escalating. There does seem to be a pattern. It's quite possible that this is a deliberate plan of the enemy to increase chaos, and plant fear deep in the hearts of people, including God's people. The enemy wants to program our minds to believe that things are getting worse and worse and bring us into despair. I can see that as a possibility.
But let's notice Jesus' words in Matthew 24.
For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 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. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake....
"See that you a not alarmed." Things may feel out of control, but the TRUTH is that God is in control. He is bringing human history to HIS desired end.
6. No matter what happens in the world, Christians need to stay on mission. No matter how crazy the world gets, Christians still must...
Preach the Gospel (Matt. 28:19)
Love our neighbors
Preserve the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). After all, we are told that toward the end won’t put up with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3).
Live a holy and quiet life (2 Peter 3:10–14). Go about your business. Work, marry, have a family, etc.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
If you're curious to learn more about the end of the world, I highly recommend my colleague, Kenneth Samples' little book, Christian Endgame. It is the BEST, most balanced, treatment on the subject that I know.