The End of the World; When?

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” – So goes the former hit song by REM; and while some might have found the lyrics witty and the tune catchy, the consensus seems to be a negative on feeling good about the end of the world.

Searching “end of the world” online produces a myriad of images, articles, and encyclopedia entries. Time Newsfeed covered a bit on Harold Camping’s embarrassing prophetic fail this last May, as well did every other news syndicate and its mother. False prophets are nothing new. The followers of William Miller (Seventh Day Adventist leader) were devastatingly disappointed that Christ did not return for His earthly rule in 1843/1844. 

Then, when one types in Mayan Calendar, Google Search offers about 4,110,000 results in 0.11 seconds. USA Today and Discovery News are at the top of the search results list. One can find anything from the very scientific to the Believe It or Not variety. Furthermore, nearly everyone remembers the full length movie, 2012, hitting the theaters not too long ago.

I am highlighting the fact that the Apocalypse is getting a good lot of attention in mainstream media. Sure, mainstream media often runs things that sell. That is just my point. Doomsday would not sell if the public were not at all interested. People are concerned, and if not that, then they are at least intrigued. No, we don’t feel fine about the end of the world; and, even if one does not believe in the end of the world, he generally wouldn’t feel fine hearing about it constantly. It is bothersome.

Just a couple days ago, someone asked me, “So, when will the world end? … Do you believe it will end in 2012?” My reply was honest. I believe it is the only answer anyone can or should give if he is talking about the actual obliteration of this earth. “I don’t know,” I confidently added. I do not deny the world will one day “end” so that God can make all things new. God will fold it up like someone who has done the laundry, and time will be no more (Hebrews 1:10-12). 

But, before that day several biblically foretold events must happen. First, believers in Christ will be taken away (1 Thess. 4:15ff). Then, God will allow the Anti-Christ to be revealed (2 Thess. 2), who will sign a covenant treaty with Israel as their prince (Daniel 9). After that, many “on earth” judgments described in Revelation will occur. Next, after seven years of Anti-Christ rule, Christ Himself will come again. Finally, a 1,000 year kingdom of Christ must first take place before the final resurrection and Final Judgment (Revelation 20). Then, and then only will this present world be made new (Revelation 21, 22).

Perhaps, then, I should have added that I don’t know “exactly” when the world will end. 

I gain my seemingly ignorant confidence from Jesus. His words about His Second Coming in Matthew 24:36 read, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” In that same passage, Jesus also warned against those “many false prophets who will arise and mislead many” (verse 11). This requires that one cannot set a precise date for when this world will end and when God will make it new.

The Lord Jesus’ point is everyone needs to be ready now. Living today as if it were your last day is not just a nice cliche. But, the Bible takes it a bit farther. It urges us to prepare to meet our God by trusting in Jesus as the Great Pardoner/Healer of our sins and as the Reconciler of us to God, through His cross and resurrection. 

The end of the world is also called Judgment Day, you know. He is a fair Judge who has already paid the price for you by sacrificing Himself. He is the greatest plea bargainer you’ll ever meet. He asks only your trust and love in return.

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