Is the world going to end tomorrow? It could. But it probably won’t.
There has been a fair bit of press lately given to a small number of individuals who are predicting that on Saturday, September 23, 2017, time will be consummated. One of them calls himself a “Christian numerologist”, which is just a fancy term for somebody who makes it his hobby to study numbers in the Bible; there’s certainly no such thing as a degree in “Christian numerology”. It tends to be a rabbit-trail that some sincere followers of Jesus go down, usually with good intentions, but most often because what they really need is a decent hobby. I recommend model railroading.
Of course, the news outlets make a big deal of this – usually so they can make Christians look like fools (something at which some believers in the public square are actually quite adept). But will the world end tomorrow? Committed Jesus-follower and public thinker Ed Stetzer doesn’t think so (you can read his article here). I don’t, either. But that doesn’t keep me from believing that it could happen – and that we should be ready for it when it does.
There seem to be two solitudes when it comes to eschatology – the study of the end times – whereby people are either obsessed with the second coming of Jesus, or they don’t think about it at all. I think both are dangerous positions.
It’s dangerous to be consumed with consummation, and it’s dangerous to ignore the end times, too. Those in the former ‘camp’ tend to see every big phenomenon (like earthquakes and hurricanes) and every small detail (like numbers in the Bible) as signs that point to the return of Jesus, often on some particular date. Those in the latter ‘camp’ often don’t believe in a literal second coming, or they choose to see it as an incidental matter of faith.
As I understand Scripture, the truth is in the middle.
By trying to pinpoint the second coming, we pretend to know more than Jesus, who said that only the Father knows when that time will come (Mark 13.32). And by discounting the return of Jesus, we imply that it is unimportant, when clearly it is; after all, Jesus said, “Understand this: if a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Luke 12.39-40, NLT – emphasis mine).
What that tells us is (a) Jesus is coming back; (b) we don’t know when it will happen; and (c) we need to be ready for it. How can we be ready for something whose timing is uncertain?
Confess and repent of your sins, live in relationship with Jesus, and seek to serve him. Trust him for your eternal salvation. Live a life pleasing to him, in response to his gift of eternal life. And share your faith. After all, if we really believed that Jesus was coming back, we’d want others to be ready too, right?
At St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, this Sunday is “Bring a Friend” day. If you’re in the area and you’ve been wanting to give Christian faith a try, please join us at 10:00 a.m. Be my guest for lunch – and let me know you’re coming so I can watch for you!
Wherever you are, assuming the world doesn’t come to an end tomorrow, I hope you’ll gather with God’s people to rejoice in what Jesus has done for you, so that you will be ready for when he does return!