Talking about End Times

I want to do a little thinking about end of days and Jesus second coming. We need to be a little careful as we think about that. Historically Christians have become really focused and even obsessed with thinking about end of days, predicting the end and I don’t that specifically is the space we want to be in.

But it is good for us to think about it, and certainly Jesus taught about it, and we can read about it different parts of the bible.

Matthew 24 we read one particular place that Jesus talks about it.

You’ll hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you
are not alarmed. Such things must happen. But the end is
still to come. Nation will rise against nation. And kingdom
against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in
various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Matthew 24:6-8

In this picture Jesus gives we see what seems like an
escalation of disasters, natural disasters, man-made disasters.
Sometimes Christians throughout history have jumped into looking at the world around us and saying “This is the end! We see this…We see this disaster… We see this war! We know it’s the end!” Looking back we are seeing that those moments weren’t the end.

We’re seeing a similar thing happen right now with Covid where Christians are saying “This is the end” or at least “This is the beginning of the end”. The truth is, it might be, as any moment might be, but to suggest world events right now are more clearly the end than previous world disasters seems improbable and I think unhelpful.

Certainly there’s a disaster happening in our world right now. By the end of 2021 0.06% of the world’s population – more than 5 million people had died from covid-19. Now to put that in perspective, if you add up all the major wars that have happened in the 21st century – Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan & Syria – more you get 0.04% of the world’s population. More people have died from Covid than from these wars combined. If we look at those wars and Covid together
we think, “Well it looks like this is this is the end.”

When we step back and look at world history we notice that current world events are reasonably insignificant compared to previous world events. Perhaps it could be still argued that COVID is the beginning of the end, but certainly at this stage it is not presenting as the end of the world in itself.

The following chart shows some of the big events in Church history that Christian’s have claimed are the beginning of the end.

Deaths to world population compared to covid
Events in Church History that Christians claimed was “the end”

Side Note: While the Nero/Roman-Jewish war is not the most significant on a global world history scale, it is almost impossible to dismiss it didn’t find its way into John’s writing of revelation.

So what are we to make of all those historical events? The first thing
is that Jesus’s point here is not that each of these things are the “signs of the final hour” but these things together are the end. Jesus is saying: from his ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit till his return, there is going to be a span of time that is the “end of days”. All this is “the final hours” in Jesus language.

So Jesus is not pointing to an actual literal day, the last day of the last days, but that he is bring about the beginning of a new era which is “the end of days”.

Live Prepared

Jesus is coming back. He said he would. Jesus makes the point that because we don’t know when, we must live prepared.

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 24:44

What that doesn’t mean is wearing an a-frame that says “the end is near”, or building a bomb shelter and hiding, and it definately doesn’t mean trying to predict the exact day. Jesus continues with a short illustration of two servants. The faithful one keeps honouring his duties, serving food to the household as he has been required. The unfaithful one abuses his fellow servants when he thinks the master is delayed.

Jesus is saying that living prepared means being faithful to what he has called us to do, no matter when or how long till he returns. When the bible talks about living prepared it is talking about shining the light of Jesus every single day of our lives.