A lot of Christians today are really wrapped up in the so-called “end times” issues. It’s a natural curiosity, and in a way, healthy. Jesus told us to be ready for it.
I’m amazed sometimes at what you hear in regards to the end times, however. I’m not just talking Left Behind here. One member of my church said to me, in all seriousness, back in September 2002 (I only remember because it was within a few days of when I bought my house) that none of us would be here in six months, so nothing really matters. She and her husband talk frequently about their upcoming retirement and moving to the Lake of the Ozarks, so I figured she was referring to that. She was not. She was referring to the end of the world.
This surprised me. One, it was coming from a Lutheran. Two, it was coming from a long-time Lutheran. Three, it was coming from a long-time Lutheran with a dizzying amount of church involvement (among other things, her husband has been an elder in our church). Four, it was coming from a highly intelligent woman with a PhD.
Let me talk about this first just from a purely historical perspective, since I’m an armchair historian of sorts. Jesus’ 11 surviving disciples believed they were living in the last days. Jesus had, after all, told them that some among them would not taste death before the arrival of the Kingdom of God. They thought He was talking about his second coming. St. Paul thought he would see the second coming.
Some people believe we are living in the Tributation today (the period of time described in Revelation). I count myself among that group. But I also believe that the tributation has been going on for more than 1,000 years. While Christians are being persecuted today, persecuting Christians was a national pastime in Rome. Killing Christians was literally a sport. Is the present day really more tribulating than the days of Rome?
Certainly, I believe the end of the world could come today. It might come before I finish writing this, or before you finish reading it. But it’s equally likely that we’ll go on for another 2,000 years.
Jesus said even He didn’t know when the end of the world would be. If Jesus didn’t know, then who are we to try to say we know?
We won’t. Think back to the Parable of the Ten Girls. Ten were waiting for the bridegroom (Christ) to come back. Five were prepared and five were not. That’s the lesson most people take from it. But read it more closely. When the time came, all ten were asleep. Not one of them saw it coming.
There are much more important things for us to concern ourselves with.