While we try to understand what is taking place in our nation and on the world stage and concern ourselves with those issues, something more significant is taking place. The end of the age is unfolding. Overconfidence in our interpretation of how the events of the end will transpire will prove to have been an unwise choice. As the end approaches, systems of eschatology (a study of the end times) will begin to crumble. For others, a lack of attention to the Lord’s return will cause them to become paralyzed in fear instead of moving in faith when unprecedented supernatural events begin to transpire.
What we are seeing in our world are merely birth pains announcing a future delivery. Jesus said, “Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:6-8).
If we are still alive when the end finally comes, we will go through a series of mind-bending events. Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (vs. 13). Spiritual endurance happens because we have trained ourselves in the midst of conflict and turmoil to stay focused on Jesus. Just like an athlete, our endurance is the by-product of our training.
We have not yet seen the kind of social, political, and natural upheaval Jesus spoke about. The Lord reminded us “In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive” (vs. 22). If the coming calamities were allowed to play out without God’s intervention, none of us would survive.
Some have explained away the natural events that will mark the end of time assigning them to a metaphoric definition. Be careful with what you dismiss as a metaphor. Jesus said, “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken And, then, at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth” (vs. 29-30). We need to follow the signs, not the eschatologies we have created to reinterpret them. The signs were given to us to reveal the way forward when life as we know it begins to dismantle.
And finally, Jesus said, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (vs. 44). In some parts of the Church, we have been served an over-confident understanding of what is to come. Many who subscribe to these set-in-stone teachings will be confused when the end unfolds in a way they least expected. Our only place of security and hope will be found in the promise Jesus made to us – He is returning. When the world begins to turn upside down, a life focused on Jesus and His promised return will be the only secure place to be as we move toward the end of all we have known.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins