We are in the craziest time of life I have ever experienced. I have heard some who are predicting the future based on events in the last few weeks. That is understandable, but maybe not the best. To help, I want to address a few common questions you might have about all the unrest and what we know about the end times:
1. Apocalypse Now?
The definition of apocalypse is, “an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.” One illustration used is “a stock market apocalypse.” So, in light of that, are we experiencing the apocalypse? Are we living in the end times?
The word apocalypse comes from a Greek word that is translated “revelation,” not “catastrophe.” So, the last book of the Bible is called Revelation from the word apocalypse. We see that to be true in Revelation 1:1, where John writes of “the revelation (apocalypse) of Jesus Christ.” What is this apocalypse? It is the unveiling of Jesus in his glory and majesty.
2. Is Everything Destroyed at the End?
God’s goal for this world is not destruction—though some of that will happen in judgment—but salvation to his glory! He is saving his people and he is even going to save the earth (Rev. 21:11). While many people argue about the specific meanings of the details of Revelation, the overall message is clear: Evil is strong and will be judged. But the triune God has it under control. Our God reigns—now and forever! And He is saving a people as trophies of his grace
3. It Often Seems like God Isn’t in charge, so Is He?
God is in control both now and forever. Let me share three great verses that directly speak hope into that place of fear:
- He’s in charge in the future – Revelation 11:15 says that “he shall reign forever and ever.”
- He’s in charge now and is not caught by surprise – in Matthew 28:18, the risen Lord says, “all authority is given to me in heaven and on earth.”
- He’s in charge in the unknown – when the effects of the fall occur (like the coronavirus), God allows for that and has some plan for it that will probably not be obvious to us but that is indeed good. We can trust in him and the promise in Romans 8:28 that, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
4. Is This the End?
That is an intriguing question. I do believe the Lord’s return is soon (as did the first-century believers) and unexpected.
First Thessalonians 5:1-9 describes the return of Christ like the coming of a “thief in the night.” That means it will be unexpected—it could be today, it could be next year, or it could be much later. We need to be always ready.
What’s more, I do not think we should think differently today than last year about the Lord’s return. Throughout human history, there have been many devastations that have caused people to say, “this is the end.” Could the Lord return during the coronavirus epidemic? Yes, but I do not think the virus is “sign” of it. I think we should be equally prepared for his return in plenty and in want.
5. In Light of the Lord’s Return, How Should We Live Today?
The Bible offers clear wisdom on how we should live while the day of Christ’s return is drawing new:
- 2 Pet. 3:11 – “you ought to live holy and godly lives,” The context of this is the Lord’s return. That seems simple and is always applicable
- 2 Cor 5:10 – “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each of us may receive what is due us. . .whether good or bad.” We often see the bad part, but I hope we are living for the “good” reward. We live today for tomorrow.
- Revelation 2-3 – the letters to the seven churches have a redundant theme. The blessing of eternal life will be granted “to him (or her) who conquers,” or overcomes. We must persevere. We cannot give up
6. Is “End Times” the Best Term to Use?
Maybe a better term is the “beginning of new time.” I say that because, as believers, we have the hope of resurrection life with Christ. His return begins the new time. For, if we die or if the Lord returns, we are moving toward him, which is glorious. We will be with him forever! That is our steadfast hope.
Therefore, do not fear; be strong and have hope. Because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world—including a virus.