In March 2019, Cyclone Idai swept through Southern Africa. It resulted in over 1200 deaths and hundreds missing. The estimated damage was around $2,2 billion and Idai was declared the deadliest tropical cyclone recorded in Southern Africa. At the end of 2019, Australia was battling uncontrollable fires that ravaged over 11 million hectares of bushland. They killed over 30 people and countless animals. We hear news of terrorist attacks, claiming innocent lives. Currently, East Africa is battling swarms of destructive locusts. This plague has destroyed over 25 million hectares of farmland in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Starvation threatens many. Now COVID-19 has caused over four hundred thousand deaths globally. No vaccine has been found yet and the virus continues to spread. Are we approaching the end of the world?
A quick look at the news will leave you with a gloomy picture of the world we live in. We all face big questions about the future. Is this the end of the world? Are these signs of the second coming of Christ? Given what the Bible says about the last days, it is appropriate to ask these questions in the face of disaster. It is likely that you have asked these questions.
The Bible and the End of the World
The Bible says a lot about the last days and Jesus’ second coming. Let us start with Jesus’ own words when his disciples asked him about these things in Luke 21:10-11, “Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” And later, in the same chapter, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
It would seem that the last days have already begun
Although the issue is much too big to be thoroughly addressed here, it is my hope that we can set some principles to help us think biblically about the end times. This topic is the cause of much fear and confusion for both Christians and non-Christians. It is therefore important that we seek to hear what God has to say about it.
Are These the “Last Days”?
This seems to be the most pressing question. Are we in the last days? Is our world about to end? Well, our answer will depend on what we mean by the “last days.” We would do well to base that meaning on Scripture. Here are some examples of what the New Testament says regarding the “last days:”
- “The night is far gone, the day is at hand” (Romans 13:12)
- “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the LORD is at hand” (James 5:8)
- “The end of all things is at hand, therefore be self-controlled, sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7)
- “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2)
Looking at these examples, it would seem that the last days have already begun. In fact, the last days started at the time that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven after his death and resurrection, and they will end when he comes back again. This is how New Testament writers viewed even their own time, centuries ago. We can therefore say: ‘Yes, we are in the last days. The day of the Lord is at hand. Christ can come any day. This has been the case since his departure.’
Christ can come any day. This has been the case since his departure
Is The End Nigh?
Many preachers are suggesting that COVID-19 is a sign that we have reached the end of the world. Some are referring to the coming vaccine and accompanying chip as the “mark of the beast.” One in particular claims that Revelation predicts Jesus will return before 2053.
Such predictions have caused much fear as many people wonder if they are ready. This has also resulted in unhealthy dependency on certain ‘Men of God‘. For these pastors can supposedly unlock the secrets of heaven, telling us when Christ will return. Maybe you are afraid as well, confused, perhaps you just don’t care? I will not bring another mysterious revelation in an attempt to calm fears and bring clarity. Rather, I would like to point us to three clear biblical truths to help us navigate this difficult topic.
1. Be Warned: No One Knows the Day
Many are spending their time calculating the years, trying to work out when the end will come. Some are searching hard for the Antichrist. For centuries false claims have been made about both. All predictions regarding the exact day of Christ’s return have been wrong so far. As for the Antichrist, significant candidates have included various American presidents, the Pope, wealthy global business individuals, and even celebrities.
Do not think this is new. Right from the first century some thought that Nero was the Antichrist, and since then the same has been said of Hitler, Mussolini, Barak Obama, Bill Gates, and recently, Donald Trump. Believers have never stopped assuming that the title “Antichrist” refers to a specific individual—usually someone living in their lifetime, who will usher in the end of the world. There is no doubt that those who claim to have the key to such secret knowledge will draw crowds. For many are scared and want someone to uncover the future so that they will not be caught unawares.
Jesus told them that no-one knows the day or hour. In fact, he warned them to be careful of those who claimed to know
Security in Secrets?
While the search for such heavenly secrets may be fascinating, there are some real dangers. The disciples were no different: they wanted to know exactly when Jesus would return. But more than once Jesus told them that no-one knows the day or hour. In fact, he warned them to be careful of those who claimed to know, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away” (Luke 21:8-9).
2. Fear Not: Jesus is Enough
Many people are worried that they will not be ready for Christ’s second coming. Have I done enough to ensure that I will go to heaven? Is my faith strong enough for me to survive judgment? Questions abound. But the answer is emphatically singular: Jesus is enough. It sounds too simple to some. Jesus said that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Shepherd who laid down his own life for his sheep. Jesus prayed for you, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15). God will protect you.
If you have put your trust in Jesus, he is enough to bring you to the new Heaven and new Earth
But what about the mark of the beast, you might ask? Well, I’m not able to decode secrets and tell you who the Antichrist is; what the mark of the beast is; or when either will occur. What I do have is a confident and sure word that if you have put your trust in Jesus, he is enough to bring you to the new Heaven and new Earth. And yes, the Bible talks about strong and terrifying evil powers that will be unleashed before the second coming of Jesus (see Revelation 6). But rest assured because Jesus has absolute power over all of them. He is seated at the right hand of God, the ultimate place of power.
All Things Under His Feet
Paul prays that the church at Ephesus might understand: “The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:19-22).
This is the time to soak in the gospel of our Lord, so that we become more certain of his sufficient and powerful blood
How I pray that our eyes may be opened to this truth. The secret of thriving in these last days is not digging into secret numbers with which we cannot do much. Rather, this is the time to soak in the gospel of our Lord, so that we become more certain of his sufficient and powerful blood that was shed for us. In doing so, we will find assurance in him, that no matter what comes he will carry us through. No matter what comes next in these “last days,” what is required of us is timeless, confident trust in the person and work of Christ. In him our future is safe.
3. Be Expectant: Jesus is Coming
In Luke 21, after talking about the scary events of the last days, Jesus urges his disciples to be expectant of his second coming. You see, while the second coming means judgement to God’s enemies, it is good news to those who have trusted in Jesus. When Jesus comes again, he is coming to consummate his Kingdom and usher in the new Heavens and the new Earth.
There is no need to fear the end of the world. If we know what the second coming means, we will long for that day to come sooner.
Finally, the devil and all his subjects will be thrown into the lake of fire. Finally, believers will enjoy the full experience of their redemption. So, there is no need to fear the end of the world. On the contrary, if we know what the second coming means, we will long for that day to come sooner. Our confidence is not in our works, but the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb who was slain.