2020 has been a little loopy, and it’s only July. It’s been enough to have plenty of Christians once again looking through the Book of Revelation to see where we are at in the end times and when Jesus is coming back. I grew up between two worlds. One was my Lutheran church and family who never really focused on the end times. The other was my evangelical culture, with Calvary Chapel sermons on the radio, involvement in the AWANA program, and stories like Left Behind being everywgere. I couldn’t go a week without hearing someone talk about the rapture or the end times. After a few years rest from that, 2020 brought it crashing back. Could the end be near? It’s possible, but don’t sell your house just yet. It’s 2020: Don’t worry about the end times.
Many Christians are looking at the world today and thinking that Jesus must be coming soon. Christians have been doing that same thing for 2000 years now. We get caught up thinking ours will be the generation that finally sees Jesus return. Honestly, I think it’s a pride issue, where we get so caught up in ourselves and our own cultural moment that it MUST be the time. Could it be now? Sure, but don’t be surprised if you’re wrong.
It can be fun to speculate, but in the end that’s all we can really do. Any attempt to crack the code and find out exactly when Jesus will return is quite silly, given Jesus very explicitly told us that no one knows the day or the hour. (Mark 13:32) Once in a while someone claims to have figured out the exact date that Jesus will return. Every time they’ve been wrong and looked like fools. Don’t start mapping out the 2020 End Times calendar yet.
Avoid Fear Tactics
The end times gets people’s attention and are an effective call to action. Telling people that the end of the world is coming soon might not convince everyone, but the few that are convinced are going to live radically different lives in the meantime. People who fear for their lives are going to be far more willing to give up anything and everything. While Jesus does tell us to always be ready and watching, (Mark 13:35) this does not then mean bring people into the church based on a lie. Be ready, not deceptive.
Further, this feeds on the fear people already have. The easy road right now would be to tell people that yes, 2020 is God’s judgment, a sign of the end. Repent for Jesus will soon return! People are scared enough right now to buy it. But what happens when we get through 2020, COVID-19 ends, and the nation does not explode in civil war? (if I’m wrong about those I’ll gladly take that loss and shut up) Then we have just brought people in with scare tactics, and as soon as they realize they were lied to, do you really see that ending well? Don’t Worry about the end times. We are having a rough year, but God is still in control.
Revelation is a Weird Book
Most of the information we have about the end times comes from the book of Revelation. Revelation is one of the most difficult books in the Bible to make sense of. It is a mix of a few different kinds of literature. Part epistle, to the church, part prophecy from God, and part apocalyptic literature with the strange imagery. People spend countless hours trying to take these chapters and map out the future with them. They assume they know what represents what in the modern world and how it will go down, only for the political landscape of the world to change on them again. Some even argue the events already took place in the Roman Empire. I’m setting all of that aside to simply say, we are not certain what it all means, and I am skeptical of anyone who claims that they do. There’s a reason cults of Christianity tend to grab so much of their theology from this book. It’s weird and they can interpret it however they please to fit their agenda.
Greg Koukl once said, “When it comes to prophecy, dealing with the Second Coming, Book of Revelation, my view is broadly whatever’s possible is possible. I think we have to be flexible when we look at passages like this, that this could mean a lot of different things. I don’t spend a lot of time speculating about the Book of Revelation and the reason is because people have been doing that for 2,000 years and getting it wrong. Now that doesn’t mean there’s not anything worthwhile there but one of the most worthwhile things I think we take away from this is that we win in the end.”
Focus on the Present with Hope for the Future
Revelation is weird, but it ends well. Don’t worry about the end times. In the end, we win. Regardless of what happens, for how long, or who is here to see it, Jesus will return. It will be magnificent for those who believe. But until that day comes, I would caution against devoting too much of your life to looking for signs for the future. Instead, focus on what Jesus has called us to today. The insanity of 2020 has opened up opportunities none of us could have imagined. Rather than mapping out the end times, how can we love God and our neighbors today? Instead of arguing with each other over our interpretations of the end times, let’s be the united body of Christ. What message does bickering over events that haven’t even happened yet send to someone on the outside looking in? Don’t worry about the end times yet.
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