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Then The End Will Come
by Terry Hall
I turned my television on the other day and as the screen came to clarity, there it was, as big as life. An announcement. A declaration. THE END. I wasn’t sure how to react to the news that the end had come. Surely this was a sad and frightening time. But I didn’t feel all that bad. I turned to Fox News to get the latest regarding The End (after all-CNN and MSNBC would ignore this as much as any other Christian-based thought…you know how they are). But Fox also seemed oblivious to the fact that The End had arrived. Slightly disoriented, I hit the little button that goes back to the previous channel. Sure enough-confirmation! THE END. I turned my television on the other day and as the screen came to clarity, there it was, as big as life. An announcement. A declaration. THE END. I wasn’t sure how to react to the news that the end had come. Surely this was a sad and frightening time. But I didn’t feel all that bad. I turned to Fox News to get the latest regarding The End (after all-CNN and MSNBC would ignore this as much as any other Christian-based thought…you know how they are). But Fox also seemed oblivious to the fact that The End had arrived. Slightly disoriented, I hit the little button that goes back to the previous channel. Sure enough-confirmation! THE END. Then…while waiting in the near silence (there was an old song playing in the background, the credits began to roll. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the credits began to roll. Like waking from a bad dream, I realized THE END wasn’t the same one the TV preacher had said was coming soon; it was the end of a movie shown for the 412th time. It was the end of something…I had just forgotten to ask “ the end of what?”
Doesn’t it remind us of reading 1 Peter 4:7-“The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers.” I mean, after all, the guy was inspired. If someone said to us “ Well, Peter thought the end was near, but he was mistaken” we wouldn’t buy that. Sure, if he wasn’t inspired, not only could he be mistaken about that…why, we wouldn’t be surprised if he was mistaken about all kinds of stuff. Then we would just have to decide for ourselves what we liked and what we didn’t like. But we believe he was inspired, and therefore all he said is utterly reliable.
In Bible Class last week at The Miami Valley Church a question was asked about THE END. And it was a great question. It was framed somewhat like this-“ I have a friend who said to me the other day ‘things have gotten so bad these days, the end must be near, and Jesus will come soon.’ What can I say to her?” The faith paradigms expressed in those thoughts (“We must be near the end because everything is deteriorating”), though expressed by good people who believe in God, nonetheless are damaging and so very unfair to God. How are those sentiments damaging? How are they unfair to God?
First, they are mistaken. Second, that paradigm causes people to miss the glory of what God has wrought through the wondrous and powerful work of the messiah.
1.) Have you ever said something, and as soon as the words came out of your mouth, you saw their meaning more fully and said “wait-I didn’t mean it that way”? Think about the implications of the statement that “I believe the end of the world and Jesus’ second coming are near because things are getting worse and worse”. That statement says more than it intends to or should. It says that God, fulfilling his promises given through the prophets, sent the messiah into the world to establish his kingdom. And the result of this is that things have deteriorated, and will continue to do so until the end. Was God so shortsighted? There were those in the first century who thought the cross was shortsighted. “… but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. “ (1 Cor. 1:23-24). But those who felt this way did so, not because of what they understood…but because of what they did not yet understand. The same is true of the aforementioned reasoning. What God has wrought through the messiah was designed to shake the world and change the world in the greatest way possible…by giving God a beachhead in the hearts and lives of believers actually purified for his presence through Jesus’ blood. And from that beachhead he has been penetrating the world of men to the extent it is no longer the same world it was before the messiah. It is a world in which atonement, the presence of God, and eternal life are present realities, not future promises.
2.) Are things getting worse? Would the evidence for deterioration be the hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis? That doesn’t work too well. When we ask ourselves “In which generation since the first century have their been these things?” the answer comes back “in all of them”. The truth is- since Jesus came into the world, brought his word, and established his kingdom, things have improved immensely. Temple prostitution is down. Sacrificing sons and daughters in fire to Chemosh are down. Worship of the mythological God’s is down. The number of people who choose a course of action by cutting open birds and sifting through their guts for direction is down. Slavery is down. Knowledge is up. The availability of God’s word and wisdom is up phenomenally. The number of Christians, and the percentage, is up. Facility of travel is up. Medical advances, communications technology, and material abundance are all way beyond what they were in the first century. And Christians can make the case that Jesus coming into the world has produced most of the freedom and progress leading to these advances.
3.) Let’s be fair to God. Let’s acknowledge that what he has done in the world is sparkling and glorious. Through the finished work of the Holy Spirit he has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-5). And rather than being chained to our sin, he made it possible for us to be "...washed...sanctified...justified in the name of the Lord Jesus”. And we may now participate in eternal life (John said in his first epistle that he was writing so we would know that we HAVE it). There is nothing missing. He has revealed all truth needed for us to live effectively and walk with God as individuals, families, and nations. All the blood needed to wash away sins for people who lived before the time of Jesus has been shed. All the blood needed to wash away our sins, and the sins of those who come after us, has been shed. And whatever the cause of our tears, God has supplied the comfort that will wipe them away. And it gets better. Since we (those who believe) have been cleansed, we are a new temple, i.e.- dwelling place for God (Ephesians 2:19-22). We are reconciled to him. He inhabits our lives. Second Corinthians 6:16-18 has become our reality-
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Indeed, the glorious pronouncement of Revelation 21:1-3 “the dwelling of God is with men is available to “whosoever will”.
4.) The end which that ol’ inspired writer Peter spoke of was at hand and did occur. When we read Matthew 24 carefully, we find an end mentioned in verse three, the end of the age associated with the destruction of the temple. And we find Jesus saying that before that end, there would be a lot of storms wars, and pestilences- but that end would not occur yet. We find Jesus saying that the gospel would be preached in the whole world…then that end would come. We find Paul writing in Colossians 1:6 and 23 that the gospel, within a generation-imagine that- had been preached to in the whole world. And we find his inspiration impeccable, as the end of the old covenant, it’s worship, it’s age all occurred shortly thereafter. That end is indelibly recorded on the pages of history as occurring in 70 A.D. And it occurred right after Peter said “the end of all things is near”. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
So the end came…the one Jesus and the inspired writers spoke of. It came just as they said, right when they said. No more animal sacrifices…no more separation from God for those who believe…no more Hades for those who have passed on. No more covenant of death…” Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago,
and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:8-10). And what a wonderful difference Jesus has made. The world will never be the same. It’s a wonderful world we live, thanks to Jesus. Glory to God for all the wonders he has wrought...the wonders that are ours in Christ Jesus.