The End Times: Everything you need to know.
Have you ever been bothered in a strange way when people begin to talk about the "end times" or the "last days?"
First of all, you assume these people know what they are talking about because you don't really know much about it. You know what you have heard others say and teach, but you haven't actually studied the subject from all perspectives, and then compare to what the Bible really does and does not say.
So you assume what you hear someone say must be the truth, even if the result is further confusion, fear, and seclusion from the world.
Many, who are obsessed with the end times, have a fearful look on their face and nothing but bad news to share. They conclude that we must, as a result, store up goods, move into the wilderness, seclude ourselves from the world, and wait until the glorious rapture that will save us - the believer - from further destruction.
The Bible teaches the opposite. It's called the "good news". It saves people from destruction. It tells us to bless those who persecute us. We are called the light of the world, a city set on a hill.
I don't have anything against storing up goods. Go ahead and prepare for whatever you believe God is telling you to prepare for. Joseph did. But he saved an entire nation and surrounding world, not just his family. Don't be so self-centered that you only look out for your own neck.
But what if the fear that is being stirred up within God's people about end times is actually a ploy of hell to get us off track of what God is really doing in the earth in the days leading up to judgment day?
Jesus made this point really clear in the very last words out of His mouth before He ascended into heaven. He said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:7-8)
May I humbly submit to you that if you are obsessed with tribulations, persecutions, and world tragedies, then you are simply falling into the trap that every generation has been tempted by? Even Jesus said, 2000 years ago, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Have you studied history at all? The early church experienced persecution to a degree we are unaccustomed to. Persecution has been happening on some level in the earth from that time until now. As the population increases, the number of those persecuted increases. This year, over 100,000 people will die (not just endure persecution) for their faith in Jesus Christ. The American Christian is predicting end times because our comfort zones are being challenged. God's people have been in tribulation for thousands of years (Old and New Testament times). We owe them an apology for thinking that if we end up being persecuted, it will somehow be a special case referred to as "end times."
So back to what Jesus said. Two things. First, don't be preoccupied with end of the world details. "It is not for you to know times or seasons." (Acts 1:7)
If you need to know more conclusively what the Bible does and does not say about this subject, then do what I did. I began reading the Bible without attaching it to the teachings I heard as a kid. Start fresh and try to stay within the context of the Bible interpreting the Bible, instead of teachers who are making thousands of dollars on their personal interpretation of it.
I also began to study the various views of eschatology (end times) and discovered that there were other views that were totally opposite of what I had been taught. And they were equally supported by scripture, in fact even more so. I am not the expert on eschatology, just wise enough to see that what I have been taught is not necessarily so. Get off of the high horse and humble yourself to the focused teachings of Christ.
Secondly, and most importantly, stay focused on what God is focused on concerning His purpose for the planet, mankind, and the kingdom of God. Jesus told us not to be distracted by times and seasons but to remain focused on God's plan for you to "receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Here is the end times focus of Christ and the Bible:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
"Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power." (1 Cor. 15:24)
The Great Commission is going to be fulfilled. There will be a great demonstration on the earth of God's glory and kingdom. And you, the believer have been called to play a role in this happening, not just in the future, but now! The kingdom of God is at hand! (Jesus said that.)
There are thousands of people groups (what the Bible would call "nations") on the planet... who do not have even a small demonstration of Christ and His kingdom in their part of world. There will not be an end until they are reached with a living, preaching witness of the gospel.
The question is not, "Just how bad can life be on earth?" The real question is, "How many people can we influence and reach for Christ before judgment day?” And if we are persecuted or have to go through hard times as we demonstrate Christ and the kingdom of God on the earth, then so be it. Jesus told us it would happen - then and now. He also told us to rejoice in it.
The only thing you really need to know about "end times" is that God is 100% focused on living life in and through you to demonstrate Himself to the world and beyond. (Eph. 3:8-13).
We are the light of the world! But do we take that seriously? He does! Remember the last point in Jesus' teaching in what we call the Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount?
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-16)
That's everything you need to know about the end times.
Go get 'em!