Is This The End?
A friend of mine called to tell me about a conversation she had with a co-worker. Her colleague is convinced that the coronavirus is a “sign” that the end is nearing. My friend asked for help in answering someone who is certain that Bible prophecy is coming to pass and that the current plague is heralding the end of the world.
This is a common theme: Whenever a war breaks out or droughts, diseases or disasters strike, the doomsday prophets start beating their drums. These mistaken but very prevalent ideas are a mishmash of misapplied prophecies. Old Testament prophecies almost exclusively refer to the Messianic future and now stand fulfilled in the Lord’s redemption and reign from heaven. Though disputed, Matthew 24 is a prophetic amalgam addressing both the destruction of Jerusalem and the return of the Lord. But the part of the prophecy that portends earthly disaster clearly refers to the events of A.D. 70.
Further, to use Revelation as a code book for current events is completely misguided. Anytime someone refers to Revelation to explain a current event is going to be wrong for two reasons: 1) The book is highly symbolic, and 2) it addresses events that, when written, were to “shortly take place” (1:1). When John wrote late in the first century he claimed “the time is near” (1:3).
Given that the world is full of active volcanoes, seasonal hurricanes, international hostilities, financial ebbs and flows and the occasional pandemic, there is a never-ending supply of fodder for conspiracy theorists and “the sky is falling” prophecy. And when these prognostications fail, as they always do, people forget and move on with life until the next “disturbance of the force.”
What a great Satanic strategy! Such deception keeps people anxious and blind to actual truths that would truly enlighten and help them. And like scammers who peddle free money, romance or COVID-19 cures, there’s always an ample supply of unwitting victims.
Actually, the question “Is this the end?” is the wrong question. First, the New Testament describes the return of the Lord “as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:1-11; II Pet. 3:10). So we should become preoccupied with futile attempts to anticipate what will be unexpected. Second, when the end comes there will be no debating it, for it will happen suddenly, with visible and audible fanfare and the universal appearance of the Lord in the heavens (I Thess. 4:16; II Pet. 3:10). It will be impossible to miss it.
Rather, the question we should be asking in times of disturbance or crisis is: “Is this the beginning?” Is this the beginning of serious evaluation of my life? Is this the beginning of setting legitimate priorities? Is this the beginning of decluttering that which burdens and distracts? Is this the beginning of serious worship of God and giving him the honor He is due? Is this the beginning of a better relationship with my spouse?
We get these periodic wake-up calls in life – such as the BIG ONE we are currently experiencing. Are you asking the right questions during this time of reflection? If so, how are you answering those questions?