I’m not one of those doomsday prophets who predict worldwide collapse whenever a terrorist fires a homemade rocket at Israel. Some church-goers think that way; perhaps it’s from their interpretation of prophecy, or from over-exposure to The Left Behind Series, or whatever.
Could the current (and ongoing, for, let’s see, my whole lifetime, at least) conflict between Israel and the people surrounding her escalate into a larger war? Sure. Could that all be tied to end times Bible prophecy? Sure.
But instead of watching the news in fear of handsome new
public figures who propose 7-year Mideast
peace deals (the supposed nod from upstairs that the “end is nigh”), perhaps we could direct our attention to things we can control, to things we are responsible for.
What did Jesus leave us on earth to do?
If the answer is self-preservation, then sure, stare at cable news all day and make sure your shelter is stocked and your gold supply is protected. Set a newspaper next to your Bible, open to Revelation, and look for parallels. Gather your friends to discuss which E.U. leader has the most potential to transform into the “Beast.” (If you come up with anything new, publish quickly. There’s a huge market for this stuff.)
Jesus’ call to his followers has a lot more to do with self-denial than self-survival. The disciples didn’t hunker down to wait out periods of persecution, emerging from their catacombs only to gather supplies. They got out in the streets and proclaimed the truth of Jesus to all who would listen, and many paid the ultimate price for their boldness. They took the end times seriously; since they knew this world wasn’t going to last forever, they didn’t put all their stock in it.
Perhaps we could learn a lesson from them.
I take the book of Revelation seriously. Like anyone else, I’m curious as to when and how it will all end. I’m not blind either – I see the parallels between today’s society and the “last days” described by Jesus (then again, people have seen those parallels in every era of church history, but I digress). I know we’re closer to the end than we were yesterday.
But that doesn’t make me fearful. That was the point of him telling us ahead of time. We’re not supposed to be afraid; we’re supposed to be emboldened. We’re supposed to share his love with even more intensity and courage. That is why we are here.
Don’t be preoccupied with the end times. They’ll come sure enough, right on schedule, at the end. As the Bible says in 2 Peter 3, “Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living! You should look forward to that day and hurry it along . . . we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God. And remember, the Lord is waiting so that people have time to be saved. “(NLT)
Notice that he’s not waiting for Israel, for terrorists, for temple construction, or for peace deals. He’s waiting to give people a chance for salvation, and he’s given us the task of announcing that.
Is it possible that you and I have more to do with the timing of the end times than do the terrorists, Israelis, and world leaders? Re-read the above Bible quotation, and decide for yourself.