The end of a year has a certain feeling to it, like the closing of a chapter. But in recent years, it’s begun to feel more like a countdown clock.
How many more years, O Lord?
I mean, does it feel like the End of Days to you? Because it does to me.
Consider the evidence, the signs of the end of the age, as described in the Bible.
- Luke 21:11. Natural disasters. Check.
- Matthew 24:10-12. Hatred, false prophets, lawlessness. Check.
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Lovers of self above all else. Check.
- 2 Peter 3:3-4. Scoffers. Check.
- Jude 18-19. Scoffers again. Check.
So, again, if you watch the skies and track the headlines, it feels like the end of days. Depending on your eschatological stand, there’s a lot to look forward to, particularly if you’re pre-trib – if you believe that Christians will be raptured before the tough days of the tribulation described in Revelations.
God does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.
I was recently asked, in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, why American Evangelicals seem so keen to hasten the second coming of the Christ. I’m no American, but off the top of my head, I can think of a few possible explanations:
- Because we are called to be ready. Matthew 24:6, 13 and 44.
- Because we are called to live with urgency as the end draws near. Revelation 2:10-11.
- Because we have an active part in the process – to preach the Gospel all the more. Matthew 24:14.
In 2 Peter 3:12, the exhortation is more specific: We are told to look forward to the day and speed its coming.
It’s all very compelling. Makes you want to put down your phone, get on your knees and shout Maranatha! But … not so fast.
I recently spoke to a friend of mine, KG, a man of the Word and the wisdom that follows. Do you think Jesus will come within our lifetime?, I asked him.
(I recommend having friends or churchmates you can have such conversations with; who you can launch right into meaning-of-life-and-beyond questions without awkwardness or judgment. A real bonus if he’s also paying for the durian you’re mulling these issues over. God bless you, KG.)
I don’t know, he said. Then a long pause.
I hope not.
There were too many people in his life who hadn’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, he said. Immediate relatives, friends, colleagues.
Look beyond the people you know and the scene gets more bleak. I know if you grew up in a Christian family and belong in a Church it can sometimes feel like you’ve run out of people to tell the Gospel to. But the truth is, in Singapore, only 18.8% of residents are believers.
That means that for every Christian you know, there are 4 others who aren’t. If these are truly the end-times, that is a bleak, scary, depressing statistic.
That figure is only marginally better on the global scale, with 3 in 10 people identifying as Christians or Catholics.
What’s the appropriate response to that? Heng ah, thank God I’m among the number?
I can’t imagine that’s what God would like us to say. I choose to believe God’s view on this is clearly stated in 2 Peter 3:9 – that He does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.
I believe He will keep that window of grace as long as He possibly can.
I need to believe that, because otherwise, how many more will perish while we the Church are getting our act together?
The Bible has very clear and repeated instructions not to bother guessing about the exact time and date of Christ’s second coming. But I have a perspective on this where I choose to put a number to it: For all of us, the end-times will come within the next 80 years, 100 max.
How do I arrive at that figure? Simple: Jesus may or may not come within the next century. If He does, it’s all of our end-times, all at once. See you in heaven!
But if He doesn’t, there will still come a time where each of us will draw our last breath and close our eyes – only to reopen them and find ourselves firstly desperately trying to see if our names are in the Book of Life, then giving an account of our life at the judgment seat.
Even with the best medical science and advances in modern medicine, this won’t be more than 80, 100 years away. This means that for all of us, our end-times is only a lifetime away.
Are we living our life with the urgency that demands?
Are we choosing God’s way over the way of the world each and every time, as if it is the last decision we will ever make?
Are we choosing to die to ourselves daily, and take up our cross daily, because the days are short?
Are we viewing the salvation of souls as the highest priority in the eternal scheme of things, and prioritising our life choices accordingly?
For all of us, our end-times is only a lifetime away. Are we living our life with the urgency that demands?
If the end of the world as we know it is truly nigh, then take a moment now to grieve, lament, and mourn. Because if so, too many will perish without knowing that death doesn’t have to be eternal, because our Creator also created an escape hatch, a second chance, a bearer of hope, a window of grace – His name is Jesus.
And then, when you’re done grieving, wash your face. Dry your eyes. Remove the mourning clothes, and put on the armour of God.
There is work to be done. Jesus is not yet back; that only happens after we have exhausted every possible avenue of snatching souls from the fire.
There is work to be done. We learn this from Matthew 24:14. This Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.
There is work to be done. We, the 3 in 10, or the 18.8 in 100 ????????, must at least try.
And then the end will come.