Regarding Eclipses, Hurricanes, and the End of the World

A month ago we had an eclipse. Last week, a terrible hurricane hit Texas. Now, an even bigger one is headed for Florida. And there are more to come.

If you read the Bible, you know what all of this means.

It means that theological con-men will be coming out from under every rock to tell us that Jesus will be coming back on September 23, 2017.

My fellow Christians, please stop listening to these people. They aren’t cute. They aren’t interesting. They aren’t harmless. They are liars and false prophets who stand directly opposed to God.

In speaking of his own second coming, Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (English Standard Version). I think a lot of Christians have a different translation of that verse. It says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows except the guy on the Internet who produces scary videos and makes wild speculations about constellations, hurricanes, and Israel. Go ahead and listen to him” (Gullible American Version).

I don’t know if a man could possibly reach a higher level of arrogance than to postulate that of all the people who have ever lived, he’s the one who knows what only God knows. Yes, with the help of his trusty star chart and sketchy mathematical equations, he has figured out what the Apostles Paul and John could not. Such a level of hubris makes Kim Kardashian-West look like Elisabeth Elliot. And yet, for some reason, Christians keep on listening to these hucksters.

Last month, some one who had been doing tons of research told me that the return of Christ would be on the day of the eclipse. When I reminded this person of how Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour, the basic response I got back was, “Well, he didn’t say we couldn’t know the day before.” So there you have it. Jesus is coming back during the eclipse.

Spoiler alert: He didn’t.

Now, every time Kim Jong-un wakes up in a bad mood, or we hear about a new weather catastrophe, another preacher comes out to give us a date for the return of Christ. And his theory always involves talk of blood moons, constellations, beasts, and other scary stuff that sounds like it could perhaps maybe be in the Bible but actually is not. At least not in the way that he presents it.

What people forget is that we have always had eclipses and hurricanes and earthquakes and crazy world leaders. But we have not always had Facebook and YouTube, the new black lagoons from which Creatures of False Prophecy seem to crawl on a weekly basis. And the only reason they keep crawling out is because Christians keep listening to them.

Jesus really is coming back. I don’t know when, neither do you and neither does your Facebook friend who is constantly posting about blood moons and North Korea. But Jesus is coming back.

Until he does, his will for us is clear and it doesn’t involve trying to figure out who the Antichrist is or what day in September of 2017 the world will come to an end. Rather, we are to be busy loving God and loving our neighbor. We are to defend the cause of those who suffer from injustice. We are to train up disciples.

And we are to watch out for con-men who attempt to deceive the body of Christ with their latest theory on who the Antichrist is and what exact day Jesus will return. In the irony of all ironies, it is these endless speculators who themselves are the spirit of the antichrist.

Watch out for them.

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The Last Days

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The last days are not near. They are not rapidly approaching. They are already here. Congratulations, you get to live in the last days.

I’m not saying that these are the last days because of something Obama said or because someone found a red heifer walking around Jerusalem. I’m saying that these are the last days because that’s what the Bible says.

When the Bible talks about the last days, it is referring to the period of time between the resurrection of Christ and his return. So when Jude says that, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions,” he’s talking about his own day. And ours. If you don’t believe me, turn on the news.

So what should we do? Well, there are a lot of options. You could do nothing. After all, the last days have lasted some 2,000 years now so who’s to say that they wont carry on for another few thousand years? Or you could devote your life to constant speculations about when Jesus will return and figure out how every major politician fits into the book of Revelation while you stock up on supplies and head for the hills with the rest of your followers.

Both responses are wrong.

Jude gave his readers better advice.

[20] But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, [21] keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 (ESV)

Make disciples.

Pray.

Love.

Keep your attention on Jesus.

In other words, in the last days, keep doing what you should be doing anyway. As you do that, you can be certain that the rest of the world will keep doing what comes natural for them.

Disregarding God’s commands.

Mocking prayer.

Hating.

Never giving Jesus a second thought.

As we see our culture reject God in increasing ways, it’s easy for us to sit back and tell ourselves, “Just wait, they’re gonna get what’s coming to them.” Again, this is the wrong response. Yes, they will get what’s coming to them but we should be doing everything we can to keep that from happening. Here’s what Jude says to do.

[22] And have mercy on those who doubt; [23] save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Jude 1:22-23 (ESV)

Show mercy.

Show mercy to those who doubt whether or not Jesus rose from the grave or whether he was born of a virgin. Be patient with them. Remember that God, not you, is the one who is in charge of their salvation so lay off the Facebook status updates in all caps reminding people of how right you are. If this is your typical method of evangelizing, you just might be helping the other team more than your own.

Show mercy to blatant sinners. Hate their sin. Love them. Don’t focus on one or the other. Regardless of what you tell yourself, if you don’t hate sin, you’re not really loving people. The two go together.

These are the last days.

The end is near, at least it’s nearer than it was this time yesterday.

Many Christians act as if the return of Christ is a contest. Whoever gets closest to predicting the actual date gets a golden street named after him in heaven. It doesn’t work that way. Instead of fooling around with charts and figuring out which presidential candidate is the AntiChrist, we need to be loving lost people. We need to be loving the church that we are committed to. And most of all, we need to be worshiping Jesus because we love him.

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Encouraging News About The End Of The World

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Somewhere along the way we missed the point. We got so caught up in the details that may or may not be true that we forgot about the most important part. Our ideas about that day have been shaped more by movies and novels than they have by the Bible. As a result, we have become like a bunch of Christmas carolers who are all caught up in the festivities of the season but have no idea what they’re singing about.

I started hearing about the return of Christ when I was a teenager. At least that’s when I started paying attention to what I was hearing. That’s because there were movies involved. The movies I saw about the return of Christ appeared to be filmed in the 1970s using video equipment from the early days of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of bell bottoms, feathered hairstyles and people screaming. A lot of people screaming. And that wasn’t just in the movie. After the showing was over, there were usually two or three of us who would run out of the building screaming.

That was the major impression that was left on me when it came to talks about the return of Christ.

Fear.

To be fair, there are plenty of people who should be afraid of the return of Christ. For nonbelievers, it will be a day of wrath. But for followers of Christ, it will be a day of hope realized.

That’s the part that we forget.

Hope.

Churches have split up over arguments about the end times. Legitimate Christians have lived in fear of the AntiChrist coming for them and all of their sins being displayed on a giant movie screen for the world to see.

There are good people who really love Jesus but who have differing views on how the end times will play out. It is not the purpose of this post to explain all of that. Instead, I would like to remind you of what Paul told the believers in Thessalonica after sharing only a few details about the return of Christ.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (ESV)

Not scare one another.

Not debate one another. l

Just encourage one another.

Again, debate and fear do have their place in end times discussions but they are not the substance. Jesus is. And he is our hope. He is the reason for our encouragement.

If our end times discussions do not end in Christ, the conquering King who has come to make all things eternally right, we are missing the point. We are missing our real reason to be encouraged.

At the return of Christ, there will be no more school shootings, wars, car accidents, tumors or abortions. Death will be no more (Revelation 21:4). Be encouraged.

When Christ returns, there will no longer be a need for jails or those lawyers who advertise no fault divorces for $300 (Revelation 21:5-8). Be encouraged.

When Jesus comes back for his people, we will finally know what it’s like to live under the authority of a perfect and compassionate Ruler whose government knows no corruption (Revelation 21:22-27). Be encouraged.

When Christ returns, we will no longer have to fight against Satan’s schemes (Revelation 19:11-21). Be encouraged.

And best of all, when Jesus comes back, we will live with him.

Forever.

So be encouraged.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (ESV)

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