It certainly seems like we live in a day when everyone is interested in the end of time. This appears to surface in every period of history that has seen trying times as preachers, teachers, and parishioners try to make sense of what they are seeing. Today is no different.
Like many of you, this is not a subject I have spent much time preaching or teaching. With the plethora of ministers that have built their entire ministries around this subject, I just never felt the need to add to the noise. Even though I have not preached on the subject much, my curiosity did compel me to do an extensive study of Eschatology. What I found was very surprising as I discovered that much of what has been taught is nothing more than conjecture rather than sound biblical exegesis.
As more and more of my brothers and sisters inquire about what I think of the events that have unfolded recently, I have had to dust off those old notes and share with them my understanding of what we will see at the end of time. Although time and space will not permit me to share those views here, I do lend the following exhortation as you tackle the fascinating subject of Eschatology.
- “Do Not Over-Complicate the Subject”: We have all heard the joke about the preacher’s wife who slipped him a note that just said “Kiss.” While he thought it was a note of love from his bride, she later explained it was an acronym which stood for “Keep it Simple Stupid.” It has been my experience that most people just want to know two things when it comes to the end of time; How bad is it going to get, and when will it happen. Therefore, like the note states, it is best to “Keep it Simple Stupid.”
- “Avoid Making it About Punishment”: Although the Revelation of John makes it clear that it is the wrath of God which will be poured out on humanity during the time of Jacob’s Woes, we must remember that Jesus bore our punishment on the cross. Listen to the words Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter 2: “Everything we once were in Adam has been placed on his cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.” (The Passion Translation). What is happening may be the consequence of our own stupidity, but until God removes his people, it is not his punishment. Jesus did not only atone for the sins of those who are saved. He atoned for the sins of the world as well. (See 1 John 2:2). Although punishment may come after the saved are caught up, what we see in our world today is not punishment.
- “Not Everything That is Currently Happening is Prophetic”: Avoid the temptation of trying to apply every current event to the fulfillment of scriptural prophecy. Certainly, what is unfolding in our world today is a swift move toward spiritual lawlessness, it does not, however, necessarily mean that it is prophecy unfolding. As I study church history, I see that every generation for the past 1,700 years has preached that what was happening in their day was “certainly the end of time.” They were wrong, and likely so are we. Your people are looking to you to be calm and reassuring. Do not start making proclamations and predictions which you will regret later and will tarnish your reputation.
- “Do Not Use Fear”: I am convinced that biblical prophecy was never intended to make us afraid. In fact, the Bible clearly tells us 365 times not to fear or be afraid which is one encouragement for every day of the year. While it may be tempting to “warn” people about what is to come, we must remember that we have been told what is coming, not so we will be afraid, but so we will know what season we are in by what we see around us. Fear is not a lasting emotion for we humans. Once we start to forget what made us afraid, we lose our respect for that item. Knowledge, on the other hand, is something that remains. When we learn a truth, it begins to work in us toward lasting change. Arm your people with knowledge that can make an impact on their life and the lives of those around them. Avoid the temptation of try to “make them afraid enough to change,” because, “it is his kindness that leads us to repentance.” (Romans 2:4).
As you approach this most interesting subject, let me encourage you to do so with gentleness and humility because none of us know for certain what will unfold in the coming days and years. We read the prophetic Scriptures and give it our best interpretation, but in the end, we do not really know what it is going to look like. Be kind, gentle and loving as you approach Eschatology and keep an open mind. Who knows, you may very well teach an old dog a new trick.
Written by Will Sharples, Rage Ministries