The world has changed, hasn’t it? All but the very youngest among us can remember better days. Days that were not so violent. Days that were not so precarious, not so uncertain. Days that were not so financially pressed. Days where our very existence did not seem threatened as it does today. Threatened by a dying planet, depleted of resources. Threatened by humanity and its ongoing and escalating strifes within itself and against one another. Threatened by disease and out of that disease, economic collapse. Does it ever feel to you that we are coming to the, “end of the world”?
What does the Bible say about this? Much actually, but I am going to focus on what Jesus said about this. Yes, he did address all of this, in Matthew 24. He gave us a list of things to watch out for, signs, that would signal the end of the age, or, the end of the world as we know it. He pointed us to the obvious, wars, and rumours of wars; these have been with us for some time now. He pointed us to pestilence. We’ve had pestilences for some time but, the one that has gotten our attention, has been the pestilence that has touched us all because it has changed all of our lives: Covid 19. It has curbed our freedoms and is slowly ushering in increasing government control and measures that marginalize our freedoms for the public good, on an ongoing and future basis. Like 9/11, the Covid pandemic represents a watershed event. One where we change to deal with the crisis and never revert to the way things were before. Yes, it is certainly a very obvious and troubling sign.
Jesus, after listing the topics I cite, went on to say more. As if these were not enough, we would level up, if you will, advance further toward the end of the age, or world as we know it, as another more potent and dangerous sign, became more obvious and advanced within our daily lives: “and then many would become offended”, and Jesus goes on to say that because of this taking of offense, or being offended, “the love of many will grow cold”, they will, “turn away from the faith and will hate and betray one another”.
Sound familiar? This may be your attitude now. How often are you offended? This may be the dynamic within your family. Turn on the news and for certain you will see this narrative. If you haven’t been touched by this overall disposition anywhere else, (you are probably living in a cave), you for sure have at work. Have you been “cancelled” for a dissenting viewpoint? Hauled into HR for a sit-down because of something you’ve said or done that certainly seemed unfair, exaggerated and even false? Human Resources has been training Western societies for some time now, on morality and what is socially acceptable and unacceptable. Does that make sense to you? Why are they, and the large companies they represent, with their very specific financial interests, the moral compass?
So, there you have it, according to Jesus; the largest sign that all is not well and that we should be anticipating his return. Are you shocked that it isn’t an earthquake or a meteor shower, but the attitude of being offended, unloving and hateful? What comes after his return, is sheer hell on earth; the last two years of pandemic have nothing on what will be unleashed at that time. If you’re around for it, you may not survive it. Jesus says that in Matthew 24 too.
I know that this is a lot to take in. I know that some of you will dismiss this and others, who have some context, context needed to make sense of all this, will be pondering this, maybe doubtfully, but pondering none the less.
I’ll leave you with some hope. The hope stated in Jude, verse 24, “now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy”. Jesus can present us to his father faultless and with great joy. You can’t. You’re very flawed and can’t even stir up enough joy to get through most days. I get it. He continues in verse 25, “to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore.” I have news for you. There are more ages to come, and you and I have been made for eternity. The end of this age will be terrible, but the future, your position in eternity, doesn’t have to be.
Consider the gospel and the message enshrined so simply and accurately in John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life.” Jesus is that son and believing in him is life, in this age and in all of the ages to come.
By, A. Anthony