Here we go again! Another prediction about the end of the world. Coming from the United States, it has been predicted for May 21, 2011, American time. We would not have noticed this except that the media picked up on it. According to Bill Muehlenberg, both Christians and amiable atheists are offering a ‘pet-sitting’ service for raptured Christians who leave their pets behind:
As you wake up on May 22nd, with the world still intact, what are you to make of all this. Is the world coming to an end? Is this end coming soon? Of all the questions we could ask in life, these two have to be high up the list.
Here are some points to consider:
Date-Setters: While they cause alarm and upset -- not to mention exercising a practice not endorsed in Scripture (Matthew 24:36), the date-setters do have one point: prophetic signs are coming to pass right under our noses. As prophetic signs increase, so does date-setting.
This is in marked contrast to what is happening among general society and even parts of the church: sleeping! I Thessalonians 5:1-9 is important in this regard. It speaks of the end of the world and divides humanity into two:
1. Those who are ‘sleeping’ and ‘drunken’ and thus miss the early warning signals;
1. Those who are of the ‘light and day’ and know perfectly about the day of the Lord.
Date-setters are stuck between the two: they are catching the prophetic signals, hence, they are not sleeping. However, they don’t ‘understand perfectly’ that the Day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. If they did, they would not set dates.
End of the World: This phrase comes from Matthew 24:3 (KJV). What does it really mean? Is planet earth coming to an end? Not to my understanding; the earth abides forever. But the ‘world system’ with human government and all the limitations and corruption that comes with it will cease to exist. This is because our fallen world is reaching its ‘used by date.’ God has prepared something better for all of us: an everlasting kingdom where righteousness finds it true home. In this kingdom, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes: there will be no more sorrow, sighing, death, pain, immorality, cowardice, unbelieving ... for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).
So the phrase ‘the end of the world’ is associated with this present, history-long ‘(old/new) world order,’ not the planet earth. Earth and heaven will be renovated by fire (II Peter 3:10), purging them of all the rebellion and sin that has gone before, so that holiness and righteousness takes it place. Replacing the old heaven and earth are a ‘new heaven and earth’ (verse 13).
Coming of Jesus Christ: This is the most important event on the Christian calendar and, for that matter, the world’s. For the church, Christ’s coming is the ‘blessed hope’ (Titus 2:13). For the (old and new) world order, it means ‘time’s up! You’re out of business.’ That is why there is no much resistance to Biblical Christian things these days, because the principalities and powers know their time is short (Revelation 12:12).
For our purposes, the most immediate thing to note that ‘the end of the world’ is linked with the second coming of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at the question in Matthew 24:3 (KJV): And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (emphasis mine). So for believers, it is important to see that the ‘end of the world’ is no end at all ... it is the beginning of a new world and a new kingdom. The King is coming.
Time perspective: Let us never forget that God does not live in a ‘time-zone.’ He is beyond space and time. A day to Him is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day (II Peter 3:8). While God has done an amazing job of relating to our perspective ... He especially did this through His Son Jesus Christ ... we need to remember His perspective. The end of all things is at hand (I Peter 4:7). The time is at hand (Revelation 1:3). Surely I come quickly (Revelation 22:20). As God sees it, eternity is not just at the door ... it is now. And that’s how those who are ‘born of the Spirit’ should see it as well!
Signs: As mentioned earlier, date-setters do have one thing right: the prophetic signs are coming to pass. We are in a time of great shaking (Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:25-29). In 2011, more shaking was packed into the first three months than any other time in living memory. Floods devastated drought-stricken Queensland and Australia, apprently larger than German and France combined. Could these be the largest floods in modern history? Is it any wonder that the BBC and other media outlets called the Australian floods ‘of Biblical proportions.’
In the first week of February 2011, Cyclone Yasi devastated Queensland, a heat wave hit New South Wales, floods came to Victoria and South Australia, and bush fires ravished Western Australia. All this in one week.
The natural disasters were not only in Australia. Floods also hit Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Myanmar. The floods in Brazil turned into mudslides that killed hundreds of people. Earthquakes hit Indonesia and New Zealand, damaging a third of the city of Christchurch. Even the UK had minor earthquakes; a nation that is not prone to having them at all.
Japan had a quadruple shock: first was the earthquake, followed by the tsunami, which led to the crippling of the Fukushima nuclear plant. All this was followed by nuclear fires. Part of the damaged area is a ‘no man’s zone’ where neither human nor animal carcases cannot be retrieved or dealt with until the all clear is sounded. Parts of Japanese territory will be uninhabitable for generations.
Then another strange phenomena has happend: a plague of dead animals. Birds are dropping out of the sky in various places. Fish are dying en masse in different oceans, including 100 tons in Brazil. It is not clear what this all means, but it is eerily reminiscent of the 2nd trumpet of Revelation 8:9 (KJV), which says: ‘And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died....’ This author is not saying we are now in the ‘2nd Trumpet,’ but this bizarre occurence is part of the shaking.
Is anyone paying attention? The shaking is not what I would call the full judgement of God -- if it was, God would be unrighteously harming the righteous. The parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) makes it clear that this is something He wants to avoid (verse 29). It has two purposes that I can identify: it wakes up the sleepers (I Thessalonians 5:7). Second, removes the kingdoms of this world to make room for the kingdom that will never end (Hebrews 12:27-28; Revelation 11:15).
So while we cannot know the ‘day and hour’ of the coming of Christ and the ‘end of the world,’ we can know the ‘times and seasons’ (I Thess 5:1). There is no better way to end this blog than by quoting Ephesians 5:14 (KJV): Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.