Many Christians I have met tend to shy away from End Times discussion because of the frightening images that are often cited by commentators on TV channels concerning the end of the world from sources like Mayan prophecies, the Apocalypse, and psychic predictions from people like Nastodamus and Edgar Cayce. What they may not be aware of, however, is that Christianity is basically eschatology. If you read the Old Testament prophecies, many of the writers looked forward to the day Jesus came.
For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17 ESV)
Once Jesus came, a new prophecy began, namely the Apocalypse. Jesus’ first advent hailed the coming of His kingdom, the kingdom that we all long for as Christians. That kingdom would fully arrive at Jesus’ return and even those who had died long ago with the hope of seeing it will be resurrected to take part in it. And finally, after all authorities are put under Him, Jesus will submit all His power to the Father, so that God may be all and in all. The return of Christ, the Resurrection, and the Great Judgment are all End Times topics but we still look forward to their occurrence.
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24 ESV)
Let’s talk about the return of Jesus real quick. When many Christians I know talk about Jesus’ return, they often speak about being raptured up to heaven and escaping whatever is coming upon this world. Therefore, everything that happens after their rapture is considered End Times topics and not appealing to discuss. To a degree, the Apostles believed the same. But what they believed is that they are going to meet Jesus as He is coming from heaven and thereby assist in taking over the kingdoms of the world. In other words, they believed that the saints would war with the world alongside Jesus. In our day, that seems harsh. In their day, the kingdoms of the world were piercing their brothers with swords, flaying the skin off their elders, crucifying their parents, and feeding their wives and daughters to lions while their friends were set on fire to illuminate the coliseum. I know it’s a graphic image, but it helps set in perspective what kind of people will resist Jesus at His return. In that light, it makes sense that the saints conquer the world with Jesus. They are themselves witnesses to the cruelties of these people and are active in ending their wickedness. The Apostles limited much of the detail, however, to insisting that the sign to look for and the hope to look forward to was the Resurrection.
The Resurrection is about as End Times as it gets. Living in the age of Zombie fanaticism, this idea should be right at home. If you have a zombie survival guide, but not hope in the resurrection, then you are more morbid than I am! The resurrection is a kingdom of God topic, which fits in with the End Times. Basically, when Jesus begins His return, the dead will be resurrected and then the elect will be gathered to meet Jesus in the air. As described above, the resurrected will take over the world with Jesus. But more than that, the Apocalypse reveals that they will rule over the nations they conquer, with Christ as their King of kings. Likely, this is an honor given to the martyrs who gave up everything the world had to offer just so that they could have Jesus. The imagery that there will be no more corruption and oppression will be true because those who have purified themselves with the blood of Jesus and were oppressed until death will enforce those policies. Righteous will rule because the rulers will be dead to sin. That is an amazing hope. That is why Christianity is essentially Eschatology. You can’t long for the return of Jesus, His righteous kingdom, or the resurrection of the saints and still be scared of End Times discussion. It may indicate that you never thought it through very well.
And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-14 ESV)
The Great Judgment. Now that is the scary stuff, right? Not really. It’s scary because we know our sins, and we especially dread people knowing the things we have done in secret. Yet all of us have a thirst to know the truth about everything. We want perfect knowledge. Well, while there are still secrets, there is not perfect knowledge, and while there is not perfect knowledge, there is a lack of peace. And while Jesus promised His resurrection so that we would have peace in our hope of resurrection as well, we still long for a perfect knowledge. The Great Judgment is the event where every secret is exposed and we receive a perfect knowledge of what is reality. And the exposure of these secrets, our darkest sins, is painful. The scorn is fiery. And the shame is destructive. The shame is so destructive, in fact, that it purges us of our wickedness. We will realize the senselessness of our shameful deeds and will have no justification for them after all that has happened. Then we will all meet God’s mercy. Pure, unadulterated mercy. And we will be purified by God’s overwhelming love as we see our deepest secrets exposed, condemned, and forgiven. The Great Judgment, which all the early Church fathers looked forward to, should be a matter of desire for us, not a matter of fear.
For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV)
If you find the End Times discussion scary, cruel, graphic, and fearsome, I encourage in the hope of Jesus to look forward to these things you first accepted when you embraced the Gospel, namely that Jesus, who cleansed you from your sins and made you a royal priesthood, will return to resurrect or rapture you unto Himself (whichever happens first) so that you may join Him in establishing a kingdom of righteousness until all powers, including the power of death, is conquered once and for all and is submitted to the Father to judge and purify for His holy purposes. To this hope, I encourage you to not fear End Times discussion but look at it through the lens of salvation. Remember, Christianity is Eschatology.
Have a blessed week!