Several years ago, Harold Camping publicly predicted the end of time. He wagered that the rapture of the church would occur on May 21, 2011, and that the end of the world would take place on October 21 of that same year. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on such self-made gurus. Jesus taught that we can’t know the exact moment of His return (Matthew 24:36), but we can know a few basic events that will happen when the end draws near.
The Return of Christ
The penultimate event of the last days is the appearing of Christ. Zechariah foretold of this event when he said, “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south” (Zechariah 14:4). The prophet’s prophecy obviously wasn’t fulfilled during Jesus’ first advent. It will be brought to completion at our Lord’s second coming. Though Jesus came once to live and die for humanity’s sin (Galatians 4:4-5), He is coming a second time to judge the earth. At His appearing, all deceit and depravity will be done away with. Our Lord will usher in a new age, the one which His disciples earnestly desired to experience (John 18:10 and Acts 1:6-7). While His previous incarnation had spiritual purposes, His return to earth will have political ones. He will come to establish His eternal kingdom!
Though the modern mind doesn’t like the idea of judgment, the Bible tells us that the Lord “has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man He has appointed” (Acts 17:31). It’s true — “it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Every man and woman will one day stand before the Maker of all things. Interestingly, there are two different distinct judgments for two different classes of people. Believers will stand before God at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:10), and unbelievers will appear before the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). The judgment which believers will face will be concerned with their service. The Lord will evaluate their work for the Lord and give rewards based on its purity and quality. The judgment of non-Christians will be concerned with sin. Because of their evil works, all sinners will be cast off from the presence of God forever. Because of the certainty of pending judgment, we should draw near to the Lord (2 Peter 3:11) and seek Him while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).
The Eternal State
All of human history is heading towards a final destination. It is destined for a new reality called the “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). This new state of being will exist for all of eternity. It will be devoid of the depravity and deceit, sin and suffering, and corruption and confusion which has characterized this fallen world. It will involve Garden-of-Eden-like conditions. Mankind will experience a life similar to the one Adam and Eve enjoyed at the beginning of time. Man and woman will live on a newly made earth which contains none of the vestiges of humanity’s sin. All things will return to the Lord’s original intent. Forever, humanity will know and experience the peace, pleasure, and prosperity for which it was created. God Himself will be with His people and they will enjoy Him forever. We look forward to this day, and with the apostle John we pray, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Dr. Patrick Latham