When I was a youth, I attended a weekend youth conference in a rural area within my home state. The apex of the weekend occurred when the leadership presented a dramatized account of the last days. A Hitler-like figure stood on the stage and demanded allegiance from the masses, a reckless dragon attacked bystanders, and gullible people had numbers engraved on their foreheads and hands. Not surprisingly, many of the youth in attendance were startled. A somber youth pastor stood before the crowd. “How many of you don’t want to experience what you have seen?”, he asked. “If you don’t want to, come forward and give your life to Jesus!” Throngs of teenagers flooded the front of the auditorium. I believe that some of those young people were sincere. However, we have to be careful about how we approach end-time events. According to the Bible, there are certain simple responses we should have to God’s plan for the future.
The prospect of the last days need not evoke Y2K-like responses. Believers don’t need to stockpile canned goods, ammunition, assault rifles, and locust repellent. Instead of prepping for a Doomsday scenario, Christians are called to live an ordinary life. A scenario from the life of Daniel illustrates this point. After hearing numerous amazing things concerning the end of the age, Daniel was instructed — “Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed…” (Daniel 12:9). The admonition meant that the prophet was to return to his daily routine. It is said that Martin Luther was once asked, “What would you do if you knew Jesus was going to return tomorrow.” He replied, “plant a tree!” The lesson is obvious — the imminent return of the Lord should lead God’s children to simply be faithful in their lot in life.
Jesus often told parables. Such were stories thrown alongside teaching in order to make a point. Interestingly, much of Jesus’ use of this device occurred when He taught on money (Luke 12:16-35). Perhaps He knew that the human heart was too hardened to receive straightforward instruction on the topic. In combination with an emphasis on money, His stories also often focused on the end of all things (Matthew 25:1-13). In one such parable — The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) — Jesus indicated that the future judgment should motivate us to be good managers of that with which the Lord has entrusted us — our time, talents and treasures.
When John concluded the book of Revelation, he prayed, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). His prayer should be the prayer of every believer. In light of the way in which Jesus is going to make a new heaven and a new earth, we should be excited! We should look forward to the day in which there is no more pain or problems, sin or suffering, injustice or iniquity, and death or disaster. The Bible teaches that our Christian experience is to be characterized by hope — a confident expectation in a divinely promised future (Romans 8:23-24). Are you looking forward to the hereafter? Pray that Jesus would give you a frame of mind whereby you anticipate being in Paradise.
Dr. Patrick Latham