We're going to talk about a subject that can be somewhat controversial. People, often, look at what's going on and say, "surely the end is nigh!"
The Bible does speak about the end. The Bible speaks about the last day.
- Matthew 24
The world's last day will be quite eventful. All these things will occur:
- The Lord's return. John 6:39-40
- The dead raised. John 5:28-29
- The living changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51
- The earth burned up. 2 Peter 3:10-13
- Humanity judged. Matthew 25:31-46
- The kingdom is given to God. 1 Corinthians 15:24
- Wicked separated. Matthew 25:41
- Saved will go home. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Think about all that is going to happen on that great day. It will be a great day.
Is that last day imminent? Is it coming soon? Some say so. Some say it is coming very soon.
Are they right? How can we know? What can we know?
Let's see what the Bible says. What does the Bible say about when the Lord will return.
The End Will Come
The world will have an end as surely as it had a beginning.
- 1 Corinthians 15:24, then cometh the end.
The universe was created. If it had an ending, which it did, it will have an end. The Bible makes it clear that there will be an end, the end will come.
- Hebrews 3:6, 14
- 2 Peter 3:1-11
Jesus promised to return.
- John 14:2-3
Every generation has its doubters. Even that generation that Peter addresses, had their doubters.
- 2 Peter 3:3-4
Some were waiting, sitting there doing nothing waiting. Many because of a long delay determined He was not coming. They thought a long delay meant God had forgotten humanity – if He was there at all.
Peter explained that time is irrelevant to God.
- 2 Peter 3:8
He's not speaking literally, but rather that time means nothing to God. God has always existed, He created time, and thus, time does not influence God. It's as if, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.
Promises, however, are important to God.
- 2 Peter 3:9
He is faithful.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3
He cannot lie.
- Titus 1:2
Promises are important God. He says He is coming again, and He cannot lie.
- 2 Peter 3:10
There will be an end. The world will come to an end.
The End Will Come Unexpectedly
- 2 Peter 3:10
Does a thief let you know when he is coming? No, of course not. Jesus doesn't do that either.
One preacher would ask, "Do you believe Jesus is coming today?" If a person replied "no," he would say, "Then you had better be ready, for He is coming at an hour when you think not!"
- Luke 12:40
No one can predict the world's expiration date. Some things have not been revealed to men.
Secret things belong only to the Lord as Moses said.
- Deuteronomy 29:29
Jesus said also, it isn't for you to know.
- Acts 1:7
James stated, there are some things that only God knows.
- Acts 15:18
- 2 Peter 1:3 (all things pertains to life and godliness)
Since we have all that we need, we don't need to worry about when it will happen, we simply have to live prepared.
Jesus repeatedly emphasized:
"Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." — Mark 13:32
- Matthew 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13
Jesus asserts that no one knows the time or date that the Lord will return.
Still, many have tried to set a date:
• Montanus' followers, in the second century, sold their belongings and ascended a hill to await Jesus' return. Eventually, authorities had to disperse them because they resorted to stealing to survive.
• Hippolytus of Rome predicted A.D. 500 based on the dimensions of Noah's ark.
• Pope Sylvester II predicted January 1, 1000. Riots occurred. Pilgrims headed to Jerusalem.
• Pope Innocent III taught it would come 666 years after Islam's rise (1284).
• Martin Luther predicted by 1600.
• Christopher Columbus predicted 1656 in The Book of Prophecies (1501).
• Fifth Monarchists predicted 1666 due to the date including the number 666 and 100,000 dying of bubonic plague that year.
• William Miller, an upstate New York farmer and founder of Adventism, thought he had found the final day by matching dates on the calendar with the words of the prophet Daniel. He calculated the last day to be Sunday, March 21, 1844. His congregation, many in white robes, went to meet Jesus on a rooftop. When He did not come, calculations were revised to October 22, 1844.
• Joseph Smith said Christ would come by 1891.
• Charles T. Russell predicted Jesus' return in 1874. After it passed, he explained that Jesus had come in the invisible form to fight a spiritual battle that would close in October 1914. Other followers of his predicted the "end of the present order of things" for 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984.
• Herbert W. Armstrong told members a "rapture" was to take place in 1936, and that only they would be saved.
• Hal Lindsey laid it out in his popular book The Late Great Planet Earth (1970). He believed that Jesus would return by 1988 and that after seven years of tribulation, Jesus would visibly appear by 1995 to win the Battle of Armageddon and commence a millennial reign.
• Jerry Falwell foresaw God pouring out judgment on the world on January 1, 2000.
• Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins stated the Y2K bug would trigger global economic chaos, which the Antichrist would use to rise to power. As the date approached, they recanted.
• Harold Camping gained notoriety by predicting that October 21, 2011, would be the final day. After the world did not end, Camping admitted in a private interview that he no longer believed anybody could know the time of the end of the world.
He's right on that statement, we cannot know.
The End May, or May Not, Be Soon
It may be in 10 seconds or ten thousand years. Everything the Bible said would occur before Jesus' return has already happened.
1) The Bible predicts a departure from truth.
- 1 Timothy 4:1-3
The part of the passage that says, latter times, refers to the time after Christ has come, the first time. We are in the latter times.
Paul warns Timothy that in the latter times there would be a departure from truth, and we see that this departure began to take place in the first century.
2) The man of sin revealed.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3
The book of First John speaks about what the Antichrist is. Anyone who speaks against the Son of God was and is the Antichrist. And, that began in the first century.
Jesus could now come at any time. Then, again, He could wait another thousand years to give more time for souls to be added to His kingdom.
- 2 Peter 3:8-9
But what about "the signs of the times" we hear about?
When a famine, earthquake, or war occurs, many see the end just around the corner. This happened whenever there are wars throughout time and even in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
As wickedness grows, many say the end cannot be far off. Is possible that the end is near? Of course, but does the Bible give signs to watch for?
Matthew 24 is the passage often used to assert these signs. This chapter answers two questions the disciples asked following Jesus' prediction of the temple's destruction.
- Matthew 24:1-2, 3
1) When shall these things be?
2) What shall the sign of thy coming and the end of the world?
The Olivet Discourse
- Jesus answered the questions in order.
- Signs pertaining to the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Matthew 24:4-35
- He plainly states there would be no signs to precede His return. Matthew 24:36-25:46
To properly interpret Matthew 24, it is imperative to observe what scholars call the chapter's "continental divide" in Matthew 24:34.
- Matthew 24:4-33
"All these things" refers to the signs he had just mentioned what He had said up to that point. Everything before Matthew 24:34 pertains to that generation – roughly A.D. 30-70.
When you look at verse 36, of that day and hour, knoweth no man. This is the answer about the second coming. Everything following verse 34 pertains to His second coming.
In which section do some think they find "signs" of the end of time? They see the signs, from the first section, and misapply them to the second question.
- Matthew 24:4-33
- The “end” referred to in vs. 6, 13, 14, 31 all refer to the end of Judaism.
- The “coming of the Son of Man” (vs. 29-31) refers to His coming in judgment on that generation.
- Cf., Matthew 16:28
This generation, shall not pass. When they see the signs they see the things that are to take place in that generation that was living then. When they look in that section, verses 6, 13, and 41 refer to the end of Judaism, not the end of the world. This culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the temple, which took place in 70 A.D.
In figurative language, it mentions Christ's "coming," but this refers to His coming in judgment on that generation and not His return, cf. Matthew 16:28.
When we look at the "wars, famines, earthquakes, and false Christs" that some see as fulfilled in today's newspapers, ancient historians Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Seneca show these things occurred in the years leading up to A.D. 70. Those things have already been fulfilled. These signs led to the destruction of Jerusalem, not the end of the world.
Matthew 24 shows the threat was a Roman siege of Jerusalem:
- The temple in Jerusalem was targeted. - vs.15 and also Luke 21:20
- Fleeing to the mountains advised. - vs.16
- Returning from rooftops is forbidden. - vs. 17
- Woe to those with children. vs.19
- Pray it does not happen in winter or on Sabbath. - vs. 20 Because the gates are locked on the Sabbath according to Nehemiah 13:19.
Christians had to flee quickly before officials closed the gates and they were trapped in the siege. Not a single Christian died in the siege of Jerusalem. That's what we are told.
All of this makes sense in a Roman attack but would be completely pointless regarding the end of the world!
It's interesting that people find clues in Matthew 24, that the one who spake it, didn't even know about. They find clues that Jesus didn't even know about.
- Matthew 24:36
- Mark 13:32
Jesus didn't even know.
It's important to always be ready for the Lord's return. To get ready we've got to become a Christian, we've got to be a child of God.
To be a child of God you must believe that He is, and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God that He died for our sins. We must repent of our sins, and confess our belief and our faith in Jesus Christ. And, we must be baptized for the remission of our sins to be added to the body of Christ to be among those who will be saved on the last day.
We must also remain faithful, Titus 2:1.1-12. We've got to continue to live in this way, continually deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Continually live soberly, righteously, in this present world to remain saved. We must always be ready for the Lord to come. If we remain ready, living in this way, we will always be ready, Matthew 24:44. We don't know when He is coming. But, we do know when He comes will be the great day of judgment and there will not be an opportunity after that. We don't know what will happen when we walk out this door. We aren't guaranteed anything outside this moment. That's why Paul said, today is the day of salvation.
If we can assist you in preparing to be ready for when the end comes, please contact us.
- Adapted from a tract by Allen Webster, Is the END Near?