The end is near - are you ready?
A friend told me what's going to happen...
I recently received a message from a young Christian guy warning me that we were living in 'earth's final days' and urging me to be prepared for this time. His hypothesis is based on the apocalyptic prophecy of Revelation 13:16-17 which states 'He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.'
He then mentioned the use of microchip implants to buy drinks in a bar in Spain. Hmmm...
In his reckoning, these implants are the mark of the beast and we Christians should be prepared for three and a half years of tribulation where we will not be able to purchase food and will need plans to flee from the anti-Christ. He then continues outlining his theology of the rapture and the tribulation and his mission to prepare the church for the final days that he is sure to happen amongst this generation. And to think I was just logging onto myspace to catch up with friends!
This led me to reflect on how I should respond to this warning but more importantly what does the Word of God have to say about the final days?
The Bible tells us that Jesus will return - ‘The Lord himself will descend from heaven …with the sound of the trumpet of God’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and that no one knows when he will return! 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says he will come like 'a thief in the night' and Mark 13:32 says that only God the Father knows when that day will be. As Christians we need to be wary of people warning that the end of the world is here. Jesus himself didn't even claim to know when that would be!
Although we don't know when Jesus will return - there is some need to be prepared. But rather than planting vegetables and building secret hideouts in the desert - we are urged by Jesus and Paul to be spiritually prepared for Jesus return. Jesus tells us to be watchful and careful not be be deceived by false teachings in Mark 13. We need to ensure our relationship with God is right through Jesus and we need to be living as people of the light (1 Thessalonians 4:4-11). As for suffering and persecution - well that has always been a given in the Christian life as we follow the steps of Jesus - our great Sufferer.
I cannot help reflect on the urgency of the final days without being mindful of the people I know who don't yet know Jesus and the hope of salvation found in him. We need to get out there and tell them about Him by sharing our lives and the gospel of grace.