The question, “Is the end of the world near?” would conjure up a host of reflections and emotions in people. It would, no doubt, remind people of the recent natural disasters. It was barely two weeks ago when, on April 25, 2015, an earthquake which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale hit Nepal. As of today, the death toll stands at over 8,100, thousands are still nursing their wounds, and hundreds of Nepal nationals and foreigners are still reportedly missing and presumed dead. Even as I was writing this note, it was being reported that another earthquake of magnitude 7.4 on the Richter scale had just hit Nepal, with the death toll on this one being lower but still undetermined! There is not a day when there is no war in some place on earth. Earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires, mudslides, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc., seem to be more frequent now than ever before. NBC News reported this morning that in the last six days alone there have been 131 tornadoes from South Dakota to Texas. Unthinkable things are happening too! On March 24, 2015, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately flew the plane into the French Alps, killing himself and 149 innocent people. The Malaysia Airlines plane MH 370 disappeared from the skies over a year ago, and there is still no trace of it, no debris of any kind. These and other events should remind us of the words of our Lord:
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains (Matthew 24:6-8).
How people lead their lives in connection with the notion of the end of the world can be classified under four headings.
The Presumptuous: First, there are the presumptuous. Such people believe that they can use certain events to figure out to the year—sometimes, to the date and time–when the Second Coming of Christ will take place, which would of necessity spell the end of the world as we know it. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are notorious for pinpointing dates, such as 1914, 1925, and 1975, as dates when the world would come to an end. Needless to say, they have been proved wrong every time. Most recently Harold Camping, the California radio evangelist, garnered much attention when he predicted that the Rapture (the Second Coming of Christ for His believers) would take place on May 21, 2011. When that prediction did not come true, he blamed it on a mathematical error and adjusted the date to October 21, 2011. When October 21, 2011 also came and went, Camping quit the doomsday prediction business. He apologized for having made a grievous mistake, and he later died in December 2013 at the age of 92.
Anyone who claims that he or she has discovered a mathematical formula which would enable him or her to predict when the world would end is being presumptuous. It is foolhardy to be presumptuous in this way, for such a person is ignoring a clear statement of our Lord: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Our Lord stated that while He was in human flesh, He too did not know when the world would come to an end!
Some who are not presumptuous are scoffers.
The Scoffers: The Second Epistle of Peter warned against scoffers who would arrogantly ask, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2Peter 3:3-4).
Such scoffers only display the fact that they do not know the Almighty God that they are scoffing. If they do not repent, it will become clear to them when it would be too late that God will have the last laugh—except that it is no laughing matter for God, for it hurts God to see man whom He created in His own image go to hell.
A group in a dangerous state is the apathetic group.
The Apathetic: There are many people who are apathetic. They lead their lives like the scoffers, for they too can easily repeat the scoffers’ lines, “… ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2Pet. 3:4). The only difference between them and the scoffers is that they do not scoff at God. They go about their daily lives without thinking of what God wants them to do. They think that they control their own destiny. Any of them can easily tell you, “I pulled myself up by my own boot straps.” Little do they know that, whether they acknowledge it or not, their lives too are in the hand of the Almighty God. Some of them do turn to God quite alright, but only as a last resort. Most of these people are non-Christians but, alas, many Christians too are unwittingly in this group.
The final group is the group I call the perennials.
The Perennials: The perennials are like the evergreen trees, always living their lives for the Lord. They are ever-ready spiritually. Each such person is constantly asking himself or herself, “What does the Lord want me to do?” Our Lord says that His Second Coming would be like the coming of “a thief in the night” (see Matthew 24:42-44; 2Peter 3:10). For the perennials, our Lord’s Second Coming will be a welcome surprise. All others will be overcome with regrets at that time.
What then should we do with this?
1. Know that the end of time is near, at least it is nearer now than it has ever been. Be a perennial. Lead your life expecting our Lord to come again in your lifetime. Do not forget that your labors on this earth will come to an end at the end of your lifetime, whether Christ comes again in your lifetime or not.
2. Realize that it will not be long before you will be leaving this world. Even if you live over a 100, that would be a very long life on this earth, but it would still be but a dot on the line of eternity. Count the years as months, count the months as weeks, count the weeks as days, and you would realize that every one of us will be going home any day now. It is sobering to realize that with every passing day, each of us is 24 hours closer to the end of his or her labors on earth.
3. Now is the time to serve the Lord, not a decade from now, not five years from now, not even a year from now. Lead a life without regrets. Now is the time to serve the Lord for, while you and I cannot determine when our Lord is coming again, we can be sure that the end of the world is at hand.
Our Lord forewarned us. You and I would do well to take His warning to heart. Be prepared!