If I read one more Facebook post about how the end of the world is at hand, I’m gonna… well – I probably won’t actually do anything except what I always do… just shake my head and feel profoundly sad that this is the focus of any Jesus Followers.
One of the posts I saw recently was a link to an article about 25 signs that prove the end of time is here – or something similar. I made the mistake of clicking on it… not because I thought it would show me anything useful but because I wanted to see what one of my friends was reading and how they could feel so strongly about it that they would provide it as a link with their own description that said… “scary.” It actually was scary. Not scary accurate – but scary as to why people want to focus on “the end of the world” so often. Why do some dwell on it so much?
Have you ever heard of a guy named William Miller? Yeah, I’m not surprised. He was born in 1789. His claim to fame was developing a group of followers known as Millerites. They believed – because of his teaching and his interpretation of books of the Bible like Daniel and Revelation – that he had derived the date of the end of the world to be sometime in the year of 1843. Not to ruin the suspense for you if you planned on looking him up and reading about him… but the world didn’t end as he had predicted. He had thousands of followers who were pretty disappointed too. Many had given all of their possessions away… including their homes, their property, their livestock… everything but the clothes on their back. Some of them had even given their very clothes away – waiting on the night of the prediction wearing nothing but a white robe. (I guess because that’s what you wear up in heaven?)
Miller lived another 6 years after his failed prediction – all the time extending the date out a little longer… saying he was still convinced he would see the end of the world before his death because there was so much evil in the world. The end of his world came but ours kept on going and as of me typing these words right now – still is… And I wouldn’t be surprised if my great, great, great, great grandkids get to see this same beautiful world. But that’s not my prediction… I – just like Mr. Miller – really, truly have no idea. And neither does anyone else. Regardless of what “evidence” they want to point you to.
Many say, just as Mr Miller did, “Well look at how evil this world has become! The end has to be near!” It does? Well… near is a relative term.
Have you ever heard of Genghis Khan? He lived about 800 years ago. He is credited with the murder of 60 million people in his march through China. Sixty. Million. Then an additional 10 to 15 million in the Iranian Plateau… which was over 75% of its population. His favorite from of execution was decapitation. Men, women, children… it didn’t matter. I have a feeling – people who were lucky enough to survive his reign of terror believed the world had to be nearing the end… “How could things get worse?,” they had to wonder…
Of course there have been horrific atrocities committed throughout history that at any given point in time had to have people questioning whether it was time for time to end.
Today is no different. For example… ISIS and the horrific crimes they are committing against humans. It’s heartbreaking to know that such evil exists. But us focusing on wishes for this to be the end of the world are such a waste of time and energy. Scholars spending hundreds and thousands of hours trying to associate ancient prophecies with events of today are no different than scholars of hundreds of years ago… or possibly even for scholars hundreds of years from today… and just as it was in all points of history… trying to predict the end of time is pointless.
Is our time almost up? Maybe. Maybe not. But it doesn’t matter. Every second we waste trying to predict it or justify our predictions or prove how we have it all figured out is all time we could focus instead on loving others. We could be helping people in need… We could be reaching out – not in judgment or in dire warnings – but in action on behalf of others. We could be focused on showing people that we are more concerned with their needs in the now than in our own predictions about the future ending – whether near or far…
If and whenever the world does come to an end, I hope that these are the words that I hear… ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21 Until then… I’ll keep following Him and showing people who Jesus is.
The End… for now.
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