The End of the World?

The following is an excerpt I read in Wayne Grudem's 'Systematic Theology' that continues to leap to the forefront of my mind as I repeatedly watch updates on individuals' personal profiles file onto my feed addressing the end of the world. 

(Beginning in reference to  Matt. 24:44 and Luke 12:40)

"The point of these passages is that Jesus is telling us that we cannot know when he is coming back. Since he will come at an unexpected time, we should be ready at all times for him to return. The practical result of this is that anyone who claims to know specifically when Jesus is coming back is automatically to be considered wrong. The Jehovah's Witnesses have made many predictions of specific dates for Christ's return, and all of them have turned out to be wrong.* But others in the history of the church have made such predictions as well, sometimes claiming new insight into biblical prophecies, and sometimes claiming to have received personal revelations from Jesus himself indicating the time of his return. It is unfortunate that many people have been deceived by these claims, because if people are convinced that Christ will return (for example) within a month, they will begin to withdraw from all long-term commitments. They will take their children out of school, sell their houses, quit their jobs, and give up work on any long-term projects whether in the church or elsewhere. They may initially have an increased zeal for evangelism and prayer, but the unreasonable nature of their behavior will offset any evangelistic impact they may have. Moreover, they are simply disobeying the teachings of Scripture that they date of Christ's return cannot be known, which means that even their prayers and fellowship with God will be hindered as well. Anyone who claims to know the date on which Christ will return-from whatever source- should be rejected as incorrect."**

*Their attempt to save face by claiming that Jesus actually did return on October 1, 1914, in an invisible way, is incorrect because it denies the visible, bodily nature of Christ's return that is so clearly specified in several passages [of scripture].

**Even in the "enlightened" twentieth century, such alarms can be persuasive to many people. In the summer of 1988 a former rocket scientist with impressive academic credentials circulated a booklet claiming that Jesus would return on September 12, 1988, and tens of thousands of copies of the book found their way around the United states and to various parts of the world. I was surprised to find that some otherwise sober Christian friends had read it and were alarmed, and to hear that some Christians in our community had pulled their children out of school in order to be together as a family when Christ came back. When the prediction failed, the author, Edgar Whisnant, revised his prediction, saying his calculations were one year off and Christ would return instead on September 1, 1989 (or one day earlier or later), or, if not then, on Rosh Hashanah 1990 or 1991 or 1992, or, at the latest, September 15-17, 1993. Of course , those predictions also failed. But many lives were disrupted and many people had false expectations aroused and then dashed by the publication of this booklet and its sequel. 



It's astonishing to me that when I hit 'enter' after typing something into my browser, if it's not at the 'destination' of my request within 5 seconds, I'll retry. Sometimes I'll even restart the computer if it seems to be slow... (before you roll your eyes at me, count to one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand...my guess is you skipped all of those because it was taking too long?)

We hate to wait. My generation hadn't even experienced technology for what it is now until we were in junior high when the walkman (portable CD player) was all the rage (especially if you had one of the ones that didn't skip when the school bus went over all the bumps). Before then cassette tapes, radio programs, VHS tapes, and pagers, were all normal to us; cell phones and the internet seemed like things we'd watch the Jetsons use Saturday morning on Cartoon Network. Suddenly a tech-typhoon swept over us and has never weakened. We make them faster, smaller, better, trendier, faster, smarter, sleeker, louder, cleaner, easier, and oh, did I mention we really like to make things faster? I'm sure it's no new bit of information for me to tell you that everything we develop in some way is geared towards getting gratification, and getting it instantly.

We don't just hate to wait, we don't know how to wait. For a moment with me shift your attention away from the technology, and towards your heart to see what this genre of circumstance reveals.

To wait on something that is not in your control, is to depend on something or someone else. Our unquenchable thirst for instant appeasement translates into an obsessive need to have constant control at our fingertips (metaphorically and literally speaking). Always.

The Bible so beautifully highlights the value of waiting, the merit of being patient, and the importance of releasing our grip. Do we really want to see the Lord work? Do we truly desire to see the power of the almighty God manifested in this world? Then we need to return to our true place, the place that belongs to us, in both creation and redemption, the place of absolute and unceasing dependence upon God. Waiting on Him.1 

Whatever you're waiting on today, be still and know he is God (Psalm 46:10). Our fullness and joy is to be found at the foot of the cross just waiting. Our timing is often flawed and our plans are seldom unselfish, but praise the Lord for His grace and mercy, for His timing is perfect, His plan is divinely sovereign, and His Love for us is unparalleled.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"
Isaiah 40:31