“Unprecedented,” “Armageddon,” “a storm of biblical proportions,” “on the brink of war,” “financial meltdown…” These are just a few of the descriptions used for various events on the news during the past year. Add to them mass shootings, earthquakes, scandals, and so many other things and you might think the world is ending! Well, it is.
The predictions of the end of the world from the past year are almost too numerous to count. In many cases, they succeeded in scaring people into preparing for various scenarios, from a government collapse to a disease outbreak rivaled only by the Black Plague of medieval Europe. All the predictions were wrong. Again.
We need to first separate what is described as the end of the world with what God tells us about the end. The first thing we need to realize is that a government collapse or a disease outbreak do not constitute the end of the world. Our lives could change drastically overnight because of a natural disaster, war, or disease. You can buy freeze-dried meals and store water to use in a natural disaster. You can protect yourself and your family in various ways from diseases. But those things will not help you or your loved ones when Jesus returns. There is only one end of the world—the day Jesus Christ returns as both Judge and Savior—and the only preparation needed is rooted in faith.
The day and time of Jesus’ return are very clear: when we don’t expect Him. Anyone who claims to have discovered the day or time of Jesus’ return has abandoned the truth of God’s Word. Jesus Himself, according to His state of humiliation, chose not to know the time of His return. He said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32 EHV). Those words cannot be clearer. No one except God will know the time or date of Jesus’ return. Instead of giving us a timetable, our Lord tells us to always be ready: “You also need to be ready for this reason: The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44 EHV). “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13 EHV).
Jesus, as God of the universe, is returning as both Judge and Savior. He will judge each individual according to his faith. Those who believe in Him as their only Savior will be saved and those who do not believe will be condemned. The believers will be taken by our Savior, Jesus, to Heaven, while the unbelievers will be sent to Hell for an eternity of punishment.
With all this in mind, we know that now is the time to prepare. Each day we live is preparation for eternity. That doesn’t mean God wants us to be excessively preoccupied with His return. Instead, we are to live our lives in the time and location He has placed us. We are to go about our daily lives working in the vocations God has provided. And we are to remain spiritually prepared, daily repenting of our sins and returning, in faith, to the waters of baptism knowing that our sins are forgiven through Jesus. We are to read, hear, and study His Word. We are to receive His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper for forgiveness of sins.
Jesus lived the perfect life demanded of you in your place. Jesus died to pay for all of your sins. Jesus was raised to life to prove all of this. Don’t worry. God has provided everything you need to be ready for Jesus’ return. Stay away from the false prophets predicting the end of the world. Stay away from those who would tear you away from the truth. Jesus is returning soon. Be ready. But be ready as God graciously directs, trusting His words of salvation.
-Rev. Paul Fries