The “Preppers” are hoarding food, guns, and gas masks, preparing for the end. There are thousands of them throughout the United States. But, meanwhile, people were ready to harm one another on Black Friday to get the best deal on a cell phone. The mall parking lots are full. Car sales are up. What’s happening?!?!? Some people see no hope, while most seem to think there is a future! According to a popular theory, since a stone calendar carved by the Mayans ends this December 21st, the world must end on the 21st. So why are some people preparing for a catastrophe and others are buying things for Christmas and beyond?
Will the world really end on the 21st? And if it does end, why is anyone preparing food and supplies? Doesn’t the “end” mean it’s over? Personally, I think it’s unlikely that God would reveal to the pagan Mayans the date Christ will return when even Jesus (according to His humanity) didn’t know the date. He said, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). So rest easy. The world probably won’t end on the 21st. More likely, it will be on the 20th. Or in 20 minutes.
The fact is, no one knows the date Christ will return and this world will pass away. God has chosen not to reveal it to us. Already while He was still on earth, Jesus was telling His followers to be ready at all times. He has promised to return when no one expects Him: “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44).
So how can we be ready if we don’t know when the world will end? The answer is quite simple: If you believe, by God’s grace, that Jesus Christ is your only Savior from sin and death, then you are ready. But you also need to stay ready—and that’s often the difficult part. We stay ready when we stay in God’s Word, the Bible—when we hear it preached and when we read and study it. We stay ready by receiving the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
But what if you’re not a Christian? Or you’re not sure? Then God invites you to come to Him through His Word. Read and learn, not about what you can do for Him, but what He has already done for you. Talk with a local pastor. He will be happy to answer your questions and discuss your concerns. You can find one here.
Why is God waiting so long? If Jesus was already telling His disciples to be prepared, why hasn’t He returned? Because God loves you and all people. And He wants all to be saved. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). The world will end. There’s no doubt about that. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior will go with Him to Heaven. Those who do not believe will be separated from Him and will enter eternal punishment in Hell.
Right now is a time of grace for you and for me and for all who are living. Now is the time for us to believe and to keep our faith strong. Now is the time for us to tell others of their Savior. Because we don’t know when Christ will return, now is the time. Whether the world ends on the 21st, the 20th, in 20 minutes, or in 20 years, God wants us to be ready—to be ready to run out in joy, not in fear, to meet Him when He comes!
-Rev. Paul Fries