I’ve lost count of how many times people have said to me recently, ‘The end must be coming soon, don’t you think?’
It’s tempting to think that everything will keep going as it always has. But the last couple of years makes that hard to believe.
Expecting Jesus to return soon is a basic Christian belief. But even while the New Testament was being written, people doubted that key part of the Christian message.
Peter writes in his second letter, ‘They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since your ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.’ (2 Peter 3:4-7). Don’t forget, God has interrupted our world to pour out His judgement before and He will do so again.
But are the present troubles in our world a sign that the final judgement is coming?
Towards the end of Jesus’ ministry, He spoke of the signs of the end: ‘6 You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth-pains.’ (Matthew 24:6-8). So, within the lifetimes of Jesus’ first disciples, the birth-pains would start. The end is on its way! It’s not here yet, but when?
That’s the question so many people have asked: When?
Daniel asks it here in Daniel 12. But (have you noticed this about the Bible?) it doesn’t always answer our questions. Jesus did the same thing: People would ask Him one question, and He’d reply as if to say, ‘The more important question is this!’
The Bible isn’t a book to satisfy our curiosity. In the Bible, God answers the questions we should ask.
And we find that here. Daniel asks, ‘When?’ and God answers, ‘How?’ Daniel asks what the end will be like and when it will be, But God tells him to pay attention to how he lives before the end comes.
And that’s what we need to remember when we ask about the end of the world. Yes, it’s important! It matters, because what we think about the end of the world effects how we live now and where we will live when the end of the world is over.