Are the End Times Coming?
Are the end times coming? We are living through unprecedented hurricanes with Harvey and Irma. We witness a massive 8.1 earthquake in Mexico. Raging wildfires in Oregon and the Northeast are threatening. Ongoing wars in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as many other places around the world. The unthinkable threat of nuclear disaster, especially now with North Korea. Are the end times coming? Are these the signs that Jesus forewarned us about when he said, “nation will rise up again nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these will be the beginning of sorrows.” (Mt 24:7-8)
The other day I saw a fascinating post on the internet, which maybe some of you also saw, where in the background one could see the huge blazing fires all up the mountain of the northwest, and in the forefront were golfers playing a few rounds of golf totally oblivious to the fires in the background. These made me think of Christ’s warning, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the son of Man be” (Mt 24:7-8, 38-39)
Are we oblivious to the signs all around us that point to the end times? Do we continue to live life, merrily doing what we always do, with a firing blazing behind us?
What do you think? Are we living in the end times?
How about listening to St. Paul’s words about the end times: “In the last days, perilous times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:1-5) That description could very well sum up our contemporary society. Yet does that mean the end is upon us?
Well, some may think we are facing the end times, but we also need to remember the words of Christ when he said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only… Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming… Be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Mt 24:36,42,44)
On one hand, we seem to be living in extraordinary times that say the end is near, yet on another hand, Jesus warns us never to be fooled. No one can predict the end times. No one!
Maybe, therefore, instead of worrying about whether we are living in the end times, we should just heed the words of our Lord to “be ready,” “be vigilant” and “be prepared.” Whether we hear of unprecedented hurricanes or not really shouldn’t matter. None of us know when the end of our lives will come. Our end may come today or tomorrow, unexpectedly, in an accident. Or with a sudden illness. Or in some other way. We just need to be prepared and ready always! Christ reminds us to live in constant vigilance. Our spiritual struggle is to live a life of continual preparedness!
The central question shouldn’t be, “Are the end times here?” but rather “Are we ready and prepared to face our Creator today?”
That’s why when someone asks me, “Is the end of the world upon us?” I say “Yes! Get ready!” By that, I don’t mean the apocalypse is upon us. That may come today or tomorrow or it may come in another thousand years. That is for God alone to know. Our Lord did warn us, however, to wake us, get ready, and be prepared, for our own end is coming soon enough! As lightning flashes in the sky, so will our end come. The sad and amazing reality, though, is that many will still choose to ignore these warnings!
In the book of Revelation, which offers a word of encouragement to the followers of Christ who felt they were living in the end times, we read this: “But humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, DID NOT REPENT of the works of their hands… they DID NOT REPENT of their murders or sorceries or sexual immorality or corruption.” (Revelation 9:20-21)
The ultimate question we all should reflect upon isn’t whether the natural disasters and wars and troubles we read about in the news are signs of the end of the world. The crucial question is how will these natural disasters and wars and troubles help us change our lives? Will they lead us to a deeper repentance and turning to God? Will they even affect our lives in any visible manner?
In the midst of some hurricane or earthquake or fire or nuclear threat, will we keep living like we always have lived?
What Christ revealed in the Revelation was that those who survived the horrible plagues and disasters DID NOT REPENT! They received warnings, yet their lives didn’t change, and they didn’t turn back to God and focus on what is eternal. The temporary and superficial affairs of their lives quickly occupied them once again!
Is that how we will respond to this latest natural disaster? For those in Texas whose homes are still flooded, or those in the Caribbean whose homes are destroyed, or those in Florida whose homes are threatened, will we stop and reflect upon the deeper reality of disaster and death. Will we change our lives, turn more to God, strive to allow His Spirit to dwell richly within us and guide us each and every day? If we live a life of continual repentance and turning towards God, than we will hear Christ say, as He did in the last two chapters of Revelation, “I will wipe away every tear from your eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away… Behold, I make all things new… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give the water of life freely to everyone who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be their God and they shall be my children.” (Rev 21:4-7)
IN WHOM DO WE TRUST?
Our Orthodox Faith
Spirituality: The Meaning of Theosis As the Goal of Christian Life