“For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:14–16)
The Islamist State’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East, Vladamir Putin’s escalation of conflict in Europe and the rapid erosion of Christian morals in America; many Christians are beginning to ask, “Is the end near?” The disciples, preoccupied with this question, asked Jesus similarly, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Many have tried to predict the end of the age and Christ’s return, but spending time debating such things is futile and unfruitful. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) You are encouraged, rather, to be watchful of your faith, ready, and a faithful servant of Christ (Matthew 24:42-45). Jesus’ point is, don’t spend your time wondering, “Is the end near?,” when it’s planting, watering and harvesting time in the kingdom of God. “You were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) You were created for good works, not good speculations. You were created to put your faith in action, not for building up a storehouse of Christian knowledge and conjecture you never put into practice.
Perhaps a better response to the signs of the times, is to look straight into the very heart of God through the Apostle Peter’s declaration in 2 Peter 3:7-9, “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 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.” God would be perfectly justified in judging the world today. Who could find blame with such justice? Yet, God, rich in mercy, is allowing more time for those lost in darkness to turn into the kingdom of light in His Son through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of His Spirit..
We should not be caught up speculating about the end, but rather for the beginning. We should be praying and working for salvation that brings new life to those dead in their trespasses and sins. We should be praying for the beginning of a revival and awakening of faith in our town, country and the world. We should be faithfully at work planting and watering seeds of the Gospel, and patiently waiting for God to bring the growth. This is what we are called to do in the present age.
Just prior to the two Great Awakenings in our country, mankind had fallen so far from God and their depravity seemed was at what appeared to be at a new low. Even the majority of churches began to reflect the culture, rather than the Lord and what He called them to be. The late Dr. Harold John Ockenga, writing on revival said, “revivals are preceded by pitiful deflections of the church, which in those times is the ebb tied when worldliness, impotency, lethargy, and deadness overwhelm the church members and hope for revival apparently dies out. Yet even in this condition the heart of man turns with dissatisfaction with worldly pursuits, cries out to God for true life, and has born in it an expectancy of better days. This is the first harbinger of revival.”
If past history, and what we see in Scripture (think Judges – “Everyone did evil in the sight of the Lord.”), is any indication, we may very well be at the precipice of the beginning of something, rather than, or as well as, the end. What a shame it would be to sit in worldly comfort, chewing on useless speculations and critiquing the culture, rather than keeping our hands to the plow and seeking a surprising work of the Holy Spirit. We are, once again, at what seems to be at a new societal low. Perhaps we are nearing a time when the condition of many hearts will turn with dissatisfaction with worldly pursuits and cry out to God. I just hope we, as a church and individual Christians, will be there to show them Jesus. “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God the Father, who has loved us and given us an eternal comfort and a good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)