Monday, October 06, 2014

Are We Living In The End Times?

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matthew: 24:6

I do not mean to be provocative, but with all that has been going on lately, I think it is a fair question to ask if we are entering the End Times that many Christians believe have to occur before the return of Jesus Christ.
I think that before I explain what I am trying to convey, it is important to have a brief as possible primer on the End Times.
Firstly, the End Times is not just a Christian idea of the 18th century American church. Almost every conceivable Christian sect and or denomination has a vision of the End Times. The Roman Catholic church believes in the End Times, although as we see here, many do not believe in a literal End Times scenario. However, there are many RCs that have a more Protestant view of the End Times as we see here. But to be honest, in much of the liturgical tradition, there is a lack of teaching and or fervor about the End Times. In the United States, non-liturgical Protestants are more likely to teach and believe in an End Time. But there is a lot of dispute about the exact nature of it and the whole 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ. The bottom line is that for the most part, Christians of all stripes believe there will be an end of the world as we know it.
Judaism believes in a messianic age and the return of the Messiah. For the most part, Jews do not believe that Jesus Christ is that messiah. But the messiah will come back for his people.
Islam believes in an End Time scenario. But because there is the Sunni-Shit'e division in Islam, there are different variations that come to the same conclusion.
Even non-monotheistic religions have a belief in some kind of End Times.
The original link is a great place to have a basic understanding of what the End Times mean to different faiths.
There endeth the lesson.
Do I believe we are in the End Times as described by many non-liturgical Protestant Christians?
I introduce you to this salient passage in the Holy Gospel according to Matthew:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Matthew 24:36

So does that answer the question? Not in a yes or no way. So here is the context of this passage.

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Acts 1:7

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10

Well, to fully give you an answer, please go back to the beginning of this post.
In a way, I do believe that we are closer to the End Times than at any time in history.
There are reasons why. For one, only in this era is the world so connected. At no other time in history have we the capacity to communicate the way we do now. We can watch a war in real time taking place in the Middle East as we watch the Islamic State go on the march. We can witness disasters in real time. That could be the fulfilment of biblical prophecy of the whole world being able to see the return of Christ.
It is not just the wars in the Middle East but all over the world. There are civil wars we hardly know about but are still going on. The Philippines comes to mind with the Roman Catholic majority fighting a radical Islamic faction in Mindanao. The continent of Africa, sadly, is almost nothing but wars, civil wars and terrorism. There is the war in The Ukraine between proxy Russians and the Ukrainian government over portions of the Eastern Ukraine. And where there is not war, there seems to be an uneasy tension ready to boil over from a lot of different sources. Even here in the United States, there is a lot of tension that could spark something. People are just anxious.
Christian persecution is definitely on the rise all over the world. Of course the Middle East is the hot bed of this. Yet again, this is happening all over the world and yes, right here in the United States. It is also one of the signs of the end. Of course different Christians come to different conclusions on their faith journey, but a sign of the hostility to Christianity is the assault on the Christmas and Easter seasons. Christmas is now known as Holiday. What holiday?! Every other one has a name so after eliminating those, I and many assume the holiday is Christmas. Christmas break is now winter break in schools. Christmas shows are now winter shows also in schools. One can not in any public setting it seems wish anyone a Merry Christmas. Because of faux-offense. Christmas songs about, well the birth of Christ is a no-no. And one can change the word Christmas with Easter and much of the same thing.
These are but a couple of examples of why I think that we could possibly be in the End Times. I could go on and on. We could have a great debate over Preterism or Dispensationalist or Pre-tribulation and Post-tribulation. But that is not the point of this post.
But the reason why I write this post is because we have to be very, very careful not to play God as one Harold Camping did a couple of years ago.
Mr. Camping believed that he knew when the end of the world was to occur and the date was October 21, 2011. But before that, Jesus Christ would come down and save the people he wanted in to be with him in heaven in the Rapture. That was to occur on May 21, 2011. What was to happen in between? Well the fire and brimstone many End Time preachers talk about. The plagues. The wars. All the evil would be loosed on the world and it would all end on October 21, 2011. 
Remember what I wrote above? Jesus himself said that no man would no the day, or hour. Yet Mr. Camping tried to play God. He did realize that he was mistaken, but there was a lot of damage that he did.  
Most End Time preachers are careful not to search for the date, time and all of that. But there is a temptation to do so. Just as dangerous as not discerning the Word of God in proper meaning and context.
For me, I do believe that we are in the throws of something major. Possibly the End Times. There are lots of signs. A lot of persecution. Wars and rumors of wars.
But as Jesus Christ himself said, do not be troubled.
I will say simply to be aware and to live a good life for yourself and especially your family and yes, your neighbor.

 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  This is the first and great commandment.
  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew, 22:35-40

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