A Matter Of The End Being Nigh?
by: Anthony Keith Whitehead
For years, decades even, we have been assailed by “prophets”, conference speakers, writers and similar to the effect that “the end is nigh”. In other words, that we are living in the end times, that is, the end end times. The Second Coming will be here before you can get home today!!
The Track Record
Should we believe these people? On a probability basis the answer must be resoundingly negative. Christian have been assailed for two thousand centuries by people who claimed that the end is imminent. They were all wrong! Even so outstanding a disciple as Paul of Tarsus was wrong. Look at (probably) the very first letter he wrote (or at least, the first letter of his of which we have a copy, the First Letter to the Thessalonians, commonly dated to AD 50). This reflects his current view that the Second Coming would probably happen before tea-time!But it did not.
Clearly someone, somewhere, sometime is going to be right. Eventually. But in the meantime…?
Which begs the question as to how long the meantime will be, and that simply puts the original question in a different form.
So what grounds are there for believing that people today know better that Paul did in his day – Paul who was so very, very near to God? Does someone, anyone have the answer?
Who Has The Answer?
Well, Jesus told us who has the answer. Not himself, in his humanity, walking the earth: “No-one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)
If Jesus himself did not know, and if he has told us quite clearly that no one else knows either, why do we become so preoccupied in trying to predict the Second Coming? In trying to do something which he has implied is both impossible for us and is not our concern? If it was our concern the Father would not have hidden it and kept it from us
Our Legitimate Preoccupations
Are we so preoccupied with this question because the version of Christianity which we have is so insufficiently exciting that we need to contunually embellish it? hype it up (because we do live in an age and culture of hype)? give it a bit more spin (because we seem to have more spin in our culture than we have simple truth)?
Some may quote Jesus that we should know the signs of the time: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16. 3). But Matthew 24. 36 clearly over-rides this. Indeed, Jesus immediately went on to warn that “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” And, it says, Jesus then left them and went away. When we become preoccupied with looking for, trying to discern, expecting the end times in our day, are we not putting ourselves in the same category? ThePharisees and Sadducees wanted a sign because what they had before them was not enough. But in fact, had they been able to discern it, what they had was considereably more than enough.
Paul’s case was different. He simply mistook the situation. We cannot claim that. We have his mistake and 2000 years of history as a basis for knowing differently. To know the date the Father has determined is simply not in our portfolio to be concerned with. In a sense, it does not, or at least should not, matter to us whether the Second Coming comes at tea time today or in another 2000 years.
In either case, there will be primarily one judgement for each of us. Surely, our concern is to be ready for that – whenever it comes. How and when and where it comes is of no consequence, if only we are ready for it.
About The Author
Anthony Keith Whitehead
Over twenty-three years in Christian healing teaching writing ministries. Wide range of secular employments before being called by the Lord into full time independent ministry in 1987. With his wife Iris he has ministered both in the UK and USA. Has written several books on healing meditation and various aspects of spirituality. Formal qualifications include: B.A. M.Phil. Cambridge University Certificate in Religious Studies Post Grad Cert in Education.
Web Site: http://www.christianword.co.uk
This article was posted on August 22, 2005