The End Is Near!

     I remember seeing signs on the roadside with “The End Is Near” written in a white paintbrush font on a dark background that made the words look like a promotion for a science fiction movie. I learned later that the signs were probably put up by religious people who believed that the Lord was about to return just any minute. Of course, Jesus was rather clear on the subject of the timing of His return and thus the end of time in Matthew 24:36; “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

     There is a principle here that applies almost everywhere and for all time: we really do not know what is coming. Life here on this earth is unpredictable. We all know this to be true but sometimes we fail to take it into account. We sometimes act as if we think we are going to live forever. This is might be healthy in a way because it can’t be good to go around contemplating one’s demise. That would make for a negative outlook and a less than pleasing personality. So most of us strike a balance; we know our days here are finite so we make the best of them. However we do need to remember that our days here are limited when we think about our spiritual lives.

     Peter helps us understand this particularly in his second letter. In that letter he spoke of growing in the faith (2 Peter 1:1-11) and he showed us that he was aware of the limits of his own life here (2 Peter 1:12-15). He told us to rely on the Word (2 Peter 1:16-21) and to be careful about those ideas that have the capability to lead us away from truth (2 Peter 2).

In chapter three he provided clear direction on preparing for “the end.” He dealt first of all with those who denied the idea that the Lord would return at all. Based on the content of both of Peter’s letters these scoffers rejected God’s will and were “walking according to their own lusts.” In this they were like God’s people in the Book of Judges who were doing what “was right in their own eyes.” There are no better words of warning than those of 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

     Peter then moved to matters of timing: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens and the earth shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” As we know, thieves do not tell us their plans. God is certainly no thief but the point here is that the end of time will not be announced. So those roadside signs were chronologically inaccurate.

     They were inaccurate but Peter had it precisely right. He wrote “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…?” We do not know when this world will cease to exist but it will. And if that day is hundreds or thousands of years in the future, we know that we will meet our own personal end in the meantime. We need therefore to do what Peter said to do, obey the gospel (Acts 2:14-47) and live so as to be “found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” This we can do thanks to God’s grace, Christ’s blood and the inspired gospel.

     And yes, we are near the end of another year. Are there spiritual improvements we need to make? God has given us time thus far. How much time is left?