Recently there has been a lot of buzz in the Church regarding “eschatology,” which is a fancy Greek word for the end of time.
It seems that apocalyptic ideas reach a climax every few years and especially at significant occasions on the calendar like Y2K. I’m often perplexed when I hear well meaning Christians say they know the future based on an obscure verse here and there. I admit that I’m not a big fan of end time predictions as I’ve seen many predictions come and go with little impact or real life effect. It seems ironic to me that if I advertised a seminar on “end time prophecy” I would fill the venue but if I advertised “righteous living here and now” only a handful would show. Why are believers enamored with how it’s all going to end and not as excited to live daily with a view to holiness?
Getting worked up over how it’s all going to end sells more books but doesn’t really change lives or cause more Godliness. Let me suggest some things the body of Messiah Yeshua can do to prepare for the future, whenever that future should arrive. Rather than looking at the stars or the moon, let’s look at some other places that deserve our attention.
The first area that deserves our attention is the Word of G-d. There are too many longtime believers that remain Biblically illiterate, and many of them are in the “ministry.” There is no excuse for failing to plunge deep into Biblical study. Take a class, read some books, or go online for numerous resources to learn. Take a class on Biblical languages like Greek and Hebrew. Go to Israel and study in the Land of the Bible. The results of pastors delving deep into Biblical studies would be a more mature body of believers that would scrutinize their faith and be just as excited about learning new Biblical insights as they were about end times. There is so much truth in the Bible that is just waiting for us to uncover as we dig deeper. Rather that surface reading, join a small group Bible study or find a mentor to lead you into areas of new thought and adventure. We will never exhaust our need to study the Bible and I guarantee that the more you read and study the more fruit it will yield.
The second area that needs our efforts is a world of people who are falling apart. There are people who have no food, clothing or shelter — the basic necessities of life. If you can’t find hurting people that need healing you aren’t looking hard enough. There are thousands of people in prison and even more in the bondage of sex trafficking and prostitution. There are many with post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness along with others who are addicted to legal and illegal drugs. I believe that if we used our collective energies as the body of Messiah, we could (always with His help) make a serious dent in helping those in need. If all the people writing books on the end times and the thousands who bought those books would spend an equal amount of time (and money) helping the needy, maybe we could change the world. I know that serving others in need is not as glamorous or exciting as making big money or attending packed seminars but helping those in need is what our G-d commands us to do. If you are overwhelmed at the idea of helping others in need then I recommend contacting Christian-based groups that are already meeting others needs and find out how you can be involved.
Let me suggest three thoughts for your consideration with regard to the end of time.
▪ A study of the end times is complicated and difficult (read confusing) at best if you don’t have any guides to help. The book of Revelation is filled with massive imagery and allusions to the Hebrew Scripture and without a background in those Scriptures you will be severely lost. For this reason I suggested earlier that a study of the whole Bible is necessary before we plunge into end-time speculation. Every commentator on the book of Revelation will tell you that without a comprehensive background in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and several other scattered texts you won’t be able to understand the book of Revelation.
▪ The key location of all end time texts is Israel. The Biblical text is geographically centered on the land of Canaan and Mesopotamia and not on America or other countries that many live in today. The Bible isn’t connecting us to America or other destinations of modern day interest but keeps the camera aimed solely on the nation of Israel, as that’s where the locus of His attention rests. Bible prophecy that neglects the people of Israel and the Land of Israel demonstrates how disconnected we are from the people and land of the Bible.
▪ The calendar of G-d is found in Leviticus 23, where we have listed the Spring Festivals of Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost) and the Fall Festivals of Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah), Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The calendar of G-d is based on days of His choosing and not on days brought about through centuries of traditional church history.
I am not against studying the end of time and I encourage others to pursue these studies. I am, however, against a focus on the end of time that lacks balance with dealing with real-world issues that need our collective attention. Before we make grandiose claims and set dates, maybe we should take a step back and make sure that we are helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and releasing those imprisoned or in bondage to numerous addictions.
I think we — and they — are better served to do more looking around for those in need than looking up to see what new fad we can chase regarding the end of time.
Brent Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.