End Times – or just the same old thing?
By Duane Hewitt
In reading references to “last days” and “end times” in The Bible, a question comes to mind: Truly, how can we know what the last days are? Have we only just recently entered the last days? I’m no longer sure.
Mankind’s entire history is one of plight: Wars, pestilence, famine, disease and distress are all the status quo. From the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden to this very day, our shared history is one of chaos, control, violence, war and – ultimately – ruin. Look at The Great Flood and everything that both preceded and followed. We continually prove ourselves to be destructive. Put aside our achievements in literature and music, the sciences and technology, or any act of kindness you can lay claim to: We are a species that is hell-bent on self-destruction. Our entire history screams it – virtually every civilization of every known era has been brought to ruin.
How, then, can we interpret what Christ meant by his warnings in Matthew 24? Are we in “end times” now? Or is it yet to unfold? Is it not possible that the “end of days” refers to the total time of humankind’s reign on the earth or, alternately, the period immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection?
Consider: The Apostle Paul spoke of being in end times in his writings when he was alive. If all scripture is inspired by God, is this not a clue? In Hebrews 1 Paul writes, “…in these last days…” Paul’s words are almost 2,000 years old.
Even when Christ says in Matthew 24:21 that “there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now,” certainly, this appears to be true, at least until we look at our self-made horrors from previous centuries. And what about mankind’s nature: Our combative, self-serving, deceitful, and arrogant nature? What about mental illness – or the imbalances of mind and body – how does this come into play? What exactly is the nature of mankind? And how does this impact any interpretation of End Times or our ultimate destination here on Earth? Man’s capacity for horror and destruction is surpassed only by his capacity for new horrors and destruction.
But now, something else comes to mind concerning End Times: Is it not possible that all scriptural references to the topic are warnings for us to change our ways and avert such cataclysm? We either have free will or we do not. We are either able to participate in God’s will for the world or we cannot.
When we consider the second new commandment given to us by Christ – commonly known as The Golden Rule – we are being given a powerful directive that would in all likelihood thwart the horrors of the great tribulation. Imagine for a moment if every person on earth followed this edict. Such an impassioned concern for the well-being of one another – a proactive caring for not just each other but all life – would be transformative. It would surely save us from those things predicted for the last days.
In the very least, those of us who are willing can make the effort – and it may just be enough as the numbers on the side of God grow. If I choose to “walk with God” and follow Christ by the kind acts I do for a stranger… if a hungry person is fed, a war is averted, and the sun comes out, is it therefore not possible that we learned what we were supposed to and prevented the terrors predicted by end times’ references?
If we hope for, pray for, and believe in paradise on Earth, it may be that all end-times’ warnings are telling us that, not only is it our choice, but that we must have faith that we’ll be helped and guided along the way in our transformative return to Eden and Christ’s return.
Sadly, it’s hard not to look at the world today and think all is lost. Are we hopeful that something miraculous will happen “in the blink of an eye?” Are we expecting God’s intervention to rescue us from ourselves? Why keep trying?
It’s easy to conclude that mankind’s very nature must first change before any positive transformative changes can occur – and it’s equally easy to question if such a thing is even possible.
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
2 Timothy 3
2 Peter 3:3-7
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Hebrews 1: 2 “but in these last days”
1 Corinthians 15:52