End times, so what?
2Thessalonians 2: 1-4
1Now, brothers, regarding the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and our meeting with him, we ask you the following: 2 Do not be easily disturbed, nor be frightened if someone claims that the Sabbath day has already arrived. Perhaps someone will say that we stated this while prophesying or announcing the gospel or that we wrote it in a letter. 3 Don’t let anyone fool you with any of this. For, before that day, the Uprising against God will have to happen, and the Wicked will have to appear, who is condemned to go to hell. 4 He will be against everything that people worship and against everything that they think is divine. He will put himself above everyone and even go in and sit in the Temple of God and claim that he is God!
Brothers, I have avoided touching on this topic because it is something that I personally have many doubts about. However, in this age of viruses and other world woes, much has been said about it and in my prayers I received this message today which is about: end of time, so what? The church in Thessalonica was discussing the theme of the Lord’s coming, as they believed that there were signs of misfortunes compatible with the teachings they had received. Paul was very distressed by this, not so much by the discussion, but due to this discussion it took the focus away from Christians, which should be the communion and spreading of the gospel of Jesus.
In the past, in Jesus’ time on earth, there was no internet. The news traveled slowly and was often restricted to the geographic region due to difficulties in locomotion. A pandemic (worldwide epidemic) like the current one was very difficult to develop. A patient who left China for Europe would either be cured on arrival or would have died on the way.
There is, therefore, a big difference between the concept of “the whole world” of that time and now. Still, as far as concerns are concerned, the Christians in Thessalonica were no different from us today: they were concerned about the end of the world!
Brothers, at all times the world suffers from different problems. I think they are strategies used by the evil one to cause confusion in humanity. This can be disastrous! If many start to believe that the end of the world is near, there will be a huge lack of motivation to continue their duties, to fulfill their obligations, leading to an increase in suffering and potentiating the evil effects of Satan’s strategy!
This is also not new. In this same church in Thessalonica there were people who, because they believed in the signs of the end of time, were stopping work! Since the effect was confined geographically, there would probably be little impact on the world. However, it would be a serious blow to the gospel if the message were understood as: “Jesus’ followers are vagabonds!”
This problem was so serious that you can see what Paul wrote:
2Thessalonians 3: 6-8
6 Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we command you to distance yourself from all the brothers who live without work and who do not follow the teachings we have given them. 7You know very well that you must follow our example, for we have not lived among you without working. 8 We have not received anything from anyone without paying; we actually work and get tired. We work non-stop, day and night, so that we are not a burden to any of you.
Notice brothers, the gospel of Jesus cannot be used as an argument for laziness!
So what will the end of times be like? What signs will we see to know that Jesus is coming? I tell you that this question is also not new. Jesus himself was speaking to his followers on this subject. Faced with Jesus’ explanations, the disciples began to worry and asked: “Tell us when this is going to happen?” (Luke 21: 7). The human being is like that, focused on bad things, on curiosity about facts and tragic news. Let’s see what Jesus answered:
Luke 21: 8-12
– Take care that no one deceives you. Because many will appear pretending to be me, saying: “I am the Messiah” or “The time has come”. But don’t follow these people. 9Do not be afraid when you hear about wars and revolutions. For these things must happen first. But that does not mean that the end is near.
– One nation will go to war against another, and one country will attack another. 11 In many places there will be major earthquakes, food shortages and epidemics. Terrible things will happen, and great signs will be seen in the sky.
12 – But before all this happens, you will be arrested and persecuted. You will be handed over to be tried in the synagogues and then you will be thrown in jail. As my followers, you will be taken to kings and governors to be judged.
11and there will be great earthquakes and famines and pestilences in various places;
11Es wird schwere Erdbeben geben und in vielen Teilen der Welt Hungersnöte und Seuchen.
11Y there will be great earthquakes, and in several places and pestilences:
Brothers, Jesus warned us about all this. In all the versions I consulted, verse 11 says the same thing. It is necessary to insist on this point, as there will always be opportunities to be deceived, distracted from our secular and spiritual duties, which is: “Work / live with love and dedication to others and spread the gospel of Jesus!”
We can be deceived because some may say that these same verses are proof of the signs, just as described by Jesus. They can claim that Christians are persecuted here and there and that they are tried and imprisoned as described in verse 12. That there is famine in many parts of the planet and therefore Jesus is returning.
If this is true, then we can immediately stop ALL missionary works, as you see what Mark wrote when he reports this same passage:
10For before the end comes, the gospel must be announced to all peoples.
Friends, we can spend many hours here searching verses in the Bible that justify that the end is near or that the end is far. So far we have been walking in circles in these texts and see that there is no conclusion for this theme. Looking only at Mark 13:10, we see that the end of days has not come, as not all human beings have heard of Jesus.
But if the end is “near”, then “little” is missing for everyone to know Jesus. But tell me: what does “close” or “little” mean? Who knows the measures that God uses?
Brothers, I repeat Jesus’ words here: “Take care that no one deceives you.” And the trick here is not whether the end of the world has arrived or not. The big lesson for us today is that IT DOESN’T MATTER! We Christians need to be firm in our faith. We need to stay focused on living with joy and spreading the gospel with joy.
Whoever uses the “end of the world” to speak of Jesus is frightening people. Jesus is eternal life, not near death! We must repent of our sins for the desire to be close to Christ, the Holy Spirit and God! Whoever is afraid of hell is because they still don’t have enough faith in Christ to know that Jesus justifies us and makes us children of God!
Joao Batista and Jesus Himself at the beginning of his ministry said to call people to repentance (Matthew 4:17): “- Repent of your sins because the Kingdom of Heaven is near!“ The Kingdom of Heaven was there, Jesus himself! Not the end of time! That is, repent to be close to Christ, not because the world will end!
Jesus’ disciples said:
– Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the Holy Spirit from God.
19 Therefore, repent and return to God, so that he will forgive your sins.
It is incredible that some want to call for repentance by fear, by threat. This is not the gospel, for the gospel is new life in Christ!
Tell me brothers, if anyone can prove to us that the end is far away, that Jesus will still be at least 100 years to return. Will we abandon the gospel and return to the world? If you said no, tell me why not. If we still have time to repent, why not “sin for a little while” and then go back to church?
I will help with an answer in the Bible: let’s see what Jesus tells us about that we should not be fooled into thinking that the end is “far” and therefore we have time to sin and repent later.
Look at Jesus’ words:
Luke 21: 34-36
34And Jesus finished saying,
– Stay alert! Don’t let the parties, or the drinking, or the problems of this life make you so busy that the day will take you by surprise, as if it were a trap. For it will fall on everyone all over the world. 36Therefore, keep watch and always pray, so that you can escape everything that will happen and be able to stand in the presence of the Son of Man, when he comes.
Notice brothers, we should not be waiting or monitoring for signs. We must always be alert!
We must be prepared because NO ONE knows the day that we will leave this world, either by the return of Christ (rapture) or by death in this earthly life.
To conclude a last passage still spoken by Jesus:
Matthew 24: 24-27
26 – And if they say, “Look! He’s in the desert ”, don’t go there. Or: “Look! He’s hiding here ”, don’t believe me. 27For as the lightning streaks the sky, from the east to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man.
Here it is clear that it will not be necessary for the coming of Christ to be announced, for ALL will see it at the same time. So if you haven’t seen it, it’s because Jesus hasn’t come back yet!
Let us pray brothers: Lord our God, Jesus Christ our teacher and savior, calms our hearts. Allow us, Lord, to understand that your gospel is joy and new life. Give us wisdom to spread your name with love, joy and hope. Amen!