PJ’s Daily Devotional for Sunday, February 25, 2017.
Are you confused by the teachings of the end times? Do people use big words like “eschatology” or “rapture” or “millennialism” around you and your eyes just glass over? Are you tired of the endless speculations and divisions that those speculations cause regarding the end times?
Today, I am going to simplify the whole conversation for you, not to remove the importance of Bible study around these issues, but so that in all the confusion of the mind, your heart may be settled on a simple message of hope!
Paul concludes his first letter to the Thessalonians with a simple message of hope: “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
HERE IT IS: Jesus promises to come back soon. Are you living in such a way as to be ready to stand before Jesus face to face?
That’s it! That is my simple eschatology. With all the biblical interpretation and doctrinal perspectives out there regarding these issues, I believe these are the banks (boundaries) of the river that allow for right interpretation in the key issues of our understanding, and tolerance in our disagreements on the many details of its fulfillment. Here are the left and right boundary:
- THE TIMING: It’s a future hope that has great implications on every day called today! The Day of the LORD is still coming (it is not behind us, it has not been fulfilled in nearly 2,000 years of church history) and it will come without notice (like a thief in the night). We are not to know the times and seasons; that is not the point! Rather, we are to live in a state of ongoing active anticipation of the Day of the LORD: it is to focus our hearts and minds on the Lord Jesus; to keep Him preeminent in our lives; to anticipate the fulfillment of hope today because today is the Day of Salvation. Jesus calls us to live by faith, in our Heavenly Father’s unyielding grace and unwavering embrace until Matthew 24 is fulfilled. As Jesus says, “See that no one leads you astray” (Matthew 24:4).
- OUR PERSONAL LIFESTYLES: It is a call to live as the people of the promise (of the Light)! Whereas the people of earthly kingdoms are trying to make their lives work for them in a broken and cursed world, we are awaiting the coming of the Lord to right every wrong and give us a new one; our hope is not in this world working out for us. We are to let our lives visibly manifest the Light and Love of God in an ever-darkening world (we are sign-posts or pointers of a Heavenly Kingdom that will swallow all other earthly kingdoms). As Paul says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
So remain focused on Jesus and live in such a way as to be ready to stand before Him. If you are doing something in your life that you would not want to tell Jesus eye to eye, then stop it. Get busy with living for Jesus!
If your belief structure of the end times (eschatology); if your understanding of Jesus’ return (rapture); if your understanding of how God reigns on the earth (millennialism) is not affecting how you are living today, then you are missing the whole point of why God gifted us with teachings such as this one and books like Revelation (apocalyptic writings). These writings are not to divide us with intellectual theory, philosophical speculations, or doomsday preparations. Rather, the teachings of the end times are to unite us in faith, hope, and love.
Are you focused or distracted?