The end is near!!!
Encouraging start to this post, huh?
But have you wondered if the end actually is near? Have you looked at our world situation, our national situation and wondered if we can last much longer? If you have, you’re not alone. I’ve heard people speculate about it a lot lately, especially given the tumult in our world and nation in the last few years. Geo-political strife. Racial tension. Religious persecution. Ethic cleansing. Global warming. Nuclear disaster. It can seem like life on planet earth is grim. Maybe we need to support the efforts to get back to the moon or Mars…
Musings about the end times have been a part of Christian discussion, and especially evangelical belief, for a long time. Remember how popular the Left Behind series was? The Left Behind series was an attempt to dramatize what it would be like if the end times happened in our world. The first novel was published on December 31, 1995. 15 novels later, the series concluded in 2007. It also spawned a load of kids’ books and three movies. The end times were a fascination, however, long before the Left Behind series began. Larry Norman’s popular song about the rapture, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” came out amid the turmoil of 1969. Keep traveling backward in history. Imagine how Christians living through the World Wars must have felt about the end times. They had a far better case for believing that they were living in the end times than just about any other time in history. Now travel back further in time to the 1860s, and our American Civil War was another awful period that sure looked like end times. Globally, speaking there are plenty of other examples. Genocides, Holocausts, terrible disasters, war, and displacement. All seem like end times.
The original proclamation of “The end is near!” goes back way further still. Millennia further! 600 years before the time of Jesus, Ezekiel boldly declares not that “The end is near,” but that “The end has come!” While he may have heard the prophet Amos say this years earlier (see Amos 8:2), Ezekiel is simply declaring what God told him to say about the times he lived in. So what end had come during Ezekiel’s lifetime? More importantly, why was God saying that had the end come?
Though the end has not come for us, meaning that Jesus has not returned, we can learn much from the end times that had come upon the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day. God has important principles to share with us through the message he gives to the prophet Ezekiel. As I studied the passage this week, it struck me how relevant it is to our current situation of American Christianity in 2021. Check out Ezekiel chapter 7 ahead of time to see for yourself, then I’ll look forward to discussing it further with you next week.