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Spiritual matters

Don't be distracted by final-days fears

October 20, 2010 - Whenever difficult times come, there arises a mass of people who wonder whether or not we are "living in the last days."

Today, in our climate of political and economic upheaval, people again are pondering whether the last days are upon us.

Recently, I've been told more times than I can count, "the end must be near."

But is it? Let's consider a few facts.

First, in the Bible the phrase "last days" does not refer to the end of the planet as we know it, but the end of the Jewish temple system with the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17; Heb.1:2). Consequently, we have been living in the last days since the first century.

Second, there are hundreds of instances in history when it was believed that the "signs of the times" proved that the end of all things was near.

During the fall of the Roman Empire, for example, it was widely believed that the end of the world must be at hand. It wasn't. It was simply the beginning of a new world.

Third, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the heir of the nations (Ps.2:8), and that the end will come after He has brought all things under subjection (1 Cor.15:22ff.).

It's because of this Christians have been commissioned to disciple the nations (Mt.28:18-20) and to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt.6:10).

Thinking through these facts presents an alternative scenario to the common end times vision that preoccupies many.

Just because difficult times come does not mean it's the end of the world.

Those difficult times may arrive for other reasons. For instance, the Bible repeatedly teaches that societies who disobey the Lord, He will judge – those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind (Hos.8:7).

When we consider the godless trends of American culture, it is much more logical to assume that God is allowing us to reap what we've sown than to assume the end of the world is at hand.

Once we realize this, our focus changes. Instead of speculating about the time of Christ's return and waiting for the end to come, we are able to focus on aligning our lives with God and His purpose in world.

We live in a world marred by sin, but Christ has been raised to bring redemption and a new creation.

The day will come when there will be new heavens and a new earth. In anticipation of that day we are to trust in the Lord and do good, and dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness (Ps.37:3).

The assumption that hard times is a sure sign that the end is near is unfortunate. It is a distraction that keeps the people of God from doing the work that God would have them do.

As our society faces decline due its apostasy from the Lord, it would be far more profitable to pursue repentance, faith and the building of God's kingdom, than the latest end times diversion.

The Rev. David Bostrom is pastor of Seeds for the Harvest Ministries.

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