Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The Book of Acts talks about Him ascending into Heaven. Various portions of the Bible talk about Him returning to claim His people who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Him. So even with the focus of the holiday season is on His arrival – our natural curiosities question when will He return? Today? Next week? In one hundred years? Even though Jesus’ return is a separate event, many have linked “the end of the world” with it.
I still remember back in the 80’s borrowing a book from a friend called “88 Reasons Why The Lord Will Return in 1988”. I don’t think He came back then, maybe the author needed the 89th reason? We had the Y2K scare in 2000 – not much became of that. Maybe Y3K will be the big one? A lot of attention was focused on 2012 being the end of the world due to the ancient Mayan calendar. In fact, I bought a very persuasive book that had convincing scientific theory and facts behind it. Anyway, as far as I know, it didn’t happen in 2012. Switch the numbers, and possibly 2021 could be the year? And finally, I didn’t read the story – but I remember a headline in late September of 2017 claiming numerologists had determined the world was going to end that weekend. If memory serves, I think we had a brief thunderstorm – but the world definitely didn’t end. So when will it end?
As mentioned earlier, the Bible shows that Jesus returning and “the end of the world” are two different events. First, regarding His return:
But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13: 32)
So that pretty much sums up trying to predict the exact date when He is going to come back. His Father knows and will reveal that information in His timing. Second, without going too deep – many believe that the Bible teaches the Earth isn’t going to be wiped out, blown up, or destroyed. In fact, the opposite is true – it is going to be restored, and Heaven is going to come down to Earth. Eden will once again be as God originally intending it to be. Think of the ending in Beauty and the Beast to get a visual. I strongly recommend the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn if you want an amazing, scripture backed perspective regarding what the future holds. Check out these verses:
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21: 5) (Notice all things new, not all new things – my words.)
“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne . . . ” (Matthew 19: 28)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away . . . And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21: 1, 2)
So what do we do in the meantime besides speculate dates and write books about when He will return? Oops – forgot that He said no one knows the date. If you have time, read the entire chapter of Mark 13 as Jesus is directly telling His disciples what to look for. Toward the end, He speaks a universal message to all of us that has an overriding theme in five verses (Mark 13: 33-37):
- Take heed (which means “watch out!”) . . . (v. 33)
- . . . keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come (v. 33)
- . . . to stay on the alert (v. 34)
- Therefore be on the alert – for you do not know when the master of the house is coming (v. 35)
- And just in case we’ve missed His point – “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'” (v. 37)
What does being on the alert look like for us? What steps and choices can we take today so we will be ready whether He returns today, next week, or in one hundred years?
He closes the last book of the Bible with a message of hope and anticipation:
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me . . . (Revelation 22:12)