When Will the World End?

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.   Matthew 24:36

Predictions about the future capture our attention. Throughout history people have tried to predict when the world would end. The Church father, Hippolytus (170-236 A.D.) calculated Jesus’ return for the year 500. He was wrong. William Miller, a self-educated farmer from Vermont, predicted that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. One hundred thousand people believed him, and as the time approached they quit their jobs, abandoned their fields, sold their possessions and waited. Nothing happened. The Millerites were wrong.

In recent times Hal Lindsey set himself up as an authority in these matters and suggested in his book, The Late Great Planet Earth that 1988 would be the end of the world. He was wrong. Mary Stewart Relfe, a wealthy Alabama real estate developer, in her 1981 book, When Your Money Fails: The 666 System is Here, said that Christ would return in 1990 to judge those who had not obeyed the gospel. She was wrong. And most recently Grant R. Jeffrey, author of Armageddon: Appointment With Destiny, suggested the year 2000 as “the probable termination date for the last days.” He too was wrong.

I could go on. There’s no shortage of people to tell you when they think the world is going to come to an end. Scores of prognosticators are tapping figures into their calculators and countless ignorant people are willing to believe their predictions.

But disclosing the future is not man’s prerogative. It’s God’s! Just because the end may be near does not necessarily mean the end is here. Only God knows the exact time of the end of the age (cf. Matthew 24:35-36).

Nonetheless, we do know that the world will end after a time of deception by false prophets and men claiming to be Jesus (cf. Matthew 24:5, 11, 23-24); after subjection to all kinds of conflict and disaster (cf. Matthew 24:6-8); after rejection and oppression of Christians (cf. Matthew 24:9-10, 12-13); and after the proclamation of the gospel to all the world (cf. Matthew 24:14).

So keep a proper perspective. Instead of looking for something to happen, look for Someone to come. Live your life with the expectation of an imminent culmination, but plan your work as if you had a hundred years. In other words, keep your eye on the end but your feet on the earth. As someone once said, “The only way to live is to live as if Jesus died yesterday, lives today and is coming tomorrow.”

Yes, the world will end when God is ready for it to end and not a moment before. Many will come in Christ’s “name, claiming … ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them” Luke 21:8. For “no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father … Therefore keep watch … be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” Matthew 24:36,42,44.


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