Updated: Nov 18, 2020
My father is in his mid- 60's, and he told me that when he was in his 20's, he imagined that the end of all things would occur before he turned 40! My grandmother told me she never thought she would see her kids reach adulthood before the end of all things would happen. I read books by Christians who were living in the 18th and 19th centuries; they often record a sense of the end of all things being extremely nigh – but here we are! This sense goes back to when Jesus first ascended into Heaven in the book of Acts; the disciples stood there looking up at the sky, expecting Christ to return any second! The church in Thessalonica was so sure the end of all things would occur in their lifetimes that Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to reassure them that just because some of their members were dying (presumably of natural causes), did not mean that they would miss out on the resurrection or the Second Coming of Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 4).
Scripture warns that Christ's second coming will be like a "thief in the night" (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2), and Christ said that people will be carrying on as always when the end comes (cf. Luke 17, Matt. 24). Why, then, does every generation seem to enter a time when conditions around the world cause them to have a sense that the end of all things could occur at any moment? I would submit to you because we serve a just God that does not want anyone to perish (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God as I do (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16), then you know that one day – a generation's sense of the end being near will be spot on! In other words: there is coming a generation (could be ours) who will believe the end is going to take place in their time, and they will be right! What if God gives each generation this sense because the end is near for all of us?
When we look around the world and see riots, unrest, wars, disease, economic distress, etc., etc. – we may feel like the end of the world is right around the corner. This author would argue that the end will come in a much less eventful time than the time in which we are currently living. I believe that the end will come when the general sense is that the end is far away, not in 2020, when it feels like the sky is falling every month (if I'm wrong, we'll never know - haha). Many were concerned that the end was near and woke up in eternity this morning after having died suddenly in their sleep. There were others who may have been killed in a car accident while on their way to get a COVID test – concerned they may have contracted the virus. Still, others are planning as though they have their whole lives ahead of them, totally unaware that they are about to receive a report from their doctor that will change the trajectory of their lives forever. What if God allows each generation to see signs that remind them the end is near because He knows that it is near – not just on a cosmic level but also on a personal level for each of us?
If the end is near: cosmically, or just personally, how should we live our lives? Rather than getting caught up in conspiracy theories or apocalyptic hysteria or lunacy (people predicting the day, the month, the year that the end will come) – what if we lived our lives like today could be the end for us, because one day, it will be! What if we allowed that sense of an incipient end to drive us to love more, give more, do more, bless more? Whether we are about to see Christ split the Eastern sky, or if His second coming is centuries away, the end is near for all of us, friends – may we live accordingly!
John Carosiello is an author, speaker, and pastor who graduated with honors from Liberty University with a Masters of Divinity. For more information, please visit citg.org.