Our thoughts are turned toward the eschaton today, last things, the reappearance of our Lord Jesus.
The Bible is clear on several things for us. It will be a time of upheaval, persecution, and portents. The world will be losing its mind over this, terrified to be losing everything. And well it should. It is losing everything. It is dying. Christ comes with almighty power to wipe sin away once and for all. But what the world cannot see and God’s people can see is that these are birth pangs. Jesus wipes away the sin wracked creation because He, the creator of all, is making the world anew, restoring it to its divinely determined and perfect state, God’s intention all along.
A survey of the passages which treat the end of the world within the Bible reveals a startling fact for most modern Christians. The people to whom Ezekiel, Daniel, Mark, Peter, Paul (I & II Thess.) and John (Apocalypse) wrote were already afraid. This literature in the Bible is not designed to make people afraid, it was intended to help them deal with their fear and become less afraid as a result. In Revelation, John draws their persecutors as terrible and fearsome monsters, not because he would engender fear but because they are already afraid of these persecutors. John does not say that they should not fear these people, but he gives them shape and a name. Then, he tells them that their hero, the Son of giant-slaying David, Jesus the anointed One, comes to slay the beast. Yes, the persecutor is fearsome, but he will be slain himself. There is an end to this persecution and heavenly glory awaits us.
The modern preacher is facing people who are only starting to be afraid of some of these things again. Some are paralyzed by their fear. Some are driven into radicalism. Others are oblivious to the threat, imagining that they live still in Christendom where Christianity’s norms and expectations still apply. What is more, across our nation, it is different from place to place, even neighborhood to neighborhood. The preacher will need to pay close attention to the mood and state of the flock. But our message, no matter the mood, has a great deal of similarity. The day of Jesus’ reappearance draws near. For the Christian, this is a great hope and joyful expectation. We will see Jesus, the one who loves us, who died for us, who rose again to take care of us. He comes to rescue us.