July 3, 1991
Doomsday prophets aside, not too many people like to think about the end of the world. Most either fearfully project it beyond the foreseeable future or think it will never happen. A few souls are concerned. My neighbor is one of them. To her, the future seems insecure and without hope.
I just finished a study on some currently held views pertaining to Bible prophecies about “the last days.” Opinions abound, involving whether events described in Scripture are symbolic or actual and, if they are actual, what will be their sequence? Since there are no exact dates given for these events, we didn’t discuss “when” but did consider all the opinions.
Despite what the Bible says to the contrary, even some theologians maintain the world will never end. That is, they think the church will have an increasing influence for good, every person living will become a Christian, then Christ will return and all will enter an eternal state. Others are certain the world conditions will deteriorate but Christ will eventually return, separate the good from the bad, put the bad in hell, and everyone will live happily ever after.
Others think the church will be taken out of an increasingly evil world and wickedness will fully prevail for seven years. Then Christ will return from heaven, implement a theocracy and reign for a thousand years with His people. (These time spans have biblical support.) After that, all whose names are written in the book of life will join the Lord in eternity and the dead will be resurrected, judged and separated from God forever.
One thing my study revealed: anyone can find one or two Bible verses to support their personal opinion. No wonder there are so many opinions. It is like blind men describing an elephant: one thought it was like a tree -- he felt a leg; another was sure it was like a rope -- he had hold of the tail; another said no, it was like a large leaf -- he felt an ear; and so on.
Also, my study revealed that ALL of Scripture must be compared and considered to develop a reasonable view of any teaching, including what God says will happen in the future. We can’t just lift any verse off a page and think we have the last word on the issue. For instance, not every verse in the Bible is quoting God; some are a record of the words of sinful people!
Each verse must be studied in its context, considering who said it and why it was said. The Bible is actually its own best interpreter. If passages are carefully compared with similar passages on the same topic or with other passages written by the same author, the meaning often becomes clearer.
That sounds like work -- and it is. However, every occupation and pastime, including hunting and fishing, has its “Bible.” Engineers, doctors, lawyers, and all professionals study thick, complicated textbooks -- massive volumes of information written by experts in their various fields. Homemakers have thick childcare manuals and recipe books. Farmers have detailed manuals for machinery, livestock care, and building maintenance. Even an almanac can be fairly complex. Anyone wanting to be an expert on any topic has to study their subject.
Whether it is the end of the world or how to have eternal life, there is no other way to find out what God says about anything than to study His Word. Too many people simply pull information out of their heads or settle for an opinion made by someone who did only half their homework.
In case this topic of the end times is frightening, Jeremiah 29:11 offers hope: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
God promises a glorious future for those who trust in Him.