Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
–1 Peter 5:8
Are you going to be left behind? That is the question posed by the book series that sold over 100 million copies. If you have read the books or seen the movies, then you know that the series deals with end-times events that culminate with the return of Jesus Christ. Some people marginalize or mock those who believe in the end times. Yet a Pew Research survey showed that 41 percent of Americans believe Jesus will return to earth by the year 2050.
God did not give us an exact date for the second coming of Jesus Christ, but He does want us to be aware of the events that will lead up to Jesus’s return so that we can be sober, alert, and ready for His appearing (1 Thessalonians 5:6). When it comes to Bible prophecy, there are at least three extremes we need to avoid.
The first extreme is fanaticism. Many people throughout history have tried to predict the end of the world. A Google search lists at least 150 different dates that have been predicted for the end times, starting back in the seventh century BC. But Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” We can’t know the time, but God wants us to be aware of the times. We need to avoid fanaticism.
The second extreme is fatalism. This is the idea: “The world is going to hell in a handbasket and nothing I can do will change that, so why be concerned about what is happening in the world?” Why stand up against evil if all these terrible things will lead to the return of Jesus Christ? That’s an attitude I see in many Christians today. Let me remind you of something: just because an event is imminent does not mean it is immediate. The reason we take action is so that we might have longer to share the gospel with as many people as possible. The fact that Christ is coming back should not motivate us to inaction; it ought to motivate us to action. Knowing that the end is coming ought to make us work that much harder. Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
The third extreme we need to avoid in Bible prophecy is the most dangerous of all, and that’s cynicism. Some people have been hardened to the idea of Jesus Christ coming back again. They say, “I hear that stuff all the time. People have said for 2,000 years that Jesus is coming back again, and it hasn’t happened.” The apostle Peter said, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Jesus’s return to earth was a major subject of His teaching. Make no mistake about it: Jesus is coming back again, and He is coming back for everyone to see.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jesus on the End Times” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Statistic from Russell Heimlich, “Jesus Christ’s Return to Earth,” Pew Research, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2010/07/14/jesus-christs-return-to-earth/.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.