Friday, May 20, 2011

End of the World

In spite of Jesus' own words, "no one knows about that day or hour..."(Matt 24:36) 89-year-old televangelist Harold Camping has figured out that May 21,2011 is THE day the world will end. Actually, according to Camping, following what is referred to by many Christians as the "rapture," i.e. believers suddenly disappearing:

That will be followed by five months of fire, brimstone and plagues, with millions of people dying each day and corpses piling in the streets. Finally, on Oct. 21, the world ends exactly as the Book of Revelation says it will — with a bottomless pit, a lake of fire and, at last, a new heaven and new earth.

This view (in a nutshell) is commonly known as a Pre-Millennial view of the "end times" spoken of in the Book of Revelation. Basically, the Christians disappear, there is world-wide famine, wars, etc. and a new world leader known as "the Beast" who requires everyone to take a mark--the number 666-- on their forehead and hands in order to buy or sell goods. After seven years--during which time the Jewish temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ returns, the world-leader is deposed, Satan is defeated and God creates a new heaven and earth.

I tend to lean toward what is know as an Amillennial view: one day Jesus simply returns. Christians go to heaven; non-believers don't. No "beast." No rapture followed by pestilence, no 666, etc.

Regardless of what you believe, or don't believe, about the Book of Revelation, Jesus is coming back. I believe that with all my heart. The how and when, could and has been argued from multiple angles, but it doesn't change the end result. Frankly, I don't think Camping has guessed anything. What I do believe is that life on this earth could end for me--for any of us--at any given moment, whether it's "the Rapture" or an accident or my earthly body simply breaking down.

I have a friend that got up one morning, ate breakfast with his family and went to work. The rest of the family went to work and school, just like they had every day before. By noon that day, his entire life was turned upside down. One of his family members was involved in a horrible accident which left them with an irreversible condition for the rest of their life. As I sat with him in the emergency room that evening, he said: "Life can change so fast. I never imagined I'd be sitting HERE when I left for work this morning."

He's right. There are no guarantees in this life. Tomorrow may be our last day on earth (whether Camping says so or not). Tomorrow may be the day life deals us an unexpected blow. That doesn't mean we live with a "doomsday" attitude, though. In fact, it should spur us to live each day as it it were our last, making the most of every opportunity.

So today, say "I'm sorry." Say "I love you." Hug. Laugh. Enjoy. Thank God for the gift of another day. Consider where you will spend eternity. Tell someone about Jesus. Pray. Read God's promises. Keep the faith. Call an old friend. Revel in the fact that God is a God of grace who saves those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.


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