On talk radio and in private conversation we routinely hear people say the end is near; Christ is coming very soon. The argument is simple: America is getting worse morally, culturally, and governmentally, therefore the end is at hand because the Bible says these types of things will characterize the end times. The latest round of end-time talk has been precipitated by the re-election of Barak Obama. As bad as President Obama’s political philosophy and policy proposals are, the sentiment that the end of time is upon us for the cited reasons is unbiblical and illogical at the same time.
In order for America’s circumstances to be an indicator of end times, one would have to assume it’s never been this bad anywhere at any time; what’s happening now must mean the end is near. Of course, that is what most American Christians assume. It’s heartbreaking to realize the average Christian is so ignorant to what’s happening in other parts of the world or at other times in history that he assumes it can’t get much worse than here. Of course, some are aware of Christian persecution in other parts of the world, know about evil despots who kill their own people by the thousands, and see the lack of freedom in other countries. They are aware of these things historically and currently and yet somehow believe that what’s happening in America is the real indicator of Christ’s return. Such a conclusion demonstrates either the height of personal self-centeredness which is something so patently un-Christian I don’t know what to make of it, or the depth of theological self-centeredness, i.e. the notion that America is somehow the Apple of God’s eye, which is not much better in terms of biblical understanding and self-exaltation.
Let me make one circumstantial observation. It is well documented that Nero Caesar in the first century persecuted Christians in beast-like, sadistic, fashion without mercy. Without going through a litany of lengthy details from extant source material, he dressed in animal skins and publically raped both men and women, he dressed Christians in bloody animal carcasses and threw them to packs of wild dogs for public entertainment, he tied Christians to stakes and set them on fire to light his dinner parties, and in countless other ways he tortured and murdered the people of God. And the Roman citizenry applauded. If God deems our situation worse it would seem to me He has some explaining to do to those first century Christians and the martyrs under the altar (Rev. 6:9-11).
Of course, God owes no one an explanation concerning anything; He’s perfectly righteous in all His ways. The problem lies with us. Aside from our self-absorption, even a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals that the apostles (writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) considered themselves to be in the last days – and indeed they were. They were in the last days of the Old Covenant age and in the dawning days of the New Covenant era also referred to in the New Testament as the Time of the Reformation (Heb. 9:10); the Ends of the Ages (1 Cor. 10:11); the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15); the New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17); the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isa. 65:17); etc. Of course, this present age is a now/not yet reality. To put it simply, the New Heavens and the New Earth, the Kingdom of God, etc., has been inaugurated and is not yet consummated until Christ comes again to usher in eternity.
The upshot of all this is simple. The kinds of things that are happening now have been happening for two-thousand years (though worse in many places and times) and will continue to happen until Jesus comes again. When will that be? Though He could come at any time, we don’t know and America’s present circumstances are no indicator. We simply need to occupy and control until He comes (Gen. 1:28).
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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