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An Endurance Test

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There is a “Use By” Date

The text this week is Luke 21: 5-19.  This is a passage about the End Times.  As is clear by the text there is a termination point to this world and this age.  There will be a time when it does all come to an end.  It is equally clear by the text that this end will be ugly.  There will be wars and insurrections, natural calamities such as earthquakes, famines, and plagues.

Even worse, for the faithful is that on top of all these calamities will be persecution, and often death for those who witness to our Lord.  Despite this Jesus warns not to go after those who proclaim that the “time is near!”, (Verse 8).  In fact, throughout this Jesus teaches that we should not be terrified.  He is directing us to trust in God, and the fact that God is in control.

It Is All About God

All of this brings up the reality that we do not know when the end will come.  There are those followers of Jesus who claim that they do.  They try and decipher when all this will come about, and in some cases what humans need to do to hasten this end.  There are two broad schools of thought.  One is Premillennialism.  This holds that Jesus will return before the inauguration of His thousand-year reign.  Many of these folks think that there are things that will indicate when Jesus returns to get all this started.  Postmillennialism by contrast holds that first a thousand-year kingdom of God on earth must be created, then Jesus will return.  They are usually more insistent on doing things to create this kingdom to get Jesus to return.  Both groups have made the end of the age about them and not about God, because they think they can know and hasten the end of this age.

In contrast to both schools of thought is amillennialism.  This holds that we do not know when Jesus will return.  This seems to have the stronger Scriptural support.  In Matthew 24:43, 1Thessalonians 5:2, and Revelation 16:15, there is the clear statement that “I am coming like a thief in the night”, which is to say unannounced.  If not even Jesus will commit to knowing the end date, we should not even hazard a guess.

How to While Away the Time

What then are the faithful to do?  We do not know when the game is up, and while we know it will be ugly, we do not know if any ugliness is a portent of the end.  We do know that before the end, as it is now, many will be persecuted and perhaps killed because of their faith.  Jesus, as He always does, gives us words of hope.  He instructs us to prepare our minds now.  Trusting that “I will give you words and wisdom” (Verse 15).  Jesus assures us that we will be “hated by all because of my name” (Verse 17).  But, if we persevere, “not a hair of your head will perish” (Verse 18). 

This means that no matter how bad things get here on planet earth (and they can get pretty bad), no matter if put to death in this life, God will bring His people home.  This is true in the end times, but it is also true during run of the mill awful times.  Jesus finishes off the words of encouragement in Verse 19, when He states, “By your endurance you will gain your souls”. 

This world and our time in it is not a sprint, it is a long-distance run.  It is an endurance test.  It is our perseverance that will carry us through.  It is not doubtlessness, as we will doubt.  It is not our certainty that will bring us home, for we will have many uncertain moments.  It is our perseverance in the face of doubt, uncertainty and questioning that will keep Christ dwelling within us, as the righteousness of God.  So, do not worry about the “signs”.  Do not worry about when THE END is coming.  Just persevere out of faith.  Just another way of saying believe then obey.

Praise Be to God

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