The End of the World (12/21/12).
Considering the immanent end of the earth (The Mayans have until midnight to get their prediction right!), I figured this would be a great opportunity to launch my own end times predictions. I’ve had a longstanding interest in the topic, considering the fact that I’m pretty sure my resurrection body will be able break-dance. So here we go:
Prediction 1: The World Will End.
This is not so outlandish, given that the universe is cooling down. There’s also matters of global warming, nuclear proliferation, super-viruses, the zombiepocalypse, the robot takeover, and the weakening of the magnetic field. The world will most definitely end.
Prediction 2: The World Will not End Today.
I don’t think God will share his glory with the Mayans. Or with Harold Camping. Or with the Watchtower. Or with any other group that gives these end-of-earth predictions.
Jesus will come in glory at an hour nobody expects (Matt 24:44, 50). That’s why Christians are told to always be ready (Luke 12:40).
Prediction 3: The World Will End in the next 200 years (most likely).
What do I base it on? A few things:
1) Human history is changing at an accelerating rate. The Lausanne conference (the largest Christian gathering on earth) recently released this in a major statement:
“Almost everything about the way we live, think and relate to one another is changing at an accelerating pace. For good or ill, we feel the impact of globalization, of the digital revolution, and of the changing balance of economic and political power in the world. Some things we face cause us grief and anxiety – global poverty, war, ethnic conflict, disease, the ecological crisis and climate change. But one great change in our world is a cause for rejoicing – and that is the growth of the global Church of Christ.” (The Cape Town Commitment)
So the story is building to a climax.
2) Christianity is growing at a rate of about 5% per year (globally). The human population has basically stopped growing (for the first time in history). So if current trends continue, the work of global evangelization will be finished in the next 200 years. The Bible will be translated into every language on earth in the next 50 years or so.
3) The Bible focuses on this earth, so I think the climax of history will occur before we ruin this earth and move to a new one. Jesus comes back to earth, not to Alpha Centauri. In a similar vein, the Bible also focuses on humans rather than robots, so history will probably end before such things become the dominant reality.
4) About half the Christians who have ever lived are alive today. This means that if every generation of Christians assumed that Jesus would probably come back in their lifetime, most of them would eventually be correct. Let me state this another way: When we all arrive in heaven, and all the saints from every generation gather at the wedding supper of the lamb, about half the those in attendance will have seen Jesus return in their lifetime. That is how exponential growth curves work. This doesn’t prove that Christ will return in our lifetimes, but it does answer the most common objection, namely “People have always anticipated Christ’s return, and they’ve always been wrong. So we must be wrong too.” The reality is, he is no fool who anticipates that Christ may return soon, in this very lifetime.
Conclusion. So lets not make charts and graphs, because we don’t know when Jesus will return. On the other hand, lets also set aside the unbiblical notion that Christ couldn’t possibly return in our lifetime. I will admit that I have overstated things a little, but it has only been to shake us out of our lethargy; let us not become cynical toward the promises of Scripture. We live in an unprecedented age of climactic global change, where the gospel is reaching every nation, and where the potential to save or to destroy is greater than ever before. Let us live like this earth is incredibly important, but also not our final or eternal home. Let us anticipate the New Earth that Christ will usher in, and let us recommit ourselves to the Kingdom of God that we may hasten the arrival of these greater realities.