In a couple of months I will be giving two teachings on the topic of eschatology, which is Greek and means the study of last things, or the study of events to happen in the future. Unbelievers sometimes make reasonable predictions about future events based on past occurrences, but it is clear that human being of themselves cannot know the future. Therefore unbelievers can have no certain knowledge of any future event. Yet Christians who believe in the Bible are in a different situation. Although we cannot know everything about the future, God knows everything about the future and He has in Scripture told us about major events to come. About these events we can have absolute confidence as God is never wrong and cannot lie.
In eschatology there are two fields of study. The study of things which will happen to individual, which is called “personal eschatology.” But God also talks about certain major events that will affect the entire universe. Specifically, it tells us about the second coming of Christ, the millenium, the final judgment, etc. This is what’s called “general eschatology”.
Now there have been, and still are, many debates about eschatology. Can we really deduct anything from the Bible? Why should we study this topic anyways? Why should I care about what’s gonna happen as it doesn’t affect me now or how I live my life? Any then there is all these terminology! Amillenialism, premillenialism, postmillenialism, rapture, pre-tribulation, mid-trubulation, post-tribulation. Many people just don’t want to even start a study of eschatology as it is such a cloudy and highly debated study, particularly because it pertains knowledge of the Bible as a whole, knowledge of ecclesiology (the past, present, and future of the Church), knowledge of prophesies, knowledge of Israelology (the past, present, and future of Israel), etc etc… But, I am intrigued with eschatology exactly for all these things. It requires me to dig into the Bible in ways I otherwise wouldn’t. Study the Bible as a whole instead of studying a character, a chapter, a book, or a doctrine. And with eschatology it is impossible to avoid “difficult” books like the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the likes).
In any case, to answer the question of this blog, what’s so special about the end? Well, I think it’s obvious! We should all eagerly long for Christ’s return. Like John says at the end of the book of Revelation: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). True Christianity trains us “to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:12-13). So the question is if Christians in fact eagerly long for Christ’s return? I think there’s an interesting balance. The more the scale is tipping over to the side of enjoying this life, the less you will be longing for Christ’s return. Likewise, the more the scale is tipping over to the other side and as a Christian you are exposed to all sorts of persecution or suffering, or elderly, or infirm, or when you’re walk with Christ is daily very deep, you will probably have a more intense longing for Christ’s return. To some extent you could say the measure of your spiritual condition is directly related to one’s longing of Christ’s return.
Should any of this mean that we should not engage in long-term projects, or even stop what we are doing now altogether and just wait His return. May it never be! (to quote the apostle Paul). It’s a matter of obedience to Jesus. Jesus said: “‘For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will’” (Matthew 24:44). To be ready for His return means to be obedient and faithful to Him in the present, so that in the end, when He does return, He can say: “‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21).
So, what’s so special about the end? Jesus’ return! How does that affect us right now? We should be longing for it. How do we long for it? Be faithful and obedient to Him in the present. The closer you want to be with Him now, the more you will long to be with Him when He comes back. That’s why eschatology is not just dry theories, conjectures and difficult words. I want to know more about the end, when Jesus returns!