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I have some good news and bad news. NASA has predicted that the Andromeda Galaxy, which is hurtling towards us at 250,000 miles an hour, will collide with our Milky Way galaxy, scattering stars, including our sun, in all directions. The good news is that it won’t happen for about 4 billion years. Even so, it will probably give the end-of-the-world doomsayers something else to worry us with.
So how should we Christians view world events in the light of prophecy? Matthew 24:6-8 says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (NIV).
So, what does Bible prophecy tell us about world events? It says that lots of bad stuff is going to happen, and some people are going to be led astray by those events, concluding that the end is near, but that we shouldn't follow their lead and believe it. “If they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is [coming in the year 2014], do not believe it” (Matthew 24:26).
Matthew 24, verse 36 says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (NIV)
So, yes the Bible predicts that bad stuff will happen, and we are seeing that being fulfilled all around us. However, these words of Jesus have been in the process of being fulfilled for nearly 2000 years now. We might want to know just how much longer. But the Bible specifically avoids answering the question of how long that is going to continue. Apparently we, and even Jesus in his earthly life, don't need to know. So we should approach world events in the light of that prophecy.
Bible prophecy also tells us that people will make some erroneous claims about the timing of the return of Christ, and we see that being fulfilled around us, too.
The real point of Bible prophecy is not that we should watch world events, but that we should watch ourselves. When the end does come, we want to be found faithful. Just knowing the date will not earn us a ticket into salvation. The point of the prophecies is not to enable prediction, but to foster faithfulness and our faith should not be based on speculation but on the character of the one who promises and prophesys.
We live in an unstable world, and we will see ups and downs. We are to live in the same way regardless of whether the end is near or far. Jesus told one of his parables to people who thought the kingdom of God was going to appear right away; he told other parables about people who thought it was going to be a long way off. We are not supposed to base our behavior, or our faith, on whether it is near or far – the Christian life remains the same no matter which it is because we place our faith in the Faithful One whose Word we live by.
So, in the light of Bible prophecy, we'll take note of world events – watching them go up and down, getting better and worse – but don’t base your Christian life on them. In Acts 1:6, just before Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to bring the kingdom right away. Jesus responded in verses 7-8, “He told them, 'You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.'”
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.