What do you think about linking current events to the end times? Is this a good thing for Christians to focus on?
I certainly believe in the return of Christ. But I do not put much faith in prophecy buffs, who have been getting it wrong for so many years. What international conflict in the past century, especially involving the Middle East, has not inspired books and sermons affirming “this is it”? (Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, JFK, and Henry Kissinger are just a few of the “Anti-Christs” who have come and gone.)
Eventually some of the prophecy “experts” will be right about some things. Will it be this time, and will recent events trigger the real end times? It’s possible, of course. But I’ve heard dozens of theories about “men who must be the Anti-Christ”, as well as countless “the sky is falling” and “this is the beginning of the tribulation for sure” predictions, during the forty years since I became a Christian as a teenager. You will pardon me if I don’t have much interest in the latest theories.
What exactly is going to be the outcome of today’s current events in the Middle East and around the world? We simply don’t know. That takes us right back to the Word of God, where we need to be in the first place: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
This puts us in our place. We’re not God, we don’t hold the universe in the palm of our hands and we just don’t know what lies ahead of us. I don’t know if I’ll be killed in a car wreck tomorrow or if a loved one will be diagnosed with terminal cancer. I’m not in charge—neither are you.
God is in charge, and He is not taken by surprise. He knew about today’s events before He created the world. He can and will use it as part of His plan, which may or may not include judging society and disciplining his church. Rather than speculate on what will happen, we should focus on what the Bible has told us all along—fear God, trust God, be wise, be prepared, be faithful, be generous, care for your family, look after the body of Christ, reach out to those who don’t know Him. We don't know the day or the hour of His return, and need to focus on faithfully serving our King until we die or He returns, either of which could happen any day.
Scripture tells us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). We should respond to current events not with a spirit of fear, but of power (knowing God has given us in Christ all the resources we need to face any difficulty), love (putting the glory of God and the good of others before ourselves), and a sound mind (a disciplined, self-controlled and Spirit-controlled intellect that evaluates the available information and acts in light of biblical priorities and wisdom).
If we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, we need not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:24-34). The best way to prepare for tomorrow is to walk with God today.
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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.