May 21, 2011: Judgment Day

So, you’ve probably heard by now that we are in our last days. No, wait a second. Let me rephrase that:

WE ARE IN OUR LAST DAY!

Well, at least that’s according to Family Radio, a not-for-profit religious radio broadcasting network. They claim that Jesus Christ will return on May 21st, 2011, “around dinnertime.”

I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and I 100% believe in the rapture–that one day Christ will have his “Second Coming” and will return to collect those that believe in Him, both living and dead. It’s a pretty clear biblical teaching, one that my mom looked forward to as long as I can remember. When she was in her final days, battling breast cancer, she looked at me and said with sadness that she really thought she’d go in the rapture, not this way. It broke my heart.

We all would like to think that we can “beat” death. And if you’re a Christian, it’s probably natural and certainly appealing to wonder if you’re a part of the generation that won’t experience death like all the other humans that have gone before us (including Christ Himself!). But as one of my friends pointed out, there is something very arrogant about thinking you’re so special that God would reveal to you the time of Christ’s return, when Christ Himself said that not even He or the angels would know the time:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 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…

…And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…

…No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…

…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” –Matthew 24:3-6, 14, 36

[Please read the entire chapter in context–it was just a bit much to quote everything here. You can also read more about what Christ said on the matter in Mark 13.]

A few things jump out at me about this passage:

First: Jesus is concerned that the disciples not be deceived by false prophets, a theme carried throughout scripture.

I think this is such an important point in scripture because of the harm false profits do to the cause of the Gospel, especially when people put their faith in a false prophet, only to be disappointed. Sometimes, those foul experience drive people away from the church for good or convince people that all Christians are hypocrites or crazy or deceptive. It is such a shame. Be careful who you put your trust in!

Second: Jesus indicates that the Gospel “will be preached in the whole world” before the end comes.

The last time I checked, there were still places in this world where people have never heard the Gospel. Christ’s “Great Commission” was so important that it was the last words He left early Christians before ascending into Heaven: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20

It is to this end that one of my childhood friends has lived with her husband and children in a remote village, on an island in the Pacific Ocean, translating the Bible into their language for the very first time. Another friend is a missionary in Eastern Europe and three of my friends are missionaries in various Asian countries. Sorry folks, but we haven’t fulfilled the Great Commission yet!

Third: Jesus encourages us to be ready for His coming.

If anything positive has come from this group’s prediction, it’s the reminder that our time is limited. This is true whether we leave in the rapture or we die in a freak accident or we die after a long battle with a terrible disease. Sometimes it’s good to think about our mortality and what it all means. If you are a Christian, it reminds us to reach out to all the people in our lives–to show them love and to pray for them “without ceasing.”

If you’re not a Christian and would like to be one, it’s super-easy! You just need to recognize that we are all sinners, that Christ took the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross, that He rose again, and that he offers eternal life to those who freely accept His gift of salvation. You can tell Him right now. Once you’ve done that–start to learn about Him by reading the Bible and by seeking the encouragement of other believers. You can find a church in your community (I attend an Assemblies of God congregation, but there are other great, Bible-believing churches out there–just be sure that their teachings are in line with Scripture).

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