Classic depictions of the apocalypse herald a day to be feared. The earth becomes overrun by evil and destruction. Wars rage throughout the globe and fire falls from the sky as divine judgment is rendered upon a wicked humanity. The phrase “hell-on-earth” is usually connected to this popularized depiction of the end times. The End Times is a time of judgment, wrath, and condemnation.
While such things make for exciting movie scripts, does this picture coincide with the biblical depiction of the End Times? More specifically, for those who belong to Christ, is the End Times something we should fear? How does faith in the unyielding love of God, and the message of reconciliation through the cross, change the way we await the culmination of all history?
Despite these popular depictions, Christians need not fear the End Times. In fact, for Christians, the End Times is a time of hope, a time of promise. Christ’s second coming is a day we anticipate, long for, and look to. If you are tempted to be gripped in fear when thinking about the End Times, here are three things to consider.
1. It Is a Time of Loving Redemption
When we speak of the End Times, we must acknowledge a certain tension that exists in the scriptural witness. On one hand, we cannot escape the reality that the end of the age brings about God’s righteous judgment.
The end of the age is when God deals a final blow to the power of sin and death. Sin is defeated, as is the dehumanizing work of the devil. Because of this judgment, the end of the age is sometimes expressed negatively.
The prophet Malachi, for example, cries “who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? He will be like a refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap” (Malachi 3:2). God’s visitation upon the earth addresses sin, not just in the world, but also in ourselves. Undoubtedly, this is not a comfortable experience.
Yet Malachi is profound in the image he puts forward. Malachi speaks of the End Times as a time of refining and purifying. The refining of metal involves the burning away of impurities so that the metal’s original glory may be revealed. The purpose of refining and purifying is to restore the metal, not to destroy it. As uncomfortable as this process may be, this is an image of redemption.
The End Times, therefore, heralds God’s unyielding love. It is a mistake to associate the End Times with the vengeful wrath of God. God is loving toward God’s creation and extends love to all whom God has made.
Jesus says, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 22:27-28).
We do not fear the coming of Christ because our sin is covered by the blood of Jesus. We are forgiven. There is nothing to fear because the End Times brings about the full realization of our redemption.
2. It Is a Day of Recreation
The Book of Revelation is one of the primary places where the End Times is articulated in Scripture. Many mistakenly see John’s vision as one of destruction and wrath. Yet this is not the reality of John’s apocalyptic vision. Rather than a mystical experience of endless destruction, John’s vision of the End Times is infused with God’s grace and love.
Near the close of the book, John writes,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-6).