There is this ideology prevalent among Christians where we assume the Bible teaches that “end time” means that everything will only get worse in the world until finally, Jesus comes. Here in this post, we will scrutinize such ideology and see how true it is. First, we must ask, “When did the end time begin?”
When Is The End Time?
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.'” (Acts 2:14-18).
In the above scriptures, Peter declared that an Old Testament prophecy about the last days is being fulfilled just 10 days after Jesus’ ascension. This implies the last days had started in the first century.
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” (Heb 1:1-3).
The above scripture is speaking about Jesus’ first coming, and it implies that Jesus’ first coming was in the last days. Can you see that the last days — which are also called the end times — had started long ago? Now if you say that from the beginning of the last days, everything will only get worse and worse until Jesus comes and the world ends, then you are implying that from the moment Jesus was born until today the whole world has only been getting worse. How true is this?
Has the whole world been getting worse since the first century? A capital NO to that. It doesn’t matter how you define “worse”, the truth remains that the world has not been getting worse. If you know your history you will realize that it has, in fact, been getting better. It doesn’t matter the criteria you use to look at it. Let’s start with the acceptance of Christ. Would you say there are fewer people who accept Christ today than in the first century? Christians in the first century were not up to a million, but today, we have two billion Christians. Christians are more accepted in many parts of the world than ever before since the first century.
Has Persecution Increased?
Yes, we have persecutions today but it is nothing like what happened in the first century when the world power was constantly looking for new and fun ways to kill Christians. Killing Christians was a game in the first century, it was fun, and it was publicly displayed. Christians were used as street lights (set on fire to light up the streets at night). In the first century, if you were a Christian, just be prepared to die.
Now, how many of you Christians go out each day thinking, “I might be killed today for being a Christian”? Christians are being celebrated in many parts of the world today. In some places, you get special privileges for being a Christian.
Has Sin Increased?
Alright, let’s talk about sin. Has the world been more sinful since the first century? A capital NO to that too. Man has always been sinful if not restrained. There is no limit to our sinfulness. In fact, that was the reason God destroyed the earth with a flood at one time. Right from the fall, man has been terribly sinful.
However, things are a bit better today because of the improvement in the enforcement of law and order. In the first century, there wasn’t much security, and as such, the evil in men had a lot of opportunities to express itself. There was more immorality and evil in the early centuries than there are today. A lot of evil practices which were legal in the first century have been banned today, for example, slavery and the slave trade. In the first century, it was respectable to have slaves. But today it is considered evil, yet you say the world has gotten worse.
There are several bad things that were once celebrated but today they are banned and considered evil. Homosexuality, bestiality, and pedophilia had long existed even before the first century. And they were considered normal in some societies. In many societies in the early centuries, boys had to learn to kill fellow human beings, otherwise, they would not be considered men in the society. Today, how many of you know how to kill a fellow man (I mean, were you trained to have the gut to do so)? Yet you claim the world has gotten worse.
What About Standard Of Living?
Many of us today are living lives that even kings, chiefs, and other leaders that societies in the early centuries could not afford. We have greater security, a better economy, more freedom rights, and so on. So how has the world gotten worse? Truly if you look at time and history from every angle you will realize that the world has not been going on a downward slope toward evil. Rather there have been highs and lows. There have been times when things got really terrible, and there are times when things got really better.
It is a battle between light and darkness. Sometimes it seems like darkness is winning and sometimes it is light winning. But because of this wrong ideology that we are in the end times and everything is supposed to get worse, Christians have been so quick to drop the towel. Just like that, we would say, “Oh well the Bible said it; things are supposed to get worse, what can we do, it has already been prophesied, let’s just sit back and watch the show.”
“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” (Isa 60:1).
The Battle Between Light And Darkness
At the time when darkness is growing, the Bible tells us to arise and shine. Push back that darkness with the light, don’t relax, and throw the towel, telling yourselves, “What can we do, it has been prophesied, everything is supposed to get worse.” I wonder where we see such prophecies in the Bible. I have searched my Bible over and over again and I still can’t find where it says the world will only get worse throughout the end times. Surely there are scriptures that say in the last days terrible things will happen. But it never said good things will never happen in the last days.
If I should say, “In that bag, there are mangoes”. That does not mean that you will only find mangoes in that bag. As long as I didn’t say, “There are only mangoes in that bag”, there is still a chance there are things other than mangoes in that bag. I never gave you a detailed description of what’s in the bag. I only told you one of the things you will find in it. The Bible never gave us a detailed description of all the events that will happen in the end times. It only told us that surely there will be a lot of evil. But along with the evil times, there could also be good times in the last days.
The world has experienced a lot of good times since the time of Jesus. And there is no evidence that the world will not experience more good times in the days to come. Anyway, let’s quickly look at one of the major scriptures that Christian use to conclude that the end times are filled with only evil.
Rethinking Jesus’ End Time Prophecies
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”” (Matt 24:1-2).
The disciples were admiring the temple, not knowing that in less than 70 years from that time, the temple would be totally demolished. Jesus had to tell them “Look, this magnificent building you are seeing will be totally demolished soon.” And what were the disciples’ response? We would look at the next verses.
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”” (Matt 24:3).
They said, “Tell us, when will these things be?” When will it be? Of course, they were referring to the previous conversation about the destruction of the temple. They wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed. But together with that they also asked, “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Now, they were asking 3 things:
- When the temple would be destroyed, and the events surrounding the destruction of the temple. This happened in 70 AD, but Jesus didn’t tell them the date. He never mentioned any date in any of the prophecies.
- The signs of his second coming.
- The signs of the end time.
None of this prophecy is a detailed timeline of everything that will happen from the moment Jesus died to the end of the world. In fact, prophecies are usually so mixed up, and that is why they are difficult to interpret. For example, in the Old Testament, the prophecies of the coming of Jesus speak of two comings, but people couldn’t detect that because it was all so mixed up. The prophecies of his first coming and his second coming were so mixed together that most people thought they were referring to one coming.
None of these prophecies gave a timeline between his first coming and his second coming. It was all jumbled up together. So also the prophecies in Matthew 24 are jumbled up together. Jesus gave no hint of distinction between the destruction of the temple, the second coming, and the end of the world. He just prophesied everything together as if they were one event. As such, everything looks like they are going to happen at the same time. But today we know the temple has been destroyed almost two thousand years ago and yet Jesus’s second coming and the end of the world have not happened.
So it is difficult to ascertain which part of that prophecy is about the temple’s destruction and events surrounding that, and which part of the prophecy is about the second coming and the end of the world. However, Jesus mentioned that things would get really bad, especially for Christians. Paul, Peter, and many others were persecuted just a few years before the temple was destroyed.
The disciples asked Jesus for signs (events that would happen) towards the destruction of the temple, the second coming, and the end of the world. Jesus said there would be famine, and indeed there was a famine in Jerusalem before the temple was destroyed. Jesus said there would be great tribulations for the Christians, and indeed there was a great tribulation just before the temple was destroyed. Emperor Nero unleashed great persecution against Christians. He also said many would lose their faith and many false prophets would arise. All these things happened before the temple was destroyed.
There were several things that he said but didn’t happen in the first century, these means they were meant to be signs of his second coming and end of the world, rather than signs of the temple’s destruction. But all these things are so mixed up that it is difficult to tell which is for the destruction of the temple, which is for his second coming, and which is for the end of the world. Today, if you don’t know the history and the things that happened in the first century you will still not know which prophecy is for which event.
The Abomination Of Desolation
In fact, many end-time teachers today still talk about the “‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (Matt 24:15). They teach it as something that will happen in the future. But here Jesus was specifically referring to the destruction of the temple. Look at the words that followed it.
““Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.” (Matt 24:15-18).
Do you know that these very words were the reason many Christians escaped the massacre that happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD? When the Roman soldiers who were Gentiles began to march towards Jerusalem, the early Christians understood that they were the “abomination of desolation” coming to the holy place as prophesied by Jesus. And just as Jesus warned, the Christians obeyed and fled to the mountains immediately. They didn’t stay with their fellow Jews to fight the Roman soldiers. They fled, and as such, they escaped the massacre. The prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. Yet out of ignorance, many end-time preachers still attribute it to a futuristic event.
Continuously Or Shortly
The prophecies in Matthew 24 are about things that would happen shortly before these three events; 1. the destruction of the temple, 2. the second coming, 3. the end of the world. Those prophecies are not about things that will happen throughout the end-time period. Indeed several of these things happened just before the temple was destroyed. But after a while, many of these terrible things stopped.
Years after the destruction of the temple, persecution of Christians stopped in Rome. The great tribulation stopped. Many accepted the gospel rather than lose their faith. Everything got better. And since then, there have been highs and lows in the world. Things have not constantly been going down a slope. Surely just as Jesus prophesied, when his second coming is close, then things would get really worse again and all those terrible things in Matthew 24 will happen.
If there is space between Jesus’s second coming and the final end of the world then probably things will get better for a while and get worse again when the end is very imminent. Should someone ask, “What is the sign that rain is about to fall?” and another person answers, “The sky will be filled with dark clouds”, now does this mean that the sky will always be filled with dark clouds until whenever rain falls? Of course not. It rather means that the sky will always be normal until shortly before the rain falls.
What Jesus Never Said
From the time he ascended, Jesus never said that terrible things will continue to happen and constantly increase until, finally, the second coming and the end of the world. We were the ones that interpreted his prophecy that way, and this interpretation is wrong. History has proven this interpretation wrong. But most of us are so ignorant of history that we can’t see how wrong this interpretation is. Jesus never said Christians should throw the towel, sit back and watch how everything continues to go wrong in the world. He never asked us to help him fulfill his prophecies by folding our arms and encouraging the world to go very wrong so that we can say, “Hey, Jesus prophesied it”. God doesn’t need your help to fulfill these prophecies. He said it will happen and surely it will.
We don’t need to hide our light so that the world can be filled with darkness in order for God’s prophecy to come to pass. Yes, you don’t need to help God to get the world filled with darkness. He said it will happen and surely, it will happen. It doesn’t matter how much light we shine, when the time comes for these things to happen, it will happen. He never asked us to stop shining the light so that he could come. Don’t think you are hastening Jesus’ coming by isolating the light you are supposed to shine. This is not the job that God has asked you to do. You are called to be the light of the world. So keep shining the light, end-time or no end-time.
Seek for the righteousness of the land rather than sitting back and saying, “Well, there is supposed to be a moral decay in the end times, for the Bible says so.” Seek for justice, seek for truth, and fight this growing darkness. The moment light stops driving out darkness, then it is no longer light. Your job is not to sit back and watch how the end-time prophecies are fulfilled; your job is to be the light. Keep being the light, and trust that God’s prophecies would be fulfilled whenever it is time for them to be fulfilled.