The man leaned in towards me, cupped his hand beside his mouth and whispered, “The time of end of the world is… tomorrow at 12 noon”.
Almost four decades ago I led a fellowship group for our local church and had been persuaded to invite a guru on the end-times to come and address us. He spent an hour or so taking us through the book of Revelation as though it were a prophetic calendar, but he also focused a lot on the book of Daniel. By the end of his talk he had plastered three walls with charts and diagrams and then he finished with the words, “I know when the end is coming but I shouldn’t say.” The evening ended with tea and cake and it was then that I sidled up to him and asked him to tell me his big secret, you know, man to man and leader to leader. That is when he made his startling behind-the-hand disclosure.
I can’t remember the poor man’s name but he was not the first to make claims about the End of Days, and he won’t be the last. One of the more recent and colourful ‘prophets’ of our day was Harold Camping. He predicted the end, was proved wrong when his date came and went, and then predicted another date… and then another…. and then he died.
What embarrassment and trouble could be avoided if we just followed Jesus’ example. His disciples asked him when he would return and when the end of the world would come. He replied with these words: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). So there you have it from the master’s lips.
Despite Jesus’ admonitions not to be deceived (Matthew 24:4), many commentators insist on treating the book of Revelation like a cosmic clock or giant calendar, and Revelation 10:6-7 is one of their favourite texts: it reads, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
It would take more space than I have in this series of posts, and probably more patience than you have, to explain the linguistic and contextual subtleties of this text. G.K.Beal’s monumental, and excellent, commentary contains a 11 page analysis of these two verses. So, I will just blunder in and state what I believe it means in a few simple sentences.
Jesus is coming again to judge all of humanity, to destroy the current evil world system, and to create a new composite Heaven and Earth (HeavenEarth) where He will live forever with his disciples. So, let me encourage you with this – We, His followers, will not be subject to his judgmental punishment, but, like every generation of Christians before us, we will live through tribulation and refinement in our lives on earth. When He comes to judge and recreate, then all those believers who have previously died will accompany Him and be given resurrection bodies. Those who are still alive on earth will rise to meet him and will also be given resurrection bodies. Resurrection bodies are material but not physical as we know it.