Do you remember May 20, 2011? The world was supposed to end the next day on May 21, 2011. At least, that’s what a nationwide campaign of billboards predicted. Perhaps you remember these billboards put up across the nation by Harold Camping, a prominent radio host.
The prediction gained enough attention that my peers felt the need to address it in sermons. In February 2011, I preached that these predictions were “sheer lunacy” to my church. The Teaching of Camping did not appear out of nowhere. Starting in the 1970s, Camping predicted the world’s end in 1988, 1994, May 2011, and finally, October 2011. He later apologized and said his predictions were “incorrect and sinful.”
Jesus speaks clearly on this subject in Matthew’s gospel.
“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” – Matthew 24:36 (NLT)
What is it about our fascination with the end of days, specifically Revelation? God’s Word tells us to be on guard, to watch for the signs.
“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” –
Matthew 24:44 (NLT)
Something deep within us knows the world is always on the brink of catastrophe. Dystopian novels and movies are popular because you can work through these fears knowing you are immersing yourself in fiction. The horror genre is similar—simultaneously repulsive and alluring. We like to get to the brink of our fears, then pull back into safety. With fiction, you are still in control. In the real world, we control little, if anything, at all.
Please do not read Revelation like it’s a work of dystopian horror. It’s a true story with actual events that will occur in the (near) future. God is not trying to scare you! Revelation exists to encourage you! The book answers the question, “How is God going to make everything right?” “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.” –
1 Peter 4:7 (NLT)
The end will come… be earnest and disciplined, not scared! How? We’ll discuss more on Sunday as we take a look at the letters to the seven churches, specifically the church at Ephesus.