Among an older generation there is always a sense that the world is getting worse than it ever was before. Take this quote attributed to Socrates somewhere between 469-399 BC: “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love gossip in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
Sounds like what I heard my parents’ friends saying at church when I was in grade school. And what I’ve heard my peers say about Generation Z, the 5-25 year olds born after 1996. And what I suspect Socrates’ grandpa said about his group of young “useless philosophers.” 😉
Many generations have heard prophecies of end time events leading some to expect the Apocalypse in their lifetimes. The warnings of impending doom on civilization become more vociferous with each passing year, especially after that Half-Century mark of 50 years old. The clamor of loud music and the boisterous noise of the younger generation impinges on the ears of the older one, whether they are students in 400 BC or 2020 AD. And amid the noise, the wondering of us oldsters, “How long can this go on? How much worse can the world get? When will The God Who Is There say ‘Enough’!?”
It is an error to say history repeats itself, but as some have said, it does rhyme. This is evident from prophecies about Israel going into Babylonian captivity in Jeremiah 31 and the slaughter of innocents in Bethlehem about two years after Jesus was born. And there are many other examples of “double” or even “triple” fulfillment of prophecies in the Bible.
This is not because the prophets misunderstood what Father was saying to them, nor is this a case of applying a literary picture after the fact. This is simply the evidence that “history does rhyme.”
Taken out of context, one can assume there is no difference between the youth of Socrates’ day and ours. On the microcosmic level of particular events this is true, but at the macrocosmic level of world events there is a huge difference. Socrates’ students did not have twenty-four hundred years of youthful rebellion about which to read. Ours do. Thus, history rhymes but actually never repeats itself. Every event that appears to be a repeat has one more event preceding it than its predecessor.
History is not repeatable and really is progressing to an ultimate destination! That destination pictured in our minds depends heavily on our view of prophecy and of The God Who Is There. If you do not believe in His prophets nor prophecies, you may picture humankind progressing into space and exploring and colonizing new worlds before our sun finally implodes millions of years hence. You may picture an extinction event that will wipe out life on earth, or a dystopian future of self-annihilation from damaging the environment beyond its ability to sustain us.
If you have experienced The God Who Is There as He has revealed Himself through Jesus, called the Christ (i.e. the Anointed One, the Messiah), then you will likely be reading the Bible to get to know Him better. And there you will find explicit guidelines for the “end of the age.”
Matthew 24 is the clearest and most comprehensive description provided by Jesus, and expanded by Paul, Peter and John in their letters. But be careful in reading what Jesus said would be signs of “the end of the age.” Many people point to “wars and rumors of wars” or “famines and earthquakes in various places” as if these were signs of the end times. But they are NOT. Jesus explicitly says, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8)
He was intentionally vague about when the signs of the end would be fulfilled so as to prevent people from relaxing like the virgins and servants in Matthew 25! His focus was on Be Ready! like in my blog on September 12, 2020.
Within the next 60 to 70 years, very few of us alive today will still be here on earth; possibly none of us! It is most important that we keep foundational principles of Scripture in front of us while we anticipate our end or the world’s end, whichever may come first.
- God will wrap up the end of this world someday; maybe tomorrow, maybe quite a few years from now . . . but it will happen. (2 Peter 3:9-10)
- We will not know the day or the hour; possibly the “seasons,” but be very careful . It may be farther off than we think, or it could be just around the next turn of events. (Matthew 24:26-36; Matthew 16:2-4)
- The identity of The Antichrist (according to John there are many smaller ones) is a mystery; i.e. we will not know until he is revealed. (I John 2:18; Revelation 13:1-8) Thus using numerology to decipher the mystery of his number, 666, only leads down rabbit holes with no end and no value.
- Do not become obsessed with end time events. They will happen whatever we believe about them. Our only responsibility is to be faithful to Him who has called us to live as lights in an ever-darkening world. (Revelation 2:10; Joshua 24:14-15)
- Jesus instructions on future prophecy is very clear: “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:29) In other words, He did not tell us what was going to happen so we could make accurate predictions about what was going to occur next week. However, He did give us prophetic words so that we could recognize the times when they occur.
So how close is the end? Well, closer than it was when the young people around Socrates acted up; closer than when the author of Hebrews said, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Yet we could be decades away, but in view of the macrocosm of history, it is very difficult to imagine another century. So how soon? It really doesn’t matter if one is ready.
Then this came in my email from a friend, just yesterday, Friday, October 2, 2020: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/september/amazon-rolls-out-new-hand-scanner-and-its-already-being-compared-to-revelations-mark-of-the-beast
It’s NOT “the” mark of the Beast, but it is getting us ready for it.
So, for what are you ready?