Based on a June 19, 2013 post. Edits, additions and updates have been made.
Will Christians be snatched away and others left behind? Will Christians endure severe persecution before Jesus comes? Will Christians see the Antichrist before Jesus comes? These questions have formed disagreements among Biblical scholars for decades, and with a new movie version of Left Behind recently released, those arguments have drastically increased. There’s hardly a Christian website or blog that hasn’t addressed this issue, most of them (seemingly suddenly) calling Left Behind heretical.
What is my take on the timeline of end time events? Well, to be honest, I have no idea. And I am not ashamed to say that I am perfectly comfortable not knowing. One thing I have learned by going to Bible College is that the more I learn, the less I know.
But that’s okay, I have become comfortable with understanding that I really do not need to know absolutely every detail of everything, and I think it is God‘s intention for man to not know all things. We can let God be God. In fact, I might be more inclined to say that each end time theory is both right and wrong. Look at the way the Jews looked (and still look) at the prophecies regarding the messiah’s first coming.
Yes, it is our nature to seek truth, which is all well and good; but it is sometimes to our fault that we claim to know it all. Notice the camps we have separated ourselves into now with the Left Behind issue. I would caution those reading as to how our bickering and side-taking looks to those outside the faith.
There a balance as to what we should know, what we might know and what we can’t know. In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks at length of his second coming and the end of the age. He first speaks of things that are to precede his coming—false messiahs, wars, rumors of wars and natural disasters. Then Jesus goes on to talk about a turning away from the faith, an increase of wickedness and the persecution of the church. Jesus then speaks of the Antichrist and finally His own second coming to take his children away.
This forms many basic conceptions of the beginning of the end. Revelation tells us of what is to come either during or after Jesus’ second return such as ‘The Millennium,’ Judgment Seat and the new Heaven and new Earth. What is unique to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew is his warnings. Jesus tells us to be aware of these times, and to specifically watch for them. He also warns us that when he comes, it will be like a thief in the night, and that no one (not even he) will know the exact day or hour.
So be on the lookout. We should at least know the season, so when it comes, we can warn others. This helps give us purpose to further study the end times. To speculate the timeline of events is fine, but we need to make sure we don’t get so wrapped up in our interpretations that we get caught into the same division we fought so hard against regarding denominationalism. Let’s give some grace on our interpretations and be receptive to others’. For the sake of brotherhood, and for our Christian witness to the world, let us not be so encamped in our own understanding, and point fingers at others’ interpretations.