In recent weeks I’ve found I can no longer turn to the History Channel (my favorite) without being confronted with The Nostradamus Effect, the Mayan calendar, the Chinese I’ching or even the Christian prophet, Malachy, from the 12th century, each of which has been said to have declared the end of the world in this time period.
What about the year 2012? Is it the end of the world? The year 2012 will not be the end, but in that time period and leading up to it we will see an acceleration of instability and uncertainty in the world. This will not be a collapse, but rather an intensification of fear as the whirlwind of change across the globe gathers speed. It will appear that major nations once at war with one another are making peace. In terms of the possibility of major wars, therefore, there will be a diminished sense of danger while smaller conflicts in more localities will likely escalate both in number and intensity. It will be a time of “wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6), but not on a world scale. We will also see an increase in natural disasters in various places – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Earth can no longer bear up under the weight of sin of mankind. Again Matthew 24.
The coming turmoil will be felt primarily in global power shifts both in terms of comparative military might and economic influence. This is already in motion. America will remain a big fish in the world’s pond, but it will no longer be the only big fish in the world’s pond and will therefore feel itself diminished in terms of significance on the world stage. These things, among other influences, will lead to increased political turmoil and greater ideological polarization in America. We will be an increasingly divided nation with an increasing risk of erupting violence as frustration grows, as ethnic and cultural groups feel themselves disempowered and as people seek outlets for their fears and their angry sense of being unheard by their government and/or other ethnic and cultural groups.
In days to come believers must NOT feed these divisions or participate in them at any level or in any way. We have been called as reconcilers who have been given the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18), not division. That being said, no matter what we do, we will be increasingly marginalized culturally as a result of societal disfavor in days to come, but we must take care that our own attitude in response and our own un-Christ-like behavior does not draw unnecessary levels of opposition upon us.
In the years to come it will become more and more necessary that we live as the first and second century Christians did under the Roman Empire. They didn’t equate their Christian faith with a political movement or party as so many of us do today (“My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36), but rather became known for their love when everyone else’s love grew cold. They openly modeled a moral and glorious lifestyle without issuing scathing condemnations of Roman immorality, while leaving judgment and vengeance up to God. “See how the Christians love,” became the testimony of those who observed their character and their conduct both toward one another and toward outsiders. It wasn’t that they didn’t address sin. They did in fact call for repentance, but left judgment, vengeance and condemnation up to God. This made them wonderfully attractive to growing numbers of Romans hungering for an alternative to the destruction brought on by the sin that infected the core of Roman society. Historically, societal decay has always set the stage for revival because sin brings death and death makes people hungry for healing. If we will set a course to be Christ-like in days to come, we can turn the tide of disfavor and win multitudes to Jesus.
The years to come may therefore be tumultuous and fearful ones for the world, but if we will take up our rightful place as ministers of the kingdom of God – a kingdom of love, service and signs and wonders – the coming years will be the most glorious the church has ever known. Romans 8:19: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” This is our hour! Matthew 24:14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”