I, too, have heard people claim that the eclipse and recent natural disasters, such as the hurricanes and the earthquakes, can be linked and are “signs of the times.” There is no doubt that as each day passes we are closer to the Lord’s triumphant and awesome return. Natural disasters and solar events remind us of the power and order of the creation, which is but a pale reflection of the power and order of the Creator. The more of such events we live to see, the more our mind ought to go to the return of the King and the end of the age. With that in mind, we must be reconciled to God through faith in Christ while we have a day of opportunity. You referred to Luke 21:25–26, which presents the same teaching found in Matthew 24–25. There are three general points to bear in mind when reading such passages.
1. Christ tells us much about signs that will precede his second coming, but he also tells us that he will return when he is not expected, coming like “a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Matt. 24:43). So we have two different themes—the one pointing to signs for we should be alert, and the other telling us that the end will be an unexpected surprise. The challenge is for a believer to hold both of these teachings, keeping them in tension. Faith in Christ enables us to hold these different teachings, recognizing that the signs of the last days are with us, but still we don’t know when the last day (singular) actually is. Faith tells us, “I don’t know when the end of time is, yet the natural disasters assure me that he will return. Therefore, I will be all the more ready for his return.”
2. In addition to this, it is often helpful to be clear what the Scriptures mean when they refer to the last days and the end of the ages. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Hebrews 9:26 uses similar language. Also in Hebrews 1 we read God … has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds.” The New Testament writers understood the New Testament age—that is, our time now, from the first coming of Christ and sending of the Spirit at Pentecost onward to Christ’s final return—to be the end of the ages and the last days (both plural). The former times were the Old Testament era, where God had not fully revealed himself and opened salvation to all nations. The last day (singular—John 6:39, 12:48 and other Johanine passages) is the very end, when Christ will return and raise all men to judge the living and the dead.
3. There are certain things God has made known to us and other things he has not, such as the time of Christ’s return (see Matt. 24:36). Are there more signs of the times now than there have been in the past, indicating an imminent return of our Lord? I don’t know, but I do know that God has not let me look specifically at the time of the end of the age, because none—not even the angels—know. What I do know is that God has told all of us to do our duty until that last day comes. Martin Luther was asked what would he do today if he knew Christ would return tomorrow. He is said to have answered, “I’d go out and plant a tree.” He simply meant that he would go about his business as usual, providing for today and preparing for tomorrow, because he had no real way of knowing if Christ would return tomorrow.
If our Lord does return tomorrow—or if He does not—God has told us what we must do today: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8). That is the right way to be ready for the end of time.
May the Lord bless you.
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