SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE SIGNS
END OF AN AGE, NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
I remember 1971, the year Diane and I were married, there was this hit song called “Signs” by the “Five Man Electrical Band” with these catchy lyrics:
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign
I think most of you in my age bracket are familiar with the song. Yes, signs are a part of everyday life to give us direction: they tell us where to go, what to do, how to behave, etc. Signs are designed to inform us, so we have time to make choices. In order for a sign to exist, someone had to have the foresight to warn or inform those who follow. For example, you are driving a car down the highway and the bridge is out ahead. If you ignore the warning about the bridge being out, you put yourself in danger. The more we know, the better we’re able to prepare. Signs are beneficial to us only if we act on them.
As an example: Two thousand years ago, Jesus warned the Pharisees about their failure to recognize signs, and in the process, they crucified Jesus. Thirty-seven years later Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed killing many thousands.
We have probably all seen cartoons of people wearing or holding placards proclaiming, “The end is near!” Well, let me assure you that according to Scripture, the earth will still be around for a thousand years after Christ’s second coming (Rev. 20-22).
Doomsday prophets talk about the “end of the world.” Pick a year, any year, and probably somebody somewhere would have predicted it for the “end of the world.” Some may base their predictions on Nostradamus, the Mayans, tea leaves, crop circles, etc. but many say they base their predictions on the Bible.
There is a whole field of biblical study known technically as eschatology, the study of “last things,” of prophecies of the “end time” and beyond. But not everyone who studies end time Bible prophecy sets specific dates or walks around shouting “the end of the world” or talking to themselves.
Some predicting the “end of the world” base their terminology on the Old King James Version’s translation of verses like Matthew 24:3, where the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
END OF AN AGE, NOT THE WORLD
When Jesus’ disciples asked about “the end of the world,” they weren’t talking about the “world” in the sense of our physical planet, earth. The word translated “end” is from the Greek sunteleleia, “a bringing to completion” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “end, ending”). Vine’s goes on to say that “end of the world” is misleading, that “consummation of the age” is more like it. The word does not denote a termination, but the leading up of events to the appointed climax. The New King James Version and many other modern bible versions clear up Matthew 24:3, where the disciples were asking about the “end of the age,” not “end of the world.
So, Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical planet being destroyed or blown up nor the end of man’s civilization. He was specifically talking about the time of man’s wayward self-rule and of a time when the course of human history and man’s government on earth for the last 6000 years shall come to an end – come to completion.
Six thousand years ago Adam and Eve fell from grace when they were deceived by Satan and disobeyed God. Adam and Eve were banished from the garden of Eden and the rulership of planet earth went from Adam to Satan. The apostle Paul says that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19),” and that Satan is effectively “the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4).” Later on Paul goes on to add, the age “which is to come (Eph. 1:21),” begins with Christ’s return to establish His kingdom on earth. The symbolism of Daniel 2:34 and 2:44 depicts Christ’s return and the setting up of God’s all-powerful world ruling government. This supplants all the humanly devised governments of mankind over the past 6000 years.
Scripture spells out that our present age, of civilization and society as we know it today, will terminate in unimaginable destruction and violence (Matt. 24:21-22), that will climax at the end of the age just before Christ’s return. In the New Testament alone, more than 300 verses refer to these end time events.
Paul and the other apostles understood that at the end of this age, man’s corrupt civilization will be swept away, and a new era will then dawn. Can we know the signs that will lead up to the time of the end of this age? What are those signs that will signal the end of man’s rule under Satan’s influence?
It is not a question of whether man’s corrupt civilization will end. God’s word says it will. Our biggest concern shouldn’t be when it will end. Instead, our main focus should be to seek God and be prepared spiritually for the times that are coming (Luke 21:36).
God wants us to understand and be able to interpret the signs of the times. Never was that ability more important than today. Many people are confused and troubled by things they read about and see happening all around them. They are apprehensive about the future. Repeatedly they ask, “What’s going on? Why does everything seem to be out of control? Where is the old sense of stability?” How can we discern the significance of the events and the trends we see developing in the world today?
Even though we don’t know exactly when the end of this age will come, we must be ready. The good news is it’s not really the end. It’s the beginning of much better things to come to those in Christ – to those who will be raptured and taken to heaven. Then later, after the 7-year tribulation, returning from heaven with Christ Jesus when He comes to establish His 1000-year reign on earth, and we shall reign with Him in some form of administrative capacity (Rev. 20:6).
Isn’t that great news!