It’s the End of the World (But We Already Knew That)

By Brandon Evans:

It’s the end of the world!

But we already knew that.

The end times actually began centuries ago. Long before this pandemic. Long before you and I. And the end times might last centuries beyond us. Long after this pandemic. Long after you and I. We don’t know. All we know is that we are in fact living in the last chapter of history, awaiting the glorious epilogue.

When did the end begin? About 2000 years ago. Jesus’ birth was the moment where God interrupted history and brought it into its final chapter. The “last days” began with Jesus’ first day on earth”, as scholar Michael Bird says. Israel’s hope that God would rule over the universe and every creature in it, especially his chosen people, arrived with Jesus. The wait was over.

Jesus proclaimed that “The kingdom of God has come near” (Matt. 4:17), meaning that the king was gathering his citizens. The age of ignorance was over (Acts 17:30) and the heirs of the earth started following the king. A new beginning was dawning. God was initiating his new creation work. The countdown to the end started ticking.

But as the king established his rule, the powers of evil converged against him and his kingdom.

Human evil.

Natural evil.

Supernatural evil.

All working in conjunction to stop the king.

The new beginning did not come without a bloody fight. And the powers of evil, the rulers of this present age, killed the king. Everything that is wrong with this world had a brief moment of victory. Death had won.

But then a new beginning happened again.

The king returned to life. The powers of evil had done everything in their authority to stop him, but they could not contain the king. And the world became a new place because of this. Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated the death of the world as we know it and the arrival of a new one when he returns. The end is coming soon.

That’s where we find ourselves, you and I. In between resurrections. The New Testament authors consistently call this interval of time we are living in the “last” one.

John calls this hour the “last hour” (1 John 2:18).

The author of Hebrews calls these days the “last days” (Heb 1:2).

Peter calls our time the “last times” (1 Peter 1:20).

And Paul says “the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

But the last times are not the final times. There is another new beginning coming. Just as Jesus ended an ignorant age and ushered in a new one the first time, he will do so again when he returns. I like to think that we’re living in a cosmic escrow. Our closing date just hasn’t been disclosed. But one day we’ll have the keys to the earth, and it will truly be our home. There is no chance that the deal will be broken.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of the world lately. Maybe you have, too. The “Day of the Lord” is certainly coming, even if there are those who mock it (2 Peter 3:1-7). And for the past 2000 years there have been many previews of that day.

I think we’re living in one of those previews now.

The pandemic is an ominous reminder that creation is sick, and will pass away (1 John 2:17). But this is not the time to speculate about when exactly the end will occur (Matt. 24:36). Now is the time to make use of our lives until the end.

Each passing day brings us closer to the end.

But each passing day also brings us closer to a new beginning.

And on each passing day, we are to live out the future.

This, to me, is a crucially important concept in the Christian faith—that what we do now has eternal implications. We are not to sit back and wait for the world to blow up and be replaced with a new model. We are to actively participate in the unfolding new creation project.

In the book of Revelation, in a vision of the future new creation, God makes a particularly interesting statement: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Not, “I will make all things new” in the future. He says, in the present tense, “I am making all things new.” God’s future has already begun.

And in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes a lengthy section on the resurrection, imperishable bodies, and victory over death—the good things promised in the end. But what is Paul’s concluding encouragement? It’s not to kick back and wait for them. It’s not to simply believe they will happen. Instead, Paul urges us to stand firm in the gospel and overflow in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). Why? Because, he says, “our labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In other words, we are to live out the future now.

The line between this age and the age to come is a blurry one. The two eras are distinct, that’s for sure, but they overlap. There are so many benefits of the future new creation—redeemed bodies, freedom, the absence of chaos, and joy—that are presently apparent. Yet we are still hoping for them to arrive fully when Jesus does.

Because in the meantime, we continue to experience the convergence of evil.

Human evil.

Natural evil.

Supernatural evil.

All working in conjunction to stop the king.

That’s why, today, we must pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Today, we must faithfully endure.

Today, we must display hopeful love to those around us and be glimpses of the age to come, because God’s will triumphs over evil.

Generosity overcomes hoarding.

Service overcomes selfishness.

Love overcomes hate.

Peace overcomes fear.

Because when the end finally comes, the powers of evil will once again converge, this time at unparalleled levels.

Human evil.

Natural evil.

Supernatural evil.

All working in conjunction to stop the king.

But evil will fail, finally. God’s goodness will overcome it, totally.

It’s in previews of the end, like the one we’re going through right now, that we see who really is king, who really has power, and who really wins.

Will Jesus return tomorrow? He could. But if not, so be it. He will, soon. And we’re in for a surprise when he does. But until then, my prayer is that the kingdom, the church, would be living previews of God’s victory over evil.

Today, tomorrow, and to the end.