The End of the World as We Know It


Chance Howard

The intro and Chapter heading of the Book of Revelation.

People often picture the end of the world with images of meteors falling to earth, nuclear bombs launched by world powers, earthquakes and super-volcanoes, famines, and mass disease.

Some Christians interpret the book of Revelation entirely literally, which leads to an interesting (and incorrect) view of the end of the world. For example, in the book Revelation, a literal interpretation would merit you to believe that stars would fall on the earth, locusts with the faces of men wearing crowns would terrorize men, and a seven-headed beast with ten horns was to be worshipped on earth.

I don’t hold to any of these beliefs, which is very unpopular in Christian circles. However, different views on Eschatology (the study of the end times) have been circulating since the church began. (The purpose of the article is more about educating people about postmillennial theology, rather than seeking to convert people to my point of view.)

The common view of the end times is that any minute Christ could be coming back to whisk his people away into heaven, while the unbelievers on earth are condemned eternally. Now, I have no problem with the “eternal condemnation” part. However, this idea that the world will get worse and worse and Christians can do nothing about it is pretty sad. Why seek to evangelize or convert people at all? It’d be like washing the dinner plates as the Titanic is sinking.

Dominion overall…
Postmillennialism is the most hopeful of all Christian views of the “end times” or end of the world. We have a reason to convert people and grow the church. Psalm 110:1 reads as follows:

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted or alluded to verse in the New Testament of the Bible (quoted or alluded to 24 times), and it provides the foundation for the postmillennial worldview. Jesus is ruling and reigning over the universe until the Church (as a tool) brings the gospel into all the earth.

Church Growth
In the covenant that God made with Abraham, God promised Abraham that he would make his descendants like the dust [dirt] of the earth and the stars of the sky. Just the Milky Way galaxy alone has an estimated one-hundred-thousand million stars. The number of all Christians (and faithful Jews before the time of Christ) throughout history does not come close to that number. This leads me to believe that #1, the rapture isn’t coming any time soon, and #2, the Church has a lot of work to do, as who is going to be the one to bring the world into the dominion of Christ? The Church.

A Mirror Reality
Sometimes as a Church, it is up to us to make sure that the things we’ve been told about verses or passages make sense, as well as match up with other parts of the Bible. I’m sure that if you’ve ever learned about the end times, in church or somewhere else, these verses are the proverbial ‘trump card’ for a ‘secret rapture in which all believers are taken into heaven.’

Matthew 24:37-41 states:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken, and the other left.

Take notice of the first verse, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man”. For people less aware of Biblical accounts, Noah and his family (eight people in total) built a boat to survive the flood that God used to purge the world of sin. So, I ask you, in the times of Noah, who was taken? The sinner was taken. People who believe in this belief about a secret rapture have an inverse view of what the scripture teaches. It is not righteous who will be taken, but the wicked.

What is the Purpose of a Gate?
This verse, similar to the verses above, is often flipped by well-meaning teachers and preachers to propagate their worldview. It is done unintentionally and in good faith. However, we, as a body of believers, should check our interpretations and traditions.

Now, the verse in question is Matthew 16:18:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

When this verse is brought up, it is meant to encourage the Christian. Something to the effect of, “The powers of hell can never overcome you”. However, you must ask yourself, what does a gate do? A gate is meant for defense. When building a castle, or a fortress, you build a wall and a gate to defend everything inside the walls. The gates of hell will not prevail. They will not hold up. They will not stand against the power of the gospel. This interpretation I find to be much more inspiring.

A Historical Lens
We, as modern Christians, try to make everything about us. We often interpret words that Jesus gave relating to destruction and bloodshed to be about our modern-day era. However, it is very rare to see someone try and view this scripture through a historical context. Several verses with explanations will help to validate my point.

Luke 23:28-31
But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Matthew 27:24-25
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

Mark 13:2
And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Revelation 13:18
This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Mark 13:14-18
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter.

Now for an explanation. When the Jewish people cried out to Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus, they said the penalty would be on themselves and their children. So, this saying was confirmed when, in A.D 70, the Roman army began their siege on Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed, countless people were murdered, and it was not a great time for the Jews.

However, when the Roman army left Jerusalem (only to come back later), Christians heeded the words of Jesus (in Mark 13) and fled Jerusalem (to what is modern-day Jordan). Also, this number (666) that we focus on as being so ominous and mysterious just means “Emperor Nero” or “Neron Kaisar”. Emperor Nero persecuted the Christian Church immensely, so this number referred to him.

Christian Optimism
Christians should not be looking forward to a soon and sudden end of the world. It’s not coming. However, just because we in modernity have a wrong view of the end, we shouldn’t fret. Rather than continually losing and the world getting so bad that we have to be whisked away, the world gets better, souls get saved, and we win.