Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Jerusalem Post: "End of Time Near?"

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Pew Research published a survey last week that finds, "In the United States, 39% of adults say they believe we are living in the end times,” while 58% say they do not believe we are living in the end times. 

Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post noticed the survey and published an article about the survey with this headline: "Are end times upon us? Nearly half of all US Christians think so." 

What do you think?

Be informed, not misled.

Pew Research on the return of Jesus Christ.

Pew says, "With global crises mounting, 47% of US Christian adults think that the end times are here, though whether Jesus Christ will return in their lifetime is still debated."

The survey notes, "Periods of catastrophe and anxiety, such as the coronavirus pandemic, have historically led some people to anticipate that the destruction of the world as we know it – the 'end times' – is near. This thinking often has a religious component that draws on sacred scripture. In Christianity, for example, these beliefs include expectations that Jesus will return to Earth after or amid a time of great turmoil."

In the United States, 39% of adults say they believe “we are living in the end times,” while 58% say they do not believe we are living in the end times, according to the Pew survey. 

Christians are divided on this question, with 47% saying we are living in the end times, including majorities in the historically Black (76%) and evangelical (63%) Protestant traditions. Meanwhile, 49% of Christians say we are not living in the end times, including 70% of Catholics and 65% of mainline Protestants who say this. Viewed more broadly, the share of Protestants who say we are living in the end times is greater than the corresponding share among Catholics (55% vs. 27%).

The Jerusalem Post on the return of Jesus Christ.

The Jerusalem  Post says, "With global crises mounting, 47% of US Christian adults think that the end times are here, though whether Jesus Christ will return in their lifetime is still debated, according to Pew."

With global crises mounting, 47% of US Christian adults think that the end times are here, though whether Jesus Christ will return in their lifetime is still debated, according to Pew.

However, there are generally a few key features that are universally agreed upon: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Rapture and the Last Judgement.

There is debate, however, between whether the end times begin and Jesus Christ returns during a low point for humanity as global crises mount (premillennialism) or at a high point when the world is improved (postmillennialism).

Overall, premillennialism is far more common in the US than postmillennialism, though a larger portion of Americans tends to not be sure about the circumstances that would lead to Jesus returning.

The Post says, "Certain demographics within the US Christian community tended to believe humanity is currently experiencing the end times more than others, the Pew survey showed."

But what about Jesus? The Post asks.

"Do Americans think the Christian Messiah will return to Earth in their lifetime?"

Over half (55%) of all US adults think that Jesus will return to the Earth at some point. Additionally, Evangelical (92%) and Black Protestants (86%) were both more likely to think this.

But more relevant to the end times is the question of whether Jesus will return in their lifetime. 

Here, only 1 in 10 Americans thinks the Second Coming of Christ will happen in their lifetime.

Though these numbers are low across the board, the demographics with the highest likelihood of thinking they will live to experience the Second Coming of Christ are Evangelicals and Black Protestants, the Post notes.

In conclusion, the Post says: 

It isn't just the COVID-19 pandemic that led some to think the end times have come for us all. Other crises have continued to mount in recent years, and one of the most notable of these crises is the ongoing climate change situation.

One person who weighed in on this was none other than Pope Francis I. 

Back in 2021, the pope spoke to Italian writer and chaplain Marco Pozza and warned that just as God in the Bible unleashed a massive flood for 40 days and 40 nights due to a desire to cleanse the Earth, He could very well do so again.

Just as the biblical flood was sparked by mankind's apathy and sinful nature, so too was this new flood, specifically due to man's sinfulness and apathy towards the planet led to the ongoing climate change crisis.

But the biblical flood was no end times scenario. Whether this has any bearing on the current series of crises ravaging the Earth is unknown.

What does Jesus say about His return?

Some things to know about the "end of time" according to Jesus.

  • No one knows the day or the hour of my return.

In Mark 13:32, Jesus had been teaching his disciples about his return and says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Luke records it this way, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Lk 12:40).

Jesus told his disciples even He didn’t know exactly when He would return.  At this point in history, God the Father knew the exact number of years, months, days, and seconds until Christ would return and Jesus didn’t. We need not speculate about future details Christ himself didn’t know.

Also, Jesus applied this truth to their lives, “Be ready.” Jesus didn’t know if he would return in their lifetimes, but his command to them is his command to us 2,000 years later. Keep watch. Stay awake.

  • There will be several signs, increasing in intensity, as my return draws near.

Christ’s followers should pay attention to the signs of his return. They should not speculate about the exact day or hour but should pay attention to events and recognize the potential fulfillment of Christ’s words as they happen.

Jesus promised there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes in various places (Matt 24:6-7). And also, “signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Lk 21:25-27).

Additionally, Jesus used the term “birth pains” to describe these signs. Like the pain of childbirth, these signs will get more intense and frequent as the day draws close. When we see increasing numbers of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, Jesus instructs, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). Once again, Jesus instructs us to pay attention to the signs of His return in order to be ready when He comes.

  • Not everyone who expects to make it into Christ’s kingdom will.

Some of the most sobering words of Jesus are about those who will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

  • There will be great persecution and many will fall away.

Jesus promised great persecution would break out against his followers and would cause many to fall away (Matt 24:9-10). It’s relatively easy to follow Christ when things are going well, but when times get tough we find out what we’re made of. Is our faith in Christ only as strong as the comfort we enjoy? If God’s enemies come and take everything will we cling to Christ or fall away? Jesus promised many would make the incomprehensible choice to fall away.

  • Because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold 
  • Be on your guard. Keep awake.
  • I am coming soon!

Be Informed. Be Ready. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Sober. Be Prayerful.