Quit prematurely freaking out about the End.

Mark 13.7-8, Matthew 24.6-8, Luke 21.9-11.

Jesus ordered his followers not to worry. When we haven’t surrendered our entire lives to Jesus, we’re gonna suck at obeying his teaching: We’re gonna worry. We’ll fuss about food and drink and clothing, like Jesus specifically highlighted in his lesson. We’ll worry about what others think of us. Worry about money and financial stability. Worry about politics. Worry about our guns. Worry about anything which threatens our comfort and stability.

Most of the professional End Times prognosticators especially want you to worry about your comfort and stability. Not just because they wanna sell you food buckets for your End Times bunker. Most of ’em are preaching out of their very own paranoia. They worry even more than you do about the stuff they agitate about. Their own End Times bunkers are very well-stocked.

All of ’em ignore what Jesus taught on the subject. Or in some cases flip its meaning over entirely.

Mark 13.7-8 KWL
7 “When you might hear of wars and war news, don’t freak out:
These things must happen—but it’s not the End yet!
8 Nation will rise over nation. Kingdom over kingdom.
Earthquakes will happen in various places. Recessions will happen.
These are only the first contractions.”
Matthew 24.6-8 KWL
6 “You’re about to hear of wars and war news. Look, but don’t freak out:
These things must happen—but it’s not the End yet!
7 Nation will rise over nation. Kingdom over kingdom.
Recessions and earthquakes will happen in various places.
8 All these things are the first contractions.”
Luke 21.9-11 KWL
9 “When you might hear of wars and instability, don’t be frightened:
These things must happen first—but it’s not the End yet!”
10 Then Jesus told them, “Nation will rise over nation. Kingdom over kingdom.
11 Great earthquakes will happen in various places. Recessions and plagues will happen.
Terrors in the sky. Great signs will happen.”

Yep, “don’t freak out” is a proper translation of μὴ θροεῖσθε/mi throeísthe, “don’t wail aloud in terror.” Yet we all know Christians who do nothing but panic over every rumor, every conspiracy theory, every world event. They insist every last one of ’em is a sign the End is near.

I’ve been a Christian five decades. Sad to say, it was about three decades in before I realized all this agitation was getting people absolutely nowhere. Fearful Christians weren’t growing good fruit. Weren’t doing any good works, for fear it’d make them targets for persecution, for fear their good works might be coopted and corrupted, or fought against by antichrists. Weren’t reading their bibles, unless it was to “discern the news,” and prove this or that world event was really an End Times harbinger.

And they were definitely alienating people around ’em with their End Times hysteria. I have a coworker who’s currently doing that with everybody at work. “What is wrong with that guy?” is the usual complaint I hear about him: He’s convinced the Beast is coming, and warns everybody away from anything he perceives as Beast-like.

Of course he’s just passing along the fear-based dark Christianity he’s been taught, and doesn’t realize it presents Christianity as bad news, not good.

Not every calamity means it’s the End.

Every last ill of society, every last conflict and battle, every last rumor we’ve heard over the internet, has been used as evidence the End is near.

The current crisis was always identified as a sign of the end, whether it was the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Palestine War, the Suez Crisis, the June War, or the Yom Kippur War. The revival of the Roman Empire has been identified variously as Mussolini’s empire, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the European Defense Community, the Common Market, and NATO. Speculation on the Antichrist has included Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, and Henry Kissinger. The northern confederation was supposedly formed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Rapallo Treaty, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and then the Soviet Bloc. The “kings of the east” have been variously the Turks, the lost tribes of Israel, Japan, India, and China. The supposed restoration of Israel has confused the problem of whether the Jews are to be restored before or after the coming of the Messiah. The restoration of the latter rain has been pinpointed to have begun in 1897, 1917, and 1948. The end of the “times of the Gentiles” has been placed in 1895, 1917, 1948, and 1967. “Gog” has been an impending threat since the Crimean War, both under the Czars and the Communists.

—Dwight Wilson, Armageddon Now! 216.

Wilson wrote that in 1977, back when the Cold War was definitely expected to usher in the End Times. Today it’s the coronavirus pandemic, middle eastern wars, the stock market, the United Nations, NATO, the G8 Summit, the International Monetary Fund, you name it. Basically anything which wields power, ’cause End Times prognosticators are entirely sure the Beast is gonna take it over.

Anything else in the news will do as well:

  • Stories about new and greater drug use in America? Fulfills prophecy.
  • Stories about promiscuity, sexual immorality, more divorce, lowered standards in TV programs? Fulfills prophecy.
  • Stories about more crime? (Even though the stats say otherwise.) Fulfills prophecy.

I’ve taught history, and the crime stats have definitely gone down over the past century. That’s because concerned citizens, many of ’em Christians, have been shining a lot of light into the darkness. But for those folks who insist a great tribulation is coming, they believe the world’s gotta become as evil as possible. And just as they’re not above distorting the bible to suit their End Times Timeline, they’re also not above ignoring or manipulating stats to fit their timeline too.

But as Jesus stated in red and white, “These things must happen—but it’s not the End yet!”

And if you’re gonna distort bible, you’re gonna do as these prognosticators: Insist Jesus was only talking about the wars, war news, and instability. But all the stuff after he said “it’s not the End yet” do refer to the End: The earthquakes. The recessions (KJV “famines”). The plagues. The terrors in the sky. And once these other signs mean it’s the End, any wars which follow ’em are therefore also part of the End.

What Jesus is trying to say is life goes on… and humanity is gonna pick fights, and nature is gonna have disasters. None of these things mean it’s the End. The End is when the baby comes out, not when the pregnant mother feels the first contraction. Or even Braxton Hicks contractions, which aren’t even labor pains—which is arguably what Jesus meant by “first contractions” as opposed to just plain “contractions.”

Wars happen. Wars have always happened. There were wars before God called Abraham. There were wars before Moses; there were wars involving Moses, and Joshua, and David, and Ahab, and Nebuchadnezzar, and all the way up to Jesus’s day. There have been thousands, if not millions, of wars since. There are wars now. Yet Christians regularly freak out at every war which touches upon us, and insist it means the End is right round the corner.

Earthquakes happen. Earthquakes have always happened; the bible tells us of a few. Economic recessions happen, and have always happened; there were plenty of recessions in the bible. Tornadoes and tsunamis and floods and polar vortices and solar flares and giant meteors have all happened, and will happen. Man-made climate change is a new one, but even that isn’t a sign of the End. It’s just not.

But we humans are jumpy. Our brains are designed to solve problems, and when disasters happen, we wanna find a cause for this disaster, or a reason for its occurrence. We can’t just accept everything is meaningless; we must find an explanation. Maybe we sinned. Maybe you sinned. Maybe the wrath of God is falling upon all of us. Maybe it’s the End.

No it’s not.

Watch out for the End—and for fakes.

This is why Jesus warns us lest someone trick us. Yes the End will come, and so will the con artists and frauds. There will always be opportunists who try to seize a little money, a little power, from the fearful. They’ll sell End Times books… plus try to get you to invest in gold or some other Beast-proof financial package, or buy survival kits and MREs and guns, or move to their compound in Guyana.

Back in 1999 I was a newspaper editor, and an advertiser offered to Y2K-proof her customers’ houses and businesses. (It’s been a few decades, so now I gotta explain what that means to the youngsters: Early computers weren’t programmed with four-digit years, and once the year rolled over from 99 to 00, the computer might think it’s 1900 instead of 2000. It’s a really minor problem with an easy fix, but many con artists were claiming it’d shut down computers… and computers are in everything, so they were talking as if the world would descend into chaos.) I knew enough about computers to know Y2K-proofing was ridiculous, so I wrote a column about it. The advertiser was furious, pulled her tiny ad, wrote an angry letter… and 1 January came and went, and as I predicted, nothing happened.

It’s entirely possible she believed her outrageous warnings, just as many a doomsayer has. But Jesus-followers should be taking our lead from Christ Jesus himself, and he told us to be on our guard against such people, and check these things out. Not just believe whatever we hear!

Yet many Christians, knowing the End is inevtiable, do believe whatever we hear. They see antichrists behind every government official, see End Times prophecies fulfilled in every war, and point to every natural disaster as a sign. They fear everyone and everything. Clearly they’re not following Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t want us tossed to and fro by every scam artist inside and outside Christendom. Ep 4.14 We’re to watch out, not just for the End, but for fakes too. Don’t confuse the usual chaos in the world with the End!