And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Eschatology is the study of the events associated with end times and the coming age. As far back as the first century many have believed that they were living in the last days. Thirty years ago, when I was in bible college, my favorite book of the bible was Revelation. I so remember those wonderful debates around the rapture and the last days. As the new millennium dawned my fixation with eschatology ebbed. Even so, the predictions of people like Harold Camping have revived the interest in this topic.
Interesting how Jesus begins his end times dissertation with a warning about deception. It is so easy to get distracted by eschatology. Yet he points to observable events and says that they are merely the beginning of birth pangs. It reminds me of what Paul writes in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.Hope, not fear, is the message of the (or our) last days. When we hear news reports of wars, famines and earthquakes our hearts go out to those who are suffering. Yet in the midst of these trying times we must embrace the hope of redemption. And in our last days we should embrace Jesus' admonition to look up because our redemption draws near.
I await your redemption today Lord. Help me to look up when things around me look bleak.