CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Thinking About the End of the World

Sep 2, 2019

How would you live if you knew the world was going to end today?

So what would you do if you knew the world was going to end in 12 hours? Yes I know, the hyper-leftist American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is talking about the world ending in 12 years, joining a long-list of green nutters and chicken littles, but here I am talking about things coming to an end a bit sooner!

What is all this about? Let me explain. The other night I watched maybe twenty minutes of a film on television which had the ‘12 hours till the end’ theme. But it was late so I went to bed and did not see the rest of it. But the next day I did a net search and learned more about the movie. This is from a wiki piece on it:

These Final Hours is a 2013 Australian apocalyptic thriller film… The film takes place in Perth, and begins ten minutes after an asteroid has collided with earth in the North Atlantic, leaving approximately twelve hours until the subsequent global firestorm reaches Western Australia.”

I had two main thoughts racing through my mind as I went to bed that night and reflected on what I had just seen. The first was this sad fact: The veneer of civilisation is exceedingly thin indeed. That is, what keeps things stable, peaceful and orderly in society – at least in the West – is very fragile and tentative, and it does not take much for the real face of fallen humanity to raise its ugly head.

Simply put, what do you do when the lights go out? When no one is looking, or when order and authority break down, we start to see what people are really made of. And that was made clear in the film early on. Everywhere there was murder and mayhem, rape and pillaging, orgies and anarchy.

When folks realised that everything was coming to an end – and real soon – then all hell broke loose. Civilisation and its restraints crumbled, and people did what they always wanted to do, but could not readily do because of law and order and other constraints.

Thus in the film one young girl was snatched by two evil men and taken to a house to be locked up and sexually assaulted. And why not? The world is coming to an end so let’s just give in to every urge and impulse we have. Just go for it!

I recall many years ago the lights went out for a long period of time – maybe for a week or more – in New Zealand I believe – maybe Auckland. Not surprisingly, crime rates and the like went up. When normal restraints and constraints are taken away, the real picture of fallen humanity emerges.

If one is not restrained internally (say, by conscience), then only external restraints (like the police) will suffice. That is what the biblical storyline makes clear. It is either conscience or cops. And even our fallen conscience is far from perfect, and can easily lead us astray.

Speaking of evil and restraints, the truth is this: thankfully the world is not as evil as it could be. That should be good news for all of us. If you thought things were bad now, just imagine how much worse things could be if there were no restraints on evil.

In a sin-soaked world, God has graciously provided various means to restrain evil. What are these restraints? Four of them are usually mentioned: conscience, family, government or civil authority, and the church. Each of these plays a role in restraining – at least to some extent – the selfish and evil urges, impulses and desires of fallen mankind.

They put a check on the free flow of evil, and they help slow down the urge to run amuck and sin with abandon. So we can be thankful that God’s common grace is showered upon all of humanity, and these various restraints are in place to keep this world from degenerating into a totally anarchistic and demonised hell on earth.

But a second thing came to mind as I reflected on the film the other night. What would I do if I knew the world was coming to an end in 12 hours? The first thing I thought of was to get on the phone and call as many friends and loved ones as possible and give them the gospel.

All Christians would do the same I trust. Nothing is more important than making sure you are right with God through Christ. If we knew that our lives were just about to come to an end, then seeking to assure ourselves and others that we are ready to face eternity would be the only sensible course of action.

Of course in one sense this might be a bit like death-bed conversions. One wonders how genuine or reliable they might be. If a person has rejected God all his life, will a last second prayer of salvation really cut it? Nonetheless, I am sure there can indeed be some real death-bed conversions, and there could also be genuine ones in an end-of-the-world scenario as well. But far better to get right with God now, instead of putting it off.

In conclusion, all this is an interesting thought experiment. Just how would we live if we knew the end was just around the corner? Would it change anything? And for the Christian, this raises questions as well. In one sense, all believers should live like this all the time, with a sense of urgency.

We should live as if each day could be our last. We should always live in the light of eternity, and we should have our priorities adjusted accordingly. But on the other hand – especially given that no one knows for sure when the world will end, or when Christ will return – we should live lives that reflect wisdom and common sense. We plant gardens and build houses, and find steady employment and do all the normal things that we do for our three score and ten.

A quote attributed to Luther says, “If I knew the world was to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” Apparently, he didn’t actually say this, and it may first have arisen in the 1940s by German believers under the Nazi regime to give them hope and perseverance.

Whatever the source of the quote, the point is well-taken. We are to ‘occupy till Christ comes’ as we find in Luke 19:13, and we need not let end-times speculation render us ineffective for the kingdom. Even if he does return in our lifetime, we still have a lot of work to do.

Sure, if I knew for sure that he was returning in 12 hours, I likely would not order any more books from overseas, I probably would leave the stack of dishes in the kitchen, and I would not be inclined to mow the lawn. Again, I would tell as many as I could about their need of a Saviour.

So how do we live our lives today? It seems with a combination of urgency as well as responsibility. If you sense God calling you to do a four-year BA degree, then do it. But also be aware that life is short, and the person you were intending to witness to could meet an untimely end at any point.

So we need to live sensible lives, being responsible to raise our families and the like, but we also need to have a sense of biblical priorities in life, with the realisation of the nearness of Christ’s return also informing and colouring how we live. He will come back one day. Are we ready?

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13 Responses to Thinking About the End of the World

  • Now Bill, we can’t leave these words unchallenged: “Sure, if I knew for sure that he was returning in 12 hours, I likely would not order any more books from overseas …..” So are you saying, Bill, that it would take such an extreme situation to prevent you from ordering any more books? On the other hand, perhaps we need something like a bomb under us to motivate us to share the gospel with those whom we know are otherwise bound for hell. As the Apostle Paul said, ‘?? ???????’ – translated as ‘God forbid’! We can’t afford to wait until the last minute to share the good news with the spiritually lost.

  • Sorry Bill – I had no idea that your page is unable to write Greek words!

  • Are you ready?

    “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

    “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” 2 Thessalonians 2:11

    “Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:12-14

    Do you not know…..do you not ‘see’ that the Catholic Church is ONE of the largest and most obvious apostate churches on this planet? Check THEIR doctrines with what is in Gods Word and if you have any ‘sight’ left at all……you’ll see it!!! TEST THE SPIRITS!!! That’s what God tell us to do!!! Their false doctrines, doctrines NOT in the Holy Bible, prove themselves to be from the father of lies!!! Please, don’t bother about ‘shouting’ at me for saying these things….instead look to YOURSELVES…as each one of us have to do!!! This is not a time to let egos and pride to have their way; they will only take you straight to hell. Time is near….time is short!! Remember, Christ will return when you least expect Him!! Don’t let Him find you with no oil. The elect will not give you theirs!

    “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Rev 22:20

  • Amen. Ruth Manning. You are correct . I was in that system for 40 years. But Praise be to God, He showed me in HIS WORD the way of salvation through Faith in Christ Alone, and to Trust only in His death, burial and resurrection, and in the Finished Work of Christ. (His Work, not my works, my works are as filthy rags says the word of God. I no longer had to be good enough, nor did I any longer have to do continuous good works to EARN my way to Heaven. For Jesus Christ paid the price for all my sins. If the Son of God has set me free, I am free indeed. (Good Works are good to do, but it doesn’t save you, You do good works out of love for our Saviour and for a good testimony.)
    NIV. Ephesians 2: 8-10. 8. For it is by GRACE (unmerited favour) you HAVE been saved, through faith, – and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God – 9. NOT by WORKS, so that no one can boast. 10. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Amen).

  • KJV. Mark 8.36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
    I would get the salvation message out there.

  • Hi Bill

    I remember the power outage when an undersea cable was damaged. The power went out to NZ, but was around d a month, not a week, and while some chaos probably happened at first with increased crime rates etc,I also clearly remember stories of communities coming together (once they realised they were in it for the long haul) and helping each other, sharing food and BBQ’sand checking on elderly neighbours. As with many thingse in life, disruptions such as this usually bring out the worst, but also the best in people?
    Other than that, yes worth pondering ?

    Cheers, Paul T.

  • Planting an apple tree when the world is coming to an end??? … and I am quite capable of leaving dishes in the sink and not mowing the lawn without the world ending. I’ve done this experiment many times.

    I just had to laugh at so much in this article. The idea of falling asleep while the Earth is about to come to an end (the wise and foolish virgins???) and the idea that an old guy (like myself) would prefer to go to bed than watch a thriller to the end. Been there… What will you do when the lights go out? Well it looks like if you stay in Victoria you may soon find out.

    The fact is the prophecies are that the end is not going to come with the world noticing. Only those who watch and know the signs will be able to see.

  • Bill, reading your account of social breakdown and lawlessness, may this not in fact play out in the next severe economic downturn in our now post-Christian era? Even in these good economic times, one of our daughters was ambushed and chased recently by a deranged man with a rifle. A neighbour who witnessed it, called 000, but the police took 6 hours to come because they had 14 domestic violence cases in front of us, and even then the police didn’t record at all what had happened (to save paperwork as they are understaffed). Recently he tried to ram me running me off the road twice, but the police said it was my word against his word and dismissed it. And this before a general breakdown in lawlessness which may soon be triggered by economic downturn. God help every one of us!

  • Thank you for this message. My prayer is than many will come to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus. Keep up the good work and let me receive your messages.
    I am an 87 year old preacher (40) years with a fundamentalist background and love the “old time gospel” of our Lord Jesus!

  • interestingly your one line is much like the email signature I have had for sometime “If man will not be governed from within, he must be governed from without.” I speak of the holy spirit and government. If a person can not control themselves then someone else must control them. when a person lacks the holy spirits guidance an ever increasing government must take charge of them. limited government can’t work with a hedonistic populous only interested in themselves and answering only to themselves.

    Man needs either God or Big Brother (big government) but not both. “our government is for a moral and religious people is is WHOLLY INADEQUATE for any other”. truer words haven’t been spoken by man.

  • No one knows when the end will come, other than God the Father. A new Covenant or New Testament was made with Israel and Judah which, unlike the old Mosaic Testament written in stone, was to be written in their hearts and minds. It is made possible only by faith in Jesus Christ who shed his blood to take away the sins of the world. At the Last Supper Jesus said “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”. He gave warning then of the end time when the Abomination of Desolation would be seen standing in the holy place. Therefore when news of a third temple is being built in Jerusalem and a perfect red heifer is being reared for sacrifice to please God, then that would be a sign to Israel and the called out Gentiles that the end time scenario is as it at hand, as it disregards the presence and teaching of the long awaited Messiah who dwelt among us full of grace and truth 2000 years ago. What to do is repent and believe in Jesus Christ with your heart and mind and pray to be deemed worthy to have your name written in the book of Life, in Jesus’ name.

  • true Rachel but there are signs and way to know the season. we should watch for them lest we, like the jews of the first century, be unaware of the time of our visitation. yes many have foretold the end times in there day but most did not check all the signs but simply saw a bad world and though this is it. there are signs of his return and one must compare the age one is in to the signs and see that they are all there. just because times are bad doesn’t mean the end is nigh. the signs MUST be fulfilled. I am not saying this of you but it bothers me so many christians dismiss talk of the end time because people have wrongly predicted them before. the attitude is everyone has been wrong to this point so there is no way to know it could still be 100 or 1000 years away no point in even discussing it. some I think don’t want to take the time to look at it because it isn’t as simple as looking up one verse and boom you have your answer. too many christians want easy answers one to two verses and have the meaning be obvious not something that you have to study and look at multiple verses in multiple books. some prefer ignorance as the saying goes ignorance is bliss. some are eternal optimists who see good everywhere can’t see anything as being very bad and see sunshine lollipops and rainbows everywhere (revival is just around the corner [though the have said that for at least 30 years now and we haven’t reached that corner yet]). some are even dominionist who think that we have to win the world to christ first and humans can create a christian world without the physical presence of christ. current events should show us we can’t do it (the west which has the the stronghold of christianity is looking it’s faith at the same time christianity is spreading in the south and east. we simply are not able to bring the whole world under one faith). no temple will be built without a peace agreement of some sort and with the way the Palestinians are now I don’t see any agreement being ok unless a war is started and they are so decimated they have no choice but to sign (maybe because the other arabs will force them to).

    as an aside statehood would not be good for them because then when they attack israel it will be one nation attacking another thus a act of war this Israel would have recognized rights to fight the Palestinians and it would not end well for them (PA). every nation has the right to defend itself against an attack from another nation and go to war with them. they already have the right to defend themselves but those who balk at it would have a hard time doing so if the palestine was a nation.

  • Thanks Paul. When I said Israel I meant the remnant of believers in Jeshua in the land of Israel, as is the people originally chosen to testify to God’s purpose. I regard the one world religion which Pope Francis wants to usher in as a bad sign as well, also the confusing of the sexes. It’s great to hear all your comments, all adding to the common understanding of what’s going on.

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