Summary: In these difficult days, when many are predicting the end of the world, don’t be disturbed and don’t be deceived. Instead, stand firm in the truth of God’s Word and find the confidence to persevere in every good work.
Many of us have seen some doctors over the years; and the older we get, the more doctors we see. As a result, we’ve learned some words we never heard before. Doctors have their own jargon and seem to speak a strange language.
After all, what do these terms really mean?
Barium – isn’t that what they do to dead people?
Benign – isn’t that what you wanted when you were eight?
Carpal – someone with whom you drive to school or work.
Cauterize – that’s what the guy did before winking at the girl.
Chiropractor – an Egyptian doctor.
Dilate – to live long.
Elixir – what a dog does to his owner when she gives him a bone.
Intubate – what a fisherman is into.
Nitrate – what the phone company charges after 5 p.m.
Varicose – nearby.
Vitamin – what you do when friends stop to visit. (“Strange World,” Campus Life, Vol. 53, no. 7; www.Preaching Today.com)
Sometimes ignorance is funny, but most of the time it is downright scary, especially when you face a medical issue where you don’t even know the terminology. That’s also true when we think about the future. Ignorance is NOT bliss. It is frightening.
I think that’s why so many people are in an uproar these days. They don’t know what’s going to happen in these uncertain times, but we do! We who read and study the Bible know what’s going to happen, because God told us so in His Word.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to write some words of assurance to a group of believers who faced uncertain times in their day. They were going through so much suffering and persecution they thought they were in the Tribulation itself at the end of the age. But Paul’s words, from the Holy Spirit Himself, gave them hope, and they will give us hope, as well.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (ESV)
You see, these Thessalonian believers were shaken, because they thought they were already in the Day of the Lord. They thought they had missed the rapture of the church and were already in the Tribulation.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul described a day yet future when Jesus will come down from heaven and gather all the believers unto Himself, i.e., all those who have died and all those who are still alive at that time (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Then he talks about “the Day of the Lord” when “sudden destruction will come” on the people of this world “as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).
Even so, Paul makes it very clear that “God has not destined us [believers] for [the] wrath [of that day]” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Instead, we will “live with [Christ]” (1 Thessalonians 5:10) rather than be judged together with the people of this world. In other words, Christ will take us to be with Him before that great and terrible Day of the Lord comes to this earth.
This is the clear teaching of Scripture, but other teachers came along and told these new believers something different. They told these new believers that “the day of the Lord had [already] come” (vs.2) and that the end of the world was near.
Well, that kind of thing has been going on ever since even right up to the present day.
In 960, Bernard of Thuringia, a German theologian, calculated 992 as the most likely year for the world's end. As the time approached, panic was widespread.
In the 1500’s, German astrologer, Johann Stoffler, predicted an overwhelming flood on February 20, 1524. Believers actually started constructing arks, and a mob reportedly trampled a man to death trying to board his specially built boat. Then when nothing happened, Stoffler revised his calculations and gave a new date for sometime in 1588, but that year also passed without any unusual rainfall.
In 1665, Solomon Eccles was put in London's Bridewell Prison for walking through the Smithfield Market, carrying a pan of blazing sulfur on his head. He was preaching about doom and destruction, declaring that the end of the world is near. Well, the end of the world did not follow, but the Great Fire of London did, in 1666.
In 1874, Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, preached that the Second Coming of Christ had already taken place. He came to this conclusion after combining passages from the Bible with the mystical messages of the Great Pyramid. Then he declared that people had 40 years, or until 1914, to enter his faith or be destroyed. When 1914 passed, he modified the date to “very soon after 1914.”