The end of all things is near.
You might think that’s the title of a blog posted yesterday, but actually; those words were written just shy of two thousand years ago, around 60-65 AD. The author was Peter, one member of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. The source text is 1 Peter 4:7.
What was going on in the world that caused Peter to pen these words? We know they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; men were moved by God to speak for God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Yet here we are in 2022, and the end has still not come.
Peter was writing to the Christian believers who had scattered across the known world in response to Rome’s persecution. Nero was on a rampage, desiring to crush the gospel of Jesus Christ that was spreading through the empire. He brought up believers on false accusations, blaming them for crimes they didn’t commit. He set them on fire and used their burning bodies to light his courtyard. He wrapped them in animal skins and let them be torn apart by wild dogs. He made a game of torture, not because Christianity was a threat to society, but because he wanted to be worshiped as a god. In their allegiance to the Savior, Christians refused to acknowledge the deity claimed by Roman emperors. To preserve their very lives, those who put faith in Jesus were forced to flee out of his reach.
You might think the words “the end of all things is near” would strike fear in hearts, that it would be a message of doom and gloom, but in fact, they were words of hope. Peter’s desire was that those scattered would remember they were beloved, chosen by God, and protected by the power of God. The end of all things was good news, as the end result of our salvation is a glorious thing – the revelation of Jesus Christ. His words were meant to encourage them to “hold on, better days are coming – the suffering that you are presently enduring will end soon, and it is a small thing in light of the glory to come!”
At the time Peter wrote this letter, John had not yet received the visions recorded in the book of Revelation. The last update they had came from an angel as they watched Jesus ascend into heaven. He told them Jesus would return in the same manner; he didn’t say when. They could only conclude, based on the dire circumstances they were enduring, that it had to be soon, and they fully expected to be alive when it happened.
We have the benefit of the complete canon of scripture. We have the revelations given to John – specific details of what will be happening in our world when God starts to wrap up humanity’s history. If you have eyes to see, there are amazing things taking place – things we can’t help but see as the pages of prophecy are unfolding right in front of us. If it looked to Peter as though the end was near, how much nearer is Jesus’ return today?
Peter’s instructions in these five short chapters are similar to the other doctrinal and practical teaching which was given by the other New Testament authors, including Jesus’ own words in the gospel. He tells us how to live when the end is near. We are to expect to suffer and endure faithfully, even rejoicing in it because we are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. We are to live godly lives, set apart as a holy people. We are to love one another well, to be kind and forgiving, and to serve faithfully in the body of Christ. We are to exhibit humility, not promote ourselves or be distracted by the pursuit of greed. We are to devote ourselves to prayer. And we are always to be ready to share the reason for our hope – the gospel – with anyone who asks.
For two thousand years, the saints of God have looked forward with anticipation to the return of Jesus. In every generation, God has continued to assure us – the end of all things is near. God’s perspective of time is different from ours; He is transcendent and exists outside of our schedules and calendars. To Him, it’s only been a few minutes since Jesus left this world, and in just a few more minutes He will be back to reclaim the title deed and take His rightful place as eternal King over this earth. For a thousand more years of “human time” He will rule from Jerusalem – a blink of the eye to God, after which this world will finally be destroyed by fire and the new heaven and earth will be revealed.
The good news? Never again will we hear the words, “the end of all things is near,” because there will be no end! Time will have stopped, and eternity will stretch out before us. God will dwell with us, and we will be His people, never to suffer again. There will be no end to His glory or to the inexpressible joy we will experience as we worship in the presence of God forever and ever and ever.
Does the world look dim?
Is the spiritual darkness growing?
Can you feel it in your soul – the end of all things is near?
Thank you, Peter, for the reminder.