But the End is Still to Come
By Rev Arnold Chow
October 30, 2022
From time to time, people would ask me, “When will the church teach about ‘the end times’ again?” Their question has probably been triggered by what happened in the past few years: social movement, pandemic and war. At the time of writing, there are ongoing international conflicts. The world economy is on the verge of disarray. In times like these, people feel the pressing need to take faith seriously in the hope of knowing the way forward.
After entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, Jesus’ disciples asked Him: “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus did not tell the disciples the exact date of His second coming, but He reminded His disciples to “watch out” (v.4 and v.6). In the original language, this word also means “see.” Jesus wants us to pay attention, to see clearly, not to be “alarmed” or deceived! This is because “For many will come in my name…” (v.5). They will claim to be the Savior, bringing false hope to the people.
As a matter of fact, the early church was faced with a lot of turbulence. According to literature, some Samarians at that time attacked the Jews, and the Jews also fought among themselves. Meanwhile, the Roman Empire was actively expanding while at the same time eliminating revolutionary elements. Internally, governors, provincial heads, generals, kings, etc. who belonged to different parties were pointing fingers at each other. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. These things happen every so often. No surprise.
My teenage years are in the tempestuous times of the nineties. Within a few years, a number of major incidents took place in the international arena. With limited knowledge of the Bible then and seeing the many wars and woes, I thought to myself: Well, the end of the world may just not be that faraway. So, I seriously waited for the return of Christ. But the word of the Lord woke me up: “But the end is still to come” (v.6b)!
When then will the Lord return? There is an anecdote about Dr A B Simpson. Back then, he was quite famous in New York. Even the journalists of The New York Times were watching him closely to see if they could capture anything novel for them to write about in the paper. Once he preached about the return of Christ. He was asked by a journalist afterward: “Dr Simpson, can you tell us when exactly Christ will return?”
Dr Simpson replied: “Just give me your word that you will put my reply in full and in its exact words in your article, and I will tell you when Christ returns.” Immediately, the journalist agreed. Then, Dr Simpson replied: “Matthew 24:14 says ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ That will be when Christ comes back.” Since the reporter had made his promise, he put the reply, word for word, in the newspaper so that the truth about the Lord’s second coming was declared.
Today, even though the world is full of troubles, the command of the Lord still applies: Do not be alarmed; do not be deceived; do not spend energy chasing the signs. But put our effort into preaching the gospel at home and abroad. I think this is the most appropriate response to the end times.