is it the end of the beginning? The popular media portrays
apocalyptic prophecy in an overtly negative light. Is this the whole
story of God's wonderful plan for restoring peace to the earth?
many times have you heard it said, "The
world is coming to an end"? Whenever
someone writes or speaks about the subject it seems to conjure up
images of gloom and doom, fear and dread. Prophecy can have very dark
overtones and leave an impression of total cataclysm when handled in
an irresponsible manner.
recent issue of Newsweek, an American weekly news magazine, had as
its cover story the subject of end time Bible prophecy. Featured in
the issue was a dreadful picture of the last judgment complete with
bodies descending into hell. The title of the lead article was, "The
Way the World Ends."
the piece references were made to the end of the world and the idea
that time will come to a close with the unveiling of the prophecies
of the book of Revelation and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Overall the piece left a distinctly negative impression about
prophecy in general and end time prophecy in particular. Most
articles written in the mainstream press follow this approach.
no mistake, the prophecies of the Bible that speak of plagues,
tribulations and woes are serious and very real. The cataclysmic
events that lead up to the coming of Christ will produce a time of
trouble unlike any previous period of human history. Every student of
history knows there have been some pretty horrible epochs of the
past. Historian Barbara Tuchman wrote a book titled The
which she chronicled the tumultuous 14th century that saw, among
other catastrophes, the plague called the Black Death. Our own 20th
century has been dubbed the bloodiest in history. Yet Daniel the
prophet was told that in the end time "there
shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a
nation, even to that time" (Daniel
and rebellion against the will of God will bring the world to its
most critical juncture. Unless God intervenes through the return of
Christ and shortens time, "no
flesh would be saved" (Matthew
balanced understanding of biblical prophecy comes only from reading
all that the scriptures have to say about the future of mankind and
this world. The good news is mankind will not destroy life from off
the planet, time will not come to an end and justice and peace will
be brought to the earth.
kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of God and Christ in
a sweeping reform of every human institution
positive message of mankind's future is tragically buried beneath
the misunderstanding perpetuated by much of today's media. Narrow
minded, erroneous interpretations of God's whole design for human
life cast biblical prophecy and religion as a whole in a negative light.
it must get worse before it gets better
let's understand why this age-ending peril will engulf the world.
God takes no pleasure in the suffering of mankind. From the beginning
of man's time on earth there has been a separation from the knowledge
represented by the tree of life in
Genesis chapter 2.
decision to take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil set
the human family on a course that is opposite of the true plan of
God. The result has been a story of struggle and suffering, which is
summed up by an old adage about life that says man is born, suffers
and then dies. There are peaks of beauty and excellence that have
been achieved but at the end of the 20th century we still see more
war, poverty and disease than is comfortable to an honest mind.
Trying to comprehend why so much evil runs through the world leaves
far too many without true faith or hope in the living God.
loving, yearning stance is evident in the inspired statement of Ezekiel
I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?' says the
Lord God, 'and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'"
Man was created with the potential to rise above the human level and
walk and live in the image of God
but sin and its aftermath have prevented most from realizing this
spiritual goal. When we come to events at the close of the age as
depicted in Revelation, two additional scriptures show us why a
worldwide tribulation will engulf the world.
seals of the book of Revelation are a multitude of calamities that
represent the "great
God's wrath upon the world.
they are poured out in the sequence of events we find that man does
not yet come to his knees in heart-rending repentance before God. Notice Revelation
"But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues,
did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not
worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood,
which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of
their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."
it will take more to break man's pride and rebellion.
world will be in the grip of a power defined as Babylon the great (Revelation
religious-political system will be the final global effort to
spiritually enslave mankind in the defiant system whose roots go back
to the Tower of Babel. Even the patience of God will run out when
this evil system grips all nations. God will move to end its reign
for all time. "'For
all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with
her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the
abundance of her luxury.' And I heard another voice from heaven
saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and
lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities'"
is to save the world and to fulfill the hope of human existence that
God intervenes by sending Jesus Christ on His triumphant return as
King of kings and Lord of lords
With the source of all evil, Satan the devil, bound and put away from
the presence of mankind, God will then be ready to establish the
fullness of His kingdom upon the earth.
restoration of all things
one of his first sermons to those gathered in the temple in
Jerusalem, Peter made reference to the primary goal that God has
desired since the beginning.
therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so
that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and
that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom
heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things,
which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the
world began" (Acts
is God's plan to restore "all
was first removed that must then be restored? It is the rule of God
upon the earth. Christ came announcing the kingdom of God was at hand
The gospel of the kingdom of God is about the restoring of God's way
of life to the human family. This way, based on the eternal spiritual
law of God, was removed at the time of Adam and Eve's decision to
listen to the words of the serpent. It is a way of love, rooted in an
outgoing concern for the welfare of others, devoid of an overriding
concern for the self.
Verse 21 is
a prophecy of the wonderful coming kingdom of God on earth. This is
a positive view of the future beyond the negative headlines of today
and the world-shaking events of the end of the age.
coming kingdom of God will restore the knowledge of the true God to
all peoples. The prophet Habakkuk says that knowledge of God will
cover the world as the waters of the sea cover the earth (Habakkuk
When human relationships are built upon God's way, then peace will be
built into a network of relationships that will produce order and
harmony among peoples.
book of Daniel records the dream of Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar in
which he saw a great image. The interpretation by Daniel showed it to
be a prophecy of four empires that would culminate in the
establishment of a fifth-"a
kingdom which shall never be destroyed [the kingdom of God]."
God's kingdom will be a divine rule that will never be replaced,
unlike the previous kingdoms. It shall "break in pieces and
consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel
special note of the phrase
"the kingdom shall not be left to other people."
To whom is it left? The answer to this helps us understand a vital
part of the grand purpose of life. When we understand to whom the
kingdom will be given, we will then have a key to properly
understanding prophecy. We will understand why the terrible
prophecies of the future must come to pass.
this we also see the hope God holds out to all mankind. The future
does not end with Armageddon and a battle between Christ and the
Antichrist. Those events are only passages to a time when God's reign
will supplant all human rule and bring about the conditions that will
result in the salvation of humanity.
a far country
spite of a world that has been deceived by Satan, God has always
worked with individuals and groups to prepare a people to assist
Christ in restoring peace to the world. God works with a sure and
proven plan for the ages.
the days prior to His death, Jesus perceived that His followers
expected the imminent appearance of the kingdom of God.
this would not be the case, He told a parable of a nobleman's
journey to a far country to receive a kingdom. To each of his
servants, the ruler gave a sum of money. His departing instruction was, "Do
business till I come" (Luke
servants, in this case those who wait on the coming of the Lord, are
to spend their lives doing God's Business, preparing for His return.
The money represents the calling and gifts of God to those He calls.
As the parable shows, with the return of the ruler, an accounting
will be required of those entrusted with the calling and knowledge of
the kingdom. There are rewards according to how much increase each
person has achieved
(verses 14 to 27).
parable of the talents shows that those called out of the world in
advance of the kingdom are being prepared to reign with Christ. Like
the nobleman who entrusted money to his servants, God has entrusted
to His elect the understanding of the kingdom and how it will
function. Those called now, in advance, are to prepare for an
eternity of service.
himself said: "
I must be about my Father's Business" (Luke
who overcome this world, who endure to the coming of Christ, will
qualify for places with Christ in the structure He is now building
The kingdom will be given to those saints and they will reign with
Christ for a thousand years
too, is a part of prophecy that must be understood along with the
apocalyptic visions. God will not punish without cause or without a
promise and a hope beyond.
end of the beginning
future that God has planned is full of positive hope for mankind.
Look at the final question the disciples asked Christ prior to His
ascension to heaven: "Lord,
will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
(Acts 1:6). Restoring
not only Israel, but also the entire world to a place of peace,
justice and equity is the focal point of God's plan.
reign of Christ over the kingdom of God on earth is the Good
beyond the age-ending troubles that the Bible foretells. What comes
to an end is the unrighteous rule of man's governments that have
never achieved peace. Christ's return will end forever the fear of
war and its terrible consequences.
the Second World War British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke
of the turning point which came with the Allied landings in North
Africa in the fall of 1942. At last, after months of battle, there
was a breach that could lead to victory.
to a group in London he said,
"Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
terrible events that end with the return of Christ as King of kings
will not be the "time
of the end."
They will merely be
"the end of the beginning."
The apostle Paul describes it beautifully:
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but
because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself
also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the children of God"
understood, prophecy offers a positive and hopeful new beginning for mankind.
"God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's
sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the
cross for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy
Spirit. Teach me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from
your word, the Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the
fellowship of your church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!