Hope, Fear and the End of the World

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Hope, Fear and the End of the World

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“I cannot describe it; I don’t remember that tumult quite clearly, but I do know that all day long I was in the grip of fear. My parents tried everything to calm me, but it didn’t help. I felt nothing, nothing but fear; I could neither eat nor sleep—fear clawed at my mind and body and shook me.” These are words that Anne Frank wrote on March 25, 1944 (as translated into English).

What do you fear? Anne Frank during her early teen years wrote about very serious fears. Her Jewish family had been in hiding in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, for two years, and her world was coming to an end. The Nazi Gestapo (secret police) would soon capture the Frank family. Anne, her sister Margot and her mother would die in German concentration camps about a year later. Only her father would survive the death camps. After World War II he recovered and published Anne’s famous diary.

You and I have something in common with Anne Frank. Our world is coming to an end also. This is rather old news. Jesus Christ foretold the end of this age many centuries ago: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×
). He prophesied an unprecedented time of trouble.

Obviously, facing the end of our world as we know it is a lot to cope with. So how can we best balance fear and hope?

Think about important things

As a teacher of teens and young adults, I read faces—body language—and listen to discussions. Some young people seem unaware of anything outside their immediate presence. It’s as if they never noticed the deadly earthquakes, devastating floods, tornado epidemics, Middle Eastern revolutions, serious international tensions and economies crumbling worldwide in just the past year of 2011 alone!

However, I’m counting on you to be a vertical thinker—one who watches what happens in the world and thinks about what on earth God is doing. Have you felt any fear and concern about the unprecedented danger of our time in history? Are you wondering if there’s going to be a future for you to build a career, to meet the love of your life and then to marry and start a family? In troubled times, fear is inevitable—but I hope you also have hope!

Sometimes we need to be sobered. After all Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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). While watching and thinking about world events, maintain a positive attitude—the “good cheer” Jesus spoke of.

What on earth is God doing?

God created everything—including the human race. Every person since the creation of Adam and Eve up to now is their direct descendent, as “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26 Acts 17:26And has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
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God taught mankind how to live—to love Him and to love each other. That teaching is God’s law. It alone shows what is right and what is wrong. All society must be governed by law to provide order and safety. To their own hurt, virtually no tribes or nations (including ancient Israel) have chosen to be governed by God’s law for any length of time. Sadly, humanity has lived in violation of divine law throughout history. The world lives in sin because “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×
, King James Version).

Like crime under human laws, sin carries a serious penalty for individual perpetrators—death (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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). However, changing your thinking and behavior and having faith to accept the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ in your place leads to life!

But God is also judging the nations—including yours and mine. When divine judgment comes, it means punishment for the nations’ violations of divine law. That’s an important part of what God is doing on earth. He is upholding justice and administering needed—albeit painful—chastening on not just an individual but a national and global scale. And this is ultimately part of a greater purpose.

This generation

Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34 Matthew 24:34Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
American King James Version×
, KJV). All indications are that He was speaking of those alive today. Many factors point to the present generation being the “hinge generation,” wherein many will endure the end of this age and thrill to the dawning of a new world when Christ will rule the nations in love and peace for 1,000 years—plus forever!

That incredible millennial age offers the opportunity for this generation (as it did for all past ones too) to follow Christ now and help Him lead in the future when the nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4 Isaiah 2:4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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He’s not called our Savior for no reason

No one manufactures an app for your cell phone that can magically “make the world a better place.” Conditions are getting worse. Although Jesus foretold the demise of civilization as we know it, He also prophesied His personal return and divine intervention to save mankind. He is indeed our Savior.

First, He will cut short the days of trouble from running their course to stop the human race from complete self-annihilation: “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
). Some will survive—and He will resurrect the others at a later time. As Savior, Jesus Christ leaves behind no one truly willing to follow Him.

Second, He offers His own sacrifice to pay the penalty of sin for all people who ever lived! Thus Jesus is our spiritual Savior, opening for us the door into eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we’re responsible for what we know—and now you and I both know.

In the end, hope trumps fear

Despite the dark days that will eventually come, there is great cause for hope.

The fact that some—which can include us—will survive society’s violent collapse brings hope. That God’s plan brings the rest of the dead back to life in the future provides hope. That you have immediate access to God through Christ brings hope. That there is much good you can do today, right now, and that you have a spectacular future ahead—after the terrible troubles—brings hope!

You and I really do have something in common with Anne Frank. She wrote in her diary on July 15, 1944: “I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right.” And it will.

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