Read: Luke 21:8–9 “Watch out that you are not deceived… When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Are We in a Rehearsal for the End of the World?

Given what’s been happening, it’s been a bit hard not to wonder: Is the end of the world coming?

Much of what is happening right now certainly seems to match some of the descriptions contained in apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible. Widespread plagues? Check. Food shortages? Check. Natural disasters? Check. (You may have noticed earlier news about earthquakes and locust infestations.)

Luke 21:11 records Jesus’ words about some signs: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

Yet Bible teachers and scholars will quickly point out that there are still many indications that the end is not here yet. Jesus himself had noted in the same passage: “Watch out that you are not deceived… When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” (vv. 8–9).

Understanding the end times is a complex and often controversial eschatological undertaking, but my personal thought has been this:

If it’s not the end of the world, perhaps it’s a rehearsal.

The current COVID-19 situation seems to give a glimpse of how the final days might look like. It’s a time of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. A time of shortages. A time of illness and death. A time of isolation, when we can’t even gather physically to comfort each other.

If this seems a little depressing, however, there is hope.

Old Testament prophets often received frightening visions of what would happen to Israel if she did not turn back to the Lord. When she did heed the warnings and repent, however, the prophecies were sometimes not fulfilled. Jonah 3:10, for example, notes: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

Perhaps this is a time to respond in penitence and faith. Is it a reminder to go back to the Lord in repentance, asking for forgiveness for how we’ve often tried to live our lives independently of Him? Is He calling us to turn to Him for strength and comfort, instead of relying on ourselves and other sources. Are we being urged to let Him back into our busy lives, submitting to His sovereignty in everything we do?

I am thankful that God has reminded me not to live in fear of what is to come, whenever that may be.

In Luke 21, Jesus assures us that He will be with us to the very end—and beyond. While telling His disciples not to blame themselves for persecution in the last days, He adds: “Make up your mind not to worry… Stand firm, and you will win life.”

May we continue to walk closely with the Lord, and may our minds, hearts, and souls belong to Him forever. —Leslie Koh

 

Lord, I feel worried and fearful
about what’s going on.
Thank You for this assurance
that I am forever Yours.
Please help me to stay close to You.

 

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