Missed Opportunities

Good Morning Brothers…

So far…turkey season has been filled with rain, muddy fields, work commitments, and school, for my little man. We haven’t spent as many hours in the field as I had hoped. Therefore, our freezer is still devoid of wild turkey. The nice thing about hunting seasons is that they come with dates…the season begins on this date and ends on that date. It gives me a framework to plan within. Work stuff today means no field time today, but possibly tomorrow, because the season is still open. I find comfort in the missed opportunities today because the season is still open…maybe tomorrow.

1 Peter 4: 7 says, “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”

An interesting verse, it references a theme in the New Testament we read in many different places. “The end of all things is near”…is echoed in many other writings including Romans 13:11-12 where Paul writes, “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” John actually gives us some indication as to “when” in 1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”

These references to “the end” have raised many questions because, well…lets face it, it’s been 1900 years since these prophetic words were written…and we are still here. So what gives? What are we to take from these cryptic passages? It really boils down into 4 different interpretations:

  1. The New Testament writers were wrong. They interpreted the eventual return of Christ and the end of the world to happen in their lifetime. Since it did not…they were wrong. However, the early Church did not, when adopting the Canon of Scripture, amend these phrases into something else. It is clear that they (our church brothers of long ago) still held these thoughts and ideas to be present tense.
  2. The end has already come. History ended, in all practical purposes, when Jesus cleared the threshold of the grave and death and stepped back into life eternal. We can see this theme developed somewhat in 1 Corinthians 10:11 when Paul refers to himself and people of his time being, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
  3. Another interpretation introduces an abstract understanding to the word “near”. Near may not mean “near” in a elemental linear time fashion if we compare the meaning of time to a God, whom created time. One need only look at the verse in Psalms 90: 4 for reference by comparison, “For a thousand years in Your sight; Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.”
  4. It’s personal. What I mean is really quite simple, the continual reference to the “end is near” is less about math, counting days, and generations and ages…but more about urgency. It is meant as a continual call to the Christian…”Your time is short, the end is near, serve Jesus now and don’t miss any opportunities to give an account for the joy that is inside of you.”

Obviously, I don’t think the writers were wrong. I think they were inspired to write what they did. I believe the Holy Spirit had us in mind, as well as, those before us and those after us when the words of the Bible were written. Those words applied in the first century, they applied in the 10th century and they apply now in the 21st century. I do think that history was forever altered when death was defeated and Christ rose triumphant, however, to think the last 1900 years is some kind of prolonged ‘Epilogue to History’ somehow seems to be missing something. While we view time as a linear event which is unwinding as we march on into the future, I’m not to sure God sees time in the same way. He is after all…God. Jumping head first into all of the wonderful theology about time, God’s perspective, when ages end and begin, is probably best left for those who have the “time” to think about it.

For us…lets take the personal side of the passages. We don’t know which day will be our last. We may not be worried about the eternity on the other side of our mortality, because for us…the Christian…our eternity has already started. But for the guy we meet in line to buy a coffee who asks the “to deep” question for a 6am conversation…his eternity may still be shrouded in the mists of deception and misdirection. For our buddy who “knew us when”, his eternity may still be hidden behind earthly accomplishments. For them…and all of the others the Good Lord puts in our path, lets treat the time as “near”…and not miss an opportunity.

Do you think that maybe, the Good Lord didn’t give us dates, because of the propensity of all human beings to wait for the last minute? I leave you with this quote;

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”  ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

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