The Bible presents a view of the world and its history that is linear, not circular. Other worldviews, like Hinduism, believe in circular doctrines like reincarnation. The Christian worldview sees history as linear with both a beginning and end. Humanity’s history began with God’s creation of everything. Of course, God himself is eternal, having no beginning or end. But, humanity and the world around us had a starting point—creation. And the world as we know it has an end that will one day come. The world is one day coming to an end and will experience a new beginning (Isa. 61; Rev. 21).
On the way to his inevitable death, Jesus taught on a variety of topics. Mark records Jesus’ teaching on the end times, or eschatology, in Mark 13. While Jesus gives some information about future events and signs of the end, one truth is repeated: be ready.
Jesus commands his followers to be expectant and stay awake because while we know some details about the end of the age, no one, not even himself or any angels, knows when the end will come. While Jesus’ teaching about the signs of the end is somewhat unclear, his command is not. There is an end. It is coming soon. So, be ready.
Though we are tempted to speculate every time we see a “blood moon” or new international conflict, we should be careful to put words in Jesus’ mouth or misinterpret what he actually said. We shouldn’t spend our energies making charts of the end or stock up for Armageddon. Instead, we should act on what Jesus has clearly revealed. We clearly know at least a couple truths about the end.
First, Jesus is returning. The flow of Jesus’ ministry is life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return. Though in heaven now, one day Jesus will return in booming glory to bring final restoration and peace to his people and judgment to his enemies.
Second, we should expect, desire, and prepare for Jesus’ return. We will not know when Jesus will return until that day. But we can obey Jesus’ command to stay alert. Jesus tells a short parable in Mark 34 to highlight the main idea we should pull away from Mark 13. The end will come quickly and unexpectedly. We should resolve to be like the wise doorkeeper who waits in constant expectation. May we never allow the delay of the Lord to lead us to complacent disobedience.
Even in the everyday events of our lives, we ought not to forget that Christ will return as unexpectedly as a “thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). We too must stay awake and alert, awaiting his return. Never presume you will have tomorrow to obey the Lord. Do not grow weary in doing good or in killing sin. Praise God, Jesus is returning! Let’s make the most of our waiting!