COVER STORY – END TIMES
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
(2 Peter 3:10)
It’s general practice, when people visit the local food market, to check the expiration date on products they are intending to purchase. By confirming that the expiration date is well out into the future, they can be reasonably certain that the milk they buy will taste good (at least for a while), the chips will be crispy, not stale, and the hamburger excellent for grilling. If they purchase an item with an expired date stamped on its label, chances are good that it will spoil soon and be unusable.
Most would agree that checking expiration dates on food products before buying them is a good idea. There’s another date that is critically important for all to be concerned about: the expiration date of the world, when the Lord will keep His promise to return in glory as Judge of all, to destroy the godless, and to take His believers home.
On what date will this happen? Though many have tried to prognosticate this, the truth is that no one knows when it will be, since the Bible doesn’t provide that information. Rather, the Bible teaches that the Last Day will come out of the blue, without warning, like a thief breaking into a house in the middle of the night. Since this is true, an important question for each person to ask is, “What shall I do to get ready for that Day so that, whenever it happens, I will be safe?”
We thank the Lord that He hasn’t left us in the dark about how to get prepared for the world’s final day. In loving concern for our eternal well-being, He has supplied us with much good advice about this in His holy Word. He teaches the importance of staying in close touch with Him through hearing and learning His Word, which He promises to use to fortify our faith (John 8:31-32). He counsels us to center our hearts on things above, where He is sitting at God’s right hand and where we shall one day be (Colossians 3:1-2).
Further, He warns us about becoming engrossed in the things of this temporary world (1 Corinthians 7:31) and to guard against living as unbelievers do who foolishly think that the world does not have an expiration date (2 Peter 3:3-5). He exhorts us to live lives of godliness that reflect our faith and our heavenly hopes (2 Peter 1:5-11, 2 Peter 3:11-13). He teaches us to live in daily repentance, confessing our sins to Him, looking to His cross for forgiveness, and to find joy in the Gospel message which assures us that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
When you go to the grocery store and check the expiration date on that milk carton or the “sell by” date on that bag of Doritos, let it serve as a reminder to you of the expiration date the Lord has stamped on our world (which only He knows). Ask Him to help you to keep spiritually alert for that Day, whenever it happens, with your hopes anchored in Him. Look forward to it with eagerness. It will be, after all, your heavenly homecoming day!
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.