The latest Sherlock Holmes movie, A Game of Shadows, is out, full of clever scenes and Sherlockian deductions. But the final scene is a classic, obvious lead-into probable future movies.
Watson has just completed writing up his reminisces of Holmes’ last case and deadly battle with the archenemy Moriarty in which the great detective was – seemingly – killed at the famous Reichenbach Falls. We see a saddened Dr Watson typing the usual wrap-up line…THE END.
Without spoiling the story for those who haven’t as yet seen the movie, after the good doctor leaves his study, ‘a mysterious figure’ adds a question mark to that conclusion, making it read THE END?
Christians caught up with a false ‘the end’!
Such a simple addition makes all the difference in many matters! As dictionaries explain, it means a doubt or ignorance is implied, or it draws attention to a possible mistake. And this leads to the following concern:
For some time now, but especially since last year’s cataclysmic disasters in the southern hemisphere, some Christians began wondering if the end of the world is virtually on us – the end as in ‘End Times.’
Some churches have been pushing this for some time and it’s currently being picked up again by others. Beyond Sunday church, quite a few Christians make it a centrepiece in their conversations as if ‘the end’ was just on our doorstep. And, adding fuel to the fire, there have been some outlandish prophecies regarding end times.
We like what an old friend, Lee Grady, wrote in his Boxing Day Fire in my Bones article:
‘Some people are terrified of 2012. They worry because the Mayans of ancient Mexico mysteriously ended their 5,126-year-old calendar on December 21, 2012 – as if they expected the world to end that day. This silly hypothesis became the basis for several New Age books and a goofy disaster movie, 2012.
‘I’m not afraid of December 21, 2012 because 1) Ancient Mayans never actually said the world would end in 2012 – and even if they did, they didn’t have an inside track to God: 2) Doomsday predictions have never been accurate; and 3) Jesus holds the future in his hands.’ (www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones)
But sadly several misinformed Christians, even leaders, with minimal biblical understanding about Bible interpretation, feel unsure about the future and about plans for 2012, let alone 2013 and future years!
Despondency has come about, as has a lack of trusting God for good tomorrows, enjoying life to the max, and getting on with what Jesus wants them to be involved with at present. Some simply don’t know what he wants of them and are afraid to make firm decisions in respect of their life this month let alone the rest of this year.
Then there are not only movie moguls making big money out of end times confusion but book houses too with recent publications attracting gullible Christians. Not only that but so-called Bible teachers – really deceivers – have conned thousands of dollars from simpleminded followers See FAQ no. 7 in Connect (www.connectmagazine.com.au)
The bigger picture
The biblical reality of the end of the world with the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords is not as confusing as some would have us believe.
When we accepted Christ as Saviour he didn’t whisk us off to heaven. We’ve been left on earth to fulfil whatever he graciously gives us to achieve that will build his church and assist in fulfilling the great commission!
Personally we grew up in a generation that repeatedly harped on about what it thought was ‘the’ truth – that ‘Jesus could return tonight.’ As young people way back then it kind of scared us into being super good. It was years before we learned to check out if what big-name preachers said actually lined up with the written word of God. And that was before our Bible college days!
Like others who have done likewise, my eyes were opened to the real truth, and of course Jesus himself said, ‘The truth will set you free.’
So what is the truth about end times?
Truth has two sides
This comes as a shock to many white and black thinkers, so … quickly to the point. Yes, we could be in the end times and the great THE END could happen. But, on the other hand, THE END hasn’t happened or I wouldn’t be still here writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it!
In Matthew 24:3 Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘What will be the sign of your arrival and of the end (Note: ‘THE END’) of the world?’ (Moffatt). Jesus’ immediate response (v4) was ‘Watch out for doomsday deceivers’ (Msge). He then went on to warn of all sorts of unavoidable end time disasters and added ‘Do not be alarmed. These have to come, but it is not the end yet’ (Moffatt).
And in Mark 13: 32 he emphatically states regarding his return and the real end times, ‘The exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father’ (Msge).
So there it is for us today… we’re in what seems like end times but not in the end times – yet!
Church history tells of many times when deceivers – and not just spurious groups and their leaders – but within the traditional accepted church itself, have falsely declared the end time, the big THE END, is here (Check even Google). Over the centuries these predictions have all failed to eventuate.
Unfortunately a lot of Christians refuse to read the word of God for themselves. Their attitude is almost the old catholic stand…we pay the priest (minister), he’ll keep us right, let’s just listen to him, we don’t have to read the Bible ourselves.
Even many Pentecostals who are supposed to love the Bible default in this, don’t bring Bibles to church but rely on their pastor. They even strongly but unthinkingly quote big-name speakers beyond their own local church pastor and lead others astray.
What should we be doing in 2012?
The same as we should have been doing in 2011! Obeying Jesus’ command of Mark 13:33, ‘Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come’ (TNIV).
Being on guard means to be awake and keep vigilant. The various Bible translations teach in Matthew 24:14 that Jesus won’t return until the gospel is preached to everyone in the whole world. That, as many Bible scholars understand it, means every people group in the world –and there are some 6,700 yet to be reached! Then that verse tells that the end will come about. The real THE END!
In staying alert we need to be focusing on everything that Jesus would have us do for him. Living life to the full yes, but living for Jesus and witnessing by ‘walking the talk.’ If we’re really involved in that, then we’ll be zeroing in on those tasks and loving the truth of the word. We won’t get sidetracked by spurious teachings.
When is the real END TIME? When we hear the Master’s welcoming ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’
Meantime a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit will keep us on our guard and about the master’s business. This means knowing what the word means for ourselves. And the Holy Spirit and a good pastor preaching from the word will help there.
THE END…no, rather THE END? Let’s move ahead this year into new adventures with the Lord against our enemy Satan, the greatest deceiver ever. Our next real-life ‘movie.’ It’s time to move away from the current, spiritually deceptive ‘game of shadows.’