Probably one of my earliest exposures to eschatology was Arnie’s seminal classic End of Days. It’s got all the right elements – Gabriel Byrne playing Satan incarnate, Arnie as the broken-hearted-tough-as-nails detective, and Robin “OhMyGoshThe90sAreEnding” Tunney as the child of some mishmash Biblical prophecy. In this brilliantly executed scene, Arnie and a random priest give us a taste of their eschatological prowess.
Absurd, isn’t it? And yet, scenes like this seem to be what people think about whenever people start talking about “end times” and the return of Jesus. Whether it’s Nicolas Cage flying unmanned planes, or God losing faith in humans and sending angels to kill us all, Hollywood has turned eschatology into an absurdity. People tend to shy away from talking about the end times, but I want to give you five reasons today why Christians should study eschatology.
1. The Bible tells us that we should.
God gave us his word so that we could know what his plans are, and as we worked out last week, be comforted by them. If we are going to be faithful Christians, looking to God and seeking to understand who He is and what He is doing, then we should trust that he gave us those difficult passages in the Bible about the future for a reason.
2. Everybody “does” eschatology.
It’s everywhere. Not just in Hollywood, not just in the universities. You ask your average Aussie on the street what he or she thinks life is all about, you’re going to get an eschatological answer, even if it’s something along the lines of “live a good life, be well remembered by the people who come after you.” How much of our cultural debate these days is about “being on the right side of history”? History is going somewhere, everybody believes it. If we don’t listen to God when we think about eschatology, we’ll listen to the world.
3. Life can be discouraging.
As we said earlier, God tells us about the future so that we can be encouraged because life is discouraging. The Bible tells us that we still live in a fallen world, with broken relationships, households, workplaces, hobbies, pursuits, and environments. Without a clear grasp on where everything is going, then we’re going to be set adrift on the sea of our own feelings. Biblical eschatology acts like an anchor for us to hold onto in times of trouble.
4. It puts us back in God’s story.
The end of the Bible isn’t the end of God’s work in the world. The Bible tells us that God’s story continues, and it will continue until he decides to end it. We are always going to be tempted to think that God has forgotten us, that he is not interested in the ins and outs of our lives, the “small things” this blog is named after. But studying eschatology will remind us that God, the sovereign author of the world’s story, is intimately interested in his creation, and is moving things towards an inevitable climax and conclusion.
5. It reminds us the story isn’t finished yet.
Similar to the last point, God isn’t just working on the world. He’s working on us. We are not finished products. Our sanctification and growth is going to continue until the day we see Christ in glory. A thoroughly Biblical eschatology will determine how we approach the here and now. Being heavenly-minded doesn’t make us of no earthly use – in fact, a Biblical eschatology will make us people of great earthly use – living for the glory of God as we point others to Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who reigns until he puts all his enemies under his feet.
Question: Of course, there are more reasons Christians should be interested in eschatology. Can you think of any?