The world has been deluged by predictions of its imminent end for centuries so it's difficult for people in today's culture to be concerned about it. People should be prepared for it though, according Dr. Ike Butterworth during his sermon Sunday, Dec. 1.
Butterworth said during his message that, "Jesus seems urgent that we be alert for his coming. There is an imperative tone in his words. He stresses our need to be prepared for his second coming as if our lives depended on it. In fact, he portrays the failure to be ready as an unfortunate and costly lapse on our part...much like never having shown up for a class for which we're about to take the final exam!"
Butterworth referred to the scripture at Matthew 24:36-44 as the basis for his comments. That passage begins by stating, "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."
Butterworth further said, "Now admittedly, anything to do with Christ's return is a hard sell. Most of us think little, if at all, about that line the Bible that says, "He shall come to judge the quick and the dead." The word quick of course, means living. Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead."'
The senior pastor said, "Yeah, right!" we say. Or if we don't say it, we think of it. Or, if we don't think it, we assume it. There are much more pressing issues for us to deal with without having to worry about some end of the world scenario that probably won't even happen! We've got too much on our plate as it is. Why would we give our attention to such an unlikely occurrence? And yet Jesus says the day will come when he will come...when he will make his second advent (coming)...and if we're smart, we'll be ready for it. But, according to Jesus, it will happen when people are least expecting it."
And Butterworth is right. It's difficult in our modern civilization for most people to devote a whole of time to the end of this world. There are many daily duties which demand our immediate attention. Paying bills, buying cars and houses, taking children to school, concerns at the workplace......these are all issues people face on a daily basis.
And it seems that every generation has heard predictions of the imminent demise of the earth. There have been so-called prophets of doom who have advised people to sell off all their belongings and retreat to a mountain top or a cellar to await the end of the world. And nothing has ever happened.
In his best-selling book "The Late, Great Planet Earth", Hal Lindsay lays out a fascinating scenario of the end of the world involving the unification of the European nations into one force under the Anti-Christ which moves into the Middle East for the ultimate battle of Armageddon. He also mentions the huge army of the Chinese crossing the Euphrates River and also being involved in this ultimate struggle.
That is only one man's interpretation of scriptures in the Book of Revelation and other books of the Bible including Daniel.
While it is an interesting book, neither Lindsay nor anyone else knows when the world will actually end.
So what is the solution?
Butterworth points to Hebrews 4:16, saying, "So if we're to be ready for Christ's return, what must we do? We must constantlly place ourselves at the foot of the cross on which he died. We must return again and again to our Savior, where we may release to him our inconsistencies, our failures, our preoccupation with anything and everything but him, and where "we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Butterworth speaks each Sunday at 10:50 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Wichita Falls, Texas at 3601 Taft across the street from Midwestern State University.
Anyone interested in receiving free updates of future Western Religions articles may click on the subscribe link far below this article.