What happens in the end?
Is there a rapture?
What is the future for the nation of Israel?
What’s heaven like?
Is there an actual hell and, if so, who goes?
Why should I care? After all, what will happen will happen, right?
While some may think studying the end times (i.e., eschatology) is akin to watching a Star Wars movie, there are actually some important applications for the Christian life in the now. I want to suggest just a few reasons why it’s important to take seriously what the Bible says about the future.
- It motivates our pursuit of holiness. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “So we make it our goal to please him … . For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:9, 10).
- It offers joy in suffering. Peter teaches us this great truth: Because of the certain inheritance we have waiting for us kept in heaven, we “greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Pet. 1:3–6).
- It changes the way we grieve. Keeping our eyes locked on what is to come—the return of Christ and the resurrection—enables believers to grieve in a way that is unlike those people around us who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13–18).
- It encourages steadfastness in Christian service. When we know that we “will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet,” we will understand that death no longer has power over us (1 Cor. 15:50–58)! It looses its teeth, so to speak. How encouraging is that!?
- It brings patience while troubled. James encourages believers to “Be patient … until the Lord’s coming … and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near … as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (Jas. 5:8–11).
- It fuels zeal for discipleship. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24–25).
- It promotes an awe of God. And he is awesome. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom. 11:33–36).
I’m sure there are more, but that’s enough, isn’t it!? There is no facet of God’s character and revelation that is not incredibly beneficial for his children to give thought toward, including eschatology.
Let’s look to the future with hope that we may live the present with conviction and joy!