What does "the End" look like? When will it come? How will it get here?...and the BIG Question: Are we living in those times?
All of those questions are interesting, compelling, captivating...and (I think) may be futile.
I know, I just offended a bunch of people. Many love the study of 'the end times', and I understand. So do I!
I DO think it's worth studying and paying attention, but I just don't know that we're ever (with apologies to Jack VanImpe and John Hagee, among others) going to know for sure, and interpret the signs and the Scriptures with accuracy and authority in these matters.
That does NOT mean (as some say) that we shouldn't even think about it--as some do! Here's the problem with that line of thinking: These things are IN THE SCRIPTURES! You and I can't just ignore them!
I think that we need to read them (NOT to get obsessed with them, but read these passages as we do all of the Bible), keep our eyes open, keep praying and being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pay attention.
As I've been reading through Daniel I obviously come to the predicition of the tribulation (and the deliverance of some from it); the "Abomanation that causes Desolation", and the 'willful King'.
Some of this seems, quite clearly to be in the past...but not all of it. When Daniel's prophecy is combined with others--John's "Revelation", and Jesus' words in Matthew 24...there is very clearly a date in the future in mind, and the events that go along with it.
So...are we supposed to figure it out? Well, the gospel does say "Let the reader understand", and Jesus repeadedly said "Him who has ears to hear--let him hear!". He did warn us that "if it were possible" some of the Elect would be deceived--meaning those who have been saved by faith in Christ!
That means, in my opinion, that we should pay attention.
WILL the U.S. play a part? Will we even be around? Will we be so fixated on our own issues that we don't get involved? OR...will we be part of a New World Order which makes things like the Constitution irrelevant, in favor of things like the U.N. Charter?
Will we see a leader who takes his 'throne' in the Temple and sets himself up above the "God's of the past"? Will the whole push to 'world unity'--and the elimination of "religious hate speech" be part of this?
All of these things are possible...I think, Probable. Can we KNOW, however?
I don't think so. Remember, Jesus said "No one knows the day and the hour, not the Angels, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father". (Matt. 24:36). However, He also said "Therefore, Keep Watch!"
We need to be paying attention to these things...we need to be praying for discernment so that we are not decieved, and we don't allow others to be.
We CANNOT, however, allow our fixation on these things to stop us from living our faith out--no matter the cost! Whether we are in 'the end times' or not, Jesus calls us to be faithful to Him. If that means we are accused of hate speech, if that means we run counter to the world's rulers and systems, if that means we set ourselves up for punishment and even death, so be it!
May God grant us wisdom and strength for whatever lies ahead, and the faith to be strong, no matter what!