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The End Is Coming Soon
by Wayne Blank
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:13-14 KJV)
What the Bible actually says about "the end" may surprise you. There are actually two "ends" described in the verses above - the end of any individual believer's life and the end of the "world" when Christ returns to rule everyone, everywhere (see Who Still Rules The World Today?, Regime Change and The Coming World Dictator; see also the Fact Finder question below to understand what the Bible means by the "end of the world").
People Of The Past Were Consciously No Farther Away From "The End" Than People Are Today
Preachers, of all sorts, have been warning "The end is near!" for many centuries. All were obviously wrong, in a way, although all were, one way or another, according to the Word of God, also right. For them, whether they died 20 years ago, or 20 centuries ago, the end was near. Their Judgment Day (see When Will You Be Judged?) and/or the return of Christ, from their conscious perspective, was about to happen - which does not mean that it did happen at the instant of their deaths. The return of Christ, which will be a one-time event, is still in the future. The dead have no sense of the passage of time, so in their minds they will seem to go instantly from death to resurrection even though centuries may have passed (see What Happens When You Die?).
Even the apostles, for a while, believed that the return of Christ would occur in their own time. With the arrogant, self-righteous Romans on a military/political serial-rape of numerous nations through much of the known world of the time and the land of Israel under a murderous occupation (e.g. see Vespasian), it's easy to see how many of the early Christians believed that the end was near. The foreign policy of the final revival of the Roman empire will be just as malignant toward other nations, although what is coming is a religious serial-rape of almost every nation on earth (see World War 3 In Prophecy). As has been the case throughout human history, they won't invade China or India because until after Christ's return neither are yet even nominally Christian and therefore the papacy's false miracles will have very little effect on them (again, see the "World War 3 In Prophecy" link above to understand that religious deception is the basis of end-time Rome's power) and both India and China are military heavyweights who could take on anyone. Rarely in human history has any major power ever started a war with anyone except those much smaller (as many nations today have observed, the key to not being invaded in modern times is to have a formidable air force and anti-aircraft missile system - no modern invading army can get control of the ground unless it first has control of the sky and major airports).
For example, Peter misunderstood what Jesus told him about John; Peter and many of the others thought that the return of Christ would occur within John's lifetime:
"Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (John 21:22-23 KJV)
But John did eventually die. He was the only one of the apostles to survive to old age, for 2 primary reasons - to care for his Aunt Mary and to write the Book of Revelation. But the return of Christ didn't happen then, although, to repeat, from their conscious perspective it has happened because the dead have no sense of the passage of time. Those who die will seem to have gone instantly from the moment of their death to the time of their resurrection, whether the first resurrection at the return of Christ, or the second resurrection a little over 1,000 years later. No one ever knows, or will ever know, that they're dead.
Peter and the twelve apostles were not the only ones to assume that Christ's return was at hand. The apostle Paul (see Paul's Ministry) also, at first, expected it to happen in his lifetime.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 KJV) (see also "To Meet The Lord In The Air")
It was only in his later writings that Paul realized that it would not happen in his lifetime. He spoke in terms of "departing and being with The Lord" in the sense that the dead seem to go instantly from the moment of their death to "immediate" resurrection - even though he will actually have been dead for many centuries. Unlike many who misunderstood what he said, Paul knew that his "being with the Lord" was future "at that day" as he plainly says here:
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (1 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV)
Jesus Christ plainly said that no one, except God, knows when Christ's return will happen. Even Christ didn't know (see also What Is Jesus Christ Doing Right Now?).
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36 KJV)
No one knows when Christ's return is going to happen, but at the same time the Word of God does state that it will happen 1,260 days / 42 months / 3 ½ years from the one time-marker event that will indicate that the final countdown for the return of Christ has begun - the beginning of the ministry of the "two witnesses." Their ministry will go on for 1,260 days / 42 months / 3 ½ years before God allows their martyrdom. Immediately after their deaths, and their resurrections a little over 3 days later, Christ's return will occur. Their ministry will be unmistakable by the powers that they will be given. They will begin with "healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons" while first and foremost preaching the Gospel Truth to the world. It will be only after the world rejects them, that is, rejects the Truth, and tries to kill them, that their self-defensive powers to devastate entire nations will begin i.e. "if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies" and they will "have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues" (see below). When you see them, you will know, for sure, that the "end is near" and Christ's return is going to happen.
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will."
Fact Finder: What does "the end of the world" mean in the Holy Bible?