Don’t Let End Times Thinking Divert Attention from What God’s Trying to Do on Earth Now

There is a danger for Christians in the turbulent times through which we’re passing to become so end times-minded as to be little or no earthly good. With war in the Middle East, advancing technology, lockdowns and digital currency, one can certainly envision the type of world the Bible shows emerging in the “latter days.” Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in Israel last month, I argued that the end-times battle of Gog and Magog that the prophet Ezekiel wrote about over 2,500 years ago may just be starting to unfold. Statements from the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran since have only appeared to strengthen this possibility. So what should be the Christian response? First, for some perspective, the No. 1 nonfiction bestseller of the 1970s was “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970) by Hal Lindsey. In the book, Lindsey contended that we were in the end times, pointing to the establishment of Israel in 1948 along with the general turmoil on the planet at the time: the Cold War with the potential for World War III, seemingly increasing famines and earthquakes, and general societal unrest and devolution. Lindsey could see the battle of Gog and Magog coming in the not-too-distant future, with the menacing Soviet Union (now Russia) looking to move into the Middle East. So many Christians were of the mindset that the end times were upon them, and the rapture of the church from this earth was imminent, that it blunted the positive impact the most recent major spiritual awakening could have had on American society. No one can be sure how many came to faith in Christ during the Jesus People movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but estimates put it in the hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions. The film “Jesus Revolution,” released in February, portrayed this turbulent yet powerful time in American history. Ché Ahn, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, and head of Harvest International Ministry, became a Christian during the Jesus People movement. Ahn, who recently authored the book “Turning Our Nation Back to God Through Historic Revival,” observed that during the Jesus People movement, the harvest of new converts to Christianity came in, but the reformation of society did not follow due to bad eschatology, i.e., teaching about the end times. “That eschatology is that things will get worse and then Jesus [will] rapture us out of here,” he told The Western Journal. “That is not the theology of the early church fathers or the reformers of [the Protestant Reformation] or the Great Awakening of [Charles] Wesley, [George] Whitefield or Charles Finney in the Second Great Awakening in 1801,” Ahn continued. “They believed that you could transform America.” The Great Awakening of the 1730s and ’40s helped unify America and undergirded its decision to trust God and declare independence from Great Britain. The Second Great Awakening of the early to mid-19th century birthed the abolition movement, which led to the end of slavery in the U.S., Ahn argued. Michael Maiden, pastor of Church for the Nations in Phoenix and author of “Turn the World Upside Down: Discipling the Nations with the Seven Mountain Strategy,” shared Ahn’s view that teaching about the end times blunted the potential reformational impact of the Jesus People movement 50 years ago. “The primary focus of so much of that era was ‘come to Christ,’ and because things in the ’60s and early ’70s were very turbulent, both nationally and globally, people just said, ‘Well, Christ is coming back soon,’” recalled Maiden, whose father pastored a Jesus People church in Phoenix. “Don’t worry about becoming doctors or lawyers. Don’t worry about education. Don’t worry about getting into the various parts of society. Don’t worry about becoming … a judge or a CEO or starting a business because the Lord’s going to come back,” he said was the general mindset. There was short-sightedness among believers, Maiden told The Western Journal. “There were great churches in cities that were falling apart because the churches didn’t see their assignment to affect the rest of the city,” he explained. The church needed to step in. “The principles of God’s Word never fail. And so when they’re applied in life and family and business and society, they always work,” Maiden argued. The pastor does believe we are in the end times, but he offered a cautionary note. “There are a lot of things happening that could point us to … the end times,” Maiden said. “The only caveat is 2,000 years ago Peter announced that we’re in the end times on the day of Pentecost.” The Christian leader pointed to the words of Jesus regarding the end times: There will be “wars and rumors of wars … but the end is not yet.” Maiden highlighted that even with all the turmoil going on in the world, great things are happening in the kingdom of God, with people coming to Christ and cultures being transformed. “Yes, the world is becoming intense in its darkness, but the kingdom of God is becoming glorious in its light,” the preacher said. “Light always triumphs over darkness.” Hal and Cheryl Sacks, leaders of the Arizona-based ministry BridgeBuilders International, think God is presently allowing the earth to be shaken. “I believe what God is doing is putting the heat on and making us more desperate for him,” said Hal, who also came to faith during the Jesus People movement. “Until the light decides to wake up and get back out there because they’re anointed of God … we’re just going to continue to be overrun by darkness,” he asserted. “Revivals generally explode in times of darkness and trial, not in times of comfort and ease,” Cheryl stated. “And we are in desperate times, and that is causing people to wake up to see there’s a problem. ‘We’re going in the wrong direction. We’re not finding any answers. Let’s reach out to God.’” Ahn believes the world is “on the verge of the greatest revival.” “Here’s what Scripture says in Haggai 2:7: ‘I’m going to shake all nations.’ So there’s going to be a global shaking with all the nations,” the pastor said. “‘It will come with the wealth of the nations.’ So … in the midst of the shaking God’s going to be blessing his people, including Israel. And then the third thing is, ‘I’m going to fill this house with glory.’ That’s revival language,” Ahn continued. “And then verse 9 says, ‘The glory of the latter house will be greater than the glory of the former.’ And the principle there is that always we go from glory to glory. That’s 2 Corinthians 3:18. The principle is that in the last days will be the greatest revival to sum up the harvest.” So we know we’re at some point in the end times, but we don’t know where. As I noted above, many Christians in the 1970s thought the return of Christ was imminent and pulled back from engaging fully in society. We can see the results of that all around us now. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to the Father, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The mission of the church is to be the church, discipling nations and running right through the finish line.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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