Does the Bible Predict The End of Time?
My good friend David Curtis has written a great article on the question of whether the Bible predicted the end of time, or, the time of the end. This is a great article that we will present in a few different installments, so be sure to check back!
Is the world going to someday come to an end? The great majority of people, both Christian and non-Christian, think it will. The end of the world is the theme of many books and movies and there are endless predictions as to when and how it will end. We are constantly told that the world will get worse until God destroys it. Is this idea that the world will someday end taught in the Bible? I’m sure that many would say that it is, but does the Bible really teach this? Let’s look at some verses that seem to indicate that the world will not end.
Genesis 8:21-22 (NKJV) And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. 22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
Now, folks will say that the Lord destroyed the earth by water one time and He’ll destroy it by fire the next time. Is God’s promise here to just change his method of destroying everything? Is there comfort in being destroyed by fire instead of water? Or is He promising not to destroy the earth again?
Psalms 148:4-6 (NKJV) Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. 6 He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away.
What decree did God make concerning the establishment of the heaven and the earth that will never pass away? Could it be Genesis 8:21? God said that he would never again destroy every living thing. God can be trusted, He keeps his word.
Psalms 78:69 (NKJV) And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever.
If God has established the earth forever, how could it end?
Psalms 119:90 (NKJV) Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.
Ecclesiastes 1:4 (NKJV) One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.
It sounds like these verses teach that the earth will last forever. But what about those verses that say the world will end? Verses like:
Matthew 13:40 (KJV) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
The End of Time, or the Time of the End?
I can hear some of you saying, “There, see, the world is going to end.” The problem here is the translation of the Greek word aion. Aion does not mean “world” but “age, dispensation, era, or a period of time.” We can understand that an age can end and yet the world can still go on. The Bible talks about the end of the age but never the end of the world, i.e. the end of time. Most newer translations of the Bible correct this error in the KJV.
Matthew 13:40 (NKJV) “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
So, Jesus is here talking about something that will happen at the “end of the age” He was living in. Notice what was to happen at the end of the age:
Matthew 13:49-50 (NKJV) “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 “and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Notice who is taken — the wicked. Is this a reverse rapture? I believe this speaks of the Judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70. The “end” that Jesus is talking about was the end of the Jewish age, when the wicked Jews were burned in the destruction of Jerusalem. We see the end of the age attached to the destruction of the Jewish temple in:
Matthew 24:1-3 (NKJV) Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Their question was two-fold. First they ask, “when will these things be?” All three of the synoptic gospels ask, “when.”
Matthew 24:3 (NKJV)….”Tell us, when will these things be?”….
Mark 13:4 (NKJV) “Tell us, when will these things be?”….
Luke 21:7 (NKJV) So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be?”…
The “these things” refers to the temple’s destruction in verse 2. In verse 1, the disciples point out the temple buildings to Jesus. In verse 2, Jesus says, “All’ ‘these things’ shall be destroyed.” It should be clear that they are asking, “WHEN will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?” After all Jesus had just said about Judgment on Jerusalem (Matt. 23), and then about not one stone not being left upon another, the disciples’ response is, “When?” That makes sense, doesn’t it? I would hope so..
The second part of their question is, “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age.” To help us understand the question, we need to compare all three synoptic gospels.
Matthew 24:3 (NKJV)… ” And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Note– They did not ask about the end of time! dkp).
Mark 13:4 (NKJV) ….”And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
Luke 21:7 (NKJV) …. “And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?”
Comparing all three accounts shows us that the disciples considered His “coming” and “the end of the age” to be identical events with the destruction of the temple.
Mark 13:4 (NKJV) “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
Notice in the first part of the verse, he says, “When will these things be?” — referring to the temples’ destruction. Then in the second half, he asks, “What will be the sign when all ‘these things’ will be fulfilled?” The sign of His coming and the end of age was the same as the “these things,” which referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year AD 70. These are not separate questions that can be divided up into different time-events. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their mind and that was the destruction of the temple. With the destruction of the temple, they connected the coming of Messiah and the end of the age. Their question was, “When will the end be?” Jesus gives them the sign of the abomination of desolation which Luke interprets as the armies gathered around Jerusalem. Then Jesus tells them quite clearly that the end would come in “This generation” (v 34). The word “generation” means: “those who are contemporaries or live at the same time.”
So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish temple and the city Jerusalem. The end of the age did not happen at the cross or at Pentecost but at the destruction of Jerusalem. The world was not going to end but the age of Judaism was. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age. This brings us to a very important question,
“HOW MANY AGES ARE THERE?”
We will present David’s answer to this in the next installment, so stay tuned. It should be clear from this first installment, however, that the Bible did not predict the end of time!
For a more in-depth study of “the end of time” or, the time of the end, get a copy of my book, The Last Days Identified.