How much should we focus on the Bible’s prophecies about the end times?

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” – Matthew 24:42-44 (ESV)

Over the years I have known several believers who had a deep passion for all things related to the end times. They were often characterized by their eagerness to talk about the latest world event that they believed pointed to Jesus’ soon return or by their readiness to give a passionate defense of their eschatological view point. Some have even built an entire following on dissecting biblical prophecies and attempting to connect the dots from those prophecies to past and current events. And of course there is such an interest in future events that movies and books have been created around this topic to the point that a whole franchise was spawned, The Left Behind Series.

Definition: Eschatology is the study of theology involved with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and humankind.

I get it. Who doesn’t love to look into those things that are mysterious? Humans are driven to discover new things and to make sense out of that which is beyond our grasp to comprehend. There is also the emotional aspect of the end times. After all, we are talking about the end of the world as we know it. Depending on a person’s interpretation of certain passages, the end can definitely elicit fear and anxiety or excitement and wonder. It is no wonder that some Christians can develop a slight obsession with future events.

There was a time in my life when I thought that knowing the exact sequence of events and deciphering all the prophecies around the second coming of Christ was vital to being a good Christian. I eventually came to the place where I recognized that it is far more important to be living like Christ could return at any moment than to try and decipher when and how He is going to return. I realized that being obedient, living out God’s mission, and bringing Him glory is far more important than fixating on the eschatological sequence of events and trying to connect specific phrases in the Bible everytime the nation of Israel is on the news. Please understand that I am not saying we should not read or study those passages. But what I am saying is that any specific doctrine or interpretation has the potential to become a major distraction from our spiritual walk if we allow ourselves to fixate on it to the point where it negatively impacts the Christian life.

Here are some self-evaluating questions to help you discern if you are focusing too much on any one thing in your life including biblical doctrines.

  • Is it helping me to love Jesus more?
  • Is it causing me to grow deeper in my relationship with Jesus?
  • Is it helping me live a life that is manifesting Christ more and allowing me to be more attuned to His voice?
  • Is it causing me to be more unified with my church family?
  • Is it motivating me to have a greater passion for the lost and to fulfill God’s purpose?

When reading Revelation or any passage that deals with eschatology, our approach should be like the rest of the scripture. We should be looking for Jesus Christ. Asking ourselves how does this passage reveal Jesus? In the example of Revelation, one of the key takeaways is that it reveals Jesus as triumphant! In the end, Jesus claims his rightful place and the full expression of His Kingdom is established. The book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ more than it is anything else. Yet sadly, many Christians do not approach it that way.

So, how much should we be focusing on the Bible’s prophecies about the future?

My answer, it should be nowhere near the amount of time and energy you invest in knowing Christ and making Him known. God’s goal for us is to be made into the image of Christ. He wants us to be transformed so that we will be prepared for His return. He wants us to await His return with eagerness and a sense of urgency. He is going to come when we least expect. Therefore, there is much to do as we wait, especially when it comes to telling others about our great King who loves them so that they too can be a part of His Kingdom.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

Written by Sam McKeen