I’ve had more people ask me this question this week than in the last 17 years combined. The combination of triple hurricanes, devastating fires, earthquakes, the threat of nuclear war, and the solar eclipse has reminded many of Jesus’ words in Mark 13:8,
For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
Looking to God’s Word, we can answer the question “Is the World Ending” in three different ways depending on what the person means by it. I think it is beneficial to consider all three angles to foster our own faith and to be ready to answer those around us who are asking.
This answer comes straight out of Mark 13:8 above. In the context, Jesus was explicitly answering a question by his disciples about “the end of the world.” When will Jerusalem be destroyed? When is it all going to go down? Jesus’ answer, however, warns them to be ready to walk by faith through crazy times. He tells them there will be wars, earthquakes, famines (and the storms and droughts that cause them), and that these are the beginning of the birth pains.
So, in essence, Jesus says wars and storms and earthquakes are signs that “the end” is coming. But those things have been happening since Jesus ascended into heaven in the 1st century AD. When people ask if the world ending, tell them the end has already started.
This coincides with other language God uses in the New Testament about the “last days.” Luke, Peter, Paul, and the author of Hebrews all assumed we are already in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1- “But know this: Hard times will come in the last days”). By “last days” they mean nothing else needs to happen before Jesus’ return. He came, died for our sins, and rose from the dead. The only thing left is his return and judgment.
If by “is the world ending?” the person means, “is Jesus going to return tomorrow and judge the living and the dead?” the answer is a firm maybe. Most Christians have believed and continue to believe that the Bible teaches Jesus could return at any moment. Luke tells us in Acts 1:11 that after Jesus physically ascended into heaven, angels told the disciples,
Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven.
To be sure, there are different takes on the exact nature of Jesus’ return. Without going into all the details, the things that the Bible says will happen before Jesus’ return could plausibly have happened or be happening. I’m talking here about the gospel going to the nations, the time of great tribulation, false prophets, signs in the heavens, anti-Christs, etc. Or, they might not have happened yet. Hence the maybe.
If by “is the world ending?” the person means, “is the world going to be destroyed” the answer is a firm no. This is because when Jesus returns, he is not coming to destroy the earth but to restore the earth. This is a primary theme of the Bible, and yet many so called prophecy churches and ministries totally ignore it.
In Revelation 21:1-2, John describes what happens on earth after Jesus has returned and dealt with sin and evil. He writes,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Heaven comes to earth, the earth is made new, and all will be right and good. This is the final scene in the Bible and the ultimate hope of the gospel: man restored to a right relationship with God, living in community with God, and stewarding the earth for God. No more sea (read: hurricanes), no more pain and suffering and death. Why? Because of Jesus’ work on the cross sin and Satan have been defeated.
Be ready. Anytime we think about “the last day,” we need to consider our readiness. We need to ask have we put our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins? Are we ready to meet the Lord face to face?
Also, we need to be careful not to get caught up in the hype and focus on our purpose on earth: making and maturing disciples of Jesus for the glory of God. Just before he left earth Jesus told his disciples,
It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. -Acts 1:7-8
As believers in Jesus we need not be fearful or anxious about the return of Jesus. Instead, let us continue to clearly and urgently call the world to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus in faith, no matter what the weather is like.
If anyone (preacher, radio show host, celebrity, etc.) tells you Jesus is returning on a specific date run far away from them. Check out Mark 13:32.