Note: This message originally appeared in the autumn of 1999 and deals with the “Y2K” concerns that were big at that time. While Y2K didn’t really turn out to be much of anything, many of the issues in this message are still very relevant today.
Well, here we are at the brink of the new millennium. Some people are really excited over the arrival of the year 2000 and others view it as just another new year. But there are also many people who view Y2K with a sense of uneasiness and fear, thinking that it will somehow usher in the end of the world. So what’s the straight story? Is it possible that the new millennium is just the beginning of the countdown to the end?
After all, many people are really concerned about the future and rightfully so. When you read about all the unstable situations in the world and think about the potential for destruction that exists at the touch of a button, it’s easy to become nervous about the future.
If this describes the way you feel, then The Doctor would like to offer you some encouragement. First, don’t forget that God has personally assured His people that everything will be OK for them no matter what happens in the future. If you are a Christian and you are concerned about what may happen in the future, here’s some of what God’s Word has to say to you…
“I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me” (John 10:28-29).
“Now I am leaving the world, and leaving them behind, and coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your own care– all those you have given me– so that they will be united just as we are, with none missing… I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from Satan’s power” (John 17:11,15).
“But Jesus lives forever and continues to be a Priest so that no one else is needed. He is able to save completely all who come to God through him. Since he will live forever, he will always be there to remind God that he has paid for their sins with his blood” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
So we can always be certain of God’s continued care for us regardless of what the future brings. It’s been said that we may not know exactly what the future holds but knowing who holds the future makes all the difference. But all of this applies only to those people who have made the decision to get right with God through Jesus Christ. If you’re not sure where you stand with Jesus, then you should definitely take a look over here first.
Of course, this still leaves our main question unanswered. Is it possible (as some believe) that God will pull the plug on the world in the new millennium? Well, The Doctor thinks that it’s a mistake for anyone to say that God is going to wrap everything up on a particular date. If anyone tells you that they know that the world is going to end at a specific date or time, you don’t have to worry that it’s going to happen- it won’t.
Here’s why according to Mark 13:31-32…
So just because the calendar turns from 1999 to 2000 doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of the world. While this may be a comfort for many people, there is a catch. You see, the Bible does teach that there will definitely come a time when God is going to wrap everything up. Although no one knows when that will be, the Scriptures give us some clear signals that will confirm when time is running out.
What will those signals be? Well, let’s leave the Y2K craziness behind for a moment and see some of what God’s Word actually has to say about that time…
In the book of 2nd Timothy, the Apostle Paul gives us some characteristics that will be commonly seen among people when we get to the last days. He starts by telling us that the conditions during this period will be pretty tough. Other versions of the Bible tell us that these times will be “perilous” or “grievous” which are words that definitely carry the idea of threat, menace and danger. Paul identifies why things will be this way by describing a world that has totally turned it’s back on God and His ways.
He says that people will first be lovers of themselves and lovers of money. These are important things to note because when people place loving themselves and loving their money above loving God, all sorts of bad things are sure to follow.
What kinds of things? Well, Paul gives us a list of some personal characteristics that will be seen among people in the last days…
- Boastful, Proud This originally referred to quack doctors who walked around boasting of their “miracle cures” that could heal sick people.
- Abusive Literally, an “evil-speaker”
- Disobedient to their parents
- Ungrateful This describes someone who acts selfishly
- Unholy Or acting in a way that is opposite to God and His character
- Without love This means that people will be without any kind of natural affection, such as the kind that you might see among family members
- Slanderous This refers to people who give false statements that are designed to wreck the reputation of others
- Without self-control, brutal In other words, people won’t exercise self-control when it comes to themselves but they will be ruthless towards others. They will be self-indulgent, while holding other people up to a standard that they would never work to attain themselves.
- Not lovers of the good
- Treacherous People will be traitors to each other and think nothing of selling each other out
- Rash This refers to someone who acts carelessly and thoughtlessly
- Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God The Scriptures tell us that the attitude of many people during this time will be, “If it feels good, do it and who cares about God?”
Finally, we’re told that people people during this time will have a form of Godliness but deny it’s power. People may outwardly appear to be religious but because they have placed loving themselves, loving their money and loving pleasure ahead of loving God, they have inwardly rejected anything that God really wants to do in their lives.
Because of this, Paul’s advice is simple: have nothing to do with them. You see, people with these characteristics have always existed, even in Paul’s day. The only difference is that in the last days, most people will be like this instead of just a few.
Paul’s advice here is also very similar to some advice that he gave to the church at Corinth when he told them, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits'” (1 Corinthians 15:33). So how does evil company corrupt good habits? Well, Paul goes on to tell us how it can happen…
Now Paul isn’t making a sexist comment about women here as some might believe. What he is doing is exposing a strategy that was used by certain false teachers of his day. You see, unlike today, many women in those days were not educated and were very vulnerable to false teachers as a result.
Because these false teachers were not allowed to bring their wrong teachings into the church (see verse 5 above), they apparently switched to “Plan B” by trying to work their way into people’s private homes and taking advantage of those who didn’t know any better.
The bad thing is that false teachers also exist in our own day and they follow this very same strategy today. However, such people are no longer limited to simply coming to your house and knocking on your door like they were in the first century. For example, false teachers can often work their way into your home through your television. Or they can work their way into your home through your computer. False teachers can also work their way into your home through your telephone or radio or CD player too.
So you see that just as it was in Paul’s day, false teachers still try to work their way into people’s homes and take advantage of people who don’t know any better. The only difference is that today’s false teachers have the advantage of 21st century technology to market and package their teachings in a much better way.
Paul warns us that the people who will be most vulnerable to these teachings are those who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires; people who are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (NIV). Although people could escape this vulnerability simply by getting to know God by reading His Word and applying it in their daily lives, many choose not to.
The sad reality is that the people who are having the most difficulties with sin in their lives are often the people who are just not reading their Bibles. Because of this, you could do yourself a big favor simply by picking up God’s Word and reading some of it each day.
So what should be our attitude towards the future and it’s uncertainties? Well, The Doctor can think of no better prescription than the one given by the Great Physician, Jesus himself in Matthew 6:34…