The Good News of the End Times

“An end-time army has one common purpose — to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion.”

Maybe we have been telling the wrong story.  What if instead of a sci-fi thriller, we are supposed to be telling a love story?

When we misunderstand the story, we don’t live rightly within the story, and we certainly don’t communicate the right message about our King and His Kingdom.

In reading different endtime scenarios, I couldn’t shake the feeling that so much of it is based on a distorted view of both the existing and future nature of the kingdom of God and rulership of Christ.

The people in Jesus’ time were convinced that the kingdom Jesus spoke of would be an overthrow of existing powers in their day.  They believed the man riding into town on the donkey would be their Dread Champion.  And He was and is, but not in the way they expected.

Likewise, the people of today are convinced that the kingdom of God will be an overthrow of existing powers. They believe that the man riding through the clouds on the white horse will be their Dread Champion.  And He is and will be, but maybe not in the way they are expecting.

Apocolyptic language typically sounds violent and tyrannical, especially to the ears of those who believe they might be potential targets of this spiritual army.  The people who consider themselves part of the army communicate an imperialistic vision of overthrow and theocratic authoritarian power.

Surely Jesus Christ is and will be Lord over all. Yet we can see throughout scripture that His is an alternative kingdom, a kingdom of love, restoration, and wholeness.  An upside down kingdom where the poor, the marginalized, the broken, and children are welcomed and valued; yet entrance is difficult for the powerful, religious, or wealthy.

I believe as we begin to understand scripture through a redemptive lens it takes on a very different meaning than the frightening, judgmental message many of us originally learned.

The references to Jesus’ domination and power over his enemies refer to the defeat of darkness, evil, poverty, and pain.  The lost are not Christ’s enemies.  So often the wrath of God, His hatred of sin, is communicated as hatred of the lost.  But scripture tells us otherwise, that God loves us while we are still sinners.

Rather than “advancing the kingdom” with conquering power, we participate in the kingdom.  We are sent out with the message of God’s love and the assignment to heal.  Perhaps our assignment to “judge the nations” is actually an assignment to be agents of the restoration of justice in the world today.

Judgment is when God restores all things to the way that He intended them to be.  Restoration of justice is an expression of His righteousness and mercy overcoming oppression and injustice.  Could it be that His rulership, that the reign of shalom is the best news imaginable?  We have the privilege of ruling and reigning with Him, not as overlords, but as ministers of reconciliation.

I know that this could be written off as being too much peace, love, and rainbows.  Maybe we have been reading through the wrong lens, and the fullness of the kingdom really is everything Jesus said it would be, and the end times are the fulfillment of all that He promised, life on earth as it is in heaven.

What if the end of the story is an incredible portrayal of love beyond what we can even imagine?

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29 thoughts on “The Good News of the End Times

  1. Kingdom Grace
    Thank you! This is good stuff. You are really painting a different picture here, a picture more in line with the scripture. I took the liberty of quoting you on my blog, linking back here of course.

    Many Blessings

  2. “What if the end of the story is an incredible portrayal of love beyond what we can even imagine”
    Why that would be scandalous. Wouldn’t it???
    ;)

    Just yesterday heard a sermon containing a definition of good news and the kingdom of God. It sounded much like what you have described here. When it is posted to the web I will send you a link.

  3. Great thoughts. I agree with you! I believe our view on end-times affects the way we act as followers of Christ in our world in every way from how we treat others to how we treat the world around us.

  4. I very much appreciate the picture you are painting here.

    I believe it presents a view of our role in the redemptive work/plan of God that is so often missed in the eschatological landscape.

    As someone who was greatly influence by current charismatic teaching (IHOP in particular) on the end-times and has subsequently crashed and burned I find your post on this very encouraging!

  5. Thanks joachim,
    I wish I could read your blog.

    inheritor and barb,
    It is interesting that Jesus’ message of the kingdom didn’t contain this apocolyptic tone.

    joel,
    So true, with a separatist mentality we excuse ourselves from caring about anyone’s future but our own.

    gxs,
    I am deeply disappointed in the message that the world is hearing through the “prophetic” language of charismatics today.

    tracy,
    I don’t mind if people call me Honey, just don’t call me Shirley. ;)

  6. You have absolutely nailed it. So many of our problems in relating to those “outside” the faith would be solved if we had this view of the Kingdom.

  7. Grace,
    Great post.

    I remember, about 6 years ago become literally enamored in reading End Times materials. I was hooked on the “Left Behind” series, as well as other books. But, you know what, the focus I had during that season was really all wrong. I lived in a rather spirit of fear…as well as had my eyes on the future, not the present.

    “In reading different endtime scenarios, I couldn’t shake the feeling that so much of it is based on a distorted view of both the existing and future nature of the kingdom of God and rulership of Christ…His is an alternative kingdom, a kingdom of love, restoration, and wholeness” -KG

    Amen. Couldn’t agree more. I think many institutional churches today talk about Christ’s 2nd coming in such hideous, dreadful, wrathful language. No wonder a majority of Christians say they are terrified about it (Barna’s polls).

    Quite honestly, Christians should be living in a spirit of looking forward to our Lord’s 2nd arrival on Earth! As you mentioned, the wrong mentality permeates the Church. Grant it, we shouldn’t be putting our lives on hold, to idly sit-by and “wait” for the coming day. That is not what Father wishes at all. He desires us to actively go-about our lives…and live in gratefulness and love…and IN THE PRESENT.

    “Rather than “advancing the kingdom” with conquering power, we participate in the kingdom. We are sent out with the message of God’s love and the assignment to heal. Perhaps our assignment to “judge the nations” is actually an assignment to be agents of the restoration of justice in the world today.” -KG

    Exactly.

    Blessings,
    ~Amy :)
    http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

  8. Amy wrote:
    I remember, about 6 years ago become literally enamored in reading End Times materials. I was hooked on the “Left Behind” series, as well as other books. But, you know what, the focus I had during that season was really all wrong. I lived in a rather spirit of fear…as well as had my eyes on the future, not the present.
    I can relate to Amy’s fascination with end times eschatology. What recent convert during the Jesus Movement (sorry Amy; I am showing my age here :) ) was not affected by the evangelical Protestant emphasis of soul winning motivated by the fear of loved ones being left behind…

    It was one of the big sell religious points back then. The imminent return of Jesus a certainty. The pre-trib Rapture teaching almost taken as, well, gospel…

    I have since abandoned such end times theology+scenarios. I am not at all convinced that the very elaborate end time developments concocted by such popular adherents; John Hagee, Tim Layahe, Hal Linsay, Jack Van Impe, etc. are rooted in reality. The conspiracy theories needed to support many of their claims just are not helpful for living out a daily walk. I do believe such teaching is actually counter-productive. To stay up-to-date with the current events & how the most mundane of world happenings somehow ties into their theories is like being tuned into the extreme prophetic types that have a word-a-minute for almost anything imaginable. To dwell on the end times stuff induces paranoia & fear more than peace, love, joy. I would not want to get my spiritual outlook from those end-time gurus anymore than the uber-prophetic ones…

    Both the end times pundits & prophetic types produce so much interpretation & doomsday predictions it can overwhelm even the mildly interested & distract them from living in the present. And it does not provide anything of value to build people up. It is simply a unhealthy fascination with claiming the correct interpretation for the signs of the end of the age. It is a semi-professional rivalry IMHO. Same with the prophetic types & their countless predictions. It is a constant one-up-mans-ship that has no value for the simple believer trying to get through today…

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
    “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

  9. Grace, thanks for this post. Very beautifully articulated. If the story changes from a sci-fi (militant conquest) story to a story of redemption, justice, reconciliation and healing – then I think we’re closer to the gospel. I think the focus on healing, by serving from a low position of humility and love, vs. conquest (by dominating from a position of power and pride) is a key component of ditching the story of religious culture for the story Jesus told us of the kingdom.

  10. This is one of my favorite posts from you. Thank you. Getting our heads and hearts around what you are describing, the kind of upside-down King and Kingdom we have and can expect to see fulfilled, simply changes everything.

  11. Thanks Lynn and Jaime!

    dan,
    Quote me anytime you want. :)
    (and I’m not a good speaker)

    fred,
    The message that people hear from Christians really bothers me. First there was the message of intolerance from the Religious Right to overcome, and now apparently the message being heard is one of overthrow and domination. We need to pay attention to what the world is hearing in what we are saying.

    ron,
    I think we get tripped up in the concept of “conquer.” As long as we have the mentality that we are going to ultimately “win”, we won’t get busy with losing ourselves for the sake of the kingdom.

    amy,
    Good point. For believers to be living in fear and confusion about the kingdom is as tragic as communicating the wrong message to the lost.

    joseph,
    It is interesting to observe how ministries (industries) have been built around endtime doctrine. There have been millions made from books about endtime doctrine, from Hal Lindsey to Left Behind, and it doesn’t even matter that they are inaccurate. There’s an idea. ;)

    sarah and erika,
    I am hopeful that the church that is becoming will be a church with a strong emphasis on the gospel of the kingdom as told by Jesus.

  12. I can relate to what you said here (responding to fred). The majority of my husband’s and my time with people is with unbelievers. Sometimes they get up the nerve to ask us about what they are hearing (have heard) from the religious right, knowing that we are Christians.

    90% of the conversation is explaining that those people don’t represent ALL Christians. Our non-Christian friends see the arrogance, the mocking, the carnality, the lack of empathy for the poor and marginalized, and the quest for power. And they aren’t attracted to that. I don’t blame them. I’m not attracted to that either. We have to start looking at fruit and behavior, and stop thinking public figures are reflecting Christ just because they claim to be Christians.

  13. Maybe it’s better to say: … we are beginning to realize that public figures don’t necessarily reflect Christ just because they use His name or even believe in Him.

  14. sarah,
    So true. I think that the response to a book like The Shack demonstrates how hungry people are for a different picture of who God is than what they are hearing from the church.

  15. I’ve been reading you with wide eyes and soft heart for awhile now. This latest post so touched my deepest beliefs re. God and this walk called Christ that I included the link here: http://spreadinggoodness.org/

    in order to be able to share it with others who are like minded.

    I hope that was okay.

    :)

  16. I am sixty years old now – I’ve been walking with the Lord for thirty of those years. I was directly involved with an international Christian relief organization for 10 years and have traveled to countries with cultures vastly different than my own. I have gone through the deep waters and flames of fire more times than I would have liked to. In all of this I have learned one thing for sure … it is impossible to contain God in dogma and doctrine. Just when you think you’re beginning to figure Him out, He puts a giant bend in your ‘systematic theology’. Just when you begin to lose faith in that He knows what He’s doing, you come out at a place where you realize you don’t know so much after all. “So, THAT’S what You were doing!!!”

    In the countless times when I thought I knew where God should be headed and how it should turn out … it came out at a completely different place with remarkable results. I am convinced it will be the same at “The End.” It’s going to be so completley different than all of the variations of scenarios the end time prophets espouse (and I deeply admire their deep study of the Word – that’s not the point). I believe we’re all going to stand in awe and proclaim something like “So, THAT’S what you meant when you said …”

    He transcends our dogmas, our linear thinking, even our best understanding. It serves us much better to be practicing the things we do understand … loving God, and loving our neighbor with a servant attitude. If we can get that right, we can be ever confident that we will be ready, no matter what.

  17. I really loved this post and the thoughts that you shared. The “Left Behind” mentality is not very conducive to relationship building. There was a time when I was quite caught up in this and my main concern was to get the message pounded out quickly and to the point because what if there’s no tommorrow?! There’s also so much of a focus on “me” producing results vs. the Spirit leading the other’s journey.
    I much prefer to love people exactly where they are at because tommorrow has worries of its own. I read that in a book somewhere. ;)

  18. Hi leanne, nice to meet you. Linking is fine.

    ken,
    Exactly! I can imagine so many “so that’s what you meant” moments.

    aplaceofgrace,
    Yes, the leftbehind mentality tended to produce an attitude of making sure our final destination was secure above all else.

  19. thank you so much.

    I’ve been researching Dominionism and Theocracy today [because of sarah Palin], and i feel liek I’ve been washed now.

    Your thoughts about what might be ‘judging the nations’ really are worth thinking about
    thank you.
    Justice is becoming a lot more important to me than it was…

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