When we face Jesus in judgment, we will be reckoned by how we treated the needy people God brought our way. Jesus is not teaching a way of salvation by social responsibility. We are saved exclusively by Faith. Rather, He is teaching that a saving Faith is one that is translated into action. Too many of us evangelical Christians have completely lost the social implications of the Gospel. Jesus is all around us in the hungry, naked, homeless, sick, and imprisoned. Will we continue to ignore them and Jesus? The prospect of Jesus’ return ought to motivate us to action in behalf of the marginalized people in our communities.Ed Dobson, The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000, Page 180
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another End Times post.
I’m back from vacation and now my regular content will resume. Now my posts will be the regular length they were before.
I went on an actual trip toward the end of my vacation. And that meant air travel, and air travel means layovers. And layovers means reading time. If you’re a fan of the blog you know I love books and talk about them a lot. So it should come as no surprise that I brought plenty of books to read on my travels.
And the main book I read this time around was an End Times book … one written all the way back in 1997. The title of the book is 50 Remarkable Events Pointing to the End: Why Jesus Could Return by a.d. 2000. It was written by Ed Dobson.
I know I don’t need to point out the fact that it’s now 21 years beyond the year 2000, and we’re still here. Jesus has not yet returned to establish His kingdom, unfortunately. And so there must be no point in reading this book, right??
That’s what I thought before I started it. And that’s why I picked it to be a travel book, since I wanted something that wouldn’t need much of my concentration. But as I read through it, I realized that even this book on why Jesus could return by the year 2000 has something to teach about the End Times.
Ed Dobson’s The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000
The word “Could” in the title of this book is the most important word. The author never says anything like “Jesus will return by the year 2000.” He only explains why Jesus could return at any time, something we already know from the Bible. But the book lays out a very helpful and concise summary of what the Bible says about about the End Times and its signs.
This is especially helpful for the summary it gives of the antiChrist and what the Bible says about him. That’s a useful summary to have, because the references to the antiChrist are scattered throughout the New Testament. It’s nice to have a book that collects all the information in one chapter.
Obviously where the book falls flat is in its analysis of current events as of 1997, and predicting how those events could develop in the future. Reading this book now in 2021, of course we know things did not turn out that way. But some of the issues Dobson identifies as signs of the End Times are still with us, and have gotten much worse. The main one of those is climate change.
It’s very interesting to see an evangelical writer stating the dire significance of climate change, urging us all to take it seriously along with our Christian duty to care for this earth as written in Genesis 2. So much has changed since 1997, though I don’t know exactly what it was that changed. But now it’s unusual to hear this view from an evangelical, some of whom think climate change is a liberal hoax.
Anyway, it was a good book. Even reading it in 2021, it was still a pretty good read. Not the best thing I’ve ever read, but not bad at all. But the one thing from this book that I want to highlight today is the final chapter. And this chapter isn’t about some specific sign of the End Times, or a detailed analysis of the antiChrist. It’s something much simpler, and something I’ve also talked about before on this blog.
It’s the crucial matter of how we should live in these End Times.
It’s Matthew 25 Today, Tomorrow, and every Day
And how we should live in the End Times is something most Christians already know, but not everyone abides by it. There are many parables throughout the Gospels that drive home the message we must be ready for Jesus’ return at all times.
In other words, we must follow His teachings and live as He taught us (as best we can) all the way to the final day. The Bible never says that just because The End is near we should start acting different from how the New Testament teaches us to act.
Ed Dobson astutely points out that after Matthew 24—where Jesus lists the signs of The End and tells the parables that teach us to be ready—comes Matthew 25 and the instructions to perform the Works of Mercy. This is found in Matthew 25:31-46. And the main message is that when we see people in need, whether they be homeless or sick or in prison or whatever, we see Jesus in them. And whatever we do or don’t do for the least of the people in need who we encounter, we do or do not do it to Jesus. And when Jesus returns, He will call us to account for this. Jesus refers to this as separating the sheep from the goats (nonbelievers).
Now listen to what Ed Dobson has to say about Matthew 25 and this separation of the sheep from the goats.
3. The Sheep and the Goats: True Faith Is Authenticated in Compassion for the PoorEd Dobson, The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000, Pages 178-180
When we minister to the poor, we are ministering to Jesus. When Jesus judges the goats, He declares, “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me” (vv. 42-43). Those receiving this rebuke are shocked. “We never saw you that way,” they said. The implication is that if they had seen Jesus having these needs, they would have undoubtedly responded more favorably.
The point Jesus makes is that they did indeed see Him in the cause of the poor, but ignored Him. […]
When we face Jesus in judgment, we will be reckoned by how we treated the needy people God brought our way. Jesus is not teaching a way of salvation by social responsibility. We are saved exclusively by Faith. Rather, He is teaching that a saving Faith is one that is translated into action. Too many of us evangelical Christians have completely lost the social implications of the Gospel. Jesus is all around us in the hungry, naked, homeless, sick, and imprisoned. Will we continue to ignore them and Jesus? The prospect of Jesus’ return ought to motivate us to action in behalf of the marginalized people in our communities.
Very well said, I say. It’s no coincidence that these instructions straight from the Savior are found in Matthew 25, immediately after He tells us what to look for as the signs of The End. We must never downplay or overlook the importance of these orders found in Matthew 25—the Works of Mercy are of the utmost importance. For our fellow humans and also for ourselves.
Ed Dobson does well to remind us of that in the final chapter of his book. Even in 1997 he said, “Too many of us evangelical Christians have completely lost the social implications of the gospel.” Without getting too far into that (that’s another topic for another time), I would say that situation has only gotten worse since 1997. Much worse!! That’s just one more sign of The End I suppose.
We Won’t Stop Saying it
The question of how we should live as Christians when we know The End is coming is a question of the utmost importance. And that’s why Jesus answers it Himself in the Gospels. We already have the guidance we need to do what we need to do. Because what we need to do at The End is the same as what we need to do all the time.
We need to live life as if Jesus could return tomorrow … because He could. He could return at any time, and so we must be ready at all times. This is something most of us already know, yes, but it bears repeating because we can never say it enough.
And Ed Dobson does a good job of explaining and reminding us of this in his book The End. It’s true that some of the ideas and predictions for world events in this book (especially about the geopolitical situation) did not come true, and as we read it in 2021 we can ignore those things. Some would say that this detracts from the value of the book. I can’t say I totally disagree with that sentiment … I did select the book as my air travel reading material, after all. A book that I didn’t think I would need to dedicate all my brainpower to.
But the book holds up today better than I was expecting. Because some lessons are timeless, and we can never repeat them or hear them enough. Always be ready for the return of Jesus, I’ve said it, Ed Dobson said it, and countless others have said it. Does that mean we should stop saying it??
Well let me ask you this. Do you see any people, including Christians, who aren’t ready for Jesus to return at any moment?? People who live as if the world—and their lives—will last forever?? There’s your answer. As long as there are people who haven’t got the message, we need to keep repeating it.
Well that’s all for this week. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below. And please consider Supporting My Blog using the Tip Jar. Any amount is much appreciated!
Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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