As I look upon the state of the world, I can’t help but think the end is near. I hear more and more people say, “We are living in the end times.” These are normal people talking, not street corner preachers with the sandwich boards that say, “Repent! The End is Near.”
But as I look back through history, I can’t help but notice that people have thought that about every generation. In every generation, someone has pointed to the signs of the times and feared, “This is it!” So far they have all been wrong, but that streak will come to an end. One generation will be right. I wonder when.
The disciples wanted to know 2000 years ago and Jesus told them two things that seem contradictory. “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Mark 13:30. And then v.32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Which is it? No wonder the disciples were confused so much. Obviously, it wasn’t in their generation. It’s been 2000 years since Jesus declared that and we are still here. But I bet when the Temple was destroyed in 70AD by the Romans, they thought the end had come. In some ways it did.
Just a quick glance at the last century would make us think the end had come. It began with a war so terrible they called it the War to End All Wars or The Great War. That was followed by a Great Depression and another world war. That ended with the atom bomb. Followed by the moral devastation of the 60’s and 70”s followed by the disintegration of the family. AIDS, famine, terrorism, Israel and the Middle East powder keg, and the list goes on.
What is He waiting on? Why didn’t God just end it?
I think because there have been people asking Him not to. I think there have been people praying for His mercy. His children have been interceding and asking for His grace and salvation. This is not unprecedented.
Because Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, God was prepared to spare the cities if just 10 righteous people could be found in them. (Genesis 18.)
Exodus 32 records Moses interceding for the Israelites after they had made the golden calf. God was prepared to wipe them out and start over with Moses, but Moses “sought the favor of the Lord his God.” V. 14 says “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
Jonah preached to the Ninevites, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The king called the people to repent, fast and pray. They did and God showed mercy, much to the dismay of Jonah who prayed, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2.) Jonah was hoping they would get what they deserved.
It appears as long as there is a man or woman of faith who cries out to God and intercedes for His mercy, God holds his full wrath at bay. He is patient so that more might be saved. That is His heart and His glory. Perhaps the reason no one knows the day or hour, not even Jesus, is because God continues to wait on His people to intercede. And when the day comes when there is no one to do that…
Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. He is patience with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
It is not a coincidence that as He wraps up His end-times discussion in Mark 13, Jesus calls his disciples to keep watch, stay alert, be on your guard. He is calling us to pray.
If we are concerned about the state of the world we need to pray and intercede for it. We must, like Moses and Abraham, cry out for Him to be merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. We must pray for the salvation of our neighbors, our nation, our world.
It’s been said that Abraham quit praying before God quit answering. Would God have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for one righteous person?
I think that the world could have ended in every generation since Jesus spoke those words, but there were faithful men and women who prayed and God showed His mercy and grace. I believe the same is true today. It could all end in my generation, but I am praying for God to demonstrate His patience, love, and mercy so that people won’t perish. Will you join me?
Psalm 103:8 “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Just ask Jonah.