The End of the World? #2

Friday, December 28, 2012

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36 KJV).

We take the remainder of the year to contemplate the term “the end of the world.”

When people discuss the “end of the world,” they need to explain what they mean by the term “world.” “World” means different things in diverse contexts. For instance, the first time the term “the end of the world” appears in Scripture is Psalm 19:4. This passage is beyond the scope of this study; suffice it to say that the testimony of the heavens regarding God’s glory and handiwork reaches to the farthest parts of mankind’s habitation on earth (verse 3). This usage of “the end of the world” has nothing to do with end times (prophecy), nor does “world” refer to the physical earth.

The second time God’s Word uses the expression “the end of the world” is Isaiah 62:11: “Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world,….” This is the same sense as Psalm 19:4 (above).

However, when we come to Matthew 13:39,49, the Bible uses “the end of the world” another way. These verses involve end times (prophecy): “…the harvest is the end of the world…. so shall it be at the end of the world.” Jesus Christ is describing the day—His Second Coming—when He will send angels to gather His believers and collect the unbelievers.

In Matthew 24:3, Jesus’ disciples inquired, “And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Here, “world” is in the same sense as in Matthew 13:39,49 above. Like Matthew chapter 13, Matthew chapter 24 is prophetic.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus Christ told His eleven apostles, “…And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This is very similar to the sense of Matthew chapters 13 and 24, but referring to a different “world.” Lastly, Hebrews 9:26 says, “now once in the end of the world hath [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

We will proceed to discuss these usages in depth….