Eschatology. It is a fabulous theological word. It means the study of the End Times. You can watch plenty of End Times theology on TV. It usually involves zombies, nuclear weapons, or (my personal favorite) large reptilian creatures that like to stomp cities.
Less the actual Eschatological part, that was all tongue-in-cheek. Sort of. How we view the End Times says a lot about our perspective of the world, our personal struggles, and even our cultural struggles.
A number of years ago I read a summary (only the summary) of research regarding End Times (also called the Apocalypse, not the mutant—comic book reference). There was a cross-section of media stories and fiction that would get a bigger presence depending on the general cultural gestalt. Japan, for example, is still dealing with the cultural scars of the nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Godzilla, in particular, is a cultural image representing nuclear power running amok, and the underlying fear of the results.
Even as we read about the “Four Horsemen” of the Apocalypse (famine, war, pestilence, death) we can see (with the first 3) some things that were constant companions of fear regarding the end. Death, of course, comes to us all.
Death is a pretty universal fear. There are very few people in history that do not fear dying (death is “merely” the result). The power of death over the living is significant, and when added to an eschatological framework (see, I used it later) those “things” that we fear most in regards to dying and death become part of our End Times thinking.
Sometimes death of the self is mixed into the perceived death of culture, identity, and other things. In the case of Daniel, the End Times includes the concept of the death of Israel as a people and a nation.
Other times death can be overridden.
As a result of the Resurrection, the sting of death has been removed. It is no longer permanent for the believers in Christ. What this also allows for is the ability (should we so choose) to separate our fears of death, End Times, and pretty much everything else.
With the Resurrection before us, the End Times, or more correctly the fear of the End Times, loses much of its weight for the End Times are merely the opening act to eternity.
- What are your thoughts about End Times? Have you thought about them recently?
- What emotions do End Times thoughts evoke in you?
- Why might understanding that End Times are not the end times for believers in Christ be important?
Lord, help us to deepen our trust in you so that the anxieties of the world do not shake our foundation based upon your love. Amen.