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Should Christians try to delay or hasten the arrival of the end times?

delay/hasten the end times

The day of Jesus’ return and reign on earth has been a topic of great interest to His followers since before He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:6). Christians want Jesus to come, but we have differing ideas about our roles in His coming. Postmillennialists believe Jesus won’t return until His followers make Christianity the dominant religion in a peaceful world. Some premillennial dispensationalists are afraid to utilize any new technology that might lead to the Antichrist, as if doing so would be colluding with the enemy.

The truth is, we are not that powerful. We cannot make the world a godly place; humans are too wicked. Our acceptance of new technology is not going to make God reveal the Antichrist sooner. God the Father has already set the schedule of the end times; we can’t change it. We need to concentrate on the tasks Jesus gave us in the meantime: love God, love others, and spread the gospel.

Hastening the Day

At the end of the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” John responds, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” It is good and right to look forward to Jesus’ coming and the new earth when everything will be peaceful, holy, and whole. One particular view of the end times—postmillennialism—teaches that we can do more than hope, that it is our responsibility to bring Jesus back by preparing the world for His reign. Postmillennialism teaches that Jesus will return after the “millennium,” which is an unspecified amount of time, not literally 1,000 years. The plan is to spread the gospel around the world, making a peaceful and just world that is good enough for Jesus to rule.

Postmillennialism was a popular belief during the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Philosophical and scientific advances combined to make people think they had reached a level of sophistication and morality that would inevitably continue to grow until humanity reached utopia. Evolution “proved” that the society would continue to improve.

That overly optimistic view didn’t survive the first half of the twentieth century. The horrors of World War I caused belief in human nobility to flounder. World War II all but destroyed it.

In recent years, however, postmillennialism and its cohorts theonomy, Dominionism, and Christian Reconstructionism have made a comeback. Some believe that Christians need to be the dominant force in politics, education, and culture. Others believe we need to quietly evangelize, creating new Christians, then Christian families, schools, communities, cities, and states, and then we’ll be the Christian nation Jesus needs us to be.

Of course, Christians should be involved in their communities and nations. But nowhere does the Bible hint that we need to fix up the world before Jesus arrives. In fact, it says that He will arrive at the end of seven years of oppression, violence, natural catastrophes, and spiritual attack. It is His arrival that will stop the horrors of the world and initiate 1,000 years of His reign (Revelation 19:11—20:6).

Humans, even good-intentioned Christians, cannot make the world good enough for Jesus.

Delaying the End

On the other side are those who know Jesus won’t appear until the world is at its worst and think it is their job to delay that state. Throughout history, Christians have looked on their political and social landscapes and thought, Surely this is proof that the end is near. In the previous hundred years, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the USSR, Y2K, and COVID-19 have all been cited as proof that the end was upon us. And the list of candidates for the Antichrist grows by the year. For two thousand years, Christians have predicted Jesus’ immediate return; so far, the date-setters have all been proven wrong.

The current wave of interest in end-times prophecy among dispensationalists began in the 1970s with Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson’s book The Late Great Planet Earth. That book introduced many to a literal interpretation of the tribulation account of Revelation 6—16 in the context of then-current events. Shortly after, the movie A Thief in the Night and its sequels dramatized the lives—and deaths—of several people during the tribulation. More recently, the Left Behind series has continued the tradition.

Placing future biblical events in the context of modern events has led many people to consider how technological advances and socio/political events fit into the preparations for the coming Antichrist. Questions arise about RFID chips, cryptocurrency, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the European Union. Are these things setting the stage for the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, the one-world government, and a one-world currency?

Our careful answer is: maybe.

The next question often asked is “Should Christians refrain from using such technology or interacting with such organizations in order to delay the coming of the Antichrist?” Our confident answer is no. Nowhere does the Bible tell Christians to do anything that would delay end-times events. The timing of the rapture is set by God alone (Matthew 24:36–44). The Bible mentions a “restrainer” who is holding back Satan’s work, in effect delaying the Antichrist’s arrival, but this restrainer is not fighting against technological or political novelties; he is most likely the Holy Spirit working through the church to spread the gospel. Evangelizing the lost, not condemning RFID chips, is how we protect people from the end times!

Of course, that does not mean that Christians should unthinkingly invest in cryptocurrency or support the World Bank. We are called to use discernment in all things and to refrain from being directly involved in what is foolish, unjust, and unbiblical. But just because something seems like it is a step toward the fulfillment of end-times prophecy doesn’t mean Christians need to fight against it. We have enough to do without worrying about what only God can control.

Be Watchful

Two of Jesus’ parables that speak about His return are the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Ten Minas. In both, a master leaves three servants with specific resources while he goes on a long journey. He expects the servants to invest those resources wisely and earn a good profit. When he returns, he rewards those who were faithful stewards.

At no point in the stories are the servants instructed to either hasten or delay the master’s return—they couldn’t do so if they tried. Their job is to use their resources wisely so the master’s wealth increases. In the same way, God has given us the responsibility to share the gospel and make disciples. Never does Jesus suggest we can have any effect on when He will return. It is good to be wise in our use of technology and the human systems we support. It is good to influence our culture. That influence, however, is in the service of the gospel, not to hasten or delay Jesus’ return.

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Questions about the End Times

Should Christians try to delay or hasten the arrival of the end times?
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This page last updated: May 31, 2023