Discover more from The Raven's Writing Desk
In Case You Haven't Heard, the World is Ending
What would you do if you knew the world was ending?
It was the morning after the apocalypse, or rather, the morning after the apocalypse was supposed to have happened. Pastors across the UK had been contacted about a month prior by a geologist who knew when the world was going to end…although, as it turned out, he’d miscalculated. “Yes, I was wrong,” the latest email read, “So I happily apologise…At the moment it looks as if I was out by two weeks…the relevant day was in fact the 15th of the Jewish seventh month, not the 1st.”
What are the chances, to be off by just two weeks. How embarrassing.
I joke, of course, but let’s say that he’s right, with irrefutable evidence, and the end of the world is just around the corner.
What would you do if you knew the world was ending?
Over the past few years various Armageddon level threats have dominated headlines and social media alike; claims ranging from divine revelation, to reports of boiling ice caps, even political prophecies. Here in the UK we have an ongoing issue with climate protestors blocking traffic to raise awareness for their eschatological views, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard from voices in the States claiming that the land of freedom—if not the world—will soon be taken over by nefarious human, or spiritual, forces.
The chorus they all seem to be singing along together is, “we must act now.”
So, we’re back at the same question.
What would you do if you knew the world was ending? How then should we act? What’s our hope in the face of the end?
Today we’ll look at a parable that helps us to understand and answer all of these questions, and more.
IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, AS WE KNOW IT!
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.”
Take a look around.
How many weeds can you see in the world?
I’m not talking false teachers or prophets here1, or even false disciples, but about the weeds—both small and enormous—growing in the fields of society around us. In this parable, Jesus warns us that we should expect their presence.
It’s a bit like a spy movie. The main character is sent to infiltrate an enemy camp and is told ahead of time, “these are the people you need to look out for,” as well as, “here’s a list of the people you can trust.” Imagine if, on arriving and finding out that the camp of [insert historical/fictional enemy here] is infested with enemies, he turns to an ally and as says, “Have you seen how many of them there are?”
How would they respond?
“Surely, you must have known before you came on this mission?”
Whilst living in this world, to expect anything else would be foolish, and yet, sometimes we’re tempted to give in to this very same response. We see something happening, especially those trends that haven’t occurred much in our lifetimes, and we think, “it’s the end of the world, there are so many of them out there. There’s so much sin, so much depravity, so many enemies, this must be it!”
WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL?
“Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?”
In light of the seemingly monstrous forces around us, what other choice do we have but to turn to the Lord? Jesus foretells this too. Now, perhaps you don’t blame the Lord, but many do. Many more feel powerless against those forces and that in itself is just a different variety of the same accusation. “Master, are you not great enough to have stopped this?” we might think, or, “Master, you’re not doing anything!”
Jesus reassures us, saying, “An enemy has done this.” He’s not deterred or worried, he’s unflappable in the face of an enemy that did by night that which he could not in the day. Sowing weeds before he fled.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND!
So the servants said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?”
So, seeing that the Lord isn’t going to do what we want, we decide to take it upon ourselves. “Lord, I’ll go and gather the weeds,” we say.
How does he respond? Does he say, “yes, that’d be great, you go get the ones you’re able to gather, I need the help after all.” No, by no means, he says instead, “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.”
The farmer of the field—the one who planted, and the one who tends, who sees the weeds and knows their fate, as well as the fate of the wheat—cares for his crop. We mean well when we try and do the Lord’s work for him. There are countless examples throughout church history, as well as in the world today. Some of us think we can bring about lasting peace and perfect justice, or uproot the systemic sins in our societies. We might believe that by doing so, we can make an end of them just as the workers of the field thought too. We think that we can go out on our own with the clippers and the shovel and that no harm will be done. We might even blind ourselves to the wheat tumbling, deconstructing, and leaving the field before our eyes.
Some of us might be tempted to do the opposite and shrink back in the face of the obvious finality of our age. We think that there’s nothing more to be done, or that perhaps there’s no happy ever after, after all.
The Lord speaks to this too.
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
As Christians, we are destined for the barn. The weeds are not. All that which we see in ourselves, and in the world, that does not accord with the holiness of God will be burned away, either in our glorification, or in the fire that Jesus mentions here.
He goes on to explain:
“Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“All causes of sin” and “all law-breakers.”
I must remind you, in the words of the apostle, “such were some of you.”
Though running headlong for the fire, we were saved from that destiny by the pre-destination the Lord set for us, therefore, we can trust in him for our preservation, our resurrection, and our final hope.
So the question not only remains, but remains as pertinent as it was when this parable was first told. What will you do now that you know the world is ending?—and it is ending, and it has been ending since the Lord went to sit at the right hand of the Father.
Firstly, lay aside all other temptations or visions of a new commission for this seemingly new age. We have already been told what to do.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This doesn’t change when things get rough, or when the weeds seem to tower over the wheat. It will not change until our bodies of dust and dirt are resurrected. We don’t know the date, or the time, but we do know what to do while we wait.
We go out of our homes and invite people in. We go to the nations, and call them to repentance. We baptise the faithful. We teach, and observe the Lord’s commandments, helping others to do so too.
Where does our strength come from? Is it our own readiness? Our own might?
All authority in the heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, and behold, he is with us always.
“To the end of this age.”
Grace and Peace,
Adsum Try Ravenhill
P.S. If you didn’t catch my latest article, last week I recorded a sermon from Charles Spurgeon that impacted my life during a particularly difficult season. You can read all about that here, or watch the sermon in full on YouTube:
This is a subject for another day, but nonetheless important.