The headline reads: “Russia’s War on Ukraine has some Christians wondering: Is this the end of the world?” This would be an easy headline to pass over if it appeared on the typical grocery store tabloid, or your neighbor’s Internet blog, but it was from The Washington Post (Sara Pulliam Bailey, March 10, 2022). Yep, the same folks that shined a light on the Watergate scandal!
So, should we be worried? Is the end of the world at hand?
Whenever Russia goes to war, conservative evangelical Christians often see it as a precursor to the rapture, the apocalypse, the end of life as we know it. You’re not likely to see that same neighbor parading down South Mill Street carrying a “repent, the end is near” sign. A scene not at all uncommon in the 1970s. But that’s not because he doesn’t believe it’s not happening, its simply that there are much more sophisticated methods of proclaiming the end of the world these days. Such as that Internet blog, Facebook, Twitter and all of the rest.
But the fact is, this fascination with the end times and Russia’s place in it has been happening since at least the 1840s. Predictably rising and falling with the daily news. Whenever our nation faces a crisis, the prophetic cries predicting the end rise in unison. The Civil War, both World Wars, the Cold War, the rise of nuclear armaments, international terrorism, 9/11, and even the gas crisis in the 1970s, all brought with them new predictions that the end is near.
Michael Brown, host of a Christian radio show called The Line of Fire, explains: “I understand why recent global events, including the pandemic, seem to disturb some conservative evangelicals. Many, he said, are concerned
about the vaccine mandates and the World Health Organization as possible preparations for a one-world government, or one international leader who will make decisions for the globe.”
So, again, should we be worried? Is the end of the world at hand?
Yes, always. As well as no, not at all. Because folks, the Biblical answer is just that. Yes, the end of the world could come at any time. In fact, like a “thief in the night.” But no, many of the signs that the Bible clearly gives have not yet come to light. And its really hard to say what role Russia will play in the end.
For you see, Jesus explains: 4 “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and
there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:4-8, ESV).
And then Jesus goes on through the entire twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew giving sign after sign of the end times. Some of these signs have happened, some have yet to occur. Should we be worried? Yes, always. No, not at all.
Jesus continues. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, ESV).
It’s odd to think that even Jesus doesn’t know when the last day will come, but also comforting to know that Jesus doesn’t feel he needs to know. And by the way, Jesus has read the book of Revelation too. So why does Jesus not feel a need to know when the end will come? Trust. Jesus has complete and total trust in his Father and his Father’s plan.
And that, my friends, is not only comforting, but also compelling. That is, our own view toward the end times should match that of Jesus. We need not speculate. And, we need not turn the book of Revelation into some kind of mystery maze. Nor do we need to follow and support those who do.
What do we need to do in regard to the end of the world? Simply trust that God the Father has things well in hand. And know that when the times does come, God, our loving Father, will see us safely through. And Jesus, our brother, will be right there beside us. For that is the promise of the book of Revelation. In the end, there is Jesus. There is Jesus.
Time to Return to “The Family Altar”
Luther originally wrote the Small Catechism for “the head of the household.” That is, for parents to use at home with their family. Here are a few suggestions for establishing a family devotion time at home.
Lutheran Web Resources
Sponsored by Sola Publishing (Go to the “How To” link first).
Great short videos on the catechism/church life.
Search for “Family Devotions.” Devotional books to purchase.
See below for what we will be providing.
General Christian Web Resources
Search for devotionals.
Short videos to understand how to read the Bible.
One format for the “Family Altar” could be what your church is providing each week. We will be posting the Sunday sermon, along with the Sunday scriptures readings and a short worship format, each Monday by 10:00 a.m. (Hopefully without any technical glitches). While this will be helpful for many of our families, it may not be as helpful for our families with younger children. (There is a huge difference for a child sitting in a sanctuary surrounded by others and sitting at home watching a video). So feel free to adapt what we post on our website for what might work best for your family. Including using Bible story books, the Small Catechism, or some of the video links above in place of the “sermon.”
So how do we get going on this whole “Family Altar” thing? Pick a time and a place for this to become your routine. Sunday mornings at 11:00 would work, but so would Sunday nights or whatever time works best for you and your family. The principle here is to have a plan and stick to it. And a place. You may need a TV with web connection or laptop to utilize some of the links above. But all other distractions should be set aside during “Family Altar” time. Including cell phones, texting, email, all the rest. It’s going to feel a bit odd and uncomfortable at first, but I guarantee it will be worth it. Indeed, after a few sessions your older kids can probably start leading the family altar, with a little guidance. And keep it light and fun. It the devotion ends up going down a rabbit trail of “why does the Bible say this?” then so much the better!
Another option for either “Family Altar” or personal devotions is a simple Bible reading list coupled with a copy of the Small Catechism. Simply read a chapter of the Bible, followed by reading a short section of the catechism (for example, one of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer), followed by Luther’s morning or evening prayer (also in the catechism).
If you need a Small Catechism, stop by the church office.