God’s Cosmic Purposes
One of the major reasons why we need to study eschatology is to remind us that God has a plan for his universe. We are not living in a world which is simply spinning off into an uncertain, chaotic future. Nor do we inhabit a cosmos where God has wound it up like a clock and let it sort itself out. There is a shape to human history because it is found within this context of God’s cosmic plan.
God is never caught off-guard or by surprise, neither does he have to adjust his plan, or alter his purposes in response to events here on earth. He has “a plan for the end, or for the consummation, of all things” [Bruce Ware.] and this plan is secure. On occasions, I have heard Christians make statements which have implied otherwise; examples of this might be concerning the legislation surrounding same-sex marriage, or the result of the European Union referendum. Often, this sense of a lack of control is based in our own insecurities, and, by extension, in our lack of faith in God. Recognising that God is working out his purposes is fundamental for Christians, and is bolstered and fed by the study of eschatology.
This truth is also part of the foundation of our hope. Sometimes it seems that we have allowed the secular view of the end of time to colour our view. So, while we probably are aware that ‘apocalypse’ simply comes from the Greek word meaning ‘revelation’ (hence the title of the book) when we read or hear the word, we are more likely to think in terms of distress, darkness and cataclysm. The images that come to mind may be of an invasion of zombies rather than seeing the culmination of all history in a positive way. But this latter ought to be our view. The end of the world is good news because it is about God’s bringing to completion all he has planned.
So, studying eschatology clarifies a basic aspect of our faith – indeed it brings it into a stark light – that ultimately evil and sin will not triumph. It is, perhaps not surprising that two studies on Revelation use almost the same title, “The Lamb Wins”! [Simon Ponsonby, And the Lamb Wins, 2008; Richard Bewes, The Lamb Wins, 2013.]
How am I going to react when the next thing happens in the political or economic sphere which challenges my own sense of security?