According to popular views on the Mayan calendar, today (21st December) will be the last day. Today will see the ‘end of the world’.

I don’t believe any human knows when the end of the world will come (Matt 24:36). But I do believe things will not always continue in their present form. I do believe in the coming of the Lord. I believe in a great and glorious day when Jesus will return (see Titus 2:13).

But it’s hard to believe in that without seeming as crazy as all the many others who have predicted the end of the world to a specific timescale. There are plenty of people who think life will just go on as normal, ad infinitum. Peter wrote about scoffers who say “Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet 3:4). He tells us, though, “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Pet 3:7)

In this period of Advent, we look back to the first coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem. Despite the expectation of ‘Messiah’, His arrival was largely unnoticed by people then. We may look back in amazement, seeing the fulfilment of so many prophecies and marvelling at God’s faithfulness, but at the time, would we have been so alert? Apart from immediate family, a handful of shepherds, some wise men, Anna and Simon, who really knew much of the tremendous events of Christmas and those early years?

As we look ahead to Christ’s second coming, our expectancy levels may not be particularly high. We have had to wait more than 2000 years. We understand the scoffers who don’t listen to prophecies about the end of the world because they’ve heard it all before. But the fact remains “the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear like a roar and everything int it will be laid bare.” (2 Pet 3:10) This world is not going to last for ever and we are naive if we think it is.

Peter, ever practical, connects these truths to our daily lives with devastating simplicity. “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.” (2 Pet 3:11, The Message). “Do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.” (2 Pet 3:14, The Message).

The end of the world might well not be today. But I do well to treat every day like the end of the world, for today is all I have. There is never any guarantee of tomorrow (James 4:14). And if I anticipate Christmas with the benefit of hindsight, I also look forward with hope. God is faithful. Jesus is coming again. I may not know when. But I know “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thess 4:16-18)