When it comes to being prepared for the “end times,” there are a few different approaches Christians seem to take. There are those who do not think it’s necessary to prepare at all because of the rapture, there are some who view preparedness in terms of worldly security, like stocking up on food or gold. There are some who think keeping track of the latest inside prophetic scoop will provide information necessary for avoiding deception.
I’m sure there are other view-points; I’m just speaking from my own experience and the ways I have approached this idea in the past wrongly. As someone who has believed all these things, I understand the logic and reasoning we might use—but I wonder, what did Jesus tell us about preparing for his return?
Did Jesus say to learn everything we can about prophesy or to buy a bunch of food and store up gold? Did he tell us we would escape tribulation if we just believed in him? No, he did not.
What Did Jesus Tell us About Preparing Ourselves for His Return?
Jesus teaches us that we should be prepared, but the way we prepare is not the same as preparing for some every day, common disaster. Sure, it can be wise to be ready for a power outage, food shortage, or some other sudden calamity. Having canned food, clean water, first aid kits, access to news reporting, and sometimes help from local law enforcement is perfectly reasonable. However, when it comes to the tribulation brought on by God before Jesus’s return, these things will not be very profitable. Why?
The “time of trouble” is meant to overthrow all worldly rulers and devices, so looking to this world in order to be prepared will not work. We need to be spiritually prepared—and the only way to be spiritually prepared is by “seeking first the kingdom of God.”
What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?
Consider these lessons from Jesus (found in Matthew Chapter 25):
Become a Wise Virgin
You’ve probably read the parable of the ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish. We know that the wise were prepared for the return of the bridegroom by having lamps that were full and ready, and the door was shut on the foolish who took no oil for their lamps. What does it mean to be as one whose lamp is full? What is the oil?
The name of Jesus is the oil. When we are filled with Jesus, our hearts are healed and we are filled with experiential knowledge of his righteousness.
This isn’t about being filled with intellectual knowledge or the kind of wisdom this world offers. Instead, this is about learning how to live our lives in a way that is aligned with the righteous ways of the Lord.
We become filled when we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Looking to anything other that Jesus will drain the things of God from us, and we are as the foolish virgins with empty vessels.
Be a Good and Faithful Servant
Following the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus tells us a story about faithful and wicked servants. The faithful servants took what the master gave them, invested it wisely, and had something to show for the labor. The wicked servant did nothing with what he was given, the master rejected him, and his “talent” was given to another.
What does this have to do with spiritual preparedness? As Christians, the whole purpose of our life is to raise us up as children of God. Everything we have can be viewed as a “talent.” Everything God gives us and every task set before us is part of His process of raising us up.
If we respect God and are thankful for what we are given, we will do our best to care for these things. This includes seeking the Lord so we can grow in the faith, of course.
This can also mean taking care of our families, being responsible members of our community, and setting good examples for others. In doing so, we grow in things like patience, self-control, and faithfulness—and we are also growing the kingdom of God.
Care for the Needy
One of the greatest ways to prepare our spirit is by caring for others. When we take our focus off ourselves and try to help someone else, we are becoming more like Jesus. We are learning to be selfless instead of self-centered, and I believe that what we invest in others the Lord will also invest in us.
Caring for the needy can mean many different things from feeding someone who is hungry to just lending a helping hand instead of looking the other way. It can mean preaching the gospel or supporting others in their Christian walk.
As Christians, we are community-focused people. We should be doing our part to help those around us as much as it is possible according to what the Lord has given us, especially caring for those of the faith.
Matthew Chapter 25 ends with Jesus teaching that what we do to the least of our brethren, we also do to him. Those who neglect the poor and needy are rejected. So, unless we want to be “separated as goats from the sheep” during the time of trouble, we should be good caretakers of the brethren.
Let No Man Deceive You
Jesus tells us (see Matthew 24) that many will come in his name, affirming that Jesus is in-fact Christ. However, they are not of God and they are sent here to deceive. As the “end times” approach, we can expect to see this happening on a larger and more manipulative scale.
Even today, there are many out there who profess the name of Jesus, yet they do a lot of harm to Christians in various ways. In doing so, they are forgetting the Lord’s patience, and he will not “keep them from the hour of temptation” (Rev 3:10) In-fact, they might be part of it.
I think that being kept in this sense means that the Lord will give us what we need to resist and endure the final deception and persecution. I do not view this as support for a “rapture.”
There is some measure to which God allows us to be wrong about Him and about Christian doctrine. There are also doctrines and the like which He hates. In order to avoid these things, we have to exercise ourselves in maintaining a firm focus on Jesus alone and learn to trust in him.
Paul the Apostle also warned about this in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. This is obviously very important.
One of the sneakiest ways Satan corrupts Christians is through other Christians. It’s also easy for us to become focused on things that seem to be of God, but in reality they are nothing more than a distraction—and often dangerous spiritually.
If we seek Jesus first in all things, he will teach us to recognize deception so that we can keep our focus where it needs to be.
How Does Seeking the Kingdom Prepare us for End-Times?
To sum up the above points, some of the things we can do to prepare for the end-time is to seek after the righteousness of God through Jesus, to be faithful over what God gives us, to care for the needy, and to be cautious of deception. All of these things are accomplished by placing Jesus and his kingdom first in our lives.
How though does this prepare us for the last days?
Currently, the prince of this world is restrained. How hard is it to resist him now while he is restrained? How hard can it be to seek the things of God presently, and how much harder can we suppose it will be when he is no longer restrained? How much more powerful and deceptive might he be? How much more will this world turn on us, even those we love most?
Seeking the kingdom of God presently equips us in the things of God so that we can grow in the ability to exercise ourselves in resistance to Satan. Consider Ephesians 6.
Put On The Armor of God
(Ephesians 6: 10-17)
When we seek the kingdom first, we become equipped with the full armor of God. In so doing, we are given the power to withstand any trouble that this world might throw at us.
Reading the latest headlines or “prophesy updates” will not provide these things for us. Buying gold will not help us. “They cast their idols of silver and their idols of gold which they made every man for himself to worship to the moles and to the bats” (Isaiah 2:20).
We do not want to be those who curse God during the time of trouble; we want to be those who are under his protection. I do not believe the end-time tribulation is for those who’s hearts are earnestly following the Lord. It is judgment towards this world and those who profess Jesus but do not strive to keep his commandments and honor his name.
Even so, “it is not just given to us to believe on Jesus, but to suffer for his names’ sake” (Philippians 1:29). There will be hardship and many lives lost, but it’s all for our ultimate good and God’s glory. This is not a time to fear, but a time to rejoice! That is, if our hearts are made ready.
Do Christians Even Need to Prepare for End Times?
If you’re wondering over this, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to be a wise or foolish virgin?
- Do you want to be a faithful or slothful servant?
- Are you a sheep or a goat?
- Do you want to please the one you call Lord?
Seeking the knowledge of the Lord written in our hearts so that we can grow in righteousness is the ultimate joy and freedom. After all, isn’t it the gospel of the kingdom we are to be so excited to proclaim? If so, shouldn’t we be seeking the kingdom of God above all things anyway?
I do not believe in the rapture (I used to, so I’m familiar with the argument), but even if you do that does not mean you should not prepare—especially since Jesus said that we should make ourselves ready for his return. If we prepare and then realize that the rapture was a false teaching, it won’t matter because we will be full of the Lord and ready to stand strong.
Regardless of what we believe about the end-times, as a sign of our faithfulness to Jesus we should be placing his kingdom at the head of our life anyway. It is what the Christian walk is all about, whether we are in the final generation or not, and whether we believe in the rapture or not.
What in this world is more worth pursuing than God? He creates all things, knows all things, and upholds all things. He is all powerful, all merciful, forgiving, and patient. There is nothing in this world that can take the place of Jesus, and we should not allow anything to take our eyes off him.
This article is part of the series, “Preparing for “End-Times.”