Question: Are we living in the End Times?
Since Jesus’ death, his followers have wondered if they were living in the End Times.
Recent books and movies, such as the Left Behind series, have fueled interest in the End Times. However, can we really know if we’re living in the End Times?
The answer to this question is that only God the Father knows when the “end” will truly be. Of course, we can study the Bible and learn about the End Times; however, to predict a specific date/time would prove futile.
Wikipedia (extracted today; may be more up-to-date now) tells how Christians over the past two millenia have wondered whether or not they were living in the End Times:
“Christians in the 1st century AD believed the end of the world would come during their lifetime. Jesus in Mark 13:8 compared the end of the world with a mother’s birth pain, and the image implied the world was already pregnant with its own destruction, but no one but God knows when it will happen. When the converts of Paul in Thessalonica were persecuted by the Roman Empire, they believed the end was upon them. However, doubt rose when as early as the 90s Christians said, “We have heard these things [of the end of the world] even in the days of our fathers, and look, we have grown old and none of them has happened to us”. In the 130s Justin Martyr declared God was delaying the end of the world because he wished for Christianity to become a world religion. In the 250s Cyprian wrote that Christian sins of that time were a prelude and proof that the end was near.
However, by the 3rd century most Christians believed the End was beyond their own lifetime; Jesus, it was believed, had denounced attempts to divine the future, to know the “times and seasons”, and such attempts to predict the future were discouraged; yet the End was given a date with the help of Jewish traditions in the Six Ages of the World. Using this system, the End was fixed at 202, but when the date passed, the date was changed to AD 500. After AD 500 the importance of the End as a part of Christianity was marginalized, though it continues to be stressed during the season of Advent.
Some current Christians place the end of the world within their lifetime or shortly thereafter. As evidence to support these ideas, many point to the prolific news coverage of tragedies around the world, sometimes “Biblical” in proportion, and offer interpretations of various passages from the Bible. Also, some Catholics believed that the third part of the Fatima message, which was to be disclosed by the Vatican in 1960 but finally was published under the pontificate of John Paul II, was a prophetic message from the Blessed Mother about the end times, but they now believe it to be a symbolic message closely related to the assassination attempt of the late Pope.