Throughout the centuries people have been fascinated by talk of the end times. They read the book of Revelation, see elements of their own time and predict the end is near. Hence the popularity of the Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins Left Behind book series and stories predicting the end on the History Channel. From my years in ministry, I have noted that sometimes, as people grow closer to their own end, they speak more about the problems in the world and end times.
The problem with all of this is that we don’t know the day or the hour and we won’t know until that day arrives. Even Jesus didn’t know. ”But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mk. 13:32)
It’s an exercise in futility to spend hours trying to predict the end of the world and worrying whether we are living in those end times. We are and we aren’t. From the moment of our birth, we are moving inexorably towards our death. From the moment of the earth’s creation, it has been moving forward to its eventual end. But when that will be, we don’t know. “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk. 13:33) All the more reason to live well each and every day.
One thing I do know is that the book of the Psalms has an end and we are approaching it. With Psalm 145, we are at the beginning of the end. Psalm 145 is the first of a series of five psalms of praise that end the Psalter. It is the start of the grand finale, and a grand one it is.
Psalm 145 is an acrostic hymn of praise. Every line begins with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet, echoing words of praise of our God. Some are repeats from earlier psalms, perhaps favorite lines from songs put into one grand mash-up of praise. The writer is clearly well acquainted with Hebrew psalmody.
It starts as an individual song of praise, “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name for ever and ever. Every day I will bless you.” (1-2a) It progresses to include all of God’s works. “All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!” (10)
All the lines speak of our God:
- his wonder and majesty, “Of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and of your wondrous works, I will meditate.” (5)
- his mercy, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.” (8-9)
- his justice, “The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.” (17) “He fulfills the desire of all who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them.” (19)
- his care for all “The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (14-16)
The psalm ends with the writer repeating his vow to praise the Lord, “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord. And let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (21)
One of Steven Covey’s seven habits of successful people is to begin with the end in mind. What better way to end our life then with praise of our God? If so, we need to begin praising God now.
While on this earth, we don’t know the day or the hour of our death. Nor do we know when the world will end, bringing the second coming of Jesus. So, why not learn a lesson from the writers of the Psalms and spend/end our time with words of praise?
What about you? Do you wonder about end times? How does the study of the Psalms help you deal with your concerns?