In one sense, as Ecclesiastes says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” History provides us with ample evidence of what humanity is. The picture is both appalling and sublime: by divine inspiration, we are capable of acts of love and charity; by our own depravity and satanic inducement, we can commit the very worst acts of atrocity.

Scripture acts as a mirror: if we let God speak to us, rather than hide in the shadows, we see ourselves as we really are. In that moment of truth, if we do not rebel, we will confess our sins and ask God to forgive and transform us. The Christian and the Christian Church are on a journey of transformation, of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. This means having His mind and behaviour, and, in the end, being given a heavenly body like His.

The end times also act as a mirror. They show us what fallen humanity, without the grace of God, is like. In a sense, the end times are like Hell on earth (although the true Hell is infinitely worse: a place of hopelessness, despair, and torment). Showing us the mirror is part of Paul’s purpose in 2 Thessalonians 2, alongside showing Christians how to know when the Day of the LORD and the rapture are near:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Various end times passages talk about measures coming to the full as a prerequisite for the end. The full number of Gentiles must enter the Church, and then Israel will be saved (ring composition: Abraham to Christ to Gentiles to Israel). Mystery Babylon is destroyed when her wickedness has come to the full. The Antichrist is destroyed by Christ after the Great Tribulation, which Christ and the Old Testament describe as the worst time in (Israel’s) history.

This is one of the purposes for knowing about the end times, to appreciate our need for Christ and to encourage us to live godly lives. Christ is the hope of creation: things must come to their worst before we receive our deliverance, the resurrection and rapture (the “gathering” in the passage above).