Following is a blog post by pastor Bob Hostetler, author of HOW TO SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD which releases today! You can follow Bob on Twitter: @bobhoss and learn more about his ministry at his personal website: www.bobhostetler.com.
In 1997, a group led by a self-proclaimed prophet named Marshall Applewhite believed that the planet Earth was about to be de-populated and that the only chance to survive was to leave as soon as possible. Over the course of three days (from March 24–26, 1997), thirty-nine members of the group committed suicide by ingesting phenobarbital with applesauce or pudding, washing it down with vodka. They prepared by placing a five-dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets, dressing in black shirts, armbands, sweat pants, and new tennis shoes. Then they lay down on their bunks, placed bags over their heads, and waited to leave their bodies and be transported to an alien spaceship they believed was traveling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp Comet (excerpted from How to Survive the End of the World).
Dismiss them as crazy. Or misguided. Or really poor dressers. But one thing you must admit about that “Heaven’s Gate” cult, as they were called: their actions lined up with their beliefs. Their teachings were absurd. Their tactics were reprehensible. But they lived (and died) what they believed.
Can we say the same? After all, twenty-first century followers of Jesus profess to believe that this present age is passing. We say that this world is not our home. That we’re “just passing through,” as the old Gospel song says. That “Jesus is coming soon.” But is that how we live?
If we truly believe in the “soon and very soon” return of Jesus and the end of this world as we know it, would we stockpile possessions as we do? Would we invest so much time in trivial pursuits? Would we pray so little? Give so little? Spend so much?
I’m not suggesting we don new tennis shoes and pull bags over our heads. I don’t think the testimony of the Bible that we are living in the “last days” means we must head to the hills and stockpile weapons for the coming apocalypse. But I do think there are definitely things we would and should be doing if we truly hope to survive the end of the world, whenever it comes.
That’s why I wrote my new book, How to Survive the End of the World. It’s a different kind of “end times” book. It actually takes the Bible at its word when it says The Revelation, the last book of the Bible is intended to bless us. That is, to make us happy. To make us better. To make us ready. And to help us make the end of the world the best of all possible beginnings. It really can do all that, if we read it properly and “take to heart what is written in it” (Revelation 1:3, NIV).