"While the people are crying 'Peace, peace', destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape."
I am sure the first argument I ever got into over religion was about the end of the World and the second coming of Jesus. Arguments abound on this subject. Around and around we go, less about truth and more about jousting. Still, what would life be without a good debate? Keeping the heat out of the discussion and refraining from branding our opponent as a heretic, is the crucial element. I guess we males are the worst offenders. Every discussion we get into becomes a test of male superiority.
Returning to our subject, one of the basic truths of the Bible is that the universe, as we know it, will one day be no more. It will come to an end. "The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise ...... and be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." Then comes the "destruction". The Bible describes it in the terms of a transformation of something old and corrupt into something new and eternal - "New heavens and a new earth."
The Bible only gives us glimpses of this new reality and that's why it's a source of great debate. My understanding is that there are dimensions beyond us which are eternal and substantial; that our universe is but an image of the eternal, a flash in the mind of God. There will come a day when God gathers a people to be with him and to share eternity with him as lord's of the cosmos. He is even now shaping this new creation. When our present age is sucked into the black hole of nothingness, then the new entity will begin. We new beings will face the cosmos with Jesus and reign with him. I like to think of our world as the kindergarten for eternity and that we have the choice to go onto big school if we want to.
By the way, we will get a warning when the last day is upon us. "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed for destruction." You can well imagine how many different interpretations have been given to these words from the Bible. I mean, what is the "rebellion" and who is the "man of lawlessness"?
In general terms, the end will follow a time of great tribulation, of great trouble. The collapse of social order, of freedom and justice, and the emergence of great powers of darkness. The "man of lawlessness" may be a political leader, secular government, a political or social philosophy, even a computer, but whatever, he will be evil and powerful. When the tree shoots its new leaves we know that Spring is upon us, similarly, we will easily read the signs of the last day. We are not actually told how we will know, but we will know. For now, we are to put on "faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet".