Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. (Matthew 24:36)

Extremes are often the worst of who we are. In Christendom today, particularly among evangelicals, there is a rather nasty fight going on about eschatology (the study of “last things”). On the one hand are what I call Bible-believing Christians; critics call them Bible literalists, and it is a term of derision. In any event, the Bible-believing Christians—also known as fundamentalists—fervently believe, among other things, that we are living in what the Bible describes as the end of history.

On the other hand, there are those critics…the ones who have a different view of eschatology. This has various schools of thought, but all minimize the Bible’s predictive prophecy. For them, it is either forged history, written after the fact; myth; metaphor; or, in the case of promises to the Jewish people, a boon for the Church. The latter group essentially believes the Church has “replaced” Israel in God’s economy.

For our purposes today, I’d like to briefly discuss “date-setting.” Near my home is a mega-church that might be identified as progressive. Others would classify it as “Emergent.”

The pastor posted a couple days ago on his Facebook page that “fundamentalists” are claiming that the Rapture (the snatching away from Earth of believers by Jesus Christ) will occur on May 21.

One of these extreme groups does in fact get very close to date-setting, or in the case of the May 21st date set by the discredited Harold Camping, actually set a date. The other extreme group loves to lambast all Christians who believe in the end of days, citing such failed prognosticators as Camping.

I believe we are living in the last days, for one primary reason: the re-establishment of the state of Israel. I reject both the date-setters and their vicious critics. It is both wrong to set any date for the Lord’s return, and to ridicule the reality of Bible prophecy.

The Lord Himself told us quite clearly that no man knows the day or hour. That obviously settles Camping’s nonsense. At the same time, He gave us general clues about the time of the end.

In this space, we will have many conversations about those clues. For now, let us consider that there is a balanced way to view “last things.”

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