Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

In the book of Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus told the apostles (who had inquired) that among the signs of the end of the age would be “wars and rumors of wars.”

Well, it’s here.

Yahoo!News is reporting that the burger wars have erupted in San Francisco, with Super Duper supplanting Johnny Rocket’s.

Okay, that was my lame attempt at stand-up today. We have to inject some humor into our world today, don’t we? I mean, if we don’t laugh about it, we cry, right? I’d rather watch some Laurel and Hardy, or read a good joke-book rather than obsess about the difficulties in today’s world.

And yet there is a small lesson to be learned in my ham-handed attempts to sandwich some Bible teaching between today’s news. Okay, I’ll stop.

Although I feel that Bible prophecy is more relevant than it’s ever been—shockingly relevant—we still sometimes miss it. We point to certain signs as being “bullet-proof” evidence that certain prophecies are just right at the brink of breaking open.

The issue of wars is just such a problem. When we focus on one element of Bible prophecy (earthquakes, wars, etc.), we can sometimes be wrong about timing.

For example, there have always been wars, for the most part. Taken as a single issue, we would not be correct in stating emphatically that we are living in the last of the last days.

Taken collectively, though, various signs point to just such a scenario and outcome. Wars are indeed part of the last-days environment, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to read about my latest discovery that, ironically—deliciously—comes courtesy of the New York Times.

You’ll be amazed…

I am having a splendid email conversation with a Christian leader who does not share my view of Bible prophecy. I have taken issue with his harsh rhetoric about Bible prophecy students and teachers, and pro Israel Christians—or, to be more precise—Christian Zionists.

He feels our insistence that the Bible speaks of a society that is spiraling downward into immorality is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if one believes the world is getting worse, one tends to pull back from helping others, taking care of the environment, etc.

It’s an interesting theory, but it doesn’t square with reality.

I’ve never known a Bible prophecy teacher who was anything but engaged in helping the plight of his fellow man. I do not litter, my family recycles, and we support animal shelters.

Most of the Bible-believing Christians I know give of their surplus to those in need, and they do it enthusiastically.

My late friend and mentor, David Allen Lewis, was both a pioneer in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together and robustly engaged in feeding the hungry. David, I love you and miss you.

So the charge of the fellow on the other side of the keyboard is bogus. He’s a smart guy and I suspect deep down he knows this, but in opposing a “future” view of Bible prophecy, he must set up his opponents as straw men. Or scarecrows.

As I often say, what you read in the Bible is what you see in the real world: Israel reborn; a global economy; a growing global religion; intensifying hostility of Jews and the state of Israel; false teachers in the Church. The list goes on.

Prophecy is so valid and so based in reality one wonders—truly—how anyone could reject it.

I hold out hope for my e-pal.

One of the hallmarks of liberal thought a century ago was that man was improving himself so much that society would get better and better.

Then the butchery known as the Great War commenced. It was followed barely a generation later by the barbarism of European and Asian dictators.

Now, in the Church, there is a sizable segment that believes in what is called “Dominionism,” which is the idea that the Church will grow stronger and stronger, and hand-off the Kingdom on Earth to the returning Christ (whenever that is).

And yet, what are we witnessing? A rising Utopia? Is the world getting better? This goes far beyond the old Reagan line, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” I would suggest we are watching so much end-times Bible prophecy being fulfilled, it’s hard to keep up with it all!

One of the watershed moments of my life occurred last evening, as I sat with my family to watch a movie. It was then I saw the S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

Then today we read that the U.S. Postal Service is near default. A few months ago it was awakening to the Japan earthquake that made the world tremble. European countries began discussing the possibility of shutting down some of their nuclear reactors.

And we all know how unstable the world economy is. Or do we?

For generations, Americans lived pretty much the same way. Little changed. Now our entitlement programs are on the verge of collapse, we wonder how we will receive mail, and a thousand other things occupy our minds.

Against this backdrop, the biblical view of society’s eventual collapse stands unshaken.

For example, in the book of Revelation, we read about the so-called “Mark of the Beast,” some type of tracking system humanity will need to engage in regular commerce. We are told it will be a mark in the hand or the forehead.

As Ron Rhodes pointed out on Jan Markell’s radio program today, one of the attractive features of going cashless, for banking systems, is the absence of counterfeit currency. Another is the fact that so many germs ride our dollar bills, electronic banking and commerce would eliminate that threat.

No, if we’re honest, the world is not getting better. It’s getting meaner. More cruel and selfish.

Won’t you consider that the God of the Bible is who He claims to be, and in Him is true peace? You have only to get your hands on a Bible translation you can comfortably read to discover the wonder and majesty of the God who can predict the future.

Among the prophecies that really scare people are those contained in that famous book, Revelation. When the Apostle John recorded a series of strange visions at the end of the first century, even the prophet could not have known how controversial the book of Revelation would become.

This came to mind a couple days ago with the news that a reservoir in Texas had turned “blood red.” The natural reasons for this were given, and they sound similar to those given by people who want to explain-away the Exodus plagues.

In any event, the article about the reservoir mentioned of course that some have speculated that it is a sign of the end.

Frankly, it’s hard to see how an incident so isolated geographically could be linked directly to the global catastrophe predicted in the book of Revelation.

It is a reminder though that such hand-wringing comes from a description in Revelation 16:3—”And the second angel poured out of his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.”

Whew. That’s a pretty bad ecological disaster.

For the record, I believe this particular prophecy is yet future, and it will be fulfilled literally. The Texas occurrence though, while interesting, is not an indication that the “bowl” and “seal” judgments of the book of Revelation are now cascading across the globe.

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