Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

David Mamet, the playwright, has written a wonderful book, The Secret Knowledge, in which he traces his personal journey from liberalism to, well, something to the right of that.

At one point, he writes the following:

“The elections of 2008 were characterized by vicious, indeed vitriolic, feelings and expressions of rage on either side, each side thinking the other on the brink of destroying the world.”

Mamet is right, of course. Republicans and Democrats view the other as dangerous and a threat to our way of life. Republicans are accused of having an itchy trigger finger, while Dems are minutes away from surrendering the fort to Al Qaida.

What does the Bible say about the destruction of the world? (One would have to meet me halfway here, if you don’t embrace biblical eschatology. Play along with me.)

The Book of Revelation outlines a scenario in which Jesus Christ returns to our physical world and puts down, as it were, the supreme rebellion: antichrist, imbued with power from Satan, rallies an impressive army. Christ, simply by his appearing, destroys this beastly army and then we see a sweeping succession of events that culminate in a new heavens and a new earth.

My point here is that—assuming this scenario is true and yet future, and I do assume it—what brings us to this final ghastly scene is not the ascendancy of one side or the other.

Rather, the world is on the brink if destruction because it is a collective effort. Both sides. “Republican” and “Democrat.” Totalitarian and free. Religious and non-religious.

The answer to the question of this post is that all of us, collectively, have the capacity to destroy the planet. The great message of the Bible is that the ultimate hope, Jesus Christ, intervenes at the precise moment we need Him.

And, finally, to really throw your brain into over-drive, the Bible also predicts that the world’s Creator (again, Jesus Christ) will also finally destroy our diseased and dying planet. Then He will re-make it into His original vision, for all time.

What a wonderful world that will be.

Just one of the fascinating characteristics of Bible prophecy is its proximity to reality. Many don’t think of it that way, but I do. Bible prophecy is not some esoteric nonsense.

I was reminded of this today after reading that former Vice President Dick Cheney urged President Bush to bomb a nuclear reactor in Syria in June, 2007.

During a cabinet meeting, Cheney laid-out his reasons for doing so, and Bush looked around the table for a show of hands from those who agreed with the vp. No hands went up.

Three months later, the Israelis (apparently) bombed the site, concluding that there was an existential threat, due to Syrian hostility.

The whole affair calls to mind the famous prophecy of Isaiah 17, which I’ve discussed before. In this chapter, it is predicted that Damascus will be obliterated, never to be inhabited again.

Since the ancient city has never endured such a scenario, it must be yet future. Of course, plenty of more liberal teachers and students view it as anything but real future history, but it is an interesting passage.

For me and my house, we will consider it future history. Cheney’s little account lends credibility to the view that the home of Bashar Assad—currently killing his own citizens—will vanish one day without a trace.

People everywhere are unnerved by daily events: Wall St., hurricanes, brain-eating amoeba.

Earthquakes.

With recent news of earthquakes in such odd places as Colorado and Washington D.C., I was reminded of the famous pronouncement by Jesus that earthquakes in “diverse” places would be one of the hallmarks of the last days.

The Gospels contain this account, such as in Luke 21:11. Luke also mentions that Jerusalem would be “trampled down” by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

The truth is, that is a controversial passage in that no one can say with certainty just what that means. Many conservative Bible scholars point to the liberation of Jerusalem’s Old City by Israeli paratroopers on June 7, 1967. The Israelis declared all of Jerusalem as their undivided capitol in 1980.

If that is true, and Luke’s account is referring to our time, we see that “weird” earthquakes are also a tell-tale sign. The damaged spire at the National Cathedral is a particularly strange site. I have noticed of late a turning-away of support for Israel, among American Christian leadership.

I want to be specific about that: American Christian leadership. The people are strong in their support (even if it is not as widespread as has been claimed), but prominent leaders like Bill Hybels are embracing the Palestinian narrative.

Could it be that the God of Israel is shaking the nations, due to their treatment of Israel? This is the message in Joel 3.

Whatever the source of the earthquakes, there is no question that they are occurring in far-flung places, now. People have often mistakenly compared these Gospel pronouncements to “increasing numbers” of earthquakes, but that is not what Scripture says. It says “diverse” places.

And that is certainly happening.

Fairly often, I hear people debate whether the Bible can be proven to be true (or not true). By that, I mean arguments on both sides suggest, strongly, that the Bible’s history and science is either right or wrong.

I’m sort of used to that from secular (or agnostic/atheist) sources. What surprised me recently was the publication of a new book from an apologetics ministry that listed reasons why the Bible can be trusted as an historical document.

Amazingly, the writer claimed that predictive prophecy is not even bullet-proof evidence, primarily because critics can say that the “prophecies” were written down after they actually occurred.

It’s incredible to me that a ministry leader would make that claim. The “prophecy written after the fact” excuse is an empty one. For example, the numerous prophecies in the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), preserved as they are in the Dead Sea Scrolls, are thousands of years ahead of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

That can’t be explained away.

What do you think?