Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

A few weeks ago, visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, I just wanted to cry. The place I consider the spiritual center of the universe is a 35-acre compound that today is holy to three faiths. It is also a flashpoint for unrest and controversy.

Dominating the eastern edge of Jerusalem’s Old City, sitting almost ominously over the Kidron Valley, the Temple Mount is the traditional site of Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac. It is the famous “threshing floor” purchased by David, and it is the place where his son, Solomon, built the first Jewish temple.

The Jews poignantly remember this day every year, which falls on the 9th of Av on their calendar. It was on this day that both Jewish temples were destroyed (first by the Babylonians and later by the Romans, 490 years apart). It is a day of fasting and is considered “the saddest day in Jewish history.”

In addition to the temple destruction, the Jews also remember the sin of the spies sent into Canaan by Moses; the savage destruction of the Holy City by the Romans in A.D. 70, and the final put-down of the Jewish rebellion (led by Bar Kokhba) in the second century.

Throughout history, the Jews have endured satanic hatred from various people and people groups, and for millennia, tears have flowed on this date.

I find it extraordinary that even today, in the modern Jewish state of Israel, the Jews still lament these events. In fact, a very moving Facebook post yesterday noted that people were sitting near the Western Wall (a retaining wall, the only thing left from the Roman destruction)—crying, singing, and asking God, “Where is out temple?”

There is of course a community of thought that says the Jews will one day rebuild the Temple, but with the Dome of the Rock dominating the landscape, politically as well, few can envision such a scenario. When members of Israel’s 66th Paratroop Brigade liberated the city in the Six Day War, many believed the Temple construction would commence immediately. Moshe Dayan, however, turned control of the Temple Mount back to the Arabs, wishing to avoid World War III. Many in Jerusalem and around the world still fervently believe for a rebuilt Temple.

I also visited Masada, the desolate, ruined summer palace of Herod, and the site of a ghastly scene of murder and suicide a couple years after Titus sacked Rome in A.D. 70 (an event predicted by Jesus; see Matthew 24). There, as the Romans were mounting a final attack, 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children chose suicide rather than life as Roman slaves.

Both sites were a reminder to me that while the Jews are reborn in their ancestral land—and event I consider so extraordinary that mere words fail—ancient hatreds still remain.

Yasser Arafat used to be fond of saying that no Jewish temples ever stood in Jerusalem. Grotesque excavations have taken place there in recent years (I saw the evidence everywhere, a stunning collection of piles of pillars, paving stones, and piles of dirt that no doubt contain precious artifacts from the Temple periods).

Only days ago, it was announced that artifacts had come to light after 2,000 years in a tunnel near the Temple Mount—a sword, oil lamps, pots and coins. The sword is assumed to have belonged to a Roman soldier garrisoned at the site. The historian Josephus described the destruction of Jerusalem, only 40 years after Jesus said it would be so; the savagery of the Romans is difficult to comprehend.

And so, even as we cloak ourselves in modernity and amazing technology, millions remember days from the past that are a blood-stain on humanity.

May the Lord of history bless the Jewish people immeasurably today, and dry their tears forever as we go forward to a destiny chosen by Him alone.

Temple model, Israel Museum

Artifacts from the Temple period, next to the Al-Aksa Mosque

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.

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