Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

The Blessed Hope

posted by jfletcher

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

A glorious evening spent watching “The Wolfman,” which starred Lon Chaney, Jr., reminds me that there is a part of all of us that loves mystery and things we can’t fully explain.

Harold Camping’s unfortunate prediction that the world will end on May 21 has garnered interest from all quarters, including atheists who plan a “Rapture Party” in anticipation of a non-event. Clever.

The end of the world is perhaps the biggest mystery of all. Most struggle to explain it.

Even in the Christian community, there is widespread disagreement about the end of the world. Brian McLaren, the muse of the Emergents—a group that enjoys “re-thinking” Christian doctrine, has written extensively about this. In a June 3, 2010 piece for the Huffington Post, the skillful self-promoter referenced one of his own books in revealing his thoughts about Bible prophecy enthusiasts:

“If the world is about to end, why care for the environment? Why worry about global climate change or peak oil? Who gives a rip for endangered species or sustainable economies or global poverty if God is planning to incinerate the whole planet soon anyway?”

McLaren misses the point. The apostles spent a good deal of time revealing the mind of God on the subject. Writing about the end-game for world history, Paul had this to say:

“It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:12-14)

Paul called the return of Christ to the earth and the subsequent end-times events the “blessed hope” of the Christian.

There is much confusion about just what the “end-times” are and what comes after that, but we do well to see what Scripture has to say about it…not the opinions of men like Camping and McLaren.

As Claude Rains said to Lon Chaney Jr.’s anguished character in “The Wolfman”:

“Belief in the hereafter is a very healthy counterbalance to all the conflicted doubts man is plagued with these days.”

Camping Out Saturday

posted by jfletcher

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

One can’t help but wonder if Harold Camping made his prediction for May 21 out of a deep need for attention. After all, does he seriously believe Jesus will come back to Earth this week?

Camping, infamous for his authoritative declarations about the Second Coming, aggressively insists that while past predictions certainly failed, this time he has it on good authority.

Among the many critics, Albert Mohler has pointed out that God doesn’t have to rely on a chosen very few with special revelation, or that we must look for hidden Bible codes to figure out the time of the end.

Ironically, while there is every indication that we are living in the time of the end, fewer people are paying attention. No doubt irresponsible people like Camping contribute to the disinterest. And that is unfortunate.

The Bible is always relevant and compelling. The very fact that Jesus Himself told us that literally no one but God the Father knows the day of His return is proof positive that Harold Camping is wrong.

So when the sun comes up Sunday morning, will you realize that Camping is wrong, but the Bible isn’t? Will the possibility that we are living in the last days of world history still be left ajar in your mind?

Roses on Your Grave

posted by jfletcher

And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave.

Even at a Sunday afternoon dance recital, Israel is never far from my mind. While watching the tiny dancers and earnest teenagers show grandparents and parents the payoff for all those lessons, my mind—I’m being honest—strayed.

While serving as a booster seat for my niece, Lauren, who was straining to see her dancing heroes, I looked around and then down.

I saw them. The bouquet of roses. This led my mind down a wooded path in which the Rolling Stones were into their country thing, back in the halcyon days when the boys were closer to Johnny Cash than disco. The song, “Dead Flowers,” probably refers to drugs, but just like everyone else, I can twist the meaning to fit my own reality. For me, the lyrics perfectly describe Israel’s seemingly precarious position in today’s world.

The weekend’s promised violence from those who simply don’t like Israel is a dead-ringer for the person in the song that strives to send dead flowers to an adversary. One presumes the adversary in question is in some way in a position of some weakness, lashed to a post of whippings and harassment.

Certainly, the Jews have been harassed for millennia, but we are living in the days of the miracle of the Return. My father grew up in the days when Jews were herded into ghettos—Warsaw, et al—and I grew up in the shadow of Entebbe and the Six Day War. Think of that, the Jews went in one generation from the Holocaust to the astonishment of a hostage rescue in the heart of Africa. They are more than a legend in their own time, they are what Herman Wouk said of the hero of Entebbe, Jonathan Netanyahu…Israel is an ember of sacred fire.

So if people see Israel and don’t like it (“Nakba, anyone?”), they menacingly send the Jewish state dead flowers every morning, dead flowers in letter bombs, and dead flowers to religious celebrations.

But a powerful truth has emerged, one that pulsates with biblical prophecies writ large: Israel will outlive all her enemies, and she will in the end certainly not forget to put roses on their graves.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

posted by jfletcher

“Before she went into labor,
she had the baby.
Before the birth pangs hit,
she delivered a son.
Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Has anyone seen anything like this?
A country born in a day?
A nation born in a flash?
But Zion was barely in labor
when she had her babies!
Do I open the womb
and not deliver the baby?
Do I, the One who delivers babies,
shut the womb?” (Isaiah 66:7-9, The Message)

Well, it’s here. That’s probably what they said at 4 p.m., the 14th of May, 1948, in Tel Aviv. Israel’s declaration of statehood was read by David Ben Gurion, and the United States—or, more specifically, Harry Truman—recognized the fledgling state.

This was a gigantic miracle, and a gift of God’s grace, for it shows that He keeps His promises. After such a long exile, the Jewish people are back in their ancestral land.

Israel’s neighbors promised a war was coming on May 15, and they made good on their word, but the baby had already been born.

On a trip to Israel in 2002, I visited Independence Hall, and was the only tourist there. This was during the Second Intifada, and the Palestinians have promised another one is coming. For today, though, I celebrate enthusiastically Israel’s Independence Day.

At Independence Hall, I saw a copy of the scroll from which Ben Gurion read. It is a tangible reminder that the Bible’s prophecies are sure, true, and always on time.

Long live Israel!

Israel's Scroll of Independence

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