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Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

Is Prophecy Relevant?

posted by jfletcher

Recent world events, along with Harold Camping’s spectacular fail, have placed the subject of Bible prophecy squarely in the public square. I don’t remember a time when so many people are talking about “the end of the world.”

Except in the Church. While other religious traditions and even secularists are discussing end-of-the-world scenarios, various Christian leaders seem embarrassed by it. This is probably due to credibility problems among some prophecy teachers, and pastors’ own thirst for affirmation from the world—something Jesus cautioned them about.

I attended a service yesterday, an evangelical church of some size, and the pastor’s sermon was titled, “The End of the World.” He mentioned it in his opening sentence, meandered into other subjects, then wrapped-up by mentioning it again. He recognized the huge amount of press coverage Bible prophecy had been given recently, but he still couldn’t bring himself to actually teach any of it.

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It is quite ironic that the Church today (evangelicals have now joined the mainline and Catholic traditions in their disinterest in Bible prophecy) is moving away from prophecy teaching at the very moment it is heating up.

Forget Camping. His failed prediction had nothing at all to do with the Bible.

I will be in Israel next month, and would love to know what your questions are about end-of-the-world events.

I will walk through Jerusalem and meditate on the book of Zechariah, which predicts that at some point, the world will attack Israel. Given the rift between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, one wonders why Bible prophecy is so difficult for many to believe.

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Still there, huh?

posted by jfletcher

Coming out for the encore of the Band’s legendary 1976 Thanksgiving Day final concert, at San Francisco’s Winterland theatre, the peerless Robbie Robertson strode to the microphone and said, “Still there, huh?”

It was a funny line, and I was reminded of it as my eyes flickered open early this morning. Harold Camping’s harmful prediction that the Rapture would occur today has made international headlines. It has also served as a bizarre attack on the credibility of the Bible, since so many equate the declarations of a man with what the Bible actually says/predicts.

Of course, not only does the Bible not give any date for the return of the Lord—Jesus Himself said that only God the Father knows—but it says quite plainly what will befall false prophets.

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Still, we have this thoroughly fascinating scenario upon us in which it is the end of the world, but it isn’t!

It isn’t the end of the world when a man says it is, but the Bible is plain about the “season” of the end. Take for example the context of Jeremiah, chapter 30. In it, the Lord predicts that at the time of the end, Israel will be alone; all her “lovers” will abandon her.

The president’s insistence this week that Israel retreat to its borders of June 4, 1967 is a perfect fulfillment of Jeremiah 30. Charles Krauthammer said yesterday on FOX that without American assurances, Israel is “naked and alone” in the world today.

Precisely. Traditionally, only the U.S. and Micronesia (God bless them!) vote for Israel in the United Nations. Now, officially, America has abandoned the Jewish state; do not be fooled by the doublespeak that pledges support for Israel’s security on the one hand, and insistence on the 1967 borders on the other (Ambassador Abba Eban referred to these narrow borders as “Auschwitz Lines”).

Yes, we’re still here. But not for long.

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Oh, my Gog!

posted by jfletcher

“And now, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel.

Say, ‘Mountains of Israel, listen to God’s Message. God, the Master, says, Because the enemy crowed over you, “Good! Those old hills are now ours!” now here is a prophecy in the name of God, the Master: Because nations came at you from all sides, ripping and plundering, hauling pieces of you off every which way, and you’ve become the butt of cheap gossip and jokes, therefore, Mountains of Israel, listen to the Message of God, the Master. My Message to mountains and hills, to ditches and valleys, to the heaps of rubble and the emptied towns that are looted for plunder and turned into jokes by all the surrounding nations: Therefore, says God, the Master, now I’m speaking in a fiery rage against the rest of the nations, but especially against Edom, who in an orgy of violence and shameless insolence robbed me of my land, grabbed it for themselves.”

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As a teacher of Bible prophecy, I feel sometimes that I am asked too often about the famous Gog/Magog prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39. Sometimes people want to know exactly when this scenario will unfold. Not to mention those who insist that this battle already happened, in ancient times.

For many reasons, I believe Gog/Magog is yet future. Recent events compel me to join those who always ask me when it will unfold. I think it’s close, too!
Please read those chapters for yourself, but in brief: a leader from a country north of Israel decides suddenly to invade Israel, with a coalition army. As soon as the army arrives in Israel, God supernaturally destroys most of it.

In Ezekiel 36, we read about Israel’s enemies “crowing” that they have now taken possession of “the old hills.” Technically, this could refer to the Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War of 1967, but more likely, it refers to the country’s heartland, the “mountains of Israel,” which run through the middle of the country. The West Bank.

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All this came into sharp focus today as the American president stunned the world by demanding that Israel retreat to its borders from the morning of June 4, 1967. In those days, Israel’s borders did not include Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan, or the West Bank (known in the Bible as Judea and Samaria).

In 1981, Israel returned the Sinai (thus fulfilling the return of 91 percent of the territory taken in ‘67—this is a little-known fact). In 2005, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip. The nation has also turned over the administration of certain territories in the West Bank, as well.

None of this has satisfied the international community. The demand now is to give up all the captured territory from 1967. Even American military planners have always known that those borders—in a sea of hostile Arab nations—are indefensible. Benjamin Netanyahu is making that argument now, but it won’t matter to an international community intent on establishing a Palestinian state.

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This scenario is just one more painfully obvious evidence that Bible prophecy is true and, just as important, it is with us today, right now. Please read all of Ezekiel 36, and meditate on the fact that that scenario fits very well with today’s geopolitics in the Middle East. The Palestinians have thirsted for the West Bank for 20 years, ever since the West pulled Yasser Arafat out of irrelevancy and exile and made him a Nobel Prize winner.

Another common question is, “Who is Gog?” Some say a Russian leader; others come up with different candidates.

But it doesn’t matter. Why?

Because Gog is coming. And hell is coming with him.

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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:

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“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)

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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.”

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