Is it the End of the World?

Is it the End of the World?

It’s a Date

posted by jfletcher

“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. (Matthew 24:36)

Extremes are often the worst of who we are. In Christendom today, particularly among evangelicals, there is a rather nasty fight going on about eschatology (the study of “last things”). On the one hand are what I call Bible-believing Christians; critics call them Bible literalists, and it is a term of derision. In any event, the Bible-believing Christians—also known as fundamentalists—fervently believe, among other things, that we are living in what the Bible describes as the end of history.

On the other hand, there are those critics…the ones who have a different view of eschatology. This has various schools of thought, but all minimize the Bible’s predictive prophecy. For them, it is either forged history, written after the fact; myth; metaphor; or, in the case of promises to the Jewish people, a boon for the Church. The latter group essentially believes the Church has “replaced” Israel in God’s economy.

For our purposes today, I’d like to briefly discuss “date-setting.” Near my home is a mega-church that might be identified as progressive. Others would classify it as “Emergent.”

The pastor posted a couple days ago on his Facebook page that “fundamentalists” are claiming that the Rapture (the snatching away from Earth of believers by Jesus Christ) will occur on May 21.

One of these extreme groups does in fact get very close to date-setting, or in the case of the May 21st date set by the discredited Harold Camping, actually set a date. The other extreme group loves to lambast all Christians who believe in the end of days, citing such failed prognosticators as Camping.

I believe we are living in the last days, for one primary reason: the re-establishment of the state of Israel. I reject both the date-setters and their vicious critics. It is both wrong to set any date for the Lord’s return, and to ridicule the reality of Bible prophecy.

The Lord Himself told us quite clearly that no man knows the day or hour. That obviously settles Camping’s nonsense. At the same time, He gave us general clues about the time of the end.

In this space, we will have many conversations about those clues. For now, let us consider that there is a balanced way to view “last things.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

posted by jfletcher

Mother’s Day is one of our country’s best holidays; my own mother was a single mother for many years. My wife also did a terrific job alone for some years until we “joined forces.” She is an extraordinary mother.

Although not related directly to the study of Bible prophecy, I would like to point out that in the feedback I get every week from readers, women are perhaps the most astute. It is a myth that Bible prophecy is the domain of older white men. My experience tells me that women of all ages have keen insights into the wonderful topic that has so much relevance for all of us today.

To the women in particular that teach their children the Bible—often alone—I salute each one of you.

Worldview?

posted by jfletcher

A lot of Christian ministries that propose to teach “biblical worldview” disregard what we know as the Old Testament, at least in the context of the story of the Jewish people and Bible prophecy.

In many circles today within Christendom, the study of Bible prophecy is not only lightly regarded—it is marginalized. Many pastors claim that it is “controversial” (what is the Gospel, then?). I suspect they are more embarrassed than anything else. For quite some time, seminary professors and highly visible Christian leaders in America have at least insinuated that “careful thinkers” have moved beyond a “literal, wooden” interpretation of Scripture.

What they really mean is that they want to take personal Bible study out of the hands of the common man and create a sort of evangelical papacy, in which scholars and high-profile teachers can tell us what it means.

In reality, such teachers reject the Bible’s predictive prophecy because they do not like the reality of a sovereign God. Rather than interpret prophecy as history written in advance, they consider it merely history.

Although we constantly hear propaganda to the contrary, the Bible is really not that hard to understand.

For example, a ubiquitous theme through the Hebrew Scriptures is the return of the Jews to their ancestral land, after a long period of exile. Although many scholars attribute these passages to the return from the Babylonian exile in the sixth century B.C., too many details simply don’t fit that scenario. They do fit an end-times scenario. In Isaiah 11:11 (attributed to the Babylonian exile, but notice the phrase “the second time.”) we read:

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”

If this return refers to the Babylonian exile, the pagan country due east of Israel, why do we see that the Jews are returning not only from what we know today as the Mediterranean Basin, but from “the islands of the sea”? Does this not fit the modern historical record with remarkable exactness? The Babylonian exile was the return from exile in Babylon, period.

Today, millions of Jews from virtually every country in the world have come back to their ancestral land.

The critics of Bible prophecy are attempting to create an alternate reality. They want to live in one devoid of a God who tells us the end from the beginning.

Do yourself a favor: read the Old Testament with these ideas in mind. What do you come away with?

Judgment

posted by jfletcher

“But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
“And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:25,26)

In an age of extreme skepticism, the Bible is often mocked as being outdated, irrelevant, or a mistake-ridden mishmash of myth and xenophobic propaganda.

Actually, it claims to be the very Word of God, and just one of the ways in which it is self-authenticating is in its remarkable consistency of fulfilled prophecies.

With the death of Osama bin Laden, we are able to see the continuation of God’s judgment on those who oppress the Jews. The Pharaoh of the Exodus, Babylonian kings, the Assyrians, the Romans…as Mark Twain said, all sit in twilight now. Those great, ancient, dead civilizations join Hitler, Stalin, and certain jihadists in death.

In Scripture, the Lord says that He will feed the enemies of the Jews their own flesh. They will go down to destruction.

This week proves the durability of that narrative.

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