Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

In the Bible’s Book of Revelation, the 13th chapter, we read—if one supposes this figure is yet future—a description of a world leader who will be so fearsome, he will make mass murderers Hitler and Stalin look like amateurs.

Interestingly, a key feature of this person, whom conservative Bible scholars identify as THE antichrist, will be his ability to assign some sort of “mark” for all people who want to buy and sell. In other words, if one does not have this mark, one cannot participate in commerce.

For many years, Bible prophecy teachers like Hal Lindsey were ridiculed for suggesting that this scenario was coming. Now, we have a global economy that is deathly fragile. Barack Obama really doesn’t have any answers. Neither do our financial experts, etc. The world is ripe for a single, extraordinary leader who will have all the answers.

This beast from the Bible, a man with barbaric appetites and uncommon political skills, will control global commerce. With all the world’s national powers nervous about a domino effect, if a large economy falls, we can actually see a plausible scenario in which this man of evil emerges.

The United States alone has been almost crippled financially, as merely two battlefield fronts in the war on terror have cost over $2 trillion. The world is losing its grip on sanity.

A man much, much smarter than Bill Clinton (or any of the other candidates for the Man of Sin) will rise and appear to solve the world’s problems.

But the day will then come when he will call in every person’s spiritual debt, and the fallout will be much worse than the collapse of any economic system.

I just returned from a terrific Christian conference, Future Congress (www.futurecongress.com). This was a gathering of conservative Christian thinkers, including several who teach Bible prophecy.

Although some in the Church refer to us as espousing “escapist eschatology,” I find that conservative commentators who believe in the validity of Bible prophecy are quite lucid and articulate.

I also know that in general, conservative Christians do not utilize new media as effectively as more…liberal commentators, speakers and writers. That’s why I was thrilled to see Bible prophecy “guru” Terry James (who is blind) using PowerPoint! Terrific!

I’ll write more about it later, but again, this gathering was significant and wonderful.

Terry James speaking at Future Congress

Speaking on the subject of Bible prophecy in a church last night, I was reminded again that Bible-believing Christians are not the bumpkins their critics make them out to be. There was a lively and sophisticated set of questions for me after the talk. Truly, Bible-believing Christians to do not “check their brains at the door” as certain evangelical commentators like Mark Noll allege.

It is possible to believe that the Bible is exactly what it appears to be…and be intelligent.

My overall theme last night was that since I am often asked what is the greatest sign we are living in the last days of world history, my answer is of course, “Israel.” This evidence is huge, very visible, and ubiquitous in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.

As I talked with the people in the audience last night, I was reminded of the wonderful comedy team of Laurel & Hardy. Stan was known for saying inane things and the slightly smarter Babe Hardy would then affirm his dumb, lovable friend.

Once, Stan made the statement, “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.” The line is so funny, I think of it often and laugh every time.

For the critics of the Bible—particularly Bible prophecy—those of us who believe in it and teach it are Stan Laurel. Dim-witted.

Ironically, our fiercest critics are in the Church. In fact, secularists or those from other religions are often quite curious about Bible prophecy and open-minded.

Bible-believers do not reject “careful thinking.” They are not Stan Laurel’s character.

That is a false charge.

Take for example the intensifying pressure on Israel, from the international community. This precise scenario is predicted in the Old Testament, in the context of the last days. Over and over. It is what we see going on right now. Remember: what we read in the Bible is what we see in the real world.

As more and more prophecy is fulfilled, who is it that has really checked a brain at the door?

Prophecy students and teachers are not Stan Laurel’s famous bumbling character. They are more like Stan Laurel himself: a sophisticated, gifted, smart man who understood human nature.

I attended my 30th class reunion this past weekend. It was just down the street from an old army surplus store that I used to frequent with my father; it was one of our hobbies—cruising junk stores.

Dad has been gone for 30 years, so it was somewhat like closing a circle.

Walking back to the hotel in the muggy night air, I thought about him, my old classmates, and everything in-between. As usual, a biblical theme came to mind, this time my favorite: God’s promises from Bible prophecy.

This is what the liberal critics (within the Church) are missing. They are so anxious to trim the supernatural out of the Bible (like Thomas Jefferson), they throw the baby out with the swimming pool. Or the ocean.

In the books of Isaiah and Revelation, in particular, God promises that in the end, He will make everything new. He will restore the universe to its original state. Among the benefits will be wonderful reunions with loved ones who have gone on before us.

At my class reunion, not surprisingly, I was somewhat taken aback by the aging process—me included. This is “natural” in our world. Hair goes gray, skin loosens, teeth are discolored and worn.

But God has literally promised that one day, known now only to Him, He will remake everything. That is a promise and a prophecy. I don’t believe it is pie-in-the-sky or some esoteric sacred writings and ramblings. It is real-life. Tangible. Future.

Then, the very best reunions will take place. We will all be in full-flower, full of joy. It’s coming, this reunion. This permanent makeover.

If all this makes me a fundamentalist nut, then thank you. I embrace it. Lash myself to it. God’s Word is sure; He said that He keeps His Word (Isaiah 46).

I need it, long for it, hope for it, expect it. So do many of us.

It’s coming.

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