Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Widgets

"The Late Great Planet Earth" (Eschatology is Hard II)

More on the "last days" from my ongoing discussion group over at LinkedIn.
Having previously invoked the "88 Reasons" in this discussion, kindly allow me to toss in yet another blast from the not-so-distant past (1970): "The Late Great Planet Earth". Hal Lindsay made quite a bit of money combining premillennial dispensational eschatology (still much in vogue) with then-current events. Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation were naturally the featured texts, and the 1980s were eventually picked as the time for Jesus' probable return. There was even a movie! Were some called to repentance? Probably. Were many others momentarily enthralled, but ultimately disillusioned and embittered? Assuredly.

What makes this remarkable is that it's historically unremarkable. There have been attempts for two millennia to equate current events with Biblical prophecy (and that's if you count just the time since Christ arrived--largely unexpectedly--the first time)! Who or what exactly is Babylon the Great ... the Beast ... the Dragon ... the False Prophet ... Gog and Magog? How does Nero fit in ... or Saladin ... or Napoleon ... or Hitler? At some point, some historically tiny number of these will--one supposes--actually prove accurate, but the overwhelming evidence suggests that there is much peril involved in such things.
We are by nature self-referential. Every culture and generation tries to see itself in prophecy. There is always another formula, a new variation on the old theme, and an explanation as to why the previous one didn't work out. The danger is not in reading prophecy ("All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful, etc."). No, the danger is in laboring to fit prophecy into our own particular time and culture. Could you be right? You could. But walk humbly and carefully ... many, many have gone before you and have proven utterly wrong.
John wrote, "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour." (1 John 2:18). His readers were already trying to foresee the onset of the end times, but John steered them in another direction: "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son." (v. 22) John tried to move his readers from an attitude of looking for a specific danger to recognizing that they are surrounded by dangers. We are all to live as if it is the "last hour", "for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thess 5:2).
Once again I stress, it is preparation, not prediction, for which these prophecies were given to us. It is good and right to gaze into Scripture and see ourselves, so that we might be called to grace and repentance. It is dangerously self-centered, however, to gaze into Scripture and always see our own time and place in its prophecies. The church has fallen into that trap for 2,000 years. Eventually I suppose someone will be right, but only after far too many have been wrong ... and some of them quite destructively.
Somewhere, someone is writing a book about how Barak Obama ... or BP ... or the Federal Reserve ... or Lady Gaga is the such-and-such of Biblical prophecy. It has always been so. But again, it is for preparation, not prediction, that we have these prophecies.
"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thess 5:6-11)

2 comments:

  1. "It is dangerously self-centered, however, to gaze into Scripture and always see our own time and place in its prophecies." Amen!

    Thank you for your passion to keep us centered on Christ and to learn from Him! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  2. [saw this graven image on the net - Sid]

    Mayor "Napoleon" Bloomberg

    Mayor Bloomberg and his backstabbing cronies must have a $tupendou$ rea$on which they can't reveal for wanting a sharia-hugging mosque near Ground Zero!
    But the sharia "cobra" they're toying with can quickly grow its fangs and then say "Smile, you're on Candid Scimitar and will soon be buried in a scimitary, ha ha ha!" - proving that one good backstabbing deserves another!
    God-haters and America-haters may not realize how high the collective temperature has now risen in the hearts of true American patriots - many of whom are now willing to die for America right here in America if they get pushed completely over the line!
    Since the nation's headquarters for treason is the White House, readers can enjoy related material if they Google "Obama Supports Public Depravity" and also Google "Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman" in addition to Googling "Obama...destined to become a black-slavery avenger."
    And by all means visit Googleland and type in "Government-Approved Illegals" and "Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham."
    I hope Mayor Bloomberg, dressed as Napoleon, will thoroughly enjoy his mosquerade party!
    PS - Interestingly, many conservative evangelicals have lately given up belief in a "pretribulation rapture" (the 180-year-old theological aberration behind the rapture bestsellers by Lindsey, LaHaye etc.) and now believe they will be on earth for at least some of Antichrist's diabolical reign. Widely read Google articles like "Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" have helped to bring about this "pretrib" mutiny.

    A Kansas Patriot

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