Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bringing Sanity to the End Times

"Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? 'For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”(2 Peter 3:3-4).

What comes to your mind when you think of Bible prophecy?  Probably bearded men in long flowing robes crying out "Repent, for the end is near!"  There was even a McDonalds commercial for the McRib sandwich that poked fun at apocalyptic rhetoric.

On this night before the Mayan Calendar runs out, how are you doing?  Any jitters about tomorrow?  Or have you heard all this before, on countless occasions, and just sleeping soundly without a thought.

Both responses are dangerous.  Let me explain.

Events like the bold prediction of Harold Camping that the world would end on May 21, 2011 were met with a media frenzy, and of course, Camping was wrong.  People lumped the aged minister together with anyone who even speaks of end-time events, and wrote them all off as kooks.

To merely carry on without a thought of one's own exit from this world is wishful thinking at best.  We continually deny that anything will befall us, and arrogantly sin and put off the just claims of a holy God as mere scare tactics invented by disturbed Puritans.

The other error is letting the low-grade anxiety permeate everything, and this is taken into full-blown mania, as I read recently in the news.  A woman was actually ready to kill her own children to prevent them from seeing the end.

Here is the problem with datesetters and doomsday prophets.  When things they say do not come to pass, people scoff, laugh, and get more and more hardened to considering their own mortality and accountability.   The average Joe's response may wind up like the verse in I Peter above. 

So why do I speak of the end?  The Bible speaks of the end.  And it actually has a lot to say.  The end of all things (I Peter 4:7) is the natural conclusion of the beginning of all things.  And between these junctures, injustice has occurred.  How will this be dealt with?

Some who hear descriptions of prophetic passages seek to assign a current-day fulfillment to these in the news events, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and the re-election of Obama.  While these can get out of hand and become silly, the silliness again blinds people to the real end and it's irreversible danger.

At the same time, Israel is back in the land, and has decisively taken Jerusalem in my lifetime.  Almost every nation in the Middle East breathes death and destruction upon Israel.  The fire power to blow the planet out of existence easily lies in the arsenals of several nations.  Wickedness like that in Connecticut abounds, and few have a remedy for its deadly effects. Law courts have completely abandoned justice in the name of being politically correct.  And the Christian community is either disunited in its cults of personality or sub-biblical agendas, or amalgamating with every heresy under the sun.  The Church's cultural salt has lost its savor, and the love of most has grown cold. Even back in 1965, Barry McGuire poignantly believed in song that we were (and should be) on the "Eve of Destruction."

Let us look logically for a moment.   Bible writers such as John refer to "The last hour." (I John 2:18), as being upon them.  Was the Bible wrong?  It was not the last days apparently when John wrote, or else the Kingdom would be long passed by now.

Again, Scripture interprets Scripture.  II Peter 3:8 tells us "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."  You cannot be too literal with this passage.  What it is saying is that God does not mark time as we do.  Peter goes on to say the reason for this protracted timing is patience and love. 

In the face of this love, I believe there is never a wrong time to speak of and desire the revelation of Jesus Christ, as if it were soon.  We actually should practice a kind of wishful thinking as the Bible writers did, but at least this thinking matches the inevitable reality God has stated.

Here then is the problem.  The epistle writers speak of the end being at hand as they wrote, but it has not happened yet.  Scoffers use the nuisance doomsday reports that go awry as the basis for their scoffing.  And all the while, God stands with open hands to anyone who will ignore the din and take the water of life freely.

How are you doing in this?  Are you afraid, but without sufficient remedy?  Ignore me as a writer for a moment.  Do you see how you harden yourself with every turn away from the One whose blood was shed (and is still fresh today) for even you?  Both craven fear and witless rejection of the Good News is eternally too dangerous to risk on this or any night. 

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