I have given up on eschatology and end times prophesy. It’s literally a moving target. I’m particularly tired of the endless number of competing theories that portray themselves as the iron clad accurate narrative when every theory is full of loose ends and unexplained problems.
You can put a question about the end times or the coming kingdom or the resurrection or the millennial reign online and open it up for discussion and literally every person who answers will have a completely differing narrative. It’s like one of those puzzles where you have a bunch of different triangles (scriptures) and they all have to go together to form a perfect square (theology). Everybody is trying and claiming they built a square. But it’s never a square. Theres always extra pieces left over or not enough pieces and you have to make them ALL fit.
So I’d like to ask this. Why does it matter? Why do I need to live my life trying to solve a puzzle that has been played with for 2000 years and every one who set their mind to the solution has died never having seen these things fulfilled. And when was the last time you read anyone say “none of these things will happen in our lifetime. It’s probably another 200-500 years away?” No one ever. Everybody has always believed these end times prophecies were about their generation. It’s almost a form of vanity if you think about it. Oh it has to be us, all the signs are obvious. (Said the guy in the 1800’s).
Some might suggest that God created a built in motivator to keep us holy and evangelical. Well what does that say about the power of the Holy Spirit then? Every generation of Christians was not kept holy or driven to witness by love for God and man but by the impending threat of the Apocalypse? Are we to believe that the church will lose it’s way unless each generation thinks it is the final one? I’d like to think that when a person is in dwelt by the Holy Spirit it makes them a person who loves God and their fellowman and that no vague, artificial deadlines are needed. To me that goes against the idea of being led inwardly instead of compelled outwardly. Is it audacious to believe that the presence and power and person of the Holy Spirit is enough to make us what Jesus wants us to be in the earth?
If we are to justify all this complicated and urgent prediction by some vital divine psychological impetus at work to keep us at our best, then let’s put it to a true psychological evaluation. How much sanity or insanity has end times furor produced?
How much corruption and exploitation and profiteering has it produced? Gary B DeMar is a partial preterist who has written many great books about mistaken end times theology. In his book End Times Madness you can read a colorful and shameful history of all the strange things said and done in the name of end times accuracy.
It has not been a good look for the church. If anything the failed attempts to identify Jesus return and other vital theories in a specific time or generation has damaged the credibility of Evangelicalism in the eyes of unbelievers. Is this what Jesus wanted? Did he give us all these mysterious passages so that we could spend centuries deceiving ourselves as to our place in his timeline? Does he really want so much egg on our face?
If these promises of great and final victory are still waiting to happen then weren’t the first generation of Christians lied to? Jesus said that his generation would not pass away before all these things take place. That right there is a pretty good indicator that most of what we call end times prophesy has probably already happened. I believe Jesus was an accurate prophet. I believe Jesus was God himself speaking the things he determined to take place. He said it would be in the time of the leaves budding. Rome attacked Jerusalem in April. Jesus told people in Judea to flee to the mountains when they saw armies surrounding Jerusalem. Thats exactly what happened. Yet many Christians have been deprived of the historical narrative and as a result are still waiting for a train that came and went centuries ago. In fact I think many Christians who hear this historical narrative ignore it because they would rather have unfulfilled prophesy to keep things exciting.
These ancient apocalypses were written for people who were subjugated, oppressed and discouraged. There was a real threat that people might start leaving the faith if things got any harder for them. So they needed something to keep them going and to hold on to at least until they died if not until the fulfillment.They needed the promise of a victory and a justice and a final destination that was worth all the suffering. Apocalyptic prophesy did just that. Notice that these prophesies always came at the darkest moments. Daniel was in Babylon in forced service to a foreign government. John was exiled to an island in the middle of the ocean. No one got apocalyptic prophesies in the good times. Only in the bad times. It would seem they were given for the comfort and strengthening of the people who originally received them.
Yet we imagine that they got these words because we would need them 20 centuries later. Obviously those words were for US. Who else would they be for? Even Paul said those words were written in the past for US upon whom the fulfillment of the ages had come. The problem is that the US he was talking to died and went to heaven 19 centuries ago. We do realize that Paul was writing to people he knew and was acquainted with not some future society of modern Christians – don’t we? No? You think he was writing to the future church? Really? That must be why he warned us about wearing hair the wrong length and not letting women speak or have authority in the church. He knew how important that would be in the year 2020.
But even if much of these prophesies fulfillment took place in the past, preterism cannot fully account for everything in the apocalyptic prophesies, right? I totally agree. No one can really account for the mark of the beast or the two witnesses or the giant city coming out of the sky at some time past. But we don’t know how literal or symbolic these things are either. It’s one big jump ball that we have been reaching for for 2000 years.
And I’m going to go ahead and just assume that things will probably keep going they way they have been. I know, that’s very risky and carnal and that’s exactly what Peter said the doubters would do. But Peter was not speaking from 2000 years out either. He was looking for Jesus return in his day just like all the Apostles. If you would have told Peter 2000 years out from the ascension that the church would still be waiting for the second coming he would have called you a doubter.
So instead of running around screaming the time is short, I’m just going to settle for reminding everyone that life is short. If Jesus doesn’t come for us I can 1000% guarantee we will go to him. What kind of life do you want Him to evaluate? I want mine to be a life of love and faithful representation of his heart and character in the earth. I don’t need a giant clock in the sky counting down to Armageddon to be that person. There is a clock that is most certainly counting down to each of our last days on earth and that is the one we should really be living by.
One thought on “The moving target of end times prophecy.”
I’m with you on this. When I was younger I mentioned to an older – and wiser – man that I was excited about the ‘soon return of the Lord Jesus’. He said he understood it differently – that, since God took thousands of years to prepare the world for the Messiah, why would he end everything so soon – why not let the Messiah reign for 10,000 years and the world would benefit thereby.
He could be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, but he made me think that yes, our responsibility and privilege is to redeem our time, our lifetime, by living in the Presence of that future that IS coming.
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