Another Round of Hysteria

I heard another one on my drive home yesterday.  They’re everywhere!  End Times prophets peddling their latest books about ISIS, terrorism, the collapse of the EU, the rise of globalism, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  According to them, the End is surely upon us!

I just shake my head and want to cry.

Look, the End of which the Bible speaks will surely come.  And it will come with signs that the enlightened Christian may recognize and be able to translate.  But let’s face it, Christians have a terrible track record at interpreting this stuff.

When I was a missionary in the Philippines in 1999 so many beautiful believers in the church I was supporting were losing sleep about Y2K.  In their minds, Y2K surely was THE event that would usher in the Second Coming.  I prepared and presented a class to the high school youth and started by saying, “Welcome to the Twenty-First Century, folks.  You’ve actually been living in it for at least four years now.”  I then went on to explain that Biblical scholars now believe Jesus was born anywhere from 4 to 6 B.C., not in 1 A.D. like our calendars say.  Therefore, 2,000 after His birth was not the year 2000, but actually somewhere around 1996.  The youth were stunned that they had actually been living in the 21st Century after Christ’s birth for years.

After they processed that fact, they then got angry with me. How dare I tread upon their much-cherished hysteria!  But this hysteria was nothing new.  I showed them pictures of actual posters from 1899 that predicted (with 100% certainty) that the End was sure to come in 1900.  It didn’t.

In the 1950s the world was healing from a devastating world war, nuclear Armageddon was a real possibility and, most shocking of all, Israel had just become a nation again after being absent from the earth for two centuries.  In the words of a fellow missionary who taught seminary during those years, “For years you couldn’t hear a sermon that didn’t mention the A-bomb or Israel.  We KNEW the End was coming in the 1950s.”  It wasn’t.

America experienced great culture upheaval in the 1960s: an unpopular war, assassinations, the Manson family, and students at Kent State were shot.  Along came a book (The Late Great Planet Earth) whose timing was like throwing gas on a fire.  According to this book, the End was upon us.  It wasn’t.

And on it goes.  The Left Behind Series, for example, is now a nostalgic source of jokes.  Doomsday harbingers still abound today, telling us that this sign or that event are proof positive that the End is just around the corner.  It may be, but if history proves anything, it probably isn’t.

Jesus says in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end will come.” (emphasis added). Here, I think Jesus was saying, “Hey, Christians.  Focus on the Great Commission.  Finish it for my  glory because I won’t return until everyone has had a chance to hear my gospel.  Let the unbelievers worry about who is the Antichrist or which nations make up the 10-headed beast.  I want you focused on me and completing the Great Commission.”  Other verses support this position, but even if I’m wrong isn’t it better to spend energy on spreading the gospel than whether ISIS is Gog or Magog?  2 Peter 3:12 says, “..look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”  We “speed its coming” by getting out there and completing the Great Commission!

If you’re interested in more, check out The End Times in Jesus’ Words, which goes into more detail.  It’s an encouraging and motivating read, not a call to hysteria.