The End this Isn’t

Events like last week’s tsunami often spur on premillenial believers who think that things have never been this bad before and that the end is in sight. This is not new. James Moorhead mentions an encounter that Robert Willett had back in World War I:

…he encountered an energetic man who explained that Kaiser Wilhelm was the beast described in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation and that Jesus would appear within months to “rapture” the saints.

As George Marsden points out in Fundamentalism and American Culture, World War I touched off a frenzy of speculation about Germany and “the Huns” being a possible candidate for the Antichrist and his Empire. One can imagine how a world war would lead people to speculate on such matters. And I am sure that this speculation reached another level when Hitler was around. And yet, the end did not come.

This did not stop speculation. The emphasis shifted from shattered Germany to the Red Menace and the Soviet Union which would surely invade Israel and fulfill Ezekiel 38. The bad interpretation of premillenialism said that “this generation” applied to 1948 and Israel (we are now 63 years later, when does a generation end?). Chuck Smith said the end was probably going to be in 1981…or maybe 1986.

After the Cold War ended with no Russian invasion in sight, there was a bit of a lull as some looked to China as the new possible beast from the East. Then we had 9/11 and the premillenial world went crazy over Islam. Surely Islam would usher in the end by invading Israel.

In some ways, premillenialism cannot ever be proven wrong. You can show people all of these past wrong predictions and they will blow it off as men’s opinions. Dates change, the Antichrist changes, new events are constantly discovered within the same old passages, and the end still does not come. But people love to think that our generation is the most important one, and that things like this have never occurred before. Well, they have. Many of the Biblical texts point to AD 70 and the destruction of the old world. No more Temple, no more Law, no more Jews (their religion was ended at the Cross and there is no more Temple worship that wouldn’t be an insult to God). Read this book and learn a thing or two. God’s kingdom will continue to spread from the River to the ends of the earth, like a mustard seed that grows into a great tree.

2 thoughts on “The End this Isn’t”

  1. Okay, I am the worst at debate but I guess I will jump in and give it a try. At least in writing I have time to think, as opposed to verbal debate which requires me to think on my feet.

    No, this is likely not the end. But I believe in rapture and I know you do not. This comes to my mind as I think of our differences: “…in the last days scoffers will come…They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

    You seem to me to be one of these scoffers. Am I wrong?

    1. I prefer writing too! I think it is the best format for talking about things like this. Yes, I believe that the reign of Jesus will be extended until all nations are baptized (Matthew 29.19), the nations will be his heritage and the ends of the earth his possession (Psalm 2.8) and his dominion is from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth (Psalm 72.8). This may take another 100,000 or 200,000 years, so the Church may be in her infancy now. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the return of Christ or the Resurrection. He will return and the dead will be raised to be with him forever. I just don’t believe in a rapture which occurs prior to his return or in the last days/tribulation stuff that is commonly taught. Most of that stuff applies to A.D. 70 when Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed.

      A lot of this turns on issues of what the authors mean when they use terms and I can’t really do justice to that subject in a quick comment. Suffice it to say that the focus of the entire NT is on the Jewish opposition to Jesus and the vengeance that was about to break out on them. John said “the things must soon take place” (Rev. 1.1), Jesus said that “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16.28), that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24.34).

      So the scoffers that Peter has in mind are those in his day who are denying that what Jesus said would happen. They know that Jesus promised that many who saw him crucified would also see him return in judgment and all the things he foretold about Jerusalem would take place. They hadn’t seen it yet, but they would when the awful events of 70 A.D. would take place, and the old world with its sacrificial system and priesthood would pass away forever. You can read a longer look at II Peter here:

      http://americanvision.org/3603/what-does-peter-mean-by-the-passing-away-of-heaven-and-earth-a-study-of-2-peter-3/

      and there is also a book here:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=dNQY2X0hZ5MC&lpg=PP1&ots=ODrWz57pwD&dq=leithart%20promise%20of%20his%20appearing&pg=PA84#v=onepage&q&f=false

      I should probably buy it! I have every confidence in the return of Jesus, we confess it every week when we say “he will return to judge the quick and the dead.” But I also have every confidence that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church and that Jesus, who reigns over the earth right now, will extend that reign to all nations before delivering the kingdom up to his Father.

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