What freightens me more than those “Repent, the world ends tomorrow” whackos are those very clever, professionally designed web sites that feature Dr. So and So, who primarily adds his (or her) Theology degree after their name, and spew esoteric theology phrases (Preterist, millennialism, historical premillennialist, pre-wrath, Messianic, et al), of which most readers (or even adherents) have no clue what they mean. I call this theological smokescreen, which is a ploy mainly used to sell their books (another allegation that has been cast upon me). But at least (if I use big, esoteric words like the aforementioned), I try to explain what they mean the best I can. To that effort, I have been accused of being verbose (long-winded or rambling), so there is no winning here. But, I digress. (See what I mean?)
Without getting into a major debate concerning the prevailing “end times” doctrine of today’s Christian church, if one takes the time to read its history (especially of the last two centuries) they will find that we have had amid our society “sandwich board” preachers who predicted the end of the world on a daily basis.
Names like William Miller for instance. Miller, a former military man who became a pastor after service to his country, claimed to have received visions from God about the imminent return of Jesus Christ to earth:
“My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844,” Miller is quoted.
[March 21, 1844, passed without incident, and further discussion and study resulted in the brief adoption of a new date (April 18, 1844) based on the Karaite Jewish calendar (as opposed to the Rabbinic calendar). Like the previous date, April 18 passed without Christ's return. Miller responded publicly, writing, "I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door."
Sadly, we have had date setters for years, an action that was denounced by Christ in Matthew 24:36, when he answered His apostle when asked about His return: No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Yet, prognosticators (date setters) continue to this day!
Others would say, “Yes, but today it’s different. We see prophecy being fulfilled in media on a daily basis,” they crow! “Look at the movies like “2012” and “The DaVinci Code” and all the things that have been happening in the state of Israel.”
Theory! Theory! Theory! And there are thousands of elements that contribute to this “end times” madness and preoccupation by the majority of the church. This is one of the main reasons our youth are pulling away from the traditional church, because its focus is not on its primary assignment! Yes, Jesus told us to broadcast the goods news (the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice to atone for he sins of mankind), and this has (and is being done, for the most part) throughout the world! Through its early missionary endeavors, the church sent out its salvation armies to almost every corner of the earth. Countries and democratic societies have been born through the Gospel in heretofore heathen regions. What many missionaries also discovered was the extremely poor economic and social conditions that still exist there today, which need to be addressed as we speak. Instead (especially here in the United States of America) the church’s mission has basically come to a screeching halt.
Christians in the US are more concerned about their own personal finances and community status (many preoccupied with personal issues like physical augmentation, beauty enhancement, new health and diet fads, personal love and romance issues, job advancement and security) rather than doing what the church is supposed to do. Work and employment are important, no one denies this. But should the work and its environment dictate our mission as to how we do Christ’s work? We place a greater importance on how we look and dress for work than the mission at hand.
Sadly, one of our biggest preoccupations is food! We can understand that! The incessant strategy by the money-making elite is to indundate today's society with the subject of food, food, and more food, while others throughout the world go hungry! America is the fattest nation in the world!
Now, not all workers (and their jobs) can be considered “ministerial” but Jesus told us that whatever we do, do it as unto the Lord and we will be blessed. Whether a garbage collector, landscaper, business executive of Bible salesman, whatever we do we do it as unto the Lord, not ourselves nor for the amount of money we can earn.
But, yet, the works of the church today are dry, passive, obligatory, clocking in, a lunch bucket mentality that we need to attend services or we will lose favor with God. To keep parishioners pumped up and excited, leaders use the same white flag tactics our government uses, instilling fear and urgency that they could be Raptured to heaven at any moment, because the Lord will come as a thief in the night.
Therefore, church leaders preach (about 90% of the sermons) around prosperity, double your money by giving back to the church until it hurts. It seems like most churches are struggling due to dwindling membership and their sole focus is on using whatever techniques they can employ to keep them afloat. Most of the money collected actually goes to feed the pastor, his family and his staff. This demonstrates (to me especially) the lack of faith by the leadership that God will provide if they would only focus on delivering the true Gospel to a dying church!
Yet, the only thing leaders give back in return is the titillating news they have gleaned from CNN that the crisis in the Middle East is escalating as never before and the increase of earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunami and the political instability throughout the world means that Jesus should return any day now. Therefore, if they increase their tithes and offerings, they assure an ignorant church they will be Raptured and at the same time relieve them of their guilt feelings because they in essence are selling salvation to their flock rather than provoking it to repent, pray unceasingly and be about the business of charity to their neighbors instead of the church’s administration. Secular entities (such as the motion picture industry and media, and politicians running for office) feed into this frenzy as they fan these flames to keep Christians occupied with so-called “feel good” church activities and entertainment that have nothing to do with God’s will whatsoever. The circus atmosphere of today’s church fills the vacuous void in the heart of way too many of God’s disciples, knowing better that a greater calling has been revealed for ages.
The guilty parties, those titillating preachers and teachers like Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and thousands more Christian Zionists who influence God’s children into an alarmist stupor, neutralizing them from having any positive effect on the immediate needs of a suffering world, will be held accountable. I have been challenged and negated by many who read my blogs for taking such a confrontational attitude towards these writers and preachers (some even charge me with slander), but my singling these individuals is no more or no less a warning against those who rob the poor, who get rich off the masses, who use deceit in their marketing techniques to promote lasciviousness while calling it freedom of choice, or those who advocate the mistreatment of our fellow human beings and call it patriotism.
More importantly, we believe these myths neutralize Christians from effectively serving God in areas that are more important to him than political issues, such as feeding the poor, orphans and widows and healing the physically and emotionally damaged souls that reside next door to us.
Thousands of American children go hungry today, while single parents struggle to care for their kids, husbands leaving wives for younger woman, former churched woman leaving husbands for that new and young evangelical preacher who has swept her off her feet with his charismatic persona, one that makes her feel more significant to Christ because her husband is bound by the sins of alcohol and this is her way out. Yet, the preachers give rousing sermons that extrapolate funds from their parishioners they say will be going to missionaries in Africa, disaster relief funds for victims in Haiti, all the while these injured souls right next door to us, our neighbors and relatives in pain, go unattended.
Yet, these ersatz prophets continue to feed the frenzy, making predictions that the Rapture is right around the corner, that the news on CNN confirms prophecies they read in Ezekiel 38, Daniel 12, and Revelations 19. They fail to realize that the word prophecy does not mean predicting future events, but rather it’s proclaiming the will of God. The prophesying they think they are performing no longer exists. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John the Baptist arrived on the scene to announce our true King is here, (Matthew 11:13). All that God wanted His creation to know about the future and His soon-to-come-Kingdom was completed and went no further than John the Baptist’s testimony.
Once again, one of the great masters of theology, Matthew Henry, an English commentator on the Bible and Presbyterian minister from the 17th Century, ever so eloquently explains what the word prophecy truly means, and its roll in today’s predicting circus that parades the airwaves, non-stop:
"In John the Old Testament dispensation began to die, v. 13. So long that ministration continued in full force and virtue, but then it began to decline. Though the obligation of the law of Moses was not removed till Christ’s death, yet the discoveries of the Old Testament began to be superseded by the more clear manifestation of the kingdom of heaven as at hand. Because the light of the gospel (as that of nature) was to precede and make way for its law, therefore the prophecies of the Old Testament came to an end (finis perficiens, not interficiens—an end of completion, not of duration), before the precepts of it; so that when Christ says, all the prophets and the law prophesied until John, he shows us, First, How the light of the Old Testament was set up; it was set up in the law and the prophets, who spoke, though darkly, of Christ and his kingdom. Observe, the law is said to prophesy, as well as the prophets, concerning him that was to come. Christ began at Moses (Luke 24:27); Christ was foretold by the dumb signs of the Mosaic work, as well as by the more articulate voices of the prophets, and was exhibited, not only in the verbal predictions, but in the personal and real types. Blessed be God that we have both the New-Testament doctrine to explain the Old-Testament prophecies, and the Old-Testament prophecies to confirm and illustrate the New-Testament doctrine (Hebrews 1:1); like the two cherubim, they look at each other.
The law was given by Moses long ago, and there had been no prophets for three hundred years before John, and yet they are both said to prophecy until John, because the law was still observed, and Moses and the prophets still read. Note, the scripture is teaching to this day, though the penmen of it are gone. Moses and the prophets are dead; the apostles and evangelists are dead (Zec. 1:5), but the word of the Lord endures for ever (1 Pt. 1:25); the scripture is speaking expressly, though the writers are silent in the dust.
Secondly, how this light was laid aside: when he says, they prophesied until John, he intimates, that their glory was eclipsed by the glory which excelled; their predictions superseded by John’s testimony, Behold the Lamb of God! Even before the sun rises, the morning light makes candles to shine dim. Their prophecies of a Christ to come became out of date, when John said, He is come!" (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Book of Matthew 11:13).
Does God rejoice when self-appointed prophets go about making these types of predictions? Predicting future events based on a theory or an erroneous interpretation of scripture? We think not; at least not about scripture in the Bible from either the Old and or the New Testaments. It is written that Jesus Christ will return to establish an eternal Kingdom here on earth. Prognosticators (secular or otherwise) have for centuries proffered predictions about myriad of topics, mostly about The Return. With the exception of Old Testament prophets (up to John the Baptist, that messiah Jesus would arrive in the flesh, during the first and second advents, have already been recorded. We can add nothing new to this. If any self-proclaimed prophet on television, radio or the Internet tells you to begin storing food and supplies, to get ready for Armageddon, that he or she has rightly interpreted the news on CNN, or had a vision, a dream or a direct revelation from God about a future and specific event that is about to happen in the Middle East, ushering Armageddon, immediately pray for that person because he or she definitely needs help.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV):