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March/April Issue 2012 - Volume 31 Number 2
The End of Time
The Top 10 Doomsday Predictions
“Therefore, since all these things will
be dissolved, what manner of person ought you to be in holy conduct and
godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because
of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will
melt with fervent heat?” 2
Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV)
We are familiar with Doomsday Predictions. One of the recent Doomsday Prophesies occurred in 2006 when God's Church minister Ronald Weinland predicted millions of people would die by the end of 2006 and within two years the world would be "plunged into the worst time of all human history." He said the United States would collapse as a world power and no longer exist as an independent nation. There have been other predictions since then that have fizzled as well.
What is the outcome of these failed predictions? It often may undermine the valid claim that the Lord will return some day. It seems that folks are always fascinated by predicting a time and describing the terrible things that will occur. However, very few of them spend much time talking about how to be prepared for the Lord’s return. As Peter admonished us, there is a certain way we ought to be living in view of the Lord’s return, no matter when it happens.
There is a lot of speculation and genuine concern about the end times. In this issue we would like to address a couple of chapters from the Bible that deal directly with the end of time. I have asked each of our writers to take on one of these chapters and give us the “skinny” on it. There is a lot that could be said and written, but I asked them to give us a good survey in the allotted space.
Richard Brannon discusses Matthew 24. This passage of scripture has been misunderstood and misapplied by many. It is clearly a prediction of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It may also contain some things with regard to the Lord’s return at the end of time. What we have asked Richard to do is help us sort through some of the predictions in this chapter. Two other chapters to consult in conjunction with Matthew 24 are Mark 13 and Luke 21, since they both give us similar and some additional information.
Ron Collins discusses 2 Peter 3. There are clear indications of a coming destruction in this chapter but there is also a great emphasis in this chapter on how we should live in order to be prepared for the Day of the Lord. We may get so carried away with the “fiery destruction” that we fail to hear the “what manner of persons ought you to be.” We must remain steadfast, immoveable and always abounding in the work of the Lord.
All doomsday scenarios have
one thing in common: They haven't come true. Well, at least not yet. LiveScience.com
collected the top 10 declarations by the prophets of doom, spanning 200
years of doomsday predictions:
The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806
The Millerites, April 23, 1843
Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
Halley's Comet, 1910
Pat Robertson, 1982
Heaven's Gate, 1997
Nostradamus, August 1999
Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000
God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008
May we be counted among
those who “love his appearing,” and may we be waiting and ready when the
Lord returns. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!
...L. Scott Gage
Camping, radio minister for the Family Radio Network based in Oakland,
California, predicted the world would end on May 21st 2011. When it did not
happen he revised his prediction to October 21st of the same year. When that
rapture did not occur, the official Family Radio Network explanation was
that it did happen but it was a spiritual and not a physical return. Many
had contributed money and time to getting the word out.
In New York, retired transportation agency worker Robert Fitzpatrick
was inspired by Camping's message to spend over $140,000 of his savings on
subway posters and outdoor advertisements warning of the May 21 Judgment Day
(From: BILL HUTCHINSONDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Monday, June 13, 2011). Some
atheists held parties and celebrated afterward.
suppose it is fascinating to some people to know when the Lord is going to
return as promised. Matthew twenty-four is a chapter in the Bible that many
doomsday prophets use as evidence of their predictions. It is a difficult
text in some ways but that may be due to some of our preconceived ideas and
the difficult way the question was asked of Jesus by his disciples,
"Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your
coming, and of the end of the age?" (NKJV) The disciples probably
thought that the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would be
simultaneous with Christ’s second coming. There is a possibility Jesus
himself could not answer the question of when his second coming would happen
(Mt 24:36; Mk13:32; Acts1:7). Without correcting their notions, Jesus just
answers their questions.
Clark writes in his commentary on Matthew that some attribute the whole
chapter of Matthew twenty-four to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD,
while J. W. McGarvey (Fourfold Gospel) divides the question of the disciples
and explains that some of the chapter has to do with the destruction of
Jerusalem and part has to do with the second coming of Christ. I have not
been able to come up with an interpretation that fits everything exactly.
However, it seems there are some things that are plain. For example,
Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no
means pass away till all these things take place” (V:34). Some say
generation could mean race. After checking thirteen translations of this
passage I discovered that all use generation. We use passages like Mark 9:1
as a proof text to show that the kingdom came in the lifetime of Christ’s
disciples, where Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are
some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God
present with power." (NKJV) Some
dismiss this plain text and say the kingdom is coming later. It is always
good to use a literal interpretation unless the context calls for
figurative. I think we should hold true to the literal meaning, that those
things in Matthew twenty-four have to do with the destruction of Jerusalem
and the judgments of God on the Jewish nation up to verse thirty-six. From
verse thirty-six on it seems Jesus is answering the second part of the
disciple’s question about his second coming. We do not know when Jesus is
going to return for the final judgments of God (Mt.24:36, 44; Acts1:7). The
emphasis, however, from verse thirty-six to the end of the chapter switches
from what is going to happen to Jerusalem to being watchful and dutiful for
the second coming of Christ. The theme continues on through chapter
twenty-five with two readiness parables and more teaching about being
prepared for the final judgment day.
the Jewish historian, was present at the destruction of Jerusalem which took
about three and one half years from beginning to end. The siege was started
by Vespasian and completed by his son Titus. When I was a youngster I can
remember my mother and others quoting Matthew twenty-four as proof of the
Lord’s imminent return because of natural disasters and war that were
happening at the time. In the early 1960’s there were rumors of war like
the Cuban Missile Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam Conflict. The cold
war always brought threats of a nuclear holocaust. Like many that have no
knowledge of the historical background of Matthew twenty-four they looked
for present signs given in Matthew. These
signs mentioned have continually taken place in history so I think we have
to rely on help from commentators and historians to understand to what
period of history is being referred. Taking
the premise that signs were to happen before the destruction of Jerusalem,
we will try to see what history reveals. Our best witness is Josephus since
he was present and his record is preserved.
A copy of his book can usually be found in most libraries or
purchased at most Christian book stores. I understand there is an easy to
read condensed version also available.
disciples were impressed as they left the temple and commented on the
magnificence of the temple that Herod had been building for forty-six years.
Jesus was unimpressed and said there was coming a time when those huge
stones used to construct the temple would be thrown down and leveled.
According to Josephus the stones were fifty-feet long, twenty-four feet
broad and sixteen-feet thick (Jos. Ant. Bk.15, chapter 9). This did happen
during the destruction in 70 A.D., just as our Lord said it would. Caesar
gave orders for the city and temples to be completely torn down except for
some towers. We turn now to some of the predictions and fulfillments:
Matthew 24:5- Many imposters of Christ. (see Acts 21:38 & Simon Acts
records many. (Jos. Ant. Bk. 20, chapter: 4, 7)
Matthew 24: 6- 7- Wars, rumors of wars, famines pestilences &
records that one of the Caesars (Caius) sent one of his generals to Judea to
set up his statue in the cities and in the temple. The whole Jewish nation
was prepared to sacrifice itself so this would not happen. As it turned out
it did not happen but tensions were high (Jos. Wars, Bk. 2, chap. 10). Of
course, we read of a great famine in the entire world at that time (Acts
11:28). Earthquakes were numerous and destroyed whole cities. Laodicea, one
of the seven churches mentioned in the Revelation letter, had a severe
earthquake that leveled the city. Quoting from a bible encyclopedia,
"The city was at the crossroads of north-south traffic between Sardis
and Perga and east-west from the Euphrates to Ephesus. Laodicea quickly
became a rich city, rich enough to be able to rebuild itself without outside
help after the destructive earthquake of 60 A.D. In common with many of the
Hellenistic cities there was a prosperous Jewish colony established there
well before the Christian era. The city's reputation was for its money
transactions and the good quality of raven-black wool grown in the
area." (Blake and Edmonds, Biblical Sites in Turkey, p. 139-140).
Matthew 24:9- Jesus continues with the persecution the apostles would
receive. Peter & John were arrested and the Apostles were beaten, Acts
chapters 4& 5. The church was persecuted and scattered from Jerusalem,
Acts 8:1. Paul & Silas were arrested, Acts 16, and finally Paul was
arrested and sent to Rome; these are just a few of the persecutions the
Disciples of Christ faced.
Matthew 24:15 -28- Jesus gives instructions to the Christians on what to do
when the armies that were to destroy Jerusalem begin to appear. Some say
that those that heeded his warning were able to escape to Pella and avoid
the atrocities that
does not allow for all of the details but my hope is that we can better
understand Jesus’ discussion with his disciples at the Mount of Olives
before his arrest, mock trial and murder.
We end with a quote from Augustine, "God will not suffer man to
have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had foresight of his
prosperity he would be careless, and if he foreknew his adversity he would
are many elements in the journey of our lives we cannot change.
Jesus asks the question in Matthew 6:27, “Which of you by taking
thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”
All the worrying and fretting over our lives will not add a single
moment to it. Much like the
weather, there are a host of issues we simply are unable to alter.
One of those unchangeable events is the second coming of Jesus.
He has assured us he will return and the earth will be destroyed.
Such a major event has caused man to continually predict when this
will occur. Jesus has told us we
do not know and cannot know when this will happen.
Peter points out that due to our impatience some have decided it
simply is not going to happen. Adding
to our doubt are all the false predictions that have failed.
Like the little boy who cried wolf, some have decided it is all a big
lie. How unfortunate that
conclusion is. God has also
revealed to us in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto man to die.
We do not doubt that because we see it happening to all of those
around us. Just like the end of
the world, we will not prevent our own death.
We might add a few more years with healthier living but the end is
ultimately the same. For some
all of this talk about things ending, death, departure and separation are
cause for great sadness. Nothing
is further from the truth because God’s ultimate plan is for a great
reunion of those who love and follow Him.
Life will become all it can be when we understand and plan for the
of all let us focus on what we can change rather than what we cannot.
Peter challenges us in 2 Peter 3:14 to evaluate our lives in light of
the second coming. We must not
get too attached to this earth. It
seems similar to a camping trip. We
pack up our gear and head to a beautiful part of the country.
There we set up our tent for a limited stay.
We have no illusions what we are doing is permanent.
We know it will end but while there enjoy the temporary setting as
much as possible. In like
fashion, we should have no illusions that our journey here on earth is
permanent. Peter lets us know
that being aware of what will happen should lead us to the life God wants as
well as the life we should want.
conclusion Peter reaches should remind us of the conclusion Solomon reached
in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon
had gone through a lot in his life and now begins to evaluate his
experiences. He had read books,
gained knowledge, planted gardens, built structures, thrown parties and
known wealth. He had seen the
old die, the young die, the rich die as well as the poor and all of this
directed him to one conclusion. In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 he writes, “Let
us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God and keep his
commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work unto judgment, with every secret
thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”
Solomon knew he could not change his end but could change how he
lived his present life.
lives, which we can change, should be lives dedicated to God and following
his direction. Speculating
and worrying over things we cannot change is of little use.
Applying ourselves to our own lives which we can change is God’s
direction to us. The Apostle
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58 directs us to a life that is “steadfast,
unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
In this chapter, Paul is contrasting the permanent and the temporary.
Paul talks about that which is mortal and that which is immortal to
help us realize the more important of the two.
Solomon’s turn to God seems in part motivated by the brevity and
fleeting nature of life. It led
him to conclude only the eternal is important.
In the same fashion, Peter wants us to consider our temporary lives
on earth and ask ourselves what manner of persons we ought to be.
In Hebrews 11:24-25 we are told, “By faith Moses, when he was come
to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing
rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the
pleasures of sin for a season.” The
indication was that when Moses grew up he realized what was important, it
was a life dedicated to God and not temporary pleasures.
In 2 Peter 3 we are told to seek a life that is without spot,
blameless, and holy. Is this the
life we live? Too often we seek
the easy life that depends on others to do the work.
We want the bailout, the handout, the assistance and when called upon
to do something ourselves, we moan over the great injustice.
In similar fashion Christians may call upon God’s rich grace and
mercy instead of simply living the lives they ought.
In Ephesians 5:3-5 we are told, “But fornication, and all
uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as
becometh saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which
are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor
covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and of God.” Rather
than seek a holy life and abstaining from fornication we simply expect God
to forgive. This does not seem
to be the diligent life of dedication that is steadfast, unmovable and
always abounding in the work of the Lord.
brethren at Thessalonica were having trouble with the return of Jesus.
Some seemed to feel that those who had died would miss the whole
event. Not to worry, Paul lets
us know that no one is going to miss it.
All will be caught up together and all will stand before God in
judgment. Even more disturbing
seems to be those who felt his return was immediate.
They ceased working as God wanted.
Paul told them to get to work and the same is true today.
We are to be active and working in the vineyard of the Lord until we
die or until He returns. Jesus
asks the question in Matthew 20:6, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?”
In John 4:31-38 Jesus let’s his followers know that he is here to
work. Time seems to be of the
essence and there should not be a moment lost.
Do we feel a sense of urgency? He
may not come for a thousand years or he may come before this writing is
published, but regardless we work. We
pursue the holy life and thank God he provides forgiveness for our weakness.
He is coming and that will not change.
How I live in this life is surely of my own choosing.
- Number 2 -
Mar/Apr 2012 BC
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