Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



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:

1. The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806
In 1806, a hen in Leeds, England laid eggs on which the phrase "Christ is coming" was written. News of the so-called miracle spread, and many were convinced the end was near--until someone actually watched that hen closely and realized it was all a hoax.

2. The Millerites, April 23, 1843
William Miller, a New England farmer, concluded that the date the world would end could be discerned from strict literal interpretation of Scripture. By Miller's account that would be between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He attracted thousands of followers, called Millerites. Many sold or gave away their possessions, figuring they wouldn't need them. Obviously, the End Times didn't come. The group disbanded, but some of them formed what is now known as the Seventh Day Adventists.

3. Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
When Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, called a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835, it was to tell them that he had spoken to God and was told that Jesus would return within the next 56 years. Once Jesus did return, the End Times would begin.

4. Halley's Comet, 1910
It was reported by The New York Times and other newspapers that when the Earth passed through the tail of Halley's comet, the planet could be bathed in a deadly, toxic gas called cyanogen. That generated widespread panic around the world. Eventually, scientists explained there was nothing to fear.

5. Pat Robertson, 1982
Televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson ignored Matthew 24:36 ("No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven...") and told his "700 Club" audience in May 1980 that he knew when the world would end. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982, there is going to be a judgment on the world," Robertson claimed.

6. Heaven's Gate, 1997
What is it about comets? In 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following comet Hale-Bopp. Despite refutations by reputable astronomers, the claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven's Gate to conclude this was the end of the world. Thirty-nine of the cult members committed suicide on March 26, 1997 because they thought this was their only chance to survive before the Earth was "recycled" and wiped clean.

7. Nostradamus, August 1999
One of the most famous metaphorical writings of Michel de Nostrdame, written more than 400 years ago, has been interpreted as thus: "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." Some thought this would be Armageddon.

8. Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000
It wasn't just your home PC that could go on the fritz when the year changed from 1999 to 2000. Many thought the date shift, which some computers couldn't recognize, would cause catastrophic problems, including vast blackouts and even a nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared. They must have been disappointed.

9. 5/5/2000 Ice
In his 1997 book "5/5/2000 Ice: The Ultimate Disaster," author Richard Noone forecast that on May 5, 2000, the Antarctic ice mass would be three miles thick--the very date on which the planets would be aligned in the heavens. He thought this would result in a global icy death for us all.

10. God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008
In 2006, 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.
(Source: LiveScience.com)

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

Fayetteville, Arkansas


Matthew 24

Harold 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.

I 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.

Adam 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.  

Josephus, 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.

The 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:

1. Matthew 24:5- Many imposters of Christ. (see Acts 21:38 & Simon Acts 8:9,10)

Josephus records many. (Jos. Ant. Bk. 20, chapter: 4, 7)

2. Matthew 24: 6- 7- Wars, rumors of wars, famines pestilences & earthquakes.

Josephus 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).

3. 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.

4. 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 accompanied the siege of Jerusalem. In a day when news traveled slowly the people that heard and believed Christ’s teaching could look to some of these signs to help them know the time was near.

Space 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 be hopeless." 

…Richard Brannon

Fresno, CA

2 Peter 3

There 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 inevitable.

First 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.

The 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.

Our 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.

The 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.

…Ron Collins

Los Angeles, CA


Volume 31  -  Number 2 -  Mar/Apr 2012     BC is published every other month. Send all inquiries, address changes and subscriptions to the editor:  Scott Gage, PO Box 3425, Fayetteville, AR  72702-3425 Voice & Fax 479-521-6809  Email: Lsgage129@cs.com