In 1982, when my wife Debbie was pregnant with Matthew, she and I were warned by a well-intentioned but a bit overbearing fellow quoting from Matthew’s version Olivet Discourse. He told us rather emphatically that this was a dangerous time to bring a child into a world that was in its final birth pains. Not the best news for expecting parents!
Matthew 24:19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
On September 12, 1988, Debbie and I were tooling around the Gulf on the cruise ship Titanic…no actually it was the Veracruz but it felt like the Titanic, as one of the largest hurricanes (Gilbert) in history was bearing down on our destination, Cozumel, while we were bopping around like a cork in 20 foot seas. You ask what’s the significance of that date? It was the middle day of the three days Edgar Whisenant (88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988) predicted the rapture was guaranteed to happen.
“Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town. “[I]f there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashana 88.”
He came back in ’89 (Edgar that is…not Jesus LoL) with the same brazen guarantees and then wasn’t heard from again. Well, not publicly, that is. Perhaps he staked his life on it…
Then the magic year was the turn of the millennium, 2000. That reminds me, I still have 50 gallons of water and a bunch of canned goods from that one. I suppose the water’s a mite stale and the veggies are unrecognizable.
After Y2K came and went without much fanfare, the specutologists turned to 2004. Nothing again and then THE DAY became May 12, 2011… well, not it’s October 2011. That date will come and go and then the next great wave will be in 2012 culminating on the Mayan calendar’s terminal date, December 22. As certain as Edgar was, I am as well, that these and many more years of predictions will all come and go while more and more Christians become disillusioned with the Bible.
Well, Matthew is now almost 29, I’m 56 (ugh!) and I continue to hear the same ole warn-out refrain. “If the Lord tarries just a little longer I’ll do (fill in the blank)”. It’s always perpetually “soon”. Nice redundancy, eh? And this, in my view, is the crux of the problem. It’s a broken record. It’s Chicken Little meets Groundhog’s Day.
Every time there’s a school shooting, a rash of tornadoes, an earthquake, a kidnapping, an economic collapse, an oil spill, unrest in the Middle East, or basically anything negative, what do people say? “It’s a sign of the times.” To be quite frank, it’s a sign of EVERY generation in recorded history. This stuff has been going on since the fall. It’s as if people have no comprehension of history. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s Deja vu all over again.” 🙂
- 1775-1783 – The Revolutionary War (6,000 dead)
- 1815 – Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora volcanic eruption (92,000 dead)
- 1839 – India cyclone (300,000 dead)
- 1850-1950 – The third Pandemic of the Black Plague (12,000,000 dead)
- 1861-1865 – The Civil War (700,000 dead)
- 1887 – Yellow River Flood (2,000,000 dead)
- 1900-1980 – Smallpox (300,000,000 dead)
- 1907 – Chinese Famine (24,000,000 dead)
- 1918 – WW1 & the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (65,000,000 dead)
- 1920 – Haiyuan (China) earthquake (235,000 dead)
- 1937-1945 – WW2 (72,000,000 dead)
- 1941-1945 – Genocide (11,000,000 dead)
- 1960 – Chilean 9.5 earthquake (1,655 dead)
Case in point: In the first verse of the Revelation it says, “things which MUST SHORTLY take place.” So one person says, “shortly is just a relative term”, off to the races they go. So, 2,000 years later, the Revelation is supposedly still in our future. What about “MUST SHORTLY take place do we not understand? There’s no wonder confusion abounds.
After the massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that devastated Japan, I was talking with two gentlemen at the place I work-out. One guy said, as the other was nodding his head, “This is just the beginning, so get ready. You ain’t seen nothing yet.” No, maybe I haven’t since most of the really horrific stuff happened well before I was born, but I’ve heard these dire warnings for my entire 38-year Christian life.
And the truth is, the Bible doesn’t say anything about an increase or frequency of seismic activity, or school shootings, or economic woes or anything regarding an uptick in natural disasters. Jesus simply said that there would be earthquakes in diverse places.
But sadly, that doesn’t really seem to matter because we believe we’re living in the last days of history and things must be getting really bad. Our expectations tell us such, and we use to newspaper to confirm them. It’s the never-ending self-fulfilling story. But it’s not a true story and the facts simply don’t bear out these supposedly worsening times. It’s all relative when our myopathy restricts our view of the past 40 years.
So, yeah, I agree, Camping’s out of control, but so is this “any day now” rapture. It’s eating our lunch and sapping our resolve. Christians are becoming the butt of all the late night talk show jokes and overall, the Bible’s credibility is being severely compromised. I know it won’t be popular and you might get run out of a Bible study for even asking the question, but don’t ya think it’s high time we begin to look at the eschatological underpinnings that foster this kind of stuff? Something being imminent for 2,000 years is, well…the only words that come to mind are condescending. 🙁