Expectations of Doom and Gloom

Since becoming a Christian in 1972, Jesus has been coming soon. In 1973, during my short daily commutes to USF, I used to gaze into the sky wondering if today would be THE DAY of His glorious appearing. And the fervor over Jesus’ impending return hasn’t diminished one iota in the past 45 years. Every school shooting, Middle East skirmish, natural disaster, financial crisis and/or anything considered negative, is always perceived as a sign that we’re in the final days of the ‘last days.’ Just wander through the eschatology section of your local Christian bookstore. All of the popular apocalyptic novels and movies are similarly themed. The world is in an out-of-control death spiral on the road to Armageddon. And, according to the gurus, we can only expect things to get much worse. The worse things get, many argue, the closer it is to Jesus’ return. So, in a somewhat perverse sense, there seems to be a morbid preoccupation with gloom. When bad things happen the constant refrain is, “It’s just a sign of the times.” And the carrot is, Jesus’ return is right around the corner. They assume that what God the Holy Spirit, (the second person of the Trinity), has been unable to accomplish in the past 2,000 years, Jesus (the third person of the Trinity) will do in the twinking of an eye.

Following are just a few titles headlining the prophecy sections of our bookstores. Take a moment to peruse them. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. 🙂 Is there any wonder Christians have underlying expectations of coming food shortages, financial chaos, escalating wars, civil unrest, increasing natural disasters… all ultimately leading to the END?

  • Is there the slightest possibility that there is a fatal flaw in the underlying premise of all these books?
  • Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that at least some of the predictions found in these books (other than the obvious short-term events that any political or financial analyst could have predicted) would have been fulfilled by now? Some of these authors have produced as many as 15 to 20 similarly style works and none of the main events have come to pass.
  • Is it possible that this entire genre of Christian literature is so far off base that none of these books will have produced a shred of fulfillment even 20-30 years from now? 

Consider just a few forerunners to those shown above and below: The Late Great Planet Earth (1971), Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (1972), The Terminal Generation (1976), New World Coming (1984), Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (1997), Planet Earth 2000 -Will Mankind Survive? (1994), all 16 books in the Left Behind Series (1995-2007), The Last Jihad (2002), The Apocalypse Code (2007), The Late Great United States (2009), The Twelfth Iman (2010),  Edge of the Apocalypse (2010), Earth’s Final Moments (2011), Jerusalem Countdown (2011), Israel at War (2012), The Four Blood Moons (2013), Damascus Countdown (2013), The Shemitah (2014)… 

We have spent millions if not billions on these exhilarating reads. But, have you ever asked what we have to show for it… other than ever more gloomy expectations of impending doom?

Given the overwhelmingly negative content of all these apocalyptic books, ask yourself (as I did) the following:

  1. Does the Bible speak about the end of the world [kosmos] or the end of the age [aion]? If so, is there a difference?
  2. Are we still living in the same ‘last days’ which Peter and the author of Hebrews said they were living in almost 2,000 years ago? (Acts 2:16-21; Hebrews 1:1-2)?
  3. If so, then why do you think God chose to use the term ‘last days’ (which in every context means the tail end of something) to describe a time period 400 years longer than the entire Mosaic economy (which was approx 1,600 years)?
  4. Does the Bible speak of a singular person called antichrist? (read HERE and HERE)
  5. Does the New Testament predict that the Temple will be rebuilt? (Watch HERE)
  6. Does the New Testament predict a regathering of Jews in the last days?
  7. Has God preordained that from this point forward things are destined to go from bad to worse? If so, which passages of Scripture support that premise?
  8. Are these ever-present gloomy expectations having a chilling effect on our mandate to make disciples of all nations?
  9. Is there still a chance of worldwide revival and the healing of the nations?
  10. Is the Gospel destined to fail? In other words, is evil so pervasive that the work of the Holy Spirit as He inhabits Christians, incapable of revolutionizing the world for Christ?

If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share some thoughts that reverberated throughout my noggin after returning from a wonderful tour of the UK. I will attempt to deal with most of these questions, emphasizing question #7. It seems that we 21st-century Americans have far too little historical context with which to put our current difficulties in the proper perspective. And this lack makes us prone to make sweeping, eschatologically-induced generalizations like, “We live in terrible times.” Really? Compared to what?

On the lighter side…

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