“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel

There’s oil all over the Gulf.  Obama is our president.  Haiti had a devastating earthquake.  Tyra Banks has her own TV show.  These are clearly signs of the times…er…to put it in a less Christian-ese way, these are clearly evidences that the world is soon to live out the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”.

Looks like a Minnesotan winter

With every world incident, there always seems to be some oily politician shelling (no pun intended) out an extra helping of fear to the populace.  And while some of these are legitimate cause for concern, we may as well all become nihilists because in 2012, the BP oil well will infect the entire ocean while draining the entire world of its oil suppy, the polar ice caps will melt and drown everyone on the east coast.  But those who drown will be the lucky ones, as everyone else will either be consumed by African killer bees, turned into zombies by a mixture of Antrax and SARS, or be turned into zombies by the radiation of a North Korean nuke.

MMMMMMMM BRAAAAINS!

I bet you’re feeling better about your day now, huh?

Luckily, Christians have a messiah who has an easy yoke   and a light burden.  And he tells us to chill out and not worry about the future.  And he tells us this multiple times in the Bible.  So then why is this guy so popular?

Dr. Jack Van Impe

Now, I don’t mean to single out Jack Van Impe. Although I disagree with a lot of his stuff, I kinda like him.  He’s out of the box.  But there’s this whole culture that’s almost obsessed with predicting the end times.  And although some do it with pure motives, preaching that God will eventually save the day and it’ll be awesome,  I feel their messages are counter productive, doing nothing more than installing fear in people.  And every time there’s an earthquake, a conflict between nations, or anytime an Isreali gets heartburn, these doomsday prophets use these as Biblical proof that the world is about to end.

But what does the Bible really say about these warning signs for the end of days?

*THE FOLLOWING IS AN ATTEMPT TO KEEPING A COMPLEX BIBLE TALK AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE.  SORRY IF I FAIL*

In Luke 21, Jesus is saying some pretty serious stuff about what will happen.  Without quoting the entire chapter, Jesus mentions a number of crappy things that will happen like wars, earthquakes, famine, pestilence, Christians being put to death – and a partridge in a pear tree.  Many believers think that this passage of scripture is talking about the end of days.  Meaning, before God steps in and decides to make it all better, the world is really, and I mean really going to suck.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, I don’t believe that Luke 21 is talking about the end times at all.  In this chapter, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple is Jerusalem will one day be destroyed.  When they ask when that will happen, that’s when Jesus gives his speech about all the terrible and horrible things that will occur. And the temple was destroyed about 40 years later.  Many people believe that he answered the disciples’ question in verses 8 and 9, but then started describing the end times in the rest of the chapter.

Why would Jesus do that?  Why would he answer the disciples’ question and then immediately start talking about a completely different subject with no segway?  That would be like me telling someone, “Tomorrow I’m going to go to the grocery store, then the bank, then people will cry at the funeral home and my grandchildren will receive my inheritance.”  It just doesn’t make sense.

Not this kind of segway.

I believe that Jesus was doing nothing more than describing all the things that would happen when the temple got destroyed and not talking about the end times.  A lot of those things (wars, famine, slaughtering of Christians) happened during that point in history.

Now for the bad news.

First off, I could be wrong.  I mean we’re not %100 sure what Jesus actually meant.  A lot of really smart scholars are divided on the issue.  Secondly, even if Jesus wasn’t describing the end of days in Luke 21, whose to say that life won’t all of a sudden take a turn for the worse?  Think about all the tragic events around the world that have happened in the past 100 years.  Heck, think of all the things going on right now!  We were lucky to be born in a sliver of time and in a country where safety and convenience is pretty easy to obtain.  But life has a funny way of changing quickly and radically.

Great, now I’m the one peddling fear.

But more good news!  Jesus commands us to chill out.  We’re not supposed to know when Jesus is going to come back (Acts 1).  Only God knows (Mark 13).  We’re not supposed to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6) or our life and all of its nuances (Luke 12).  And in stead of having anxiety, we should rejoice (Philippians 4) because God is ultimately in control.

And so what if we turn into zombies?  This life is such a small vapor in comparison to eternal hope we have in our salvation.

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Comments on: "Apocalypse Later: Why Christians Need To Relax" (7)

  1. philskill said:

    Every generation since Jesus rose from the grave thought that they were living in the end-times. I remember reading Christian books in the late 90s (published in the late 80s to early 90s) about how Jesus would return around the year 2000, or that the world would end by the year 2000. Now the world is ending in 2012. Nobody talked about 2012 until the early 90s when it was mentioned in a movie. I can’t for the life of me remember what movie that was, but I heard this in a documentary that I was watching just 2 nights ago.

    I think those who spend their life trying to figure out the end of the world have wasted their time. (sure, many of them are filthy rich…..)….. HEY….wait a second……Could it be that those end time, doomsday speakers know that they can’t figure out when “armageddon” or “doomsday” or (insert word here) is going to happen, but they come up with the most creative ways to try because there are millions of gullible Christians making them rich by buying their books. The same author who wrote a book about the world ending in 2000, has since wrote more books, trying to predict that time period, and more gullible Christians have bought ’em up.

    Josh, maybe we need to get our peice of the pie here. Lets collaborate and write a book about why the world is going to end on February 30th 2013.

    • Happy Easter to you and your failmy! Thank you for taking the time to post wonderful thoughts and to see your families memories they are making!!!Your posts always brighten my day!!!Fondly Donna

  2. No anxiety here. I’m hoping He is coming back soon. The only thing I’m really concerned about is everyone I love making it when He does return. I for one don’t plan on being a part of the REALLY bad things that will happen during the tribulation because I won’t be here. So does everything I here in the news make me afraid? No, it is though, making me pretty excited.

  3. philskill said:

    By the way, I think the fun of being a Christian is living in such a manner where you truly have no idea when that time is going to come. I think there is a reason nobody knows the day, time or really, I believe even a general idea of the time. That is because we are to live as if today was our last, and at the same time live like we are going to be around for another 70 years.

    How silly is it that there are some Christians out there who buy so heavily into this end times concept that they live as though they will not be around much longer. Sell their house, quit their job etc. That can be very dangerous. I believe that is why NOBODY knows the day, the hour, or in my opinion, even the general time frame. Trying to pick which decade Jesus is going to come back is a mistake IMO. Even trying to pick the century…..I think is wrong.

    1 of 2 things could happen as soon as I exhale my next breath. 1, I could fall over and die, for me that is “the end of the world” is it not? So maybe the statement “Jesus is coming and he is coming soon”, or “the end of the world is coming soon” is and has been absolutely correct for every generation since He rose from the grave. For all 10+ billion people who have come and gone since then, Jesus has in a manner of speaking “returned” has He not? Or, the “end of the world” has occurred. I guess that is a completely different way of looking at it…..and if you look at it that way then everybody who has ever said “The end is near” has been correct. Not so fast though……

    I think those who continue to spout off about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in our lifetime, and the return of Jesus, and the “rapture” (a word not even mentioned in the Bible) need to read their history books about how every other generation has done and said the same things.

    End times prophecy is big business. Everytime an “armageddon” type show comes on the history channel, my wife and I pop some popcorn and watch intently on the couch. Its entertaining to a degree, but I think it does more harm than good to some. Jesus said nobody will know when. Lets not try to say “well what He said is nobody will know the exact hour or day, but I can predict it within 3 days”. Is it not safer to keep it simple, “Jesus said nobody will know”. period. Those who put a time frame on the return of Jesus, and make millions from it, I believe are causing harm. Too many gullible Christians take them so seriously that they sell their house, quit their job etc. Those who do that will be judged I believe, for the harm they have caused. (of course some good can come from it at times as well, and ultimately God is the judge, this is just my opinion).

    So, I think its best to take the end times people with a grain of salt, and plan to live another 5 or 6 decades. At the same time, live as though Jesus is coming back tomorrow. Its all about balance, a good balance!

  4. joshuasphilosophy said:

    You both hit on some really good points.

    The end times craze got really big in the 1960s and hasn’t really died down since. I’m tempted to geek out right now and put down some of the theories that have been the result of badly interpreted scripture (the theory about 1988 is my favorite) but I’m trying not to sound too academic because not many will read it.

    Phil, I like what you said about balance. We can’t go and sell our house and spend the day worrying about this, but then again, we can’t completely disregard it either. From an evangelistic standpoint, we have to “be about our Father’s business” before he comes back.

    Cindy, er…Mom. 🙂 The viewpoint you have is definitely the healthiest, and the reason why you have no anxiety about it is because you know your salvation is secure. Where the fear comes is when people think we’re going to face the tribulation before Jesus comes back, taking Luke 22 out of context. There’s also a lot of fear for Christians who’ve never been taught about the all-encompassing grace of God.

    Many Christians have a difficult time grasping the concept of God’s grace. I think because mostly they were taught wrong in church. Many Christians still have the mindset that God is going to revoke their salvation if they do even one thing wrong. And if Jesus happens to come back at the time they’ve sinned, well they’re pretty much screwed. This makes for a lot of overly fearful Christians whose salvation isn’t based on God’s grace, but on luck and timing.

  5. I really do feel that the Lord is coming back soon. Just how soon I don’t know, but it feels as if it could be any day, which is probably a good thing that I feel that way. Living my life as if He could come back any minute isn’t fearful, but smart, if you know what I mean. Even though I believe His return is soon, at least I certainly hope so, I’m still working and have no intention of selling my home. Well, I might sell it, but I’ll be buying a new one. I’m also not going to leave notes and money in my house with instructions for someone to feed my dogs (I know someone that did that). Actually my dogs are so special they will be going to heaven with me. Now please don’t tell me I’m wrong on my dog theory, just let me remain blissfully hopeful.

    Another thing to remember, We may not know the exact date a baby will be born, but we can know just about when to expect the arrival and we can certainly know the signs of delivery.

    As far as Jack Van Impe is concerned. I really like him. I like him because he is current and relevant. Also, I might feel qualified to debate his theories if I had memorized most of the Bible and obtained multiple doctorates. So since I haven’t acomplished either I’ll keep my questions/comments to myself.

  6. joshuasphilosophy said:

    Well of course you like Jack Van Impe, he believes that dogs will go to heaven! I really hope he’s right on that one, because that means Magnum is up there cuddling under blankets and peeing on people’s shoes. 🙂

    I want to be super sensitive when criticizing Jack Van Impe, or any man of God for that matter. I don’t at all doubt his faith or integrity (a lot of people say some really harsh things about him). I pray his ministry brings people to Christ. I’m not really for bringing people to Christ through fear like Van Impe, Ray Comfort, Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, etc. – but if people come to Christ through it, then praise God! God can use well-intentioned (though possibly poorly Biblical) ways to bring people to him. I mean, many people have legitimately found God through the homosexual church so we can’t be too critical when it’s ultimately God’s spirit that brings people to him.

    I just don’t really agree that we can’t question Jack Van Impe because he knows his Bible and has multiple doctorates. First off, there are atheists that can quote more Bible than the both of us put together. And just because one can quote the Bible, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting it all right. Many people can quote mass sums of Bible but have no knowledge of the Bible’s historical and cultural context. They take everything literally and I believe that’s a really bad way of looking at God’s book.

    Secondly, I tend to be a little skeptical when someone has 14 honorary doctorates and not one actual doctorate. There are a lot of people out there that get doctorates from unaccredited “Joe Schmo Bible Institute” that give honorary doctorates when they have no business doing so. Heck, North Central University, which an accredited undergrad college gave Jim Baker an honorary doctorate when he bought their sky ways.

    I personally know many incredible people with doctorates that know the Bible inside and out who completely disagree with Van Impe’s teaching. So I don’t agree that we can just agree with everything he says because of his laurels.

    It does make some sense to think with the way the world is going, God could come back soon. But then again, everyone believed that God was going to come back with the rise of Communism, the year 1988, Y2K, World Trade Center, Obama, the 2012 theory and the 2018 theory… I mean when does it end? I’m just not too sure that we even have a broad sense of when Christ is coming back. Why do so many people treat the Bible like some mysterious code that needs to be cracked about the end times when God clearly said that no one knows but himself?

    But I agree with the gist of what you’re saying. I too am excited for Jesus’ coming. I don’t believe that it’s going to happen like the Left Behind books say it will, but that doesn’t matter. In the end, God wins and that’s awesome. That will be a fantastic day. And I believe that every tongue will confess he is God.

    My only concern is that this whole obsessions with the end times is just not beneficial for anyone. Sure, for Christians that are secure in their Salvation, it is encouraging, but I believe that is the only benefit. Because this end times craze, mixed with a poor view of God’s redemption and grace, make for very bad Christians.

    I know this is getting long but let me expound.

    I grew up thinking that with every sin I committed, every day I didn’t spend enough time with God, every time I goofed up, God was keeping tally. Eventually he was going to get tired of my antics and revoke my Jesus card. This way of thinking was an epidemic in my entire church, from the youth to the adults. This was also compounded with a Sunday School teacher who was obsessed with end times, a youth pastor who showed a movie about people trying to survive the Tribulation – complete with a beheading scene, a pastor who once in a sermon had a guy blow a trumpet at a random time just to get his point across; even at youth convention, a pastor once preached a sermon titled, “What to do if you miss the rapture,” which was filled with practical tips on SURVIVAL.

    Now I know that many of these intentions were good, trying to get people to come to Christ. But what it left was a bunch of people who were only saved because they were scared, and another group that was already saved but had too much anxiety about their faith. I knew a few guys who were convinced they were going to have to live through the tribulation because they simply couldn’t live up to God’s standards. What a screwed up way to preach God’s message!

    It makes me so very angry because I have a lot of friends that simply got burned out of church because they were flawed and because of that, they believe God hates them. If they only knew the fullest breadth and width and depth of the love God carries for them, and that he’s not angered by their sin. This is why my heart beats the most for people who are agnostics and those who are out of church. For all the good that has come for the fear many churches have peddled, there is a group that was left lost because of it.

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