I hope you’re not one of them, but there are millions of believers in Jesus around the world who live almost every moment of every day with horrible, paralyzing fear. Fear of what? Fear of a period of time called the “end times” or the “last days.” Where does the fear and dread come from? It comes from a mistaken view of events surrounding the return of Jesus to establish his Kingdom on earth. Where do the mistaken views come from? They come from hundreds—thousands—of Bible teachers, preachers, televangelists, and the like who are spreading mistaken views producing such fear and terror.
Most notable among those who are spreading such fear are men such as Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, and thousands of others. I’m not “picking on” those four men; I’m merely using their names as examples of all those who teach such fantasy, fiction, foolishness, and folderol! What makes me think I’m right and they are mistaken about the so-called “end times” or “last days”? Who am I to bring such charges against such notable men? Well, I’m not anyone notable, and I certainly don’t feel that with my teaching I’m going to change the minds of millions of misguided people. But if one person reading this issue of The Traveler can find some peace, hope, and encouragement—instead of paralyzing fear—that’s enough for me. What are all these millions of people fearful about?
They’re fearful that during the “end-times” they might have to endure (and possibly be tortured, killed, or worse) a 7-year period of time called the “Great Tribulation.” They’re fearful someone might stamp their forehead with the “mark of the beast.” They’re fearful they might be forcefully implanted with an ID computer chip under their skin. They’re fearful of “the Beast.” They’re fearful of the Antichrist. They’re fearful of the “False Prophet.” They’re fearful they might miss out on something called the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture.” When Jesus returns, Jesus believers will rise to meet Him in the air, but how can there be a pre-tribulation rapture if there won’t be a tribulation?
They’re fearful of something called the “Battle of Armageddon.” They’re fearful someone might find out about the freeze-dried food they have stored in their basement. They’re fearful their neighbors might turn them in to the authorities because they’re believers in Jesus. They’re fearful they might not be part of the “144,000.” They’re fearful of great earthquakes, wars, and famines. They’re fearful of something called the “Great White Throne Judgment.” They’re fearful of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.” They’re fearful of trumpets, seals, and vials being opened. They’re fearful of 75 lb hailstones pummeling the earth. They’re fearful of . . . you name it.
The End Is Near
Some people don’t know this about me, but I have a little ornery streak in me when sometimes I like to goad and challenge the thinking and faith of people. I really love to do that when people approach me saying something like this: “Bill, I’m convinced the end is near; how about you? What do you think?” First I might answer “Which end? The top end? The bottom end? Which end?” Then I’ll say something like: “End of what? The end of a TV series? The end of Krispy Kreme doughnuts? The end of the Pontiac line of vehicles? The end of what?”
When they start to mumble and look like they want to get away from me, then I’ll ask “How near? As near as that house across the street? As near as the next town? As near as one year, two years? What end is near? The end of what? How near is the end of what’s near?” By then, they usually write me off as some kind of kook that don’t know nuthin’ about the Bible. Friends, I’ve been reading and studying the Bible daily for over 50 years; I do know a little bit about it. No, the end is not near! Yes, the beginning is near!
Millions Pray: “Thy Kingdom Come”
What beginning? The beginning of what? The beginning of Jesus’ earthly Kingdom He will begin to establish when He returns. The same Jesus who left here 2,000 years ago. Do I know exactly when that will happen? Nope. But my many years of Bible study indicate to me that Jesus’ return to earth to establish his peacable Kingdom on earth could be “near.” Why do I believe that? From Matthew 24: 14 and Mark 13: 10 in the Bible. From Jesus’ own words. What did He say in those references? He said “The Good News about My Kingdom will be preached to all the people-groups in the world and then the end will come.
Your Bible may say “nations” or “ethnic groups” instead of “people-groups,” but they all mean essentially the same thing in the Greek language in which they were written. Those references are about the only statement Jesus made where he clearly indicated when the end would come. Oh, there are other types of statements He made about events to occur in his future, but those two statements are the only clear ones He made about the “end.” Incidentally, I like to paraphrase what He said in this manner: “When this Good News about My Kingdom is preached to all people-groups in the world, then the Real Beginning will come.”
Okay, follow me here. There are approximately 7,000 separate, distinct people-groups on this planet. In the past 2,000 years or so, somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 of those people-groups have heard the Good News about Jesus’ coming Kingdom on earth. Let’s use the smaller figure—3,500. That means there are approximately 3,500 people-groups remaining on earth which have not yet heard the Good News about Jesus’ coming Kingdom. It took 2,000 years to reach the first 3,500 people-groups. Now, with exponential advances in modern communication technology almost every day, the remaining 3,500 people-groups could conceivably hear that Good News as soon as the year 2050. Friends, I’d call that near!
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not predicting nor prognosticating. I’m not a prophet. I’m just stating some easily validated facts about people-groups which have already heard Good News and the remaining groups that haven’t heard. . . yet. But they could very well hear within the next 30 years. Easily. “But, but . . . Bill, what about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and the Mark of the Beast, and the Antichrist, and Armageddon, and my Pastor’s amazing chart he devised that shows exactly what’s going to happen during the Great Tribulation?”
The Great Tribulation
It ain’t gonna happen folks! The seven-year Great Tribulation happened from 66 A.D. to 72 A.D. in Judea and Jerusalem when the Roman armies wiped out just about everything living in that small corner of the world. It was a holocaust! We know that to be true, clear and indisputable fact from the writings of historians of that era. All that’s left on God’s “timetable” before Jesus returns is for those remaining people-groups to hear the Good News about the Kingdom. Period! Could I be wrong about all this? Yep. Absolutely! I’ve been wrong before. I’ll be wrong again. But I’m thinking on this particular subject, I’m about as correct as I’ve ever been in the past.
“But, but, but . . . Bill, what about all those weeks and years in the Book of Daniel? What about those 3 ½ years and 42 months in Revelation? What about the Antichrist in Revelation? What about . . . ?” Good questions. What about them? Remember the guy out in California who predicted that according to Daniel and the Book of Revelation the end of the world would happen on May 21, 2011; when things didn’t end, he revised his prediction to October 2011. That didn’t happen either, but he’s still making predictions on his international radio program.
Years ago, they used to stone to death false prophets. Now, all the false prophets do when they make a false prediction is write a new book with new false predictions. Friends, these types of fanciful predictions have been made for 2,000 years, although they have increased in frequency the past 150 years or so with the advent of better forms of mass communication.
Books, Charts, Bible Memory, and the Mayan Calendar
“But, but, but . . . Bill, what about Hal Lindsey’s books and those amazing [fiction!] books by Tim LaHaye? What about those amazing, huge, full color, end-time charts used by Pastor John Hagee down in Texas? What about Jack Van Impe’s uncanny ability to memorize huge portions of the Bible? Notable people like that can’t be wrong, can they? Bill, I’ve sold my house and maxed out my credit cards because my Pastor said Jesus will return in 2012. And what about all those predictions based on the Mayan Calendar that says everything will end on December 21, 2012?”
I don’t know, can prognostications like that be wrong? You have to answer those types of questions for yourself. All I can tell you is historically most of the events in Revelation already occurred from 66 A.D. to 72 A.D. And most of the events prophesied by Daniel occurred before and during Jesus’ life and ministry when He was here on earth the first time 2,000 years ago. All I can tell you is Jesus said when all people-groups on this planet hear the Good News about his Kingdom, then the end (beginning!) will come. You have to decide for yourself whether or not Jesus is correct . . . or your Pastor, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe, or John Hagee . . . and a multitude of others teaching the same sort of fantasy. I’m gonna believe what Jesus said . . . but, yes, I could be wrong.
We’re not near the beginning of some calamitous, world-destroying end. Rather, we’re near the wonder-full beginning of the Real Beginning!
By the way, the world is not going to be totally destroyed in some horrendous, fiery conflagration. The Bible states clearly in 4 places that the earth as we know it will simply be “freshly restored,” not destroyed. Your homework assignment is to locate and read those four references. Hint: 2 are in the Book of Isaiah, 1 in 2 Peter, and 1 in Revelation.
The Last Days
“Okay, Bill, I’ve got a good one for you that I’ll bet you can’t explain away. What about the “last days?” Doesn’t the Bible say we’re living in the last days? Yes and no. I want you to look up for yourself 3 Bible references about the “last days.” They are Acts 2: 17; 1 Corinthians 10: 11; and Hebrews 1: 1. Of course, you should always read Bible references in their context. What do those 3 references say about the “last days?” When do they say the “last days” began? C’mon, be honest. The “last days” began 2,000 years ago during the time of Jesus and the earliest years of the infant church! They did not begin in 1844, 1914, or World War II, or in 1988, or in 2000.
The last days began 2,000 years ago. Where are we now in terms of the “last days?” Well, at the very least we’re 2,000 years after they began. Are we in the middle of the “last days?” Near the end? Who knows? Wait, I know who knows: God! And He’s the only one who knows. Not me. Not you. Not Hal Lindsey. Not Tim LaHaye, not John Hagee, not Jack Van Impe. No human knows. Only God.
The Antichrist is Coming!
Let me give you just one simple example of where such men are wrong. (Do I dare call them “false prophets”?) Those 4 men and most others like them write, teach, and speak about the “Antichrist” in the Book of Revelation. Can I tell you something so obvious that it’s almost scary it’s been overlooked? The word “Antichrist” does not appear even one time in the Book of Revelation! Honestly. Look it up for yourself. If such teachers are wrong about something as simple and obvious as that, what else might they be wrong about? Plenty—more than I could even begin to write about in this brief issue of The Traveler.
I say it again: the only definitive statement Jesus made about the possible end-times or last days is the end would come when all the world’s people-groups have had the Good News about Jesus’ Kingdom preached to them. That’s it, dear reader. All other predictions and prognostications about the “end-times” and “last days” are purely imaginative, fanciful speculation! Here’s something else to think about. Most so-called “end-time” teaching does only one thing . . . and one thing only: it strikes fear in the hearts of people!
Fear or Love? You Choose!
Fear about whether or not they’ll “make it.” Fear about whether or not they should have children (if it’s all going up in smoke anyway . . . ) Fear of whether or not they should start a new business. Fear of whether or not they should save and plan for their future. Fear of bothering with going to college . . . if the dreadful end is near. Fear of. . . . you name it. The Bible is very clear that God has not given us a “spirit of fear,” but, rather, of power, and love, and of a sound mind. It also states that perfect love “casts out” fear. I’m gonna choose power, love, a sound mind, hope for a bright future, Good News about a wonder-full Kingdom that is coming. But you have to choose whether or not to live in fear or in hope. It’s all a matter of choices and decisions, friends.
I simply refuse (based on many years of knowing God and the Bible) to heed any so-called end-time teaching that produces fear, terror, and dread in people. Instead, I choose to believe (again, based on what I understand of the Bible) teaching that tells me God loves me, and when I die or when Jesus returns I will enter a bright, peacable Kingdom never before seen in all of world history! The kingdoms of this world may soon be subsumed into the Kingdom of God and Jesus. I repeat: We’re not near the beginning of some calamitous, world-destroying end. Rather, we’re near the wonder-full beginning of the Real Beginning!
The End Of The Bible
I’d like you to turn now to the very end of the Bible. Okay, have you done that? I’ll bet you turned to chapter 22 of the Book of Revelation. Guess what? That’s not the end of the Bible. Oh, it’s the end of the format of the Bible, but it’s not the end of the events written about in the Bible. No, the real end of the Bible is in 1 Corinthians 15: 24 – 28. I’ll paraphrase that reference for you in plain English:
“Then comes the end (the final consummation of all things on earth) when Jesus hands over his Kingdom to God the Father after Jesus has put an end to all other rulers, authorities, and powers. Jesus will reign over his Kingdom until He has subdued all his enemies; the last enemy He will destroy is death. When Jesus has subdued everything and everyone, He will then submit Himself to God the Father. Then God the Father will be All in all—He will be everything to everyone everywhere.”
Friends, that’s the real end of the Bible. All fear is destroyed. Our last great enemy, Death, is destroyed. Love Wins!
“For a child has been born–for us! The gift of a son–for us! He’ll take over running the governments of the world. His names will be Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Father of all the ages of time and eternity, Prince of Peace. His Kingdom will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the peace and wholeness He will finally bring to the world. He’ll rule over that promised Kingdom and put it on a firm footing–keeping it going with justice, fair dealings, and perfect righteousness at last.” –Isaiah 9: 6 and 7
To Think About This Month:
I choose to believe the Bible teaches God wins throughout the universe, on this planet, and in my life!
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Revised and Updated November 2020