Stop The Madness!
NOTE: This is the conclusion of a two-part series I began last month.
I love watching some episodes of the old “Friends” TV sitcom. In one episode, five of the six friends were arguing and yelling at one another. Finally, the sixth friend, Phoebe, screamed at the other five: “Stop the madness!” It was a comical scene. Sometimes I want to scream: “Stop the madness,” too. What madness? Madness about the way so many of us misunderstand Jesus’ return to earth and the so-called end of the world.
When Was The Book Of Revelation Written?
Much of what I wrote last month—and will write this month—depends upon when the Book of Revelation was written. Many Bible scholars who study and date the books of the Bible mistakenly believe Revelation was written toward the end of the first century, around 90 – 95 A.D. It’s interesting how scholars came up with those incorrect dates, but I won’t bore you with those reasons. However, that view is slowly changing. Many reliable and reputable scholars and historians now believe the Book of Revelation was written about 65 or 66 A.D. Why is that important? Why does that make a difference in “end time” beliefs?
Here’s why. Those who believe it was written about 65 or 66 A.D. believe that the events in chapters 1 through 18 of Revelation already occurred from 66 to 72 A.D., a 7-year period of “great tribulation” and persecution never before experienced by Jews and Jesus believers both in the land of Israel and throughout the Roman Empire. I, too, have come to hold the view that the Book of Revelation was written about 65 or 66 A.D. I am convinced that that all the events in Revelation 1 – 18 already happened between 66 and 72 A.D., throughout the Roman Empire and in the land of Israel. Only the events written about in Revelation chapters 19 – 22 are still future events—events which are yet to happen as this age comes to a close before Jesus returns.
Events in Revelation 1 – 18 can be factually supported by actual historical events that happened in the Roman Empire and Israel from 66 to 72 A.D. In fact, you studied many of those events in high school or college when you studied about the Roman Empire. For example, do you remember studying about Nero and the burning of the city of Rome? About the total destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? Those are the kinds of events I mean. Yes, the events of Revelation 1 – 18 already occurred 2,000 years ago.
Let’s continue now with some of the factual, true matters I began to write about last month—matters to show all things may not necessarily be getting worse; some matters are getting better. For example, globalization is not the totally evil matter many people have come to believe it is. There is no “Antichrist” hiding out somewhere waiting behind the scenes to establish an evil one-world government; the next one-world government will be established when Jesus returns to earth to inaugurate his universal, “one world” Kingdom. As a matter of fact, globalization has enhanced the lives of billions of people on the planet through international trade and specialization. It has helped far more people than it has harmed. Globalization has the potential to substantially increase the world’s quality of life in almost every area of life without doing away with national borders and national integrity. Increasing globalization is simply preparing the way for Jesus’ return to establish his own “Kingdom globalization” over planet earth. Globalization is not a horrible, evil thing preparing the world for the coming of a fictional Antichrist! When Jesus returns, He will simply take what globalization has already occurred by that time and transform it into continuing growth and development undergirded by true righteousness and justice.
Overpopulation and World Hunger
How about the fear of overpopulation in our futures . . . when there won’t be enough food for everyone, enough fuel, enough of anything? Certainly that must be setting us up for the coming of the Antichrist and a wholly evil one-world government. Don’t be misinformed by well-intended, but wrong, fear-mongers, even if they’re Bible-believing believers in Jesus! I find all too often that believers in Jesus are sometimes far more gullible about a gloom-and-doom, fear-filled future than are pre-believers. Often, those who believe the Bible are far more likely to believe without question so-called end-time teachings that simply aren’t found in the Bible.
One Glaring Example of False Teaching!
Let me give you just one glaring example. Ask most any Jesus believer who reads and studies the Bible to look up “Antichrist” in the Book of Revelation. Most people will grab their Bible concordance (a book to help locate all the words in the Bible) and start searching for “Antichrist” in the book of Revelation. Surprise. Surprise! The word Antichrist never appears—not even once—in the Book of Revelation. And yet there is an entire plethora of end-time teaching about the subject of the “Antichrist” in the Book of Revelation. Look it up for yourself. It just ain’t there, friends. That’s just one example among many about fears people have which are completely unfounded and nonbiblical.
Facts Replace Fears
Here are some facts to replace such fears. One fear is that the world is becoming overpopulated. Yes, the world population is growing, but the rate of increase is declining; for example, in the less developed parts of the world the birth rate is half what it was just fifty years ago. Some statisticians tell us that the world population will reach its peak in just a few years and then begin declining. We’re pretty well feeding most everyone on the planet right now, and, overall, people are eating better every passing decade. There is enough food for everyone! It’s a matter of distribution, not quantity.
How about the hue and cry that we’re running out of so-called fossil fuels? One example in response to those fears: tar sands and oil shale worldwide contain about 20 times the proven oil and natural gas reserves of the Middle East. Again, it’s a matter of distribution, not quantity. Likely, researchers will find alternatives to fossil fuels long before they run out.
Overall—and again I’m generalizing—today, people worldwide have enjoyed more peace, greater freedom, more leisure time, more widespread education, better health, and more opportunities to travel than any other people in history. What about all the natural disasters that seem to be happening more and more frequently and seem to be stronger and bigger than in the past? I’ll “cut to the chase”: there aren’t any more than in the past. They’re not worse than in the past. We simply have better means of observing and reporting natural disasters and seeing them occur in real time and in living color right in our own living rooms on big screen television. For example, let’s say that 200 years ago there was a major tsunami somewhere in the far eastern portion of the Pacific Rim. It’s possible that people living in North America at the time may have never heard of it because the worldwide, real-time media we have today simply wasn’t available then.
“If you say the world will go on getting better, you are considered mad. If you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect the Nobel Peace Prize,” says optimist Matt Ridley. He’s right. My own reading audience would grow larger if I predicted doom, gloom, the rise of Antichrist, something called the “mark of the beast,” and an army of 200 million invading Israel. How about the great final Battle of Armageddon? But if I write things will keep getting better and better—overall—before Jesus returns to establish his worldwide Kingdom, I get all sorts of nasty responses from people demanding I remove their e-mail addresses from our database.
All I ask is please don’t use any strong, scathing, nasty language that might cause my computer to crash! Be polite. Be nice. Some people almost seem to prefer the negative, pessimistic, gloom-and-doom view instead of more fact-based reality about the future. For approximately 200 years the gloom and doom pessimists have enjoyed most of the headlines—even though optimists have far more often been right. For some strange reasons, many of we humans prefer to be pessimistic; for one thing, pessimism brings in a lot of money.
Very few religious radio and TV programs have ever raised money by saying things are getting better. Hal Lindsay, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, and many others like them would not be able to continue their radio and TV programs if they begin to preach and teach that things are getting better. They might even (Gulp!) lose their incomes and have to get real jobs. If they write the end of the world is not likely to occur soon, they would have nothing to say to their vast audiences. Few people would purchase their books or DVD’s. Dare to be an optimist! Dare to believe God is in total control of world events. Dare to believe the next major event on God’s agenda is for King Jesus to return to earth to establish his Kingdom.
Again, please, please, PLEASE understand I am generalizing about many such matters. Yes, there are people who live in abject poverty. Yes, there are natural disasters. Yes, there are some fuel shortages. Yes, there are some overpopulated areas. Yes, there are wars. Yes, many believers in Jesus are being imprisoned, tortured, and even killed because of their belief in Jesus. But, overall, things are not getting worse. The world is not going to hell in a handbasket. The so-called Antichrist is not going to appear soon. There is not going to be a fanciful Rapture to snatch Jesus’ followers away from earth so they won’t have to endure the “Great Tribulation.” You’re not going to be tattooed with the “mark of the beast.” China is not going to invade the Middle East. The earth is not going to be destroyed in nuclear conflagrations. You’re not going to have to hide out from the Antichrist for seven years.
Hope Is A Person!
If you’re a believer in Jesus, He—living in you—is your sole hope of glory . . . and the future! (Colossians 1: 27) Yes, Jesus could return soon to establish his long-awaited Kingdom. Or . . . it may be a thousand years before He will return. No human knows for certain in spite of many slick, well-designed “prophetic timelines,” charts, and “proofs.” Meanwhile, take hope. God is in control. Get on with the ordinary events of your life. Trust God. Surrender your life to His mastery. Live an ordinary life by loving and serving the EXTRAordinary God.
“Then I saw a freshly restored universe and earth; and there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, the freshly restored Jerusalem, coming down to earth out of heaven, as a bride prepared and adorned for her husband. Now God will live with and in humanity for all time and eternity. All tears will be wiped away. There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain . . . all of that over and done with and behind us once and for all. Then God says from his throne: ‘Pay attention! I have freshly restored all creation.’” –From Revelation 21, paraphrased
To think about this month
“The path of God-believers glows with light, but the road of pre-believers gets darker and darker.” —Proverbs 4: 18
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Revised and Updated March 2019