NOTE: This issue continues the series we began last February. We’ve combined the June and July issues.
Some Alternative Views
Let’s look at some fact-based, alternative views of “end times” or “last days” in contrast to the gloom and doom views that everything is getting worse and worse. For example, there are some people who feel the Church of Jesus worldwide is barely surviving the relentless onslaughts of Satan and various “false” religions.
Here’s an interesting fact in response to that mistaken view. At the end of the first century, 1 in 35 people on earth claimed to believe in Jesus as their Savior. In 2015, 1 in 7 people on earth claim to believe in Jesus as their Savior. Does that look like the Church is losing ground overall? It doesn’t to me. Of course, I’m in no position to decide who is and who isn’t an authentic believer in Jesus.
Here’s another fact: 100 years ago, in 1915, 15% of the world’s population lived under some measure of freedom or some form of democracy. Now, in 2015, 65% of the people on this planet live under some type of freedom or democracy. Don’t misunderstand me: many, many people still live under some sort of authoritarian government or even in slavery. But—overall!—those figures are true. We must always—always!—look at the overall figures . . . at the “big picture,” not at specific, isolated situations and scenarios to prove how “bad” things are getting. Just as we must always study as a whole what the Bible teaches—not take isolated references as “proof texts.”
In general, are we better off now than we were, say, 60 years ago? The average human now earns nearly 3 times as much as then (corrected for inflation), and can expect to live one third longer. Actually, it’s hard to find any place on the planet that’s worse off now than it was then, even though earth’s population has doubled in that amount of time. You understand, don’t you, that I’m generalizing about such matters? If you choose to, you can find fault with any of these alternative views I’m presenting.
While it is true that the rich are getting richer, the percentage of the world’s people living in abject poverty was reduced more in the past 60 years than in the previous 500 years! In 2015, the essential things most people need (not want) for daily living is markedly cheaper than it was 50 years ago or a century ago. Food, clothing, and shelter have grown markedly cheaper, overall.
Another example: in just USAmerica today, rivers, lakes, and air are getting cleaner every year. Here’s an interesting fact: a car today emits less pollution traveling than a parked car did from leaks in the 1960’s. 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 The Book Of Revelation Was Written
Much of what I wrote the past few months—and will write in this issue—depends upon when the Bible’s 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 hold the view that the Book of Revelation was written about 65 or 66 A.D. I am convinced 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 almost 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 fact 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 enjoy 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. Some people almost seem to prefer the negative, pessimistic, gloom-and-doom view instead of more fact-based reality about the future.
Continued next month
“Then I saw a freshly restored universe and earth; and there was no more sea. I, John, saw the holy city, the freshly restored Jerusalem, coming down to earth out of heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband. Now God will live with and in all 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.'” –paraphrased from Revelation 21
To think about this month
“The Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God and of His Anointed One, Jesus.” –Paraphrased from Revelation 11
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Revised and Updated December 2020