Obsessing about how it will all end paralyzes Christians into inactivity while the culture melts down around them.

When the crisis in the Middle East began with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the prophecy pundits shifted into high gear once again with a barrage of new books psyching up the church with their assured belief that the rapture was near. Millions of Christians began to suffer the ravages of last days madness. Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, was seen by one writer to be the ancient empire of Babylon restored.[1] John Walvoord revised his Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East to address what he believed was “a scenario leading to the world’s final war.”[2] Brad Miner, a writer for National Review, asked Hal Lindsey, “Is the end of history beginning in the Gulf?” Lindsey replied, “That’s what everybody wants to know. I’ve never named a day or time, but I can tell you this: Prophecy is on fast forward. I do believe we live in the generation that will see Armageddon.”[3]

We are living in a heightened era of what Greg L. Bahnsen has described as “newspaper exegesis,” that is, reading the Bible through the lens of current events. “The newspaper has no prerogative to challenge God’s word of truth. Nor do those who read the newspapers.”[4] Of course, prophetic prognosticators try to convince their supporters that current events are being read in light of the Bible. But this claim has often been made with less than satisfactory results:

All the scripture texts claimed as proof that the coming of Jesus Christ must now be close at hand have also been confidently so used in former generations. Not a few Christians in the past have been erroneously convinced that their age must witness the end. When the Teutonic barbarians overturned Rome and reduced a stable world to chaos in the fifth century A.D., many in the Church despairingly drew the wrong conclusion that the world could have no future. Even larger numbers did so at the approach of the year 1000, believing that the closing millennium would end the world. In the gloom of the fourteenth century such tracts appeared as The Last Age of the Church, and in terms very similar to that old title a great number have written since.[5]

Predicting the end (or the pre-tribulational rapture) based on current events is a risky business, as history surely attests and the Bible warns against. The typical Christian appeals to current events to support his belief that the rapture is near. But past failed predictions also were tied to current events, events which were read back into the Bible. Each time the end was predicted with confidence.

Last Days Madness

Last Days Madness

In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of ‘end-times’ fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.

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Ideas have consequences and eschatology has implications. What you believe about tomorrow affects how you live today. While Gary often pokes holes in Dispensational eschatology, non-dispensationalists have their own cultural decay problems due largely to their views about the future. Obsessing about how it will all end paralyzes Christians into inactivity while the culture melts down around them.

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[1] Charles H. Dyer, The Rise of Babylon: Sign of the End Times (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1991). Notice that no question mark follows the subtitle. This is a book of prediction.

[2] Cal Thomas, “Time for Armageddon?” Marietta Daily Journal (January 1991).

[3] National Review (19 November 1990), 49.

[4] Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism,” The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on the Millennium, ed. Gary North, 3:2 (Winter 1976–77), 53–55.

[5] Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), xix.