The August 2 Daily Ardmoreite carried a column by syndicated columnist George Plagenz with the title above. Plagenz recounted the current fascination with the "Left Behind" books, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, and the theology behind them.
Plagenz says, "Christianity has always taught that the days of the world are numbered," and that prophecy students throughout the ages have sought to tell the time of the end of the world by watching the signs. So far however, as Plagenz notes "they have all been wrong." Plagenz chronicles how evangelist Billy Graham predicted the end of the world many years ago, but since his prediction failed, he no longer predicts when the world will end.
The problem with Plagenz’s article is that the Bible does not predict the end of the world, or the end of time at all, and those who have, and are, predicting the end of the literal world, are mistaken. The Bible never uses the term end of time. It is always "the time of the end," or, "the end of the age," and that is a totally different story! Thus, the reason why prophecy students throughout the ages have been wrong in their predictions about the end of the world is because the Bible never predicted the end of the world!
As Plagenz notes, a growing number of Bible students are realizing that, "when the (Bible, DKP) prophets predicted coming events, they were referring to happenings which would take place in the near future-usually within the lifetime of their hearers." This means for instance, that such expressions "’what soon must take place’ or, ‘for the time is near’ must stand as warnings against applying the book of Revelation to later centuries." Indeed!
For modern Bible students to ignore the time statements about when prophetic events were to occur is simply not right. When John the Immerser and Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15), that did not mean the kingdom was two millennia away! Now, the kingdom had once been far off according to the prophets (Daniel 2:28-44). However, what was once far off-five hundred years from Daniel’s time to Jesus– had now "drawn near!" It was no longer far off!
Likewise, the coming of the Lord for salvation, was not near in the Old Testament, and the prophets were told it was far off (1 Peter 1:9-10). However, what was once far off, was now, "ready to be revealed" (1 Peter 1:5f). Peter said "the end of all things has drawn near," and he said "the time for the judgment has come" (1 Peter 4:7, 17). James affirmed that Jesus’ coming, "has drawn near" (James 5:8). And just like Jesus’ prediction about the coming of the kingdom, James did not mean two thousand years!
The continuing proclamation of the nearness of the end by well meaning, but misguided believers is an on-going tragedy. Hal Lindsay said 1988. Wrong! Jack Van Impe said 1999. Wrong! John Hagee says this generation without fail. Wrong! The repeated failure of these predictions brings shame on the very name of Christianity. The end is not near, because the end of the age foretold by Scripture, the end of the Old Covenant World of Israel, did come, and it happened when the Bible writers and prophets said it would, in the first century. They said the end was near, and it was, but it is not near now.
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