“But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only” –Matthew 24:36.
“But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” –Mark 12:32
Make a list of what we do not know concerning the end times. What we put on the list would tell a great deal about us.
One of the greatest Bible teachers of the past fifty years is (or has been) Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Once, when he was asked to speak on Bible prophecy, he began with this disclaimer: “I used to know a lot more about prophecy than I do now.”
I appreciate that.
What Dr. Wiersbe was saying was that in his earlier years, he sounded forth with certainty on matters about which he knew little. But with maturity came a healthy dose of humility. In time, he was able to say just as confidently that “I do not know” concerning some of these prophetic subjects. That’s what maturity and integrity do: Admit when they do not know something.
I’m personally convinced that no one has all the answers to the mysteries of Revelation. The only way, of course, to prove that assertion wrong is for the events to proceed to unfold just as someone has predicted. Until then, every Bible teacher who sounds forth claiming to have the answers does so by faith.
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our faith may be in Christ, it may be (also) in Scripture, but it just as easily could be in ourselves, as I suspect is true of some of the most dogmatic interpreters.
“If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8).
A woman in a friend’s Sunday School class took exception to his reading a passage from The Message, the paraphrase of Scripture from the highly esteemed Eugene Peterson. “It’s evil,” she said. She will not be back to that church.
And if you think she’ll be spreading the word that that church is liberal and has gone over to the dark side, I’m betting you’ll be right.
An evangelist asked a man what translation of Scriptures he was reading from. “The NASB,” he said. “The MacArthur Study Bible.” “That’s a terrible translation,” he said. “It’s wrong. And wicked.” Just so easily does he dismiss the work of hundreds of biblical scholars who know far more about Hebrew and Greek and the ancient manuscripts than that evangelist (or this preacher!) can learn in several lifetimes.
One of two things is true. Either the attacker is correct and the overwhelming majority of God’s redeemed are deceived. Or, the attacker has been deceived, is seriously misguided, and is now slandering a huge part of the family of God. The latter, I believe, is the case.
Speaking of deceiving and being deceived…
The Friday June 22, 2018, issue of our Clarion-Ledger carried a full page advertisement from some end-of-the-world people who did not name themselves other than to give their website– www.worldslastchance.com.
“See to it that no one misleads you….. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (24:4,11).
Our Lord knew His people. He knew that there was something about their makeup which would make them susceptible to being misled. By “being misled,” we mean being conned, scammed, hoodwinked, deceived, tricked, lied to, fooled, and abused.
In Old Testament days false prophets came through the land, preaching half-truths and whole lies and filling God’s people with false expectations and pagan ways. The New Testament church, just beginning to find its way and choose its methods, quickly became the target of these scammers and con-artists.
In Matthew 24, our Lord cautions His people to keep their guard up concerning prophecies about end times: His return, signs of the end, fulfilment of certain prophecies, apostasies, portents and omens.
“Men’s hearts will be failing them from fear” (Luke 21:26).
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).
When I was a kid–sometime in the early 1950s–I recall attending a revival meeting with my grandmother in Birmingham. The preacher scared the living daylights out of everyone with his prophecies about the future, his warnings about Russia and Communism, and his forecasts about what was about to happen. Later, as Grandma and I walked down those dark streets to her apartment, every plane going over seemed ready to drop an atomic bomb on us.
Scary preaching is foreign to the New Testament.
The great apostle actually thought teachings of the Lord’s return and the believers’ victory over and escape from this world should comfort us.
But listen to the typical prophecy preacher. So many will use passages about the Lord’s return and the end times to strike terror into the hearts of the faithful. They speak of the martyrdom of millions of the faithful, of the havoc to be wreaked throughout the world by the Lord’s death angels, of the Beast and the Antichrist and the desolation of abomination.
Matters of which they understand little.
God’s final warning! The end is near! Signs of the time! The Antichrist is alive and living in New York City at this moment. The United States in Bible prophecy! Nuclear war predicted in Bible prophecy!
Sound familiar? If you’ve observed the religious scene for the last 20 years or more, you’ve heard it all. Turn on the television and you can hear it today.
There’s a reason for this.
Fear-mongering is a well-calculated plan to get religious but ignorant people into their organizations or onto their mailing lists, and then motivate them to open their bank accounts.
After all, fear works. Fear motivates.