Christians Around the World are Rejecting Last Days Madness

I’ve witnessed a seismic shift in prophetic thinking over the past 40 years. It’s happening every day in every part of the world. On April 10, 2020, I did a two-hour interview with Georges Ruapene co-founder of Faith & Grace ministries based in Australia. That interview has led to other interviews. I’ve traveled to Guatemala and spoke to a hundred pastors on the topic. This never could have happened just ten years ago. The change in delivery systems like podcasts, Facebook, Skype, and on-demand printing, Amazon have helped to make these changes possible. The seminaries, Christian radio stations, and publishing companies no longer control the free flow of ideas. I received a text message from a young man who works on a cruise ship who wants to learn more. People are teaching from my books and outlines, even in the midst of troubling times. Christians are rejecting the claim that the end is about to take place based on sound biblical exegesis rather than current events. There’s still the virus of last days madness, but it’s being dealt with by the vaccine of sound exegesis. You can watch the first episode of my interview with Georges here. There are six in all that will be up this week. I became Christian in 1973, the height of The Late Great Planet Earth phenomenon. It seems that everyone was looking forward to the rapture of the church that prophecy writers were claiming would take place before 1988. Their argument was straightforward. Israel had become a nation again in 1948. (How this was relevant because the New Testament doesn’t say a thing about it, I’ll never know.) This was said to be the “budding of the fig tree” (Matt. 24:32). They then turned to Matthew 24:34 and Jesus’ statement about “this generation not passing away” before all the signs presented by Jesus before verse 34 took place. Lindsey claimed that a generation was forty years, thus, 40 years after 1948, the rapture would take place. The math was simple: 1948 + 40 years = 1988. We are now 72 years from the time Israel became a nation again. Chuck Smith published The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist in 1976. What did Chuck Smith mean by “soon”? While he wrote that we can’t know who the antichrist is, he did say that “God is giving us many signs that we are nearing the last days — the stage is being set.” Smith also stated that “we are living in the last generation, which began with the rebirth if Israel in 1948 (see Matt. 24:32–34).”1 Dave Hunt offered what he believed was “compelling evidence for the soon return of Christ,” he claimed that “the early church believed that Christ could come at any moment.” In a chapter describing what he believed is the New Testament doctrine of “imminency,” he wrote:

From even a cursory reading of the New Testament there can be no doubt that it was considered normal in the early church to expect Christ at any moment. Paul greeted the Christians at Corinth as those who were “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7) — again language that requires imminency. He urged Timothy to “keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:14).2
What we find missing in Hunt’s study of the issue of timing related to the coming of Jesus is a discussion of verses that deal with the timing of Jesus’ return. The Bible does not tell us that Jesus can come “at any moment” spread out over several millennia. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus’ coming was “near,” close at hand, for those living in the first century.
  • “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts,for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:7–9).
  • The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
  • “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond‑servants, the things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1).
  • “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).
The passage of nearly 2000 years is not in any way a definition of “near.” It’s odd that popular prophecy writers claim that the Bible teaches that the temple will be rebuilt, that the antichrist will make and break a covenant with the Jews, and Jesus will reign on the earth for a thousand years even though there are no verses that teach such things. At the same time, there are more than 250 time statements describing prophetic events in the New Testament to be near, and yet these same prophecy writers claim they don’t mean what they seem to mean. A shift in eschatological thinking will transform our world.
  1. Chuck Smith, The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist (Costa Mesa, CA: Maranatha House Publishers, 1976), 3. []
  2. Dave Hunt, How Close Are We?: Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993), 248. []
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