Not Every Bad Thing Happening Today is Related to Bible Prophecy
How often have you heard it said that we must be living in the last days because of all the bad things that are happening in the world? It’s been a standard claim among Christian prophecy prognosticators for centuries. Name any war, plague, natural disaster, earthquake, famine, or decline in morals and you will find prophetic speculators assuring eager disciples that their generation is the last generation.
The latest comes from someone named Jake McCandless, the head of Prophecy Summit Simplified. He’s the author of Spiritual Prepper: Tapping into Overlooked Prophecies To Prepare You For Doomsday.
I’m all for preparing for hard times, insecure times, economic trouble, and even war. Again, history is on our side. We’ve seen such things before. What I’m against is linking any of what’s happening today to some end-time prophetic theory. Most people have short prophetic memories. They forget or are ignorant of the fact that it was not too long ago the prophecy “experts” assured us that all the prophetic stars are lining up for “the end.”
McCandless said the following:
“Just about a quarter of Scripture has to do with prophecy, and half of that has to do with the last days, the generation that will just precede the return of the Lord. People want that practical connection. What does this mean for me? How then should I live?
“I think it’s changing, but by and large, up until very recently, the church has not paid much attention to prophecy, the millennial generation especially. They kind of mock it and scoff, which of course the Word of God said would happen in the last days.” (WND)
McCandless assumes that our generation is “the generation that will just precede the return of the Lord.” This is not a new claim. There have been prophecy writers in every generation that claimed that their generation was the last generation. Tim LaHaye and Henry Morris argued that the World War I generation was the last generation.
Depending on which edition of LaHaye’s The Beginning of the End you read, the key dates are either the advent of World War I and the November 2, 1917, signing of the Balfour Declaration (the 1972 edition)1 or the world recognition by the United Nations of Israel’s statehood in 1948 (the 1991 edition).2
Hal Lindsey claimed that when Israel became a nation again in 1948, that 40 years later the so-called “rapture” would take place. He called that 40-year (1948 to 1988) generation “the terminal generation.”3 That was nearly 30 years ago.
A 1977 review of Lindsey’s book The Terminal Generation gets it right:
“Lindsey has unquestionably tapped the pervasive apocalyptic mood in American society. The realization is growing that we are living in a world of limits, not an open future. Unfortunately, neither Lindsey’s strained attempts at biblical interpretation nor his socio-political analysis will help people to understand their world and act in faith and responsibility. Lindsey and his readers might ponder the calm wisdom of 1 Peter 4:7: ‘The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers.’”4
The author’s use of 1 Peter 4:7 is interesting and most often misapplied. Peter wrote literally “the end of all things has come near.” He wrote this around AD 63. This end was near for his first-century audience. More than 1950 years have passed and “all things” — if “things” is a reference to the physical world — are still here. The apostle was describing the end of all things related to the old covenant, not the end of the space-time universe (Heb. 1:1-2; 9:26; Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 10:11; James 5:8; 1 John 2:18). “Near” does not mean nearly two millennia.
McCandless cites 2 Peter 3:3 and Peter’s mention of “scoffers” implying the passage refers to our day. It does not. These scoffers (or “mockers”) were those in Peter’s day who were scoffing and mocking the prediction Jesus made that the temple would be destroyed before their generation passed away (Matt. 24:1-3, 34). Their generation was about to run out of time and the temple was still standing. Their mocking stopped when the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
McCandless also references Matthew 24:10: “many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” Again, Jesus is describing what would take place before that first-century generation passed away. Those who once proclaimed the name of Christ went on to do harm to the church they formerly claimed as their own. Paul stated, “All who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” (2 Tim. 1:15). Demas, who was said to have “loved this present world,” deserted Paul (4:10). This apostasy does not seem to have been an isolated event: “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them” (4:16). There were “false prophets” and “false teachers (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1)
There were also Judaizers (Rev. 2:9; 3:9) who were constantly distorting Jesus’ message and preaching doctrines that opposed “the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6–10). Paul warned the church in Ephesus that “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).
None of these examples is to say that we are not headed for persecution. It’s already taking place in other parts of the world, as McCandless points out. Christians are losing their lives because of their faith. The recent church bombings in Egypt are a recent example. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Also, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (15:18). These truths transcend any prophetic scheme, generation, or place. It’s a reality in every generation.
McCandless’ message regarding preparation for hard times is a good one. But tying it to prophecy is not. One of the reasons Christians are getting weary of prophetic speculation is because the prophecy speculators have cried wolf too many times. My library is filled with books and booklets going back centuries predicting an assured end of all things.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. It’s important to prepare. The Bible tells us as much. Our preparation for the future is not based on prophetic speculation but on a biblical command:
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man (Prov. 6:6-11).
There’s no mention of the end. There is a call to prepare for what’s not known but is known to need no matter what athe future brings.
- Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972), 165, 168. [↩]
- Tim LaHaye, The Beginning of the End, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991), 1993. Emphasis added. For a side-by-side analysis of LaHaye’s change, see Richard Abanes, End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon? (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998), 295. [↩]
- Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson, The Terminal Generation (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1976). [↩]
- John M. Mulder, “A Review of Hal Lindsey’s The Terminal Generation,” Theology Today 33:4 (January 1977). [↩]