4.09.2008

The Last Days

I’ve recently developed the habit of listening to a local Razorback talk show on radio while I drive home from work.

This means that in the morning, my radio is still tuned into the talk radio station from the previous afternoon, and since I’m usually too asleep or indifferent to change it, I generally just listen to whatever is on.

This morning, Glenn Beck had Joel C. Rosenberg on, and the two were talking about how closely the “last days” prophecies of the Bible were lining up with current political happenings.

I think Beck makes some good points from time to time (although I think he’s a jerk), but it makes me really nervous when people mix eschatology and politics.

This may come as somewhat of a surprise since I personally mix my theological and political views all the time, but frankly, people believe some pretty crazy things about the end of the world.

Without refuting the specific prophetic interpretations that Rosenberg and Beck were espousing, I just want to point out a couple of basic (and common) fallacies that were mentioned.

First, Rosenberg talked a lot about the Antichrist, and made a big deal about how in the Bible, there is a distinction made between “big a Antichrist” and “little a antichrist.”

The problem with this point is that in most of the “major” translations (NIV, NAS, KJV, ESV) there is no distinction at all. All five occurrences of the word antichrist in the Bible are in either 1 or 2 John, and all are of the lower-case variety.

Well, who is this antichrist that we hear so much about? According to John, an antichrist is one who denies the Father and the Son, and in the historical context of John’s letters, this is a clear denunciation of the heresy of gnosticism rather than a prediction about the personality traits of some world leader from thousands of years in the future.

Secondly, Rosenberg backs up his claims by saying that Jesus himself clearly explains the signs of the end of the world when asked in Matthew 24.3. Unfortunately, Rosenberg fails to realize that in Matthew 24 Jesus is asked two separate questions and gives different answers to them.

“Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.
And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.’
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’
And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you…’”

Matthew 24.1-4

Upon seeing some of the temple buildings, Jesus informs his disciples that a day is coming when the temple will be destroyed. His disciples ask Jesus when this will happen and when He will return and the world will end. Although they probably assume that all of these events will happen at the same time, Jesus’ answer reveals that they will not.

From Matthew 24.4-34, Jesus answers the first part of His disciples question, and gives them many signs that will happen before the temple is destroyed. He then concludes his answer in verse 34 by saying,
“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
And sure enough, the temple is destroyed in AD 70, approximately 40 years after Jesus speaks these words and when many of the people who heard them would still be alive. Based on this verse, it’s remarkable to me that so many people think that the preceding verses describe something that hasn’t already happened, because as far as I know, no one from the generation that Jesus was speaking to is still alive today.

At this point in the text in verse 35-36, Jesus transitions and answers the second part of the question, which was about His coming and the end of the world:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” [emphasis added]
Jesus then goes on to describe about how when He returns, many people will be caught off guard and unprepared, because there will be no sign or warning in advance.

And if the angels in heaven nor Jesus Himself knew when it would happen, there’s no way that Joel Rosenberg or Glenn Beck or Luke Dockery knows either.

Like I said earlier, I’m really not interested in going into specific signs and prophecies that Mr. Rosenberg thinks he’s interpreting. Instead, my point is this: if a guy can’t understand what’s written in the Bible in black and white, why would you trust him to interpret difficult metaphor, whether it’s in the book of Daniel, Matthew or Revelation?

A lot of people have political opinions, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but when you start basing your views on faulty Biblical interpretation, you have a real problem.

4 comments:

Jethro 4/10/08, 10:06 AM  

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder!

Sorry, I know that doesn't have much to do with your post.

Luke 4/10/08, 10:41 AM  

Whit,

It's okay. I was originally going to call the post "End Times" but that just didn't work at all.

ecarson 4/11/08, 7:41 AM  

I find it interesting how often this topic emerges when a so called liberal contender is running for office. I saw this happen back in 1992 with Bill Clinton and I am hearing that Obama is the anti-Christ. And the junk e-mail I get on this topic.

Luke 4/11/08, 8:53 AM  

Eddie,

Ya, that's not really surprising. Bogus Biblical interpretation and related craziness usually comes from the right side of the spectrum.

Liberal craziness is usually more secular in nature.

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