It has been a long time since I posted on this blog, not because I have lost interest, but because I have been involved in many other projects. I hope to become more active starting with this post.
This article is one of the most important ones that I have written because it speaks to issues that affect whether the church will take end-time prophecy seriously or not. It comes in response to an article posted on the Prophecy News Watch site and written by Jan Markell which she called: End-Time Weariness: Haven’t We Waited Long Enough? You can see the original article here.
She makes a good case that because of all the concentration for many years on current events, predictions that do not come to pass, and multiple date-settings that were not fulfilled, there is a growing malaise with many people who have tuned out and just don’t care any more. This article agrees with her conclusions, and then submits an answer which I believe the Bible clearly teaches on this very subject.
Also, I would like to give credit to three men who have come alongside me to help make this article accurate, and concise, and to lend their considerable wisdom to the results: Nelson Walters, Bob Brown, and Joe Lenard. Their advice and fellowship continue to be a blessing to me, and they are on the cutting edge of research and writing about prophetic topics.
A Response to End-Time Weariness
In the article, End-Time Weariness: Haven’t We Waited Long Enough? by Jan Markell, she has done the church a great favor by exposing an issue that cries out to be addressed.
What is going on with prophetic teaching?
We lament with Jan that certain popular end-times books and movies and events, like Israel’s nationhood in 1948, have led many to look at world events to determine God’s time-table. Many believe that the latest earthquake, tsunami, war, or war rumor means that we are very close to Jesus’s return. Some carefully track the moves of Russia, Iran, or other Mid-East nations to determine that we are about to experience the Psalm 83 War or Ezekiel 38-39 War.
What could go wrong with these approaches?
It turns out that what could go wrong has gone wrong!
As Markell has pointed out, if many respected teachers have taught this is what to look for and they don’t come to pass, “Late-Great Burn-Out,” “End-Time Weariness,” and “Rapture Fatigue” are inevitable. If “Date-Setters” have been wrong so many times, why wouldn’t this sow confusion and skepticism?
This is a serious issue that, beginning with incorrect interpretation and speculation, inevitably leads to doubt and disbelief. We are producing the very mockers Peter warned about in 2 Pet. 3:3.
Can we fix this? Indeed, we can, and it may surprise many that the fix has been in front of us all along. What we need is a more biblical way of looking at prophetic signs.
Should Christians look for a sign?
First, in Heb. 10:24-25, Christians are commanded to love and encourage each other “all the more” when we “see the day approaching.” The writer of Hebrews expects Christians to “see” Jesus’ coming approaching by observing a sign, and when we see it, to take action.
Second, in 1 Thess. 5:2-6, Paul confirms this. He tells us the return of Jesus will come upon unbelievers like a thief in the night, but that believers will not be surprised if they remain alert. Jesus, in His letter to the Church of Sardis (Rev. 3:3), also corroborates that He will only come to the unrepentant like a thief.
Finally, Jesus’ and Paul’s end-time teachings instruct us to: watch, see, be observant, not be misled, be alert, and be ready—about 35 times. Although much of Christian culture believes there won’t be a sign before Jesus’ return, watching for the coming of our Lord is actually commanded.
What signs shouldn’t we watch for?
The disciples were like us—they wanted to know the sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age (Matt. 24:3). Jesus didn’t tell them there wouldn’t be a sign, instead He gave them the information we need today to avoid being misled by wrong teaching and sensationalism. First, He taught that there would be events that were “not signs” and that there was a specific sign to watch for. This sign would be a trigger for all end-time events leading to His return.
Jesus started His teaching with what were “not signs,” which He termed “only the beginning of the birth pains.” Jesus taught that although these events would occur near the end, they were not the sign to look for. These wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines are things that have happened for millennia and cannot be counted on as unique signs. His warning is to not be misled by seeing these as signs. Interestingly, Jesus also didn’t mention a Mid-East Peace Covenant. This is also a “not sign.”
But sure enough, prophetic teaching, TV programming, and blog sites are concentrating on the very things Jesus said would mislead. Hearing about these “not signs” again and again becomes like the “boy who cried wolf.”
What is the sign we should look for?
Once Jesus had made clear what not to look for, He told the disciples what Christians should look for: the “abomination of desolation which was spoken of through the prophet Daniel” (Matt. 24:15). Dan. 9:27 places this event in the middle of the 70th Week of Daniel, a seven-year period commonly referred to as “The Tribulation.”
God is not a God of confusion, and He wants us to understand this sign—the only event we are to look for to know that Jesus’ coming is near.
In 2 Thess. 2:1-4, a clear end-times passage about “the coming of our Lord and our gathering together to Him,” Paul also warns about not being misled about the timing of the Day-of-the-Lord—which is associated with the coming and gathering. Paul explains that the Day-of-the-Lord will not come until the Antichrist desecrates the temple (the abomination of desolation). Therefore, Paul is confirming that the event to look for before Jesus’ return is the same abomination of desolation that our Lord specifically referenced in answer to the disciples’ question.
Can we all agree?
Much of the church is divided in controversy and lost in confusion over end-time “signs” and events. It doesn’t need to be that way.
In her section called “Déjà vu All Over Again,” Markell references events like moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Gog-Magog War, and “the convergence of dozens of end-time signs,” resulting in a “collective sigh.” But Jesus did not tell us to look for these events. Instead, He warned us about being misled by these events and gave us a clear sign to look for: the abomination of desolation.
Silence from our pulpits and prophecy teachers on this clear and unambiguous sign has created much of this problem. The answer is to go back to what the Bible does teach. Be ready and watchful and observant of events but put them all in the framework of Jesus’ clear teaching. If we do, we will not grow weary, and we will know what to watch for.