Jesus is coming—soon. Be ready.
As our world circles the drain it gurgles, “the end is near”, and I believe it. The Bible describes in terrifying detail the last days of life on earth as we know it: trends, events, personalities, cataclysms, holocausts and apostasy like no other epoch of history this side of Noah’s Flood. The universal upheaval of those days will be so horrendous that no fewer than ten times Jesus sternly warned His followers—and everyone else, “be ready!”
So—what do the signs of the End look like? That’s the colorful question of which we all want to know the answer. And despite the fact that God has told us everything that He wants us to know about the end of the world through the prophets and His Son, we insatiably curious Americans have somehow become convinced that it is our sacred duty to fill in the blank spots that God did not.
What does the End of the World look like? Well, not like America. The end of America might well be upon us, but it’s not the end of the world—just our little corner of it. America is not Israel, and all the end-of-the-world prophecies in the Bible center entirely around Israel. In fact, the only lens God gave us to view and interpret the signs of Jesus’ return is Israel. If we want to get it right, we have to pluck out our American eyes and start looking at the global happenings through the eyes of a Jew standing in Jerusalem looking out at the rest of the world. Every prophecy of the End is built on that single premise.
What does the End of the World look like? Well, not like the science that all too many pulpit ministers and bloggers use to describe it (I am both, but for what it’s worth, read on). Let me give you three recent examples…
1. Elenin the comet. A comet is not a planet, an alien mother ship or a rogue brown dwarf star. A comet is a chunk of dirty ice grabbed by the sun’s gravity and pulled into the inner solar system (our general vicinity), only to be hurtled back into deep space when it finally slingshots around the sun. Comets are small—typically a few miles across—and they are made of mostly water ice. This means they’re not nearly massive enough to affect the orbits or tectonics of any passing planet or moon in the solar system. Short of a direct hit, it’s a scientific impossibility. Their trajectories are also extremely predictable—so much so that busy astronomers leave all the comet-spotting and naming to back-yard sky-watchers.
Now—why waste your time with such scientific drivel? I have recently heard and read predictions by several influential Christians that comet Elenin is at least partly responsible for our recent spate of deadly earthquakes and tsunamis, and that it is even on a collision course with the earth.
Newsflash #1: Comet Elenin has, at the most, the mass of 36 cubic miles of ice. Were that to hit the earth, it would be catastrophic. But it’s not going to. NASA and Elenin’s Russian discoverers have calculated it will miss the earth by around a thousand times the distance between our earth and moon. And it will not even cross the earth’s orbit coming or going. Besides, our moon, which is made out of rock and metals and is billions of times more massive, and orbiting us at a mere 238,857 miles is more likely the guilty party for all the shaking on terra firma.
Newsflash #2: Comet Elenin seems to have disintegrated approaching the inner solar system…
Newsflash #3: God doesn’t need a comet—or anything else in nature—to produce the terrifying events of the world’s end.
2. The sun will be given the power to scorch people with fire (Revelation 16:8) because it will become a supernova. All kinds of ministers who teach the Book of Revelation continue declaring this scientific “fact”. But it’s not a fact—in fact, it’s not even good science fiction. Einstein and a lot of other really smart guys figured out that a star could go supernova only if it had at least three times the mass of our sun. What is a supernova? Here’s the short version: Stars emit light because of a process called nuclear fusion going on in its core (think hydrogen-bomb on a gigantic scale). Because of the incredible pressures in its core, our sun is fusing hydrogen atoms (which have a single proton and electron) into helium atoms (which have two protons, neutrons and electrons). When this happens, unimaginable amounts of energy are released and the sun shines. When a really massive star (unlike our sun, which is little by comparison) uses up all its hydrogen, it starts fusing helium into carbon, and so on. When the star finally works its way up the periodic scale and begins fusing the element iron, something happens that physicists don’t really understand. The gigantic nuclear forces in the star’s core can’t seem to hold up the upper layers of the star anymore, which its massive gravity is already pulling inward toward the core. When this happens the whole star collapses in upon itself with such force that it fuses every element on the periodic table and, voila! You have a supernova. Another way to describe it would be the biggest, brightest, most violent explosion in the universe. They don’t happen too often, but when they do, they can often be seen in broad daylight—even when they are exploding in another galaxy. I am happy to report that none are expected in our neighborhood anytime soon.
Newsflash#4: If our own sun were to supernova (which it can’t), it would obliterate everything in our solar system, in any neighboring solar systems, and would saturate our entire galactic region with intense, lethal radiation. Revelation 16 isn’t talking about this. On a similar note, the much less energetic “planetary nova” (which could happen to our sun, but not today) is often confused with a supernova. But even a simple planetary nova would vaporize the solar system, so it won’t be one of these, either.
Newsflash#5: God doesn’t need a supernova—or anything else in nature—to cause the sun to scorch people with fire during the coming Great Tribulation (the last seven years of the world before the return of Jesus). And it will still be really bad…
3. The Mark of the Beast will be a sub-dermal microchip implanted in the right hand or forehead. The logic cited by lots of ministers and bloggers has to do with the Apostle John’s observation (Revelation 13) that during a portion of the Great Tribulation no one will be able to buy or sell anything without possessing this mark. Scary scenario indeed—but whether or not the Mark is a microchip, a barcode or a magic marker is not the point, and it never was.
If you remember, there were a few special “marks” put on people in the Bible. There was Cain, who was marked by God so others would’t kill him. But there was also a group of people in the Old Testament who were marked on their foreheads, apparently by an angel. Ezekiel saw this happen in a vision God gave him, where an angelic scribe was commanded to go around Jerusalem and put a mark—a taw [pronounced “tav”, a Hebrew letter which, in those days, happened to look like a cross] on the foreheads of everyone who wept over the terrible moral and spiritual condition of God’s people. Even though the mark wasn’t physical (it was a vision, remember), everyone who was marked God considered His worshipper in a city full of idolaters. They were the good-guys. Then there are the 144,000 male, virgin, Messianic Jews living in Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation. God said He would keep them perfectly safe during the worst time the world has ever seen. How? He put His mark of ownership on their foreheads because they worshipped Him.
And then there is the Beast—the Antichrist. He is the great usurper of Jesus and God, and there seems to be no end to his blasphemies. He will cause everyone on earth to take his mark or die. That anyone rejecting the mark would be denied the ability to buy or sell would have been an obvious thing to anyone living in the First Century. How? Did they have a vision of microchips and a cashless society? No—but they understood the consequences for not worshipping the right god.
Here’s how it worked: The Gentiles back then worshipped all kinds of pagan deities, including Caesar. When they started converting to Christ they stopped worshipping the gods and worshipped only THE God. That made them atheists in the eyes of the pagans. But even more, it made the Christians responsible for any and all the catastrophes that would befall the region because they didn’t worship the right pagan god. In fact, the pagans believed, because Christians refused to worship the local deity, they made it mad, and it would send a plague or locusts or an earthquake. Whatever disaster came upon them, it was the Christian’s fault—not because of who they worshipped, but who they didn’t. You can see how it made the locals angry at the Christians—in fact it made them so angry they would punish believers by boycotting them—refusing to sell to, or buy anything from them. It was all about who you worshipped. And that is what the Mark of the Beast is all about.
Newsflash #6: The world doesn’t need sub-dermal microchips or a cashless society for the Antichrist to impose his blasphemous will upon the world.
Newsflash #7: The end may be closer than we think…
Christian “science” is frequently criticized a oxymoron, and the critics are usually spot-on. The rational, scientific world laughs at the Evangelical Christian community because they think we don’t know what we’re talking about. And all to often, we don’t. If a pastor cites scientific data in sermon or blog, they had better get it right, because the world we want to reach will scorn us needlessly when all the speculations and pseudo-data are proven false. Far worse, congregations will have been cheer-led into a paranoid frenzy over a set of ludicrous “facts” about the end of the world—facts that are sensationalist in the face of an oncoming freight train—the End that God said He ordained and He would do with His mighty hand.
When our speculative, sensationalist “facts” fizzle, why should anyone believe the rest of us? Worse, why should other Christians? We might well be dancing on the precipice of false prophecy. Regardless, we have only demonstrated to the unsaved that they were right in thinking that “all” Christians are just like, well…Harold Camping.