Rethinking the End Times
Objective observers should realize now more than ever that there is something wrong with the prophetic scheme popularized by such books as The Late, Great Planet Earth. With the member nations of the European Union (nee Common Market) now greatly exceeding the 10 required by the fanciful interpretation of the toes of the image of Daniel Chapter 2 and a weakened Russia that hardly measures up to the threatening Gog of Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39, it is growingly obvious that many need to rethink their theology regarding the last days.
Regardless of the particular eschatological issue considered, it is imperative to start with those clear passages of scripture and use those as a basis for interpreting the more difficult passages. One such passage found in Luke 17:26-30 must be given careful attention:
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built: but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed."
The objective conclusion that should be drawn from these verses is that when Gods people are safely off the scene, destruction (not just "tribulation") befalls those who are left behind. Another passage, II Peter 3:10-13, is also extremely vital in this regard:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
Sadly, todays novel eschatology has not dealt forthrightly with the clear meaning of this passage. A natural, prima facie interpretation must unavoidably conclude that Peters thrust contains an admonition to right living based on the fact that when Christ returns, a great and final conflagration will take place. There is no mention of any future tribulation period or millennial reign after this great event for which we look, only the reward of the new heavens and a new earth. Therefore, all doctrine regarding end-time events is to be conformed to this type of scriptural benchmark, not vice versa!
- Jim Brandyberry