Monday, December 12, 2011

How The End Comes

At one point in my life I belonged to a church that was very focused on Christ's 2nd coming (almost to the exclusion of the first) and entranced with the idea of interpreting Bible prophecy. Back in the day we'd sit around for hours arguing who the Beast would be and how long we had left. My views have changed considerably but a lot of my friends are still oriented that way and we sometimes discuss eschatological events, online or elsewhere.

Today, in a Facebook group, this question posted: "What is the fulfillment of the prophesy below, especially verse 25?" referring to The Book of Daniel, chapter 7, verses 19 - 27  (In keeping with the CEB Blog Tour, I'm quoting from the Common English Bible)...

Next I wanted greater clarity about the fourth beast, the one that was different from all the others and utterly terrifying with its iron teeth and bronze claws. As it ate and crushed, its feet smashed whatever was left over. I wanted greater clarity about the ten horns on its head, and the other horn that came up, along with the three that fell out to make room for it—but especially about the horn that had eyes and a mouth that bragged, and that seemed more important than the others. As I watched, this same horn waged war against the holy ones and defeated them, until the Ancient One came. Then judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High. The set time arrived, and the holy ones held the kingship securely.
This is what he said: 
   “The fourth beast means
   that there will be a fourth kingship
   on the earth.
It will be different
from all the other kingships.
   It will devour the entire earth,
   trample it, crush it.
The ten horns mean
   that from this kingship
   will rise ten kings,
      and after them will rise yet another.
He will be different
from the previous ones.
   He will defeat three kings.
  He will say things against the Most High
   and will exhaust the holy ones
   of the Most High.
   He will try to change times set by law.
And for a period of time,
   periods of time,
   and half a period of time,
      they will be delivered into his power.
Then the court will sit in session.
   His rule will be taken away—
      ruined and wiped out for all time.
The kingship, authority, and power
   of all kingdoms under heaven
      will be given to the people,
      the holy ones of the Most High.
   Their kingship is an everlasting one;
   every authority will serve them and obey.”
Here's my admittedly somewhat insouciant response:

"It will be fulfilled at an indeterminate date when an unknowable world power shakes its fist in God's face, tries to create its own culture ('changing times and laws'), and persecutes the saints -- as has happened repeatedly down through history. At a point known only to God and none of our business (but still the subject of endless speculation) the Father will draw his preordained line in the sand, the church age will close, and Christ will "come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead."  
"Beyond that I think it would be presumptuous to speak. :)
In other words, I've come to admit that Jesus really meant what he said -- virtually the last thing he said -- before he returned to Heaven: When and how the second Advent happens is none of our concern. Nothing I'm aware of in the last 2000 years has altered that stubborn fact, Harold Camping, William Miller, and a host of others notwithstanding.

Just get on with our job of building and spreading the Messiah's Kingdom, and it will happen when it happens. The critical thing is to be ready when it does.


Barry Dixon said...

I too belonged the same church. For many years, we speculated about when Christ would come, tried to guess when prophetic events might occur. Yet, during that same time, there was a still small voice (excuse my plagiarism) from some. A message from some of our ministers, between the hell-fire and end-of-the world prognostications. An example from lay persons who preached with their own actions. That message: Love one another. One minister was nicknamed the love minister, because he always spoke on various aspects of The Way taught by Christ. Anyway, through all of the haze of fear religion, God showed some of us the glad message, empowered us through the Spirit to actually build the Kingdom here and now. But in that environment, God's message shown admittedly through a cloudy glass. Unfortunately, many became bitter after the prophetic events never occurred or they became weary of it all. They sadly lost sight of the real good news. Thank you J A for reminding us of the true message of the Messiah's Kingdom.

JACarter said...

Before anything else: You had this week's first comment! If you'd like a free copy of the Common English Bible we just need an address. I recommend you send it via our Contact page at to protect your privacy.

Your comment is spot on. I think it just seemed more exciting to have an action-figure Messiah rather than one instead of one who won his victory hanging on a cross. I'm eternally grateful to the late Richard Rice for humbly guiding me (and many others) to grasp the truth about Jesus' actual message. God rest his soul, as I'm sure he has.

Barry Dixon said...

Just sent the address. Thanks a bunch!

JACarter said...

It should be in the mail soon. Hope you enjoy it!