"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." -- Matthew 24:6-8 (KJV)
In recent weeks, we've seen events no one could have predicted in detail. Who knew even 10 years ago that something called Facebook would change everything we "knew" about the Middle East? Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, who knows at this moment what follows?
Even as you read this, Biblical scholars race to discover some new "truth" which makes all these events "work" into their interpretation of the Bible and the end of days.
Growing up in a conservative, evangelical Protestant environment, we heard an ever-changing litany of end time timelines. At some point such scholarly elucidations cease to impress.
On July 28, 1914, what came to be called "the Great War" was declared. Biblical scholars around the world, and especially in America, rejoiced. This was it! Armageddon had arrived! Soon there would be a 1,000-year reign by Christ on earth, then judgment day! Or, something like that. None of the scholars were right.
Some 20 or so years later, it was Hitler who made all the scholarly tables work. He would be the antichrist, now the end would be at hand. Life went on; new theories of how the end times would unfold were written.
May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. This, we were told, was fulfilling end-time prophecy. The jury may still be out on that one.
In the 1960s, we heard how the final battle would come when Communist Russia invaded Israel, resulting in the death of the Russian threat. The latter came -- the former did not.
In 1987, a book came into my possession detailing 88 reasons the end would come in 1988. Perhaps they meant 2088? Little sorry I didn't keep the book.
A few years back the biggest seller in evangelical circles were publications detailing the last hours of a late, great planet. The writers had it all worked out. Never bothered to read that book.
Many smarter than I, and perhaps with greater incentive, have studied the Revelation to John, Daniel, Ezekiel, and others Biblical books. Most come up with a timeline which they assure others is what God has wrought. All are based on the world as we now see it, the facts at hand. But, world history does have a way of changing everything we "know".
I wonder at any who have so discerned the meaning of Scripture as to know the mind of God. As Bible teacher Bob Mumford once said, as soon as we get God all figured out He pulls a string and the whole thing falls apart. It was Mumford who showed me a most dynamic truth: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (I Corinthians 13. 12, KJV).
At the risk of upsetting your theology and dogmatic interpretation of the end of all things, allow me to put forth a thesis I believe will fit all past and future human events [a thesis, incidentally, which works with whomever or whatever you call God]:
PROPOSED: God is in control of human history; He has a plan and purpose in it all. If it exists it fits.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.