Are you an eschatologist?
I am – sort of – if my fascination with what is described as “the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind,” and beliefs concerning “the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, or the Last Judgment,” qualify me as one. I certainly do not claim to be a theologian or an expert, but I cannot help but be riveted by the quotation from the King James Bible; “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” or as the New International Version (©1984) has it, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”
Earthquakes Mentioned As Precursors of the Events Surrounding the Second Coming of Christ.
It was Christ, Himself, who declared that earthquakes would be in “divers places.”
“In Such An Hour As This there will be Earth Quakes in Divers Places. … There will be Chaos, Destruction and Fear!” Well, we argue, there are many places in the Bible that speak about earthquakes. However, the end of this present age and the events before the final judgment are portrayed as coming after an increase in earthquakes on the earth. In the New Testament, earthquakes are mentioned as precursors of the events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ, and in the Old Testament, Zechariah 14:4-5 prophesies an end time earthquake which will split the Mount of Olives in a north-south direction at the Second Coming. Revelation 16:18 speaks of the coming great earthquake in connection with the pouring out of the seventh and last “Bowl of Wrath” upon end-time Babylon. And we cannot deny, in this month of January, 2009, that we have been experiencing “end-time drama” as never seen before.
The Book of Revelation
Leading scholars remind us that it is incorrect to refer to the last book in the New Testament as “Revelations” (plural) or “the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” and what fascinates me is that it substantiates so many prophecies already given in both the old and New Testaments. Chapter 1:1-20 has four distinct divisions: Intro (vv.1-3), salutation (vv.4-8), Christ in His glory (vv.9-18), the instruction “to write” (vv.19, 20).”THE APOCALYPSE” is foreseen in Daniel 7:13 and Rev 1:7; 1:13; 14:14.
The background: According to 2Tim 1:9, Jesus was there before the beginning of time. In John’s Gospel we read, “in the beginning was the WORD.” THE FINAL DESTRUCTION of the earth – which was not intended by God to be eternal – is described in poetic imagery in Psalm 102:25,26, which is quoted in Hebrews 1:11 and 12. The most graphic account of the end of the world, indeed of the entire physical universe, is found in 2Peter 3:10.
Signs Of the End of the Age can be found in Mark 13, Acts 2:14 – 21, 2Timothy 3:1; Daniel 24:30), Matt chapters 24 and 25p, Mk 13 and Luke 21; however, the most graphic account of the end of the world, indeed of the entire physical universe, is found in 2Peter 3:10. In Chapter 5, our attention is drawn to a scroll which is held in the hand of God. It is sealed with sefen seals. (Seven being the number of perfection.) It contains secrets which were completely unknown at that time.
Pestilence and Death
The Book of Revelation Chapter 6 begins with what is commonly known in the Scriptures as the “Day of the Lord,” or the day of God’s judgment on the earth. This is the beginning also of the Day of Christ because, on the same day, believers are caught up in the air to be with the Lord. They are taken from the earth, and God’s judgment is then poured out upon those who have rejected Christ. Here we have the beginning of the seven years of Tribulation – or great suffering. Daniel 9:24-27. People are transferred to the heavenly or spiritual realm. How is it that the Church has now been transferred to Heaven? Something has intervened! This transfer is spoken of as “THE RAPTURE.” 1 Thess 4:13 – 18; 1Cor 15:50 – 55.
In the words of the eminent Bible teacher and scholar Doctor David Jeremiah: “If you read the Scripture you will see that the world will be infected with pestilence that will take one quarter of the entire population of the globe – and with the pestilence in the end time will be the beasts. He will kill with hunger (famine), plague, the sword and with the beasts of the earth…What does this mean then? …There are beasts that carry disease, are there not?” (According to Scripture: One quarter of the world would be infected with a pestilence. Note: Modern prophecies concerned pestilence and death. As far back as 1980 it was prophesied that the blood supply would be contaminated.)
BEASTS. Disease transmitted by animals like rats. AIDS from monkeys. [West Nile Virus. We have had the threat of anthrax, now we have Swine Flu, and even eggs and salad greens can cause Salmonella. What about Listeriosis?]
“The rider of the Fourth horse will reap a terrible harvest from the earth,” Doctor Jeremiah continues, “because he will have the sword and the famine and pestilence and beasts…Later another 1/3 of the world’s population will be killed…Whatever it is, it kills off 25% of the world’s population in the Book of Revelation and then another one third.” Where do the Trade Centre Bombings and 9/11 fit in?
In his opinion: “If you’re raptured, you’re ‘pre-trib’. You’re saved from wrath…You’re either in Chapter 5 and 6 or you’re in Chapter 4. You’re either in heaven with the redeemed or you’re in the Tribulation. You don’t have much choice…There is no ‘in between.’” How do we escape the judgment to come?…Because, in effect, God said this: “If the trumpet should sound tonight and you’re left behind, it’s too late. Because you heard the Word of God clearly presented, it’s too late. Your chances of salvation are over once the Rapture comes. There isn’t another chance if you reject so great a salvation! If I wasn’t sure that I was a Christian, I’d hit the floor…go down on my knees and cry out ‘save my family from the wrath to come.’ (Heb. 21:3)…How shall we escape?”
In Revelation 2 and 3, we see Christ working on earth in His Church. In the fourth chapter, however, we are transferred to the heavenly or Spiritual Realm. But how is it that the Church is now found in Heaven? Something must have intervened, thus bringing the transfer of the earthly residence of the Church to the heavenly one. The event which describes this “transfer” is called “the RAPTURE of the Church,” or “Parousia,” predicted in Thessalonians and it is is this Rapture which forms the real basis for the novel Left Behind. Though not found in the Scriptural Book of Revelation itself, it should be remembered that the Bible must be viewed as a whole – and not in fragments. One prophecy complements another.
Left Behind – A Spellbinding Book!
There can be few words which are so often misunderstood or incorrectly used as Apocalypse, Armageddon, or the Millenium. By the same token, there can be very few novels – if any – which have provoked such varied and even vehement reactions among its readers, as is the case with Left Behind by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
When I decided to organize a discussion group soon after the publication of the first, many of us were literally waiting in line to read every new release in the series. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it! There were even those who, while stating on the one hand that they did not consider any of the books to be particularly well written, nevertheless confessed that they “devoured” them! (Someone admitted to staying up all night to read book 4!)
Some “detested” Left Behind. Some were frankly “terrified” by it. Some declared that the writers “had no right to try and frighten people into becoming believers!” As our group was not to be restricted to Christians, we had decided that we would welcome those who either “don’t accept the book of Revelation” or find it too difficult or too “scary” to probe too deeply into it. We expected that some would not be familiar with the New Testament, period.
What would ensue would be a stimulating experience. Each group would be limited to seven people; we would only review the first book, Left behind, and would meet only once or twice. We did not envisage a “course of instruction”; nor was it limited to the theologian or the expert. What happened was phenomenal. And somehow, now – perhaps because of recent events – there suddenly seems renewed interest; perhaps a desire to probe deeper. People “want more.”