Skip to comments.Apocalypse soon
Posted on 10/07/2008 8:41:53 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
The pages of failed end-of-the-world prophecies could make up a whole new testament. Now there's the Rev. David Jeremiah, an East County mega-pastor and TV evangelist who says the end is coming, in the words of a familiar church song, soon and very soon.
In a new book that hit bookstores this week, Jeremiah offers 10 prophetic clues he says point to an imminent conclusion many Christians have clung to for 2,000 years the Rapture (when the faithful will be summoned instantly into Heaven), followed by the Tribulation (a seven-year period of turmoil), Armageddon (the final battle of good versus evil) and the Second Coming of Jesus (to reign on Earth).
Jeremiah doesn't set a date in What in the World Is Going On? (Thomas Nelson; $22.99). But his urgency is clear: His return is close at hand, he writes, adding that Christians should be motivated as never before to live in readiness.
I have no intention of setting any dates or saying this is when this is going to happen, Jeremiah says, settling back on a couch in his office at Turning Point, his international television and radio ministry headquartered in Lakeside.
All I'm saying is some of the things that the word of God prophesied would take place as we near this time are happening in ways you cannot contradict.
The 67-year-old senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, where he preaches to 7,000 people at weekend services, says he was motivated to write this book after so many people kept questioning him about world events.
He reached out to other biblical prophecy scholars for their thoughts. Among them was Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series of Christian apocalyptic novels. In 1981, Jeremiah followed LaHaye as senior pastor of Scott Memorial Baptist Church, which later became Shadow Mountain.
The 10 signs Jeremiah settled on range from the emergence of Israel as the dominant country-of-residence for Jews and the rise in power of Russia and Iran to the world's reliance on Middle Eastern oil and the coming together of countries under the European Union.
I'm not a sensationalist, says Jeremiah, a grandfather and two-time cancer survivor who is a well-known speaker at evangelical venues like the Billy Graham Training Center.
I would be the last person in the world to try to draw sensationalist truths from the Scripture, he adds. You can get a crowd if you know how to frame your stuff, but I'm past all that. I don't need to do that. But what I do know is this: This is a different day unlike anything that I've ever known, unlike anything the world has ever known. So what does that mean?
What it means for him is that conversion efforts need to be jump-started like a battery in a long-idled sedan.
We've forgotten that there's an urgency about what we've been called to do, he says. He leans forward on the couch, as if to emphasize his impatience. I think it puts an urgency and a seriousness into our walk. Jeremiah is particularly tough on Islam in his book. Islamic terrorism is among the signs he says are pointing toward the end times.
One of the most baffling and unsettling puzzles about Islam is the constant contention on the part of some Muslim leaders that they are a peace-loving people, he writes. Yet even as they make the claim, Islamic terrorists continue to brutally murder any person or group with whom they find fault.
Jeremiah does not believe Allah and God are the same. He also believes that Islam hates Jews and Christians.
Experts say that 15 to 20 percent of Muslims are radical enough to strap a bomb on their bodies in order to kills Christians and Jews, he writes. If this number is accurate, it means about 300 million Muslims are willing to die in order to take you and me down.
His solution: convert Muslims to Christianity.
Jeremiah says he is not trying to be incendiary; he's just being true to his convictions. I'm not intolerant, he insists. I just believe totally what I believe, and if I have to go along in order to get along, water down what I believe, I'll never do that.
But Khaleel Mohammed, associate professor of religious studies at San Diego State University and a voice for moderate Islam, says Jeremiah isn't helping matters.
It's not constructive in any way for the Christian or the Muslim, Mohammed says. Everything he is saying is so divisive.
Mohammed also thinks Jeremiah's portrait is one-sided; after all, thousands of Muslim civilians have died in the American-led invasion of Iraq.
I'm not denying there are Christians and Muslims agitating against each other, but I don't think it's religious, Mohammed says. Still, he adds, the future lies in interfaith cooperation, a move the old guard on both sides is resisting. They are just fighting against the tide. ... Among Muslims, you'll find preachers who are as nonsensical as Jeremiah.
Scholars who study end-times prophecies say Jeremiah's book, and others like it, should be handled with care.
I would say the odds are enormous, if not overwhelming, that he, like every other Christian prophet over the last 2,000 years, will be wrong, says Richard Landes, associate professor of history at Boston University and director of the Center for Millennial Studies.
Jews and Muslims also have their doomsday beliefs, Landes says, but apocalypticism has been particularly rampant in Christianity. It was, after all, Jesus himself who forewarned his followers in the New Testament to keep watch and be ready for his return.
Ever since, Christians have watched for signs of the Second Coming, scanning the Bible for clues and codes, says Jon Stone, a religious studies professor at Cal State Long Beach.
Stone acknowledges there is a built-in audience for books like Jeremiah's. I think people like to be in on a secret, to know something other people don't know, he explains. This is, by far, the biggest secret in terms of religious things.
Jeremiah is planning a series of sermons at Shadow Mountain this fall on living with confidence in a chaotic world. He plans to tell the congregation, among other things, that this is the time for the faithful to hang together, to focus on the church and the Bible.
Jeremiah says biblical prophecy isn't a popular pulpit topic. A lot of buddies of mine say they don't ever preach on prophecy because they think it's irrelevant. ... Well, if they read the Bible, they will find out that if you study prophecy, it gives you incredible insight as to how you should live your life today.
He resists efforts to be coaxed into being more specific about when all this is going to happen. It's not about that, he repeats. It is about the awareness of what the events that are happening in the world today mean and how we can look at it through the third lens of the Bible and make more sense of it than we would otherwise.
The end is near?
Looking back at some 20th-century predictions:
1914: Jehovah's Witnesses say this is the doomsday year, followed by a series of later dates. In the 1990s, Jehovah's Witnesses quietly abandon a prediction that people alive in 1914 would live to see the Second Coming of Christ.
1919: Meteorologist Albert Porta predicts six planets will come together on Dec. 19, creating a cataclysmic event that would explode the Earth.
1936: Famed psychic Edgar Cayce picks this year for a disaster that will end the world as we know it.
1988: Hal Lindsey, in his best-selling book, The Late Great Planet Earth, predicts the Rapture will happen during this year. Former NASA engineer Edgar C. Whisenant pins it down to between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13. Unbowed, Lindsey still predicts these are the end times. Whisenant died in 2001.
1994: Radio evangelist Harold Camping tells listeners the end will come that September.
This very same thing has been said by hundreds of thousands of people like this pastor, every year, for the past two thousand years. Every one was just as sure and could prove 'without doubt' all the signs pointed to their time.
WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!
Of course the end is near and it is near now than it was a minute ago.
What happens to babies born after the rapture?
ding...no man shall know
Yup. Interestingly, as a kid, I was taught what Jeremiah is teaching and could never understand who in this day and age would behead people? (those who live during the tribulation and are beheaded are resurrected first). I always imagined the french guillotine. Not anymore. And the people I see doing it, invaded Israel when God avenged the innocent children sacrificed to a false god. Interesting, indeed.
You’ve torn out the verse about being caught up to meet Him in the air?
What other verses have you also torn out of the New Testament?
My bible says nothing of the rapture.
I would like to know when the end comes so that I can get back to high-cholesterol foods, lots of booze, no exercise and just hang out at the firing range.
Where did Christ say anything about catching anybody in the air? Christ is coming here with a double edged sword not hot air balloons for to fly anybody anywhere. Now what exactly does that word 'air' literally mean when Paul used it and what is the subject of the whole not just one isolated scripture taken to mean what it does not mean.....
Thanks for your list, but as you can imagine, you missed a bunch. Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Society) made several predictions in the 1960s and 1970s, David Koresh (who tried to bring it about), Mr. Applegate (and his moonmen), plus Cecil B. DeMills cast of thousands.
People have been predicting the end times since Christ died.
Need picture of an unkempt man with a scraggly beard on a street corner and a sign that says, "The End is Near."
Just for argument’s sake, read 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. The phrase “shall be caught up” is from the Greek, harpagésómetha, translated to Latin as rapere, where we get the word Rapture.
No, I don’t buy into the comic book version, but the term and concept is taken from the Bible.
Thanks for the information. As you know, many words from other languages make it to the English language. The context of 1 Thessalonians is inconsistent with the argument made by Miller in the 1800s and Rev. Jeremiah.
I won’t argue there, that is just where the concept and term originate. The way some folks read the Bible, it reminds me of those poetry games where you take a bunch of words, mix them up and pull them out of a bag.
Well, given this here’s my plan, I’m going to stop making house payments and spend the money elsewhere, if we go to heaven great, if not, McCain will force our banks to renegotiate our mortgages at 1/3 the cost, so it’s a win/win /sarcasm (I should have bought a bigger house)
"Have I got time for a cup of coffee?"