Sept 17th, 2015 – Adding this statement to our other articles on Avoiding False Alarms.
It may be attractive to calculate symbolic numbers, 7’s, 40’s and 70’s, Sabbath years and feast days and so on. There may or may not be validity to some inside track detectable to those with the inside knowledge, but none of this is what Jesus specified. He tells us plainly what to look for and mark. And He tells in a way that can be plain to all the sheep, provided they obey His simple directive to read and understand Daniel’s prophecy, with particular attention to one very specific event. This requires no special historical or astronomical knowledge better known to NASA and brainy meticulous chronologers and historians than to the average believer.
I just know God would never put His sheep at the mercy of such endless, mind boggling ‘data’, available only as it comes down from the experts who often are not agreed among themselves. Jesus gave us just enough, no more, no less to be prepared and to escape the ultimate deception when it would count the most. And though it seems to elude the most advanced biblical scholars; it’s marvelously simple!
You begin by simply following His command to search out Daniel in special reference to the abomination that must stand in Jerusalem (Mt 24:15-16, as found in Dan 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). From there, it is sufficiently plain what precedes and what follows. Beyond this, a prophet may warn of local earthquake or famine etc., Such specific knowledge, if true, can help the church, just as false prophecy tends to scandalize and shame the church, as it emboldens unbelief and blasphemy. Otherwise, the threat of imminent calamity is always a possibility for every generation, as Jesus showed that such things would belong to the general ebb and flow of the history of a world that lies in wickedness.
When these general characteristics of the age appear, and even when they begin to abound in both frequency and intensity, still, Jesus warns against a premature and misleading excitement, as these are NOT “the sign” that the end has arrived. “See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
This is exactly what Paul is addressing in 2Thes 2:1-8, but carefully note: Paul does not set light by the foretold sign of Jesus’ imminent return. On the contrary, his whole emphasis it to make it unmistakable. His interest is not only to quell a distracting false alarm, but to underscore something he was careful to teach on every occasion, even when his time in Thessolonica would be extraordinarily brief. Paul is no less interested that the critical sign NOT be lost to a lie. This is precisely because he knew that when the time would come, this knowledge will be a critical bulwark of defense from the deception that Jesus said would attend that time. In its proper time, it will be vital and this is why Paul rallies with such great urgency to put down a lie that threatened much more than a premature excitement that enticed some in the church to leave their jobs and become idle.
No, the “end” begins with the abomination, nothing less. Show us something leading directly to the abomination and you will have our attention. Until then, we are to be sober and always watchful as a life style, knowing that desolations are determined (not to be confused with the ultimate desolation of Jerusalem) as characteristic of an age under judgment.
I always think of when the book of the Law was found in the temple. Josiah needed no course in fine prophetic details of eschatology to see the writing on the wall. The only reason God may yet bear the pride of this nation a little longer and of many nations is precisely because it the cup of Babylon’s iniquity is being permitted to fill all the way to the full. Otherwise, if we were to be humbled before the time, it seems to me something deeply humbling would have already come, such as our own Civil War or something of that scale.
Even more fearful than temporal humbling is the greater judgment that permits the cup of wrath to fill to the point of no return. Though the end of the age is full of much judgment, there is an entity called, ‘mystery Babylon’ that is being permitted to become very successful, prosperous, secure, and increasingly oppressive of all godliness. This ‘apparent’ non-judgement is the greatest and most fearful judgment of all.
Our tower is being permitted to reach unto heaven for a purpose. This is the time we must work while it is day, but the greatest impediment to the work is the disarming intoxications and sedation of the spirit of Babylon, the spirit of the age, as most of professing Christendom is ‘at ease in Zion’. As with the northern kingdom at the Amos’s prophecy, a sleepy worldly church only imagines that it wants the day of the Lord to hasten (Amos 5:18).
In one sense, the judge has always been ‘at the door’. Since John wrote his epistle, it has been “the last time.” It is always time to flee from the wrath to come, and to hasten to call out the penitent remnant from the city of destruction. The days of every great empire are numbered, as every individual’s life span. In that sense, the day of the Lord is always ‘at hand’. That can be seen by the use the prophets’ make of that language, applying the same terms of imminence to different times and different threats facing Israel on the contemporary horizon, against which backdrop they would describe the more ultimate and final day of the Lord.
While I fully believe we are at the threshold of the last call before closing, with most (certainly not all), the signs amazingly in place, the urgency of fleeing Babylon and being separate from the world remains no less true in every generation. But now, as never before, most of the long awaited signs are in place. We are nearing the end of the two days of Hos 6:2, and the signs that remain are showing strong evidence of falling, potentially very quickly into place. It is for this reason only that I believe Babylon is being permitted to wax more and more in its pride and false security, perhaps even a more abounding prosperity, till the cup of iniquity has reached to heaven.
Apart from the simple plum line that Jesus gives, all the vain speculations will ultimately have an hardening influence that is calculated to disarm and disaffect the credulous from the real thing when the time does come. That’s just one price we pay for the false alarms of prophetic speculation that make men rich while it emboldens the world. His judgments are perfect in their wisdom to show what is in the heart. That’s my take.