Tuesday, May 3, 2011

So, Did You See that OBL Died of a Head Wound and was Dumped in the Sea? [Nudge, Nudge]

(Towards a Humble, Missional Eschatology, part 3)

When most people turn their thoughts to the end times, they only do so in the context of trying to match their present to those events. For most of the people who are really into this sort of thing, this is ironic. The reason for that being that most eschatologically obsessed people fall into the Dispensational camp. What makes this ironic is that Dispensationalists usually believe that all believers will be long gone by the time anything starts to happen, so how can they see signs that someone is the antichrist when those signs won’t be apparent until they are gone?

Of course the danger with Dispensational thinking is that it does not prepare believers for tough times. That is a bad thing if it turns out that the “Tribulation” is really going to be directed at believers. Jesus, in His letter to the churches in Revelation, repeatedly promises rewards to the believers that endure the tough times ahead. The normal function of tribulation in the Bible is testing.

All of this confusion usually arises when people mistakenly equate three different Biblical concepts with each other: tribulation, God’s wrath, and the seventieth week of Daniel. The seventieth week merely means the last seven years of time. God’s wrath is punishment of God poured out against evil at the very end of time, but not generally seen as seven years worth. Tribulation is not God’s wrath, but rather suffering poured out by the antichrist against believers.

The Bible and history repeatedly teach that Christians will face persecution in this world. Instead of teaching never ending speculations on the end times and the reassurance that Christians will be snatched away from persecution, perhaps we ought to prepare new believers for the tough times they will face as a result of their faith.

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