Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not another eschatological theory

I usually laugh and cringe every time I see contemporary eschatological books. I too hold eschatological theories in my doctrine, but I try to keep them as simple as possible. To tell you the truth, it kind of ticks me off when people spout their eschatological theories with such confidence that they are right.

For years people have argued that the European Union which was founded by ten nations (apparently ten horns mentioned in Revelation), would be the re-emergence of the ancient Roman Empire and therefore the seat of the anti-Christ. People have also argued that the Roman Catholic church is the Great Whore Babylon referred to in Revelation.

Well, today some one put a new book into my hand. This may sound narrow minded of me, but I am not going to waste my time reading it. The enemy apparently is no longer the European Union, but instead a coalition of 10 muslim nations will rise up to become the seat of the anti-Christ. The book makes it really easy to have a "safe" enemy. We no longer have to confuse ourselves with having a European enemy (which frankly is just too close to home for comfort), now we can happily hate the muslims instead.

The author (who I can't even bothered naming and do not wish to personally berate- rather I have pity for him), apparently finally worked out his new theories after (you guessed it) September 11, 2001. This was the missing link in his theory and now he could see that an Islamic prediction of a Mahid who is supposed to convert the world to Islam, will actually be the anti-Christ.

The first problem I have with all of this conjecture is that it does not foster love in our hearts. In his theory, the Great Whore of Babylon is actually Baghdad itself (how convenient). Instead of reaching out in love to muslims, now we can justify our fears and treat them like the enemy in a coming, inevitable, biblically justified war. But the bible actually teaches that the battle we fight is not of flesh and blood and that our enemy is not to be found amongst people, but is the devil and his fallen angels.

The second problem I have with theses eschatological theories is that people like to think that Jesus is coming back really soon (in their life time) because we can see all these things unfolding before our eyes in the news every day. Isn't it funny that during the Cold War the Soviet Union used to be the big enemy and eschatologists used to talk about Russia invading Israel. Then as world events change, people come up with new theories to fit the headlines of the day. Their theories give people the excuse of thinking that Jesus is coming back really soon, therefore we don't actually have to do much more to take his gospel to the nations. (If he is coming back soon, then they must have already had their chance right?). Wrong.

When Jesus actually took the time to give his eschatology he was careful to explain that the gospel must first be preached to all nations and THEN the end would come. There are still over 6000 unreached ethnic nations in the world. And sorry to say it, but the church is simply moving too slowly for that task to be finished in our life time. This is not a lack of faith but simply stark realism. You only have to look with your own eyes (and I have) to see how some nations are in a very dark grip to know that it is actually going to take time. There are no instant microwave fixes for this one, sorry.

I have been learning that God has a deep heart for his lost children, the nations of this world. The story of the fall in Genesis actually is completed at the tower of Babel, when the nations are scattered. This was the rock bottom consequence at the end of the fall. So if the nations being scattered and leaving God is the consequence of the fall, then the nations returning to God is the completion of salvation on earth. God deserves to settle for nothing less. As Habakkuk prophesied "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God, as the waters cover the seas." God deserves nothing less than complete glory in his earth, and he is perfectly entitled to wait as long as he wants until this world chooses to glorify him.

I am not denying that bad things happen in this world and that despots set themselves up against God, look at Robert Mugabe for goodness sake. But God is sovereign and he is not bound to bring Jesus back early because a couple of selfish muslims flew planes into buildings 6 years ago.

So my eschatology is quite simple, "the gospel must first be preached to all nations and ONLY then the end will come." This is not going to happen before this silly terrorist game is long behind us in history. In fact I predict it is actually more likely that the muslim world will turn to Jesus. And I really don't have time for another cosy, selfish, western Christian theory.

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