Monday, March 30, 2009

The time of the end

For well nigh on sixty years I've not only believed these to be the "end times" but have taught it and preached it. I knew every Bible verse that proved it. I could teach the book of Daniel and Revelation together and show how it was all stacking up for fulfillment in our lifetimes.

I can still do that though I stopped it some time ago. This is a process that has taken several years of study and reflection. Several very good books by excellent Bible teachers have been an enormous help along the way.

The upshot is that I've added another unorthodox belief to my already-full book of questionable doctrines: I believe we're living in a "world without end" as the Bible puts it. I believe that Jesus is already reigning from the throne of God right now and that "of His kingdom, there will be no end".

It's a long story but it seems to me that so much confusion hangs on a few little words that were unfortunately slightly mistranslated many years ago. Modern versions of the Word have long ago set this right but in the popular mind, the conception lives on.

For example, the Bible never once mentions the "end of time" but only ever the "time of the end" — a big difference, you'll agree. And so the next logical question must be "The end of what?"

The mistranslation comes when we read the "end of the world" whereas what was said was the "end of the age" and here again there is a big difference between the two ideas. First-century Jews knew only two ages and Jesus referred to them several times: the present age and the age to come.

My mind is made up and I rest in the peace of knowing the although the end of my age may be any day now, I have no scriptural reason to live as if the "Antichrist" (that John said was already upon the scene in his day) is on the horizon nor to think that America is somehow "Babylon the great" when this city is clearly identified as being Jerusalem (the place "where our Lord was crucified") and so on.

Well, think on it, as I have done and still do. Christians have been living with the firm belief that the world would explode in flames any day of their lifetime — for over two thousand years. What if we got the whole thing wrong? What if the predictions of Matthew 24 were really talking about the end of the Jewish / Mosaic age of the Old Covenant? (Read it again with that in mind and it makes a lot more sense, I'll say that!)

And incidentally, I am quite sick of all the modern false prophets (Hal Lindsey, Tim Lahaye, et al) who have seen date after date fail only to revise them towards another one simply because they can't see any other option: the world has to end because Jesus said it would.

I now have much the same reasoning as them. Except that I now say, The end of the age had to be a first-century event because Jesus said it was (See Matthew 16:28 and 24:34 for starters).

To be continued ...

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