January 31, 2010
Part I: Bible Eschatology
For thousands of years, cultures around the world have contemplated our planet’s looming end, the last judgment, and the hereafter. Futuristic visions, symbolism, and messianic themes mark un-canonical apocalyptic literature between c. 200 B.C. and A.D. 200; and for hundreds of years, each new generation has poured over poetic verses (quatrains) contained within Nostradamus’ ten books called Centuries. Since the age of the Renaissance, writings of this mid-16th century French sage-prophet have awed mystics seeking alleged enlightenment.
Coupled with stark realism his dreadful, confusing visions captivate the imaginations of forward-looking sleuths. Accordingly, by means of twelve episodes on three DVDs, the HISTORY™ Channel visits the most chilling of Nostradamus’ end-time prophecies, as well as those derived from mythology, hieroglyphs, and other ancient texts. Correlating findings with today’s front-page news is called the “Nostradamus Effect.”
A True Prophet’s Accountability
As was the case with John the Revelator, Nostradamus described with eerie accuracy modern technology unrecognizable to him. Many scholars accept prophecies of Nostradamus as “divine, comprehensive, unified, and factual.” Problem is, unlike John, the messenger Nostradamus walked the line between science and magic.
Magic is the art of the Magi, the Persian priestly caste devoted to the practice of religion. Over time, the word “magic” came to mean all occult rituals that influence the course of nature, dominate men and circumstances, and otherwise tap forces of the unseen world—e.g., forecasting the future (divination)—which the Bible forbids.
Although not necessarily delusional, prophets of “the curious arts” drew from sources other than the God of the Bible. Make no mistake. Their track record fell dismally short of the biblical standard for accuracy. To qualify as God’s true prophet, one must prophesy with uncontested exactness—no magic involved. Biblical prophets were not mere interpreters of God’s will; they uttered actual words God gave them; and this, without error.
Modern prophets of gloom and doom come and go. For example, Paul Ehrlich warned of global famine in The Population Bomb (1968) when, in fact, since World War II, populations have doubled and food production’s tripled. Now, obesity (not famine) takes center stage as a national crisis. In the early 1970s, an ice age was predicted—now, it’s global warming. What alarmists don’t want us to know is that years of very precise satellite data show that the planet has actually cooled by 0.13 degrees Celsius.
“The Real Deal”: Biblical Authenticity
Of one thousand biblical prophecies, some five hundred are already fulfilled. What distinguishes these is that, without exception, Bible prophecies prove to be accurate one hundred percent of the time. For example, despite astronomical odds, about three hundred prophesies that surround the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus were fulfilled to the detail.
Remarkably, Daniel’s prophecy of Seventy Weeks is said to have foretold the exact month, day, and year (6 April A.D. 32) Jesus would present Himself as Messiah (on what we call Palm Sunday). Only “the more sure word” of God authenticates end-of-the-world scenarios.
Signs of the End in the Bible
Beginning with the ascension of Christ, and culminating at His Second Coming, eschatology is a division of systematic theology dealing with the doctrine of end times as set forth in the Bible, about one-third of which is prophecy. Last-day theology is a major theme throughout the poetic books, major- and minor- prophets, Pauline- and general epistles, as well as the Book of Revelation and the Great Eschatological Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
To Bible believers, end-time signs are as birth pangs announcing introduction of new life. Increased intensity signals that God’s Kingdom is at hand. These pangs are not to be confused with doomsday premonition of “the end of the world.” Rather, they herald the close of an age. Earth as we know it will “roll up as a scroll,” but then a new heaven and earth follow.
Breakdown of the Earth’s Eco-System
The Bible prophesies that natural wonders will literally shake the planet. Severe famines, pestilence, tribulation, and plagues of unprecedented enormity will cause hearts to fail for fear. Some will seek escape in death, but not find it.
Jesus prophesied that our generation, having seen Israel re-established as a nation, will not pass away until the entire eschatological discourse is fully realized. During outpouring of plagues, God will “confirm the covenant” with 144,000 representatives from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, thus protecting His own and fulfilling the last half of Daniel’s enigmatic seventieth-week prophecy.
Breakdown of a Bible Worldview and Ethic
Virtues of self-sacrificial love, faith, longsuffering, goodness, meekness, gentleness, and temperance will give way to blatant sensuality and uncurbed self-interest. Fierce opponents of absolute values and biblical fundamentalism will fall prey instead to unrestrained love of pleasure, profane covetousness, inordinate addictions, self-will, and abounding lawlessness.
Preparation of the Bride
While lukewarm complacency will cripple a large segment of the church, a remnant-bride will prepare diligently for spiritual union with the heavenly bridegroom. Rather than be swayed by a decaying world system, this bride will seek first God’s kingdom and nurture her love relationship with Christ. Believing that “the vision will not tarry,” the faithful will cling to and tirelessly promote it. Duly equipped and empowered with gifts of the spirit, charismatic believers will stir the winds of revival and boldly evangelize the world.
Persecution of the Church
Even so, end-time believers are instructed to “un-bow” themselves. The term (from Luke 21:28) suggests an outside source of restraint. As salt (a preservative) the church (literally, “called out ones”) will preserve truth and thereby restrain a swelling flood of darkness. Doing so will subject them to ridicule and retaliatory persecution. In fact, many antagonists will think, albeit wrongly so, that their random acts of terror against them render service to God.
Totalitarian Global Governance
In the name of pseudo-peace and safety, an ultimate world dictator (Antichrist) and his “enlightened” henchmen will enforce international law within the totalitarian, one-world system they forge. Bio-regions, not nation-states, will characterize a burgeoning transnational democracy (i.e., “rule of the people,” or Laodicea). The September 1973 document Regionalized and Adaptive Model of the Global World System reveals that the Club of Rome (responsible for today’s unified Europe) has already divided the world into ten politico-economic regions referred to as “kingdoms.”
The Bad News: Global Religious Deception
Although knowledge will be multiplied in these last days, the Bible prophesies a famine for God’s Word. These last thirty years, we’ve generated more data than in the previous five thousand years combined, yet knowledge of truth has waned proportionally to the point of being rationalized out of existence.
Prosperity and complacency will dilute even the church with a gutless form of counterfeit godliness that trivializes sin in the name of tolerance. Still, more and more false prophets will claim to have attained “Christhood”; and technological breakthroughs will fabricate powerful signs and lying wonders that threaten to seduce the gullible with what the Bible calls “strong delusion.”
… And the Good: Rapture (out-translation or harpazo in the Greek New Testament) These truly are perilous times marked by abounding anarchy and fearsome natural wonders. Global governance, as prophesied by Daniel some six hundred years before Christ, will resemble ancient Rome in its neo-pantheistic one-world religion, its global influence, economic integration, and destined collapse.
Apart from God, fear is more than a reasonable response; it’s a given. However, as all hell breaks loose, there’s good news for the church. Hope in what the Bible calls a “high, upward calling,” or the rapture, offers comfort to believers, who will be snatched to safety from out of the worst of global tribulation yet to come.
Economic and Political Upheavals: Armed Conflicts
According to Bible prophesies, economic and political upheavals will incite a series of armed conflicts, many racial in nature (ethnos against ethnos, Matthew 24:6-7). Armageddon will settle the ongoing ancient feud between the seed of Ishmael and Isaac—not by military might, but rather by the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ with His Bride at what is known as the Second Coming. Their subsequent thousand-year rule and reign on earth will facsimile the Garden of Eden before the fall.
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On a positive note, re-establishment of God’s rightful world order in the Millennium will ensure complete restoration, peace, and harmony.
More to come in Part 2.