Tall Tales and End-time Preachers

end-timeline_med_hr-mid_med_hrBy The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)

I was standing in front of the church building one Sunday evening after the meeting. I listened as two of my fellow members were debating end-times. One was pre-millennial, the belief that the church will be raptured before a proposed seven years of tribulation taking place before Christ sets up his so-called thousand year reign on the earth. The other was post-millennial. He believed that the church will be raptured after said tribulation period. The debate was friendly but a bit fiery.

Suddenly, one of them turned to me. “What do you think, brother Rod?” Everyone within earshot turned their eyes toward me. I felt like E. F. Hutton from those old TV commercials. Two guys would be discussing the stock market. Then one would say, “Well, E. F. Hutton says…” Everyone around them would stop what they were doing and lean toward them to listen to what the man was about to say. I was one of the pastors and they wanted to know my thoughts on the matter. “No,” I said, “you don’t want to know my opinion on this subject.”

“Oh, yes I do.” he persisted.

“No, you don’t,” I said.

“Yes, I do.” they both answered.

I was trying to keep from being drawn into another fruitless, end-times debate. Because if I gave them my opinion, which differed from both of theirs, that’s exactly what would happen. So instead of answering, I issued them a simple challenge. “I will give you one thousand dollars cash money,” I said, “if you can show me anywhere in the New Testament that teaches that Jesus is coming back to the Earth, set up a kingdom in Jerusalem and rule there for a thousand years.” I paused and then continued, “It’s just not there!

I have issued that challenge many times over the years and have never had to give a penny to anyone. Nobody has met that challenge and I’m confident that no one ever will. It’s because God’s Word does not teach that Jesus is coming back to the Earth to set up a kingdom in Jerusalem and rule there for a thousand years. Yet many preach it, write books about it, hold Revelation seminars about it and make movies about it. There’s even a video game based on the popular Left Behind series [which the books have sold over 60 million books].

 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.                (Revelation 22:18 NIV)

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6 NIV)

Many have taken verses out of context and tried to spin them to fit their particular point of view on the subject. They’ve taken the Biblical apocalyptic writings of The Revelation of Jesus Christ and the book of Daniel and made absurd, unfounded assumptions to support their claims about the Lord’s return. I remember hearing one such preacher say from the pulpit, “Why… during the thousand year reign of Christ there are going to be grapes so big that you have to use a wheelbarrow to carry just one.” Talk about people who “turn aside to myths”.

However, nowhere in the Bible does it clearly teach that Jesus is coming back to set up a throne in Jerusalem and reign for a thousand years. Again, it’s not there! Then the obvious question is, if The Bible doesn’t teach it why preach it? Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is, or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”    (Luke 17:20-21 NIV)

Sadly many once-great Gospel preachers have become bogged down by their fixation on end-times. It shows in the things they teach and the books they write. Their focus seems only on events surrounding the Lord’s return and their particular slant on it. To them preaching the gospel has been relegated to second or third priority in their so-called “ministry”. They’re more interested in preaching and teaching about Jesus’ second coming than they are about his first.

“…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” —Jesus (Matthew 24:11)

“The future is big business.” — Hal Lindsey[1] (Author of The Late Great Planet Earth in which he claimed that the world would end in 1988. Then in an “updated” version of the book he said that it will end in 2007. Woops! Wrong again, Hal. Isn’t that the definition of a false prophet, to predict something will happen and it doesn’t happen?????)

“No one knows about that day or hour [when Jesus returns], not even the angels            in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” ― Jesus (Mark 13:32 NIV)

“Naturally men were anxious to know when that day would come. Jesus himself had bluntly said that no man knew when that day or hour would be, that even he did not know and only God knew (Mark 13:32, Mathew 24:36, Acts 1:7). But that did not stop people from speculating about it, as indeed they still do, although it is surely almost blasphemous that men seek for knowledge which was denied even to Jesus.” ― William Barclay[2]

Why do people, like Hal Lindsey, and Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins [authors of the popular Left Behind books] persist on writing these books rather than offering practical books that discuss the Christian walk, such as how to win souls and how to live victoriously? I believe the answer is simple; Practical books don’t sale like books of tall-tales. As Hal said, “The future is big business.”

Apparently these end-times preachers have forgotten the words of one of the greatest preachers who ever graced this planet. Look as the Apostle Paul clearly gives us not only his secret to success in ministry but also his uncompromising message that led to that success.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV)

“Whatever subject I preach, I do not stop until I reach the Savior, the Lord Jesus, for in him are all things.” — Charles Spurgeon[3]

These self-proclaimed experts, with their end-time charts and books of fables, thrive because of the Biblical ignorance of this vast following of end-time junkies. Most of these junkies have very little personal theology of their own. Their view of most things Christian is not based on individual Bible study and prayer. Their understanding of end-times comes only from what they hear and see from these conveyors of myths.

They suffer from a baby bird mentality—eyes closed, mouth open. They believe what they hear without question. They just open up their spirits and swallow whatever these spinners of yarns put in them. After all, it’s much more fascinating and entertaining then what they perceive as dull sermons or books about winning souls and how to be more affective as a Christian.

This fixation on end-times is a hugely successful ploy by the Enemy. Not only does it distract once-great Gospel preachers from preaching “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, it also stumps the growth of those Christians who join them in their obsession. Financial and human resources are wasted—resources that could be used to win souls and equip God’s people for service. So, I say to all you end-time preachers, “Shame on you!”

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”— Jesus (Revelation 2:4-5 NIV)

 Obey the Lord! Repent and do the things you did before. That is before you got carried away and turned “aside to myths”. Focus on the needs of the people today instead of trying to second-guess God about that which 1Thessalonians 5:1-2 says, “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (NIV)

 [1] Quoted in “Welcome to America’s wildest holy rollers,” Features Section, The Independent on Sunday (London, England) (November 6, 2005). “The Late, Great Planet Earth was published in 1970 by Zondervan. It became a bestseller. It has since been published in 54 languages, has reported sales of over 35 million copies, and is still in print. Many of Lindsey’s later writings are sequels or revisions [because he was wrong about nearly everything he wrote in the first addition and, consequently, had to change his predictions] and extensions of his first book.” There’s an excellent article pointing all the errors in Linsey’s book. It’s entitled The Late Great Planet Earth: Revisited, go to http://home.comcast.net/~webpages54/ap/ap.html and click Eschatology link in the left side of the Home Page.

[2] At the Last Trumpet, chapter 32, p. 63, Like a Thief in the Night by William Barclay, © Westminster John Knox Press

[3] Retrieved from ChristianQuotes.org on January 01, 2009

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