If you have been around the church for many years, you have probably noticed a pattern. Do you remember the booklet: 88 Reasons the Rapture Will be in 1988? It sold over 4 million copies and an additional 300,000 were mailed out to pastors across the US. Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) interrupted regular programming to give ample airtime and throw their weight behind this dangerous book.
Rosh Hashanah 1988 came and went, but unless you were a believer who died that day…..you didn’t go to heaven. Edgar Whisenant went on to write a few more books: 1989 The Final Shout, one for 1993, and another for 1994. Every decade seems to be marked by some new hidden teaching or special revelation that has unmasked the secrets of exactly when pivotal end time events will occur.
In this article, we will look at the recurring trend of end time sensationalism and it’s antithesis, which is sound biblical eschatology. Will 2015 be a September to remember?
I want to make a point about the big picture of Bible prophecy: This article is comparing sound end-time teaching to something very different… that being prophecy teachings based on sensationalism. Far from being conjecture or speculative, God’s Word is spot on regarding every prophecy and it’s fulfillment. God is the ultimate mathematician. His Word is peppered with numbers, times, and seasons that are significant.
For instance, we know that there is importance behind the Jewish feast days and what they represent. Numbers have importance in scripture. The number 7 represents completion. The number 40 represents testing-trials, etc…
Here is my point: In the Bible we certainly have numbers, feast days, and milestone events which are very significant. What concerns me is the rampant speculation about the end times scenario that ranges from the sensational to downright unbiblical nonsense. Things like conspiracy theories, speculation about CERN, the Illuminati, and asserting that the Rapture (will) occur on September 23rd, 14th, or whenever of this year has nothing to do with biblical eschatology.
In my recent articles:Is Bible Prophecy RelevantParts 1 and 2, we covered the centrality and importance of eschatology and why it matters more now than ever before. Healthy Bible prophecy teaching is contextual and solid teachers employ sound interpretation of scripture. The Bible makes it clear over and over that Christians are to be watching and waiting. We are told to wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God.
We are exhorted to be awake and sober. We don’t walk in darkness so that day won’t surprise us like a thief. We are to discern and understand the times. Knowing this, any true Christian who is studying God’s Word and taking a realistic look at the current geopolitical conditions… knows that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes.
On the other hand, we also know there are many so called evangelicals who ignore Bible prophecy and as I’ve mentioned before.. .that is an unbiblical position. You simply cannot ignore 1/3 of the Bible and truthfully call that biblical or call yourself an evangelical.
2 Timothy 3:16“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of Godmay be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Now that we have reaffirmed the centrality of Bible prophecy, watching and waiting, and understanding the times we live in… Let’s take a quick look at some of the sensational end time “teaching” that was marketed in the past. Then we will look at the current hype surrounding September 2015 and the end time marketing blitz.
As I mentioned earlier, we had: 88 Reasons the Rapture Will be in 1988. Does anyone remember the absolutely irresponsible books written about Y2K as we closed in on the year 2000? We had Michael Hyatt’s book:The Millennium Bug. The Old Time Gospel Hour marketed a video entitled:A Christian’s Guide to the Millennium Bug.
TheMillennium Meltdownwas the Y2K book written by Grant Jeffrey in which he predicted the biggest global crisis since the Second World War. The near hysteria about the approach of Y2K among many believers was stoked by sensationalism. Dave Hunt’s excellent book:A Reasoned Response To Mass Hysteria…was a biblical response to the Y2K hype the Bible never mentioned.
The next big date was 2012. While I didn’t see any books that linked 2012 directly to Bible prophecy, there were numerous excerpts by a handful of prophecy writers that indicated many momentous events were going to take place in 2012. That is like a fortune teller stating that you will eat, breathe, and sleep sometime in the next 24 hours!
Then there was the New York Times best seller: THE BIBLE CODE by Michael Drosnin. The popular book described the so called ‘Bible codes” hidden in the Bible which supposedly predict major events.
Here we are and now that September 1st 2015 is upon us, the end time books, speculations, and even bold predictions are piling up. Books like:The Mystery of the Shemitah,Blood Moons, andFour Blood Moons,are flying off the secular and Christian bookstore shelves.
The 3 books I just mentioned may have “some” biblical truths embedded in them and I’m not knocking these men personally as believers. I’m not drawing a comparison between these three books and the utter foolishness of the Bible prophecy prediction books and videos of the past.
What I am saying is this: Be careful what you teach, spread, and consume as sound prophetic teaching. Just because someone says “Thus saith the Lord”…it doesn’t automatically make them a prophet or a solid Bible teacher. Every teaching must be firmly established in Scripture, not gross speculation.
Everyone is taking notice of the hype surrounding September 2015. The Christian media and bookstores have propelled the John Hagee, Mark Biltz, and Jonathan Cahn books to the forefront.The internet is full of Christian and secular websites who are writing articles and producing videos on the ‘supposed’ prophetic significance of this month. Some of the titles are:
September 2015, The End | The Rapture Will occur this September | The Tribulation Starts in September 2015 | Entering the Sixth Seal Aug-Sept 2015 | September 23, 2015 Will be the Rapture, the Asteroid, the Economic Collapse, etc, etc, etc…
The world has been a witness to the circus of sensational Bible prophecy material in years past. Moreover, many Christians who are new in the faith are wondering what to believe about Bible prophecy. There is a marked difference between sound end time teaching and sensationalism. Sensationalism detracts from the centrality of prophecy whereas sound biblically grounded end time teaching always points to Jesus, His soon return, and the 100 percent accuracy of God’s Word.
2 Timothy 4:3-4“For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Looking at geopolitical, natural, and manmade, events to see how they may play a role in the end time scenario is great teaching. That is understanding and discerning the times. I am one of many Bible teachers who focus on eschatology. I believe we should be watching and waiting.
I believe Bible Prophecy is of utmost importance because it is a constant reminder that: Time is running out to give people the message of the dire need for repentance due to the wickedness of the human heart before a holy God, and salvation through Jesus. The closeness of Jesus’ return is a call to personal holiness because the time is short.
2 Peter 3:11-13“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
On the other hand: closing in on dates, bible codes, predictions, and raw speculation is dangerous teaching. Many people in the world and in the church have become disillusioned by false teaching and teachers that seem to be more concerned about profitability than teaching sound Bible prophecy. Some people may hear solid teaching about the Lord’s soon return and chalk it up to more hype.
Contending for the faith includes warning you about much of the sensationalism surrounding this month.
Do not get caught up in this frenzy of speculation. The book of Daniel is the only book sealed up until the end. The Bible isn’t a mysterious book that only the privileged few can interpret…..it is illuminated by the Holy Spirit to all born again believers. Let this be a warning: Whenever you hear a “Bible teacher” or self-proclaimed “prophet” claim, say, or write things like:
They have found something hidden in the Bible, a “new” revelation, uncovered Bible secrets, unlocked an ancient mystery, proliferates Bible codes, or God showed them a new thing or teaching… it’s unbiblical nonsense.
As in years past, time does bear out all truth. We will see how the bold predictions of September 2015, Blood Moons hype, and all of the rest play out. We will continue to see an escalation of signs of the end and birth pains.
This September the economy will continue its chaotic fluctuations and lead to a one world global economy under the Antichrist. The US. dollar will continue to tank, the national debt will spiral out of control, and I do believe we will possibly witness an all out economic collapse.
We will hear of wars, rumors of wars, and probably see growing hostilities between the US. and Russia or China boil over into regional or global conflict. This could take place over disputes in the S. China Sea and certainly over Russian aggression in Ukraine or Eastern Europe.
It is becoming obvious to all that Iran and Israel are on the brink as the regime in Tehran continues to call for Israel’s destruction. With the help of President Obama and the support of the Russians via the pending sale of S300 missiles and other military aid. Iran may try to make good on its threat. Speaking of Israel, this beloved nation’s modern rebirth in May 1948 and subsequent homecoming to Jerusalem shows us we are seeing prophecy fulfilled.
Famine, disease outbreaks, major earthquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters will surely plague the planet. Near Earth objects/asteroids may stray into our atmosphere and cause untold destruction. These things will surely happen because the Bible has made it what conditions would be like just prior to the Lord’s return.
Matthew 24:3-8“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered them,‘See that no one leads you astray.For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.’”
These events and conditions will continue in September 2015; also in October, November, December, and into the coming years until He returns. These birth pains will increase in frequency and intensity as the day approaches.
Here is another indicator of Jesus’ soon return… there is rampant apostasy. It is playing itself out via the ecumenical, seeker sensitive, and prosperity movements. We were warned in the last days perilous times would come and many would not teach sound doctrine. Many professing Christians are having their ears tickled with a different gospel instead of living the crucified life.
I want to exhort you to do something in light of this September 2015: Focus on Jesus… not your calendar.
When you teach, speak about, or witness to others about bible prophecy matters… always remember the ultimate purpose is to point directly to Jesus. It is important to understand the times because the very fact that prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes in the Middle East, Europe, economically, etc…
It places an even greater sense of urgency on the great commission. This month, speak about prophecy, teach it, witness with even greater boldness because time is short.
Don’t let the marketing hype surrounding side show prophecy teaching sway you from studying Bible prophecy. There are solid teachers who have their eschatology rooted in Scripture and the urgency of the great commission.Watch, wait, live holy, and evangelize boldly this September 2015.