Authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have created an industry with their best-selling "Left Behind" book series about the Rapture and the disappearance of all Christians before the final battle of Armageddon takes place (15 titles and more than 63 million sold, which testifies to the intense interest in the subject). There is disagreement within Christian circles as to what comes first - Armageddon or the Rapture - but that can be left to those counting angels on pinheads and, for that matter, to pinheads. Whatever they decide isn't going to affect events, though it will sell books.
If one is going to think on these things, instead of buying into the perceptions, predictions and punditry of those who can only guess about dates and times, wouldn't it be wiser (and less expensive) to consult Someone who claims to be the Supreme Authority on such matters?
Speaking of His return, Jesus of Nazareth warned about deceivers who would come in His Name, claiming to have knowledge about dates, times and the end of this world. His forecasts of "wars and rumors of wars," nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes (Matthew 24:4-8) sound like the newspaper front page.
Those events, He said, will be followed by persecution of His followers (already rampant in parts of the world), false prophets, an increase in wickedness and all sorts of other things. He said this would just be the beginning, or "birth pains." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used almost the same words when she spoke of the wars in Lebanon and Iraq as the "birth pangs" of a new Middle East. Jesus added that, "the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Luke 12:40)
On that authority, the end isn't yet upon us, because too many expect it. But, as Tim LaHaye said on "Good Morning America" last week, it is still good to be prepared. Stop worrying about dates and times, though, unless you're writing a book, making a movie, or delivering a speech. In those circumstances, "prophets" can make big profits with their modern equivalent of sandwich boards that proclaim the end is near.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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