Everyone I know seems to be reading the Bible these days in search of answers. That is usually a good thing but not always. In fact, too many of the Biblical discussions I get into with friends and family members relate to the “End Times” and whether they are upon us. That is a shame because reading the Bible can enrich one’s daily life provided one is not obsessed with using it as a device to decipher the future.
Because of one relatively simple error in dating one book of the New Testament, author Tim LaHaye has misled tens of millions of people into thinking that a great time of tribulation is near. He has Christians everywhere looking for signs of an emerging anti-Christ and, ultimately, in a cowardly fashion, looking forward to a time when Christ will rapture his church away from earthly troubles.
If Christians would simply study the New Testament themselves – instead of relying upon 21st Century “prophets” writing fictional books for 21st Century profits – they would arrive at a few very simple conclusions:
1. The Revelation to John was written around 65 AD, not 95 AD.
2. The anti-Christ was Nero, not some world figure yet to emerge in the 21st Century.
3. The tribulation occurred in the First Century around the time of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
4. The “rapture” never happened and it never will.
5. The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 plainly reveal that most of the discourse in The Revelation to John is based on events in the First Century.
Once an individual realizes he is stuck here on earth and will not be raptured away from all of his troubles, he can begin to read the Bible the way it was intended to be read. I have a word of advice for those who have never really thought about reading the Bible as an end in itself rather than as a means to some goal such as predicting the future. My advice is actually borrowed from a friend who received a moving card from his wife just a few months ago.
After receiving the cherished card from his wife, my friend would sneak into their bedroom late at night (she always fell asleep while he was finishing his last TV show). After giving her a kiss while she was sleeping, he would take the card off his dresser and go into the spare room to read it by the light of a small lamp.
There were certain lines he would read three and four times over: “It is a privilege to know you, to share myself with you,” “I never knew such a person could exist until I met you,” and “You lift my spirits to places where my troubles seem so much farther away.”
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