Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | By: Zachary Bartels

Eschatological On-Ramp

So a bunch of global banking bigwigs got together today and agreed to cut interest rates. Our own fed chair ironed this out with his counterparts in England, China, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and some Czar from the European Central Bank. (It hasn't worked yet; the decision to cut the federal funds rate to 1.5% rallied the market for a short time, but the DJI still closed out considerably down. )

That was this morning. Tonight, I taught my Wednesday night Bible class. We've been going through Revelation for a little less than a year. I've been doing my best to slowly, brick by brick, knock down any vestige of Left Behind Rapture cult nonsense that my people may have absorbed and, in its place, teach them the Historic Protestant understanding of the end times.

There are some major differences. Case in point: your average Left Behinder would have jumped into the study of Revelation, using the day's headlines as an interpretive grid. Van Impe makes a living doing this (see yesterday's post). Whether it's 1985 or 2008, we can find prophecy in the headlines. Mikhail Gorbachev is clearly the Antichrist. No, wait! It's Saddam Hussein!... Y2K will mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation! Er...The European Union is clearly the Beast; it has SEVEN STATES after all. Crud, now it has twenty-seven...

The frustrating thing is that these guys never go back and retract what they said about last year's headlines. They plow ahead without a care in the world, effecting as confident a tone and demeanor as they can muster.

Were I a Left Behinder, I'd have spent a good deal of time tonight outlining what had taken place when those seven (oooohhh) nations got together and started acting all one-world-governmenty. One step closer to a world currency. One step closer to the microchip that the Bible predicts! (Greek: pentiumos intelos).

But I didn't do that. I caution students of the Bible against using the Old Testament to interpret the new (it should be vice versa), let alone using the Associated Press to interpret Holy Scripture.

Now, global headlines can almost always be used to illustrate the truths of Revelation, because Revelation is an apocalypic vision which tells seven times (from seven different "angles") the story of the entire period between Christ's first and second comings. But they can't be treated as the "secret key" to understanding the prophecy. Remember: Daniel was told to "seal up prophecy" until the end, while John shows us the breaking of the seals and the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 18, we read about Babylon the Great going up in smoke. From a great distance, the kings, merchants, and sailors whose whole lives are wrapped up in that corrupt world system watch the whole thing implode. As they watch, they weep, wail, and lament. The real connection between the events of this morning and the book of Revelation is not some future conspiratorial entity, but a very real danger in your life right now. If you've put all your eggs in the "world's system" basket, you're going to--at some point--be weeping, wailing, and lamenting its downfall.

Am I trying my hand at doomsaying? Nah. Get some perspective. 98% of the five year periods in the stock market's history have made money. 100% of the ten year periods have made money. Yes, that's right. All of them. Your hysteria is not going to help the problem, so breathe. Unless you retired yesterday, your 401K and your IRAs will almost certaily heal as they have in the past (heck, the market ended 1987 higher than it started).

However, there will ultimatley be a great crash to the whole thing. And I mean the whole thing. I'm preaching on the Rich Fool in Luke 12 this week. For him, the great market crash was his death, when he found out that he'd been putting all his eggs in the wrong basket and all of his investments in the wrong fund. And that fund didn't pay dividends in the afterlife.

When all is said and done, whether the market is up or down, there's only one place to put your trust that won't crash and burn in the end: in Jesus Christ. If your trust is in Him and you're living for Him, your investments are secure for all of eternity.

That's not quite as sexy as smoke-filled back rooms where one-world currencies are born or tanks rolling into Jerusalem or microchips being injected into people's foreheads. But it's a heck of lot more comforting. And it's actually based in reality and the truths of Scripture.

6 reader comments:

E. said...

Thank you for this dose of sanity and reassurance. :)

Orekh Kukaruka said...

I, for one, welcome our new headchopping, chip implanting, one-world currency printing overlords.

ZSB said...

Huzzah!

Mike said...

I love your article!! Not only awesome writing and communication, but a great message! However, there are a lot more headlines in the news that seem to be pointing in a certain direction and could be understood as such. Question: At some point interpretation of the headlines as direct fulfillment of end times will be right. How do we know when that is right? I am with you about speculation, b/c Jesus didn't even know and that the point is being ready. I also know that my question will more than likely not be taken seriously, but as naive as I am, the question remains. Thanks for your ministry and messages.

ZSB said...

Mike,
I think your question pre-supposes a futurist understanding of the Book of Revelation (and the Kingdom of God). Understanding the Book of Revelation as a picture (from seven angles) of the entire church age (with an increasing emphasis on the very end), in my opinion, opens up vast new meaning for us and doesn't tie it down to certain headlines at the very end of the age. The headlines will always be relevant to the text because we are in the church age. However, I think we want to use them illustratively, to confirm the truth of Scripture, not as an aid to interpretation (or, more often than not, as the interpretation itself.)

Soli Deo Gloria,
Zachary

Mike said...

Well, said. Confirming the truth of scripture is what i had in mind, rather than interpreting scripture. I also agree with the on going ever increasing picture of the end times. I still think that at some point that what the headlines report will be the fulfillment, though not necessarily interpreted correctly due to a lack of repentance. The people who are having 500 pound boulders fall on them are mad at God because he could control it, but will refuse to repent. Headline: Several crushed by 500 pound boulders: people angry at God.--Sermon the next Sunday: Repent!!!! See scripture is right!!!!