If you like to form your eschatology from the newspaper and are persuaded that the world is getting worse, you may want to consider what technology expert Byron Reese had to say in this recent video interview on Triangulation about the breakthroughs on the verge of being made in medicine, energy, etc. Byron has spoken at our conferences and he is Chief Innovation Officer at Demand Media.
My December 27, 2003 article Earthquakes: Are They a Sign of the End? prompted a number of responses, which I thought would be worth re-visiting. There was one particular email that was especially meaningful and moving for me. It was critical of my position, so I wrote the following response to clear up some issues:
Thanks for writing. Please note what Jesus said in Matthew 24:33-34: “Even so YOU too, when YOU see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to YOU, this generation will not pass away until ALL THESE THINGS take place.” The “you” refers to Jesus’ first-century audience (24:2, 4, 6, 9, 25, etc.) not an unspecified future “last-days” audience.
“This generation” (Matt. 11:16; 12:41–42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; Luke 7:31; 11:30–32, 50–51; 17:25; cf. Gen. 7:1; Ps. 12:7; Heb. 3:10) refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. “This generation” never refers to a future generation.
The earthquakes that Jesus references were earthquakes that occurred throughout the Roman Empire in the first century. As I noted in my brief article, the biblical and secular historical record is clear on this point. The famines (Acts 11:28) and earthquakes were the beginning of birth pangs. As that generation came to an end, the temple was destroyed, Jerusalem was sacked, more than one million Jews were killed, and more than 50,000 were taken as slaves. This was the actual “birth” of judgment.
Jesus was not prophesying what would happen to the “world,” He was pointing out what would happen “in Judea” (Matt. 24:16). The people in Judea could escape the coming calamity by fleeing “to the mountains” (24:16). If Jesus were describing a global conflagration, there would be no place to escape.
If you are interested in this topic, I suggest that you get my book Last Days Madness. It offers a comprehensive study—verse by verse—of Matthew 24 and other NT/OT prophetic texts.
To be honest, I never expected her to respond, and if she did respond, I expected to read a lengthy rebuttal filled with more modern-day prophetic theories. Was I surprised when I received the following reply:
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for responding. Most of what I added to my email I read on www.lamblion.com. I have been terribly upset since this Tsunami. I have recently gotten married to a man who has never even stepped foot in a church. . . . I was raised by a mother and father who ingrained in my head that the world was going to come to an end before I turned thirty. At one point in my life (just a couple of years ago), I went into a major depression. I stopped caring about my life. I figured what is the point if I am only going to die. I never had many goals, but about a year ago I stopped this way of thinking. I put my parents words out of my mind. I decided I wanted to go to college. I went and got my GED and have been in college for a year now. My husband is finishing his BA. I have never been more happy. I look at my son and dream about our future, about buying our first home and growing old. After this Tsunami hit, my world turned black again. I have been scouring the internet for signs. I read on Jack Van Impe’s site that the end will happen between 2001 and 2012. I am so distresses I can’t think straight. I’m losing focus on my goals and my husband doesn’t understand. Does your book talk about the mark? Do you think that will happen in our life time? How long do you think this world has left? I am truly thankful for your response. I have felt so alone.What you believe about the future will determine how you live in the present. How many more people out there have put their lives on hold because some prophecy writer has assured them the end is near.