With things heating up in the Middle East, a variety of Christians are making predictions concerning the coming of Christ. A typical example is that of Tim Lahaye.
In a recent Newsweek interview, he offered this analysis: "Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy--and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days--are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now. That may be one of the reasons there's a sudden interest in bible prophecy because all of a sudden they realize end-time events could possibly take place and break forth right now."
LeHaye was then asked this follow-up question: "Couldn't almost anything then be taken as a clue that any point in history might be the end times?" He responded, "Down through the years that's true. But never the accumulation of events as we have today. I have often said that no one knows the day nor the hour that Christ will come, but no generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation. We have more reason to believe that Christ could come in our lifetime than any generation before us."
Other Christian leaders have gone so far as to guarantee that this generation will see the coming of Christ, or, at least the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. It does in fact seem as if certain segments of the church are in a rapture frenzy.
An obvious myriad of questions are raised in light of such thinking and prediction. Yet, one question seems to rise to the top in terms of importance: "Shouldn't we be concerned about and be prepared for the Lord's coming regardless of what happens in the Middle East in light of the fact that such preparedness is a spiritual issue and not one relegated to a sensationalized view of current events?"
Let me offer three implications that flow from such a question. First, there is a spiritual readiness that characterizes endtime Christians. Of course, according to the Scriptures and contrary to LeHaye, we have been in the last days for two-thousand years (e.g. 1 John 2). Christians of all generations, according to 1 Thes. 5:5-7, should be awake, watchful, and sober.
Paul confirmed that the believers at Thessalonica were just that: believers in Christ (5:1-5). He referred to them as those who are not in darkness. Because they are not in spiritual darkness, they are spiritually prepared for the day of the Lord. Paul affirmed them as sons of light and sons of the day. Each of these phrases is descriptive of their spiritual condition before the Lord, that is, their salvation in Christ.
Now, by virtue of their status as sons of the day, they have a responsibility with reference to the reality of Christ's second coming, that is, the day of the Lord. Paul gives them this admonition: "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober." Because Christ is coming in glory and indeed in judgment, we must be ready for His arrival.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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