It is not always easy to see the line in the sand between genuine zeal and fanaticism. Wishful thinking does not a prophecy make... nor does the false fervor of prophecy mongers needing visible validations to keep the offerings rolling in.
Back in the day, we attended one of those crusades.
Yes, God's simple plan of salvation through what Jesus did for us on the cross was wonderfully proclaimed. But, parallel to that was this also: based on the evangelist's calculations, within 90 days of his crusade (circa 1973) the invasion of Israel from the north, Gog and Magog (i.e. the Soviet Union) would materialize. That meant that the Rapture was imminent. I wrote letters to family and friends warning them that if they were considering being saved, they needed to do it soon because there was little time left to make that decision.
Imagine my chagrin more than forty years later.
Then, from another quarter, came a similar noise: the rapture was set to take place on a first Sunday in September... 1974, wasn't it? Oh yes... and we all bought the little book written by a now long forgotten famous authority on the West Coast. On the day of the “catching away", our pastor preached on why it did not - would not- happen on that day.
Only problem with that was... I had already made some decisions about quitting seminary without graduating and moving to the mission field while there was still time to do something before the end. It has all worked out fine. I am not writing out of regret or bitterness. But, all the same, I made some life-altering decisions based on bad information... more specifically, based on other people's misguided fervor and erroneous exegesis of the Scriptures.
They are accountable for influencing me with false teaching; I am accountable for having swallowed it.
Anyway... back to figs and dates: you cannot get a prophetically important calendar date from a fig tree.
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Mat 24:32-34
My formative years included that piece of the prophecy jigsaw puzzle that many used to substantiate that the Lord was returning soon; that we truly were part of that last generation that Jesus described:
Drum roll..... sound the trumpets... 14 May 1948
Quoting from a current prophecy website:
Jesus was saying that when you see ISRAEL re-blooming, whenever that would take place, that that generation would be the one that would be on the earth and living when the Last Days would occur. So if Israel was destroyed in 70 AD, and it was, when did it "bloom" again? May 14, 1948 is the date that history records that fact occuring. The generation that witnessed that, the WWII generation, still have not, for all intents and purposes, passed off the scene. They are still alive and with us today, and we are the people that Jesus said would be alive on the earth when the Last Days would happen. NOW THE END BEGINS
Quite an unsubstantiated leap! from a fig tree to 1948. And, back then, the improvising did not stop there.
Or, is it possible that Jesus' words were intended to be less specific, reminding us to keep our heads up every day, especially as things seem to progressively worsen around us? He will come for us. He will take us home to heaven. And he will do it before "Great Tribulation" sets in.
It probably is significant that Israel now exists as a nation. Yet, we should keep in mind that they survive on roughly one sixth of the "Promised Land" because they have big guns and because they have friends with big guns. That is a far cry from the peace and inheritance that God has promised them through their coming Messiah.
And, since what they have now is not yet what God promised to give them, it is important to be prophetically prepared for every contingency. If at some point Israel as we know it today were actually run out of Palestine and their government destroyed, it would not hinder in the least a future and complete fulfillment by God of His promises to them. It would simply mean that we made some really bad guesses -once again- about when He was going to do it.
The important lesson for me has been this: if something about my passion takes people any direction but to a deeper, more objective investigation of the Bible, then it is misguided. God's work will not survive on borrowed enthusiasm and hand-me-down convictions.
Letting other people use their appreciable mental acumen to objectively discern the Scriptures complements us and safeguards us from foaming at the mouth with "private interpretations" that we need to impress on others. It keeps us honest and centered.
God surround us with lots of “Bereans”…
"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Act 17:11
(re-posted from 01.09.2013)
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6