>I wrote this for something else but wanted to post here for discussion.
The minute the earthquake in Japan happened, I told several friends that two things were coming: 1) talk of the end of the world 2) talk of God punishing Japan
But I was not prepared for was the quality of the sample that was to come. This article details the prophetic take of Cindy Jacobs. She is an authoritative leader in Intercession Prayer circles and someone that I am very familiar with and had even quoted during my college years (the mid- 90s).
“In the early nineties, the Lord gave me a prophecy for Japan that it was a “sickle in the hand of the Lord” that will be used for great harvest. The physical geography of the islands look like a curved sickle with the handle being the island of Hokkaido in the north. One could also say that it looks like a curved sword. Where Japan has historically been a sword of war across Asia.”
“On the other hand, if you look at it another way, this island, Hokkaido, looks like the head of a dragon with the body being the rest of Japan. The people of Asia have worshipped the dragon for 5,000 years. If one looks at the place where the earthquake took place, it looks like the soft underbelly of most vulnerable part of the dragon.”
Can you believe it? The reasoning is that it ‘looks like a sword’? Are you serious?
Does that mean as seen from space… or on a map… or… wait – I’m looking at a map right now and I am not seeing a sword, or a dragon for that matter.
Not that it matters. When you are being this imaginative and fantastical, I am not sure that the facts would be all that helpful.
I was making fun of this on Facebook and I referenced the best selling book by Harold Camping’s 1994 or Edgar C. Whisenant “88 reasons the Rapture will be in 1988”. How corny right?
A week later I get a text message from someone listening to NPR that Harold Camping is on the radio saying that the end of the world will be next May 26th. It will happen at 6pm. It will make it’s way around the world time-zone by time-zone.
Wasn’t that how Y2K was suppose to happen? Not that it matters…
Here is what I wish would happen: that we could make a deal as Evangelical-Conservative-Fundamentalist and Charismatic Protestants that IF this happens next May or even in 2012 at all – then those of us who doubt them will volunteer to go to hell.
BUT if it doesn’t happen then we will realize that nothing is going to happens like this – and stop doing this every time a natural disaster occurs.
Here is what I wish we would realize:
1. human civilizations (brick and mortar) who live on fault lines and shore lines are impacted when the world does what it has always done – shift, evolve, and create.
2. every generation can not imagine things continuing to progress beyond a point that they would find unrecognizable and thus they think ‘this must be the end’
3. when we talk about the ‘eschatological hope’ of the resurrection we need to be careful to distinguish it from cooky dispensational “Left-Behind” mumbo-jumbo. We must distinguish because most people can’t tell the difference. In fact, sometimes I can’t tell the difference.
- Most of what Jesus said that gets chalked up to ‘end times’ stuff – like his story about two people in a field or on a road and one is taken, or how women will not want to be pregnant – he is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d. All that ‘flight to the hills’ and sky/moon turning red and a loaf of bread costing a bag of gold is about something that happened “within that generation” (Matthew 24:33-35). It is not about the end of the world.
- The book of Revelation was a political commentary on Rome of the first centuries CE. It is written in apocalyptic language because of the Roman oppression of the first century. It is not about the end of the world.
March 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm
>I think we've turned "eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," into "don't bother loving your neighbor, the world's going to end soon anyways." I think the fact that every generation of church members has had apocalyptic interpretors is a very powerful testament to the sway this kind of thinking can have on people. It's really really easy to get swept up in, and for some people, they really really want it to happen. The end of the world is the ultimate release from responsibility, and I think deep down we all want to believe in it a little bit. If you genuinely think the world is on the verge of annihilation, you get off the hook for a lot of stuff. And we expect a lot of people we don't like to be in a lot of trouble. ESPN magazine even makes fun of this with "This week's sign of the apocalypse." Personally, I don't think it's out possibility that the universe which had a beginning would also have an end. But instead of a long steady decline until Jesus comes back and says "Fuck it, I'm just burning this thing down," I think what's supposed to happen is that we as Christ-followers will progressively make the world a better and better place, until it's worthy to have Jesus come back. Meaning: the apocalypse probably won't ever happen. At least no time soon.
March 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm
>I hear what you are saying about people's ideas about the eschaton. But, there is an eschaton. And it's not now. When I see the destruction in Japan I know that Jesus' kingdom is not here in its fulness, I look forward to another time. I look forward to the time when death is no more. Paul says it this way:(24) Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1Cor. 15:24-26, ESVO God, teach me to prepare myself for that time, to live today according to the values of your inaugurated but not yet complete kingdom,to love others as a grace filled example of life in your kingdom, amen.
March 23, 2011 at 12:10 am
>Great points Bo. I definitely think that far too many people have been scarred by Left-Behind insanity, and those of us who maintain any kind of cosmic eschatology have a challenging task to avoid the implication of End-times chatter. "Eschatological hope" maybe could have been a more beautiful phrase if the Moltmanns, Pannenbergs, Bells, and Wrights had sold more books than the LaHayes, Jenkins, and Jacobs of the world did. I see this in my classes at the Episcopal school, where every time a book or the teacher mentions the word "eschatology" as one of the 7 core questions of systematic theology, students get a funny look on their faces and ask, "Now do you mean rapture, anti-christ stuff?" EVEN when a progressive like Elizabeth Johnson or Jon Sobrino mentions "eschatology", somebody in the class HAS to make sure we're not talking about the dawn of the apocalypse. I find this sad and frustrating…but I get it. It's taken me years to get psychological healing from the nasty kind of apocalypticism, imperialistic "prophecies", etc. With that said, I think it's worth our while to keep the phrase "eschatological hope" around a bit longer by attempting to show a more liberating vision of the future that doesn't involve the destruction of the earth and a violent, blood-thirsty warrior Jesus (you hear me, Driscoll?). Let's hope that books like "Love Wins" can help dismantle these destructive kind of eschatological visions.
March 23, 2011 at 1:32 am
>Sam : and I thought I was worked up 😉 – you brought a smile to my face.If you are interested in a third way… check out Pannenberg's "Theology and the Kingdom of God". It is different than anything I have ever read.http://www.amazon.com/Theology-Kingdom-God-Wolfhart-Pannenberg/dp/066424842X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300832259&sr=8-1
March 23, 2011 at 1:38 am
>Ike: Beautiful stuff. Just to clarify – I believe in an eschaton. THAT is why I said that we need to distinguish the "eschatological hope" from the other stuff.Look – We believe in this NOT because of some sayings that Jesus meant for 70 ad and NOT because of the book of Revelation. We believe in this because of the resurrection!! The disciples experienced Jesus after his crucifixion and we believe that life is not contained by death and that no earthly power can hold that which God is doing !!! We have hope !(just as long as we don't think it is because of NT passages about "the end")
March 23, 2011 at 1:40 am
>Austin: your responses give ME hope. Thank you for your input.
April 1, 2011 at 2:58 am
>I guess I look at things much more simplistic, and think of verses like: Ecclesiastes 8:7 – "No one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?" and 9:12 "Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come." Bottom line we should all live every day like it's our last, because we all know it could be. How many people do you know that died unexpectadly? We wish we knew it all but we don't. What we do know is that we don't know. That's the only thing we can be certain about.