Archive for September 25, 2017

Predictions Come and Predictions Go

Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld,_Ludwig_Ferdinand_-_Apocalypse

Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Apocalypse, 1831

Well, things are still here.

There was some doubt as to whether or not they would be, at least in the mind of one man named David Meade.  Mr. Meade is a self-styled “Christian numerologist” who believed this past Saturday would bring a super-sign that would mark the beginning of the end of the world.  He based his prediction on the number 33:

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible…and merging the two.”

And September 23 is 33 days since the August 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

Mr. Meade also pointed to a mythical planet named Nibiru, which he said would pass by the earth, causing all sorts of calamities.

The difficulties with Mr. Meade’s odd eschatologizing are legion.  For starters, by one count, the Hebrew word for “God,” Elohim, doesn’t appear in the Bible 33 times, but in the Old Testament 2,570 times!  Mr. Meade’s count isn’t even close.  And the planet Nibiru, which was supposed to be central to his apocalyptic super sign, according to NASA scientists, doesn’t even exist.

Of course, whenever anyone – even if they are someone as obscure as Mr. Meade – makes this kind of sensationalistic prediction, reporters rush to interview Christian leaders to ask for their take on the prediction.  In this instance, thankfully, the leaders who they interviewed responded, to paraphrase, “Give me a break.”

Unfortunately, implausible apocalyptic predictions have become something of a matter of course for some who love to traffic in the dramatic.  In 2011, it was Harold Camping who predicted that the rapture would occur on May 21.  But predictions like these go back much further than that.  One of the earliest ballyhooed apocalyptic predictions dates all the way back to the end of the fourth century, when the church father Martin of Tours announced that the Antichrist had already been born and that the world would end by 400.  1,617 years later, we’re still waiting.

One problem with predictions like these is that they have the effect of discrediting the Christian message because those who trumpet them attach them to the Christian message.  And when these predictions inevitably fail, other parts of Christianity begin to look suspect.

Another problem with predictions like these is how they tend to portray the end times.  These predictions tend to focus so much on the destruction of earth that they forget about the return of Christ.  Mr. Meade, in his prediction, highlighted things like “volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes,” but he seemed to overlook the thrilling trumpet call, the breathtaking new Jerusalem, and the joyous resurrection to everlasting life.

The return of Christ, for those who trust in Him, is not meant to terrifying, but encouraging.  In one way, then, we should feel a twinge of disappointment that Mr. Meade wasn’t right.  For when Christ returns, all the depravity, devastation, despair, and death will be set right, which, for all the charms of this world, makes what comes next something I am looking forward to and praying for.

So, although I would never be so bold as to try to chronologize the end times, I do pray that Jesus will come.  Mr. Meade’s prediction doesn’t have to be right for that prayer to be good.

Maranatha!

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September 25, 2017 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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