Chapter 12: The Book of Revelation And The Rapture
A Monumentally Large Subject
Of any chapter in this book, this one could most easily have been a book of its own. I have so much to say about this topic that I had great difficulty limiting the amount of material presented here.
In this chapter I will begin by detailing the doctrine with the scriptures or other sources that have created the doctrine of The Rapture and The Great Tribulation and afterward expose the weaknesses and errors contained in such a belief.
How Fundamentalism is Different
Although the end of the world is a concept and belief that is shared by many groups, some Christian and some not, the fundamentalists have a more elaborate view of the end-of-all-things compared to other doomsday prophets.
While fundamentalists are generally sticklers that there must be a Biblical basis for all doctrines; their end-of-time teaching is a glaring exception to this rule. As I have pointed out in several other chapters the most important keystone of Christian fundamentalism ideology is the literal interpretation of scripture.
In addition to what they interpret as history and teaching the Bible is also said to contain a substantial number of predictions (or prophecies as they call them). Some of these prophecies are simple and straightforward such as those concerning the second coming of Jesus, while others are not obvious as to what they are predicting. Even worse, many of the scriptures cited as prophecy were never intended to be seen as prophecy by the authors at all!
Modern fundamentalists overwhelmingly accept a framework for interpreting scripture called Dispensationalism. This theory is built from a dizzying patchwork of unrelated verses sewn together in an intricate narrative originated by a fringe movement started in the mid-19th Century. The movement leapt into national prominence when a new Bible was published by Cyrus Ingerson Scofield¹]. Scofield was a pastor who taught a popular Bible course during the Gilded Age of the 1890’s. The course was so successful that he decided to take the course notes and put them as references and footnotes into a Bible. After ten years of work the Oxford University Press published his massive work in 1909. It was an instant success! It is the notes he put into the Scofield Bible that the modern End Time first took shape. To this very day, the Scofield Bible can be purchased in almost any Christian Book store in America!
I will begin by trying to lay out the concepts of Dispensationalism together with the scriptures on which it is loosely based.
The Primary Concept of Dispensationalism
Essentially this theory states that human history can be divided into seven blocks of time (called dispensations) that defined a differing relationship between God and man. The dispensations as described by Scofield are:
1) The Dispensation of Innocence
Beginning at creation until the fall of Adam and Eve. This dispensation signified a relationship with God that was direct and face-to-face because there was no guilt or sin to stand between man and his creator. This was the human-divine relationship as God intended.
2) The Dispensation of Conscience
The era between the expulsion from the Garden of Eden until Noah’s flood. In this dispensation God judged and related to man strictly through each man’s conscience. He looked at each man (or woman I assume) and related to them directly based on the humans willingness to listen to conscience.
3) The Dispensation of Human Government
And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”
The time after the Great Flood until the call of Abraham.
4) The Dispensation of Promise
(Genesis 13:14-17) See also Genesis 15:1-21, 17:4-8, 22:15-24, 26:1-5, 28:10-15
The period of time covering the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and so on…) ending with presentation of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.
5) The Dispensation of the Law
The era from Moses receiving the law until the death of Jesus on the cross.
6) The Dispensation of Grace
The current era, from Jesus’ death until the establishment of his kingdom.
7) The Dispensation of the Kingdom
The Millennium where followers of Christ are to rule the Earth. At the end of this dispensation, the current Earth is to be destroyed to be replaced by a new one without dispensations.
The 70 Weeks
Of course Dispensationalism is much more complicated than this. One of their most important teachings is based on this scripture:
- Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
- Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
- And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
- And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Scofield and his colleagues used a prophetic rule-of-thumb that has been popular since the 2nd Century of interpreting a day as a year in prophecy. Using this convention, he interprets Daniel 9 as foretelling a 490 year time span, with 49 of the years being between Scofields estimate of the prophecy being written down and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, then another 434 until Jerusalem is destroyed again. He held back the remaining 7 years on hold until the end of the Dispensation of Grace until the period of desolation refered to in Daniel 9:7 above would occur. Here are Scofield’s notes from Daniel 9:
These are “weeks” or more accurately, sevens of years; seventy weeks of seven years each. Within these “weeks” the national chastisement must be ended and the nation re-established in everlasting righteousness (Dan 9:24). The seventy weeks are divided into seven == 49 years; sixty-two = 434 years; one = 7 years (vs. 25-27). In the seven weeks == 49 years, Jerusalem was to be rebuilt in “troublous times.”
This was fulfilled, as Ezra and Nehemiah record. Sixty-two weeks == 434 years, thereafter Messiah was to come (Dan 9:25). This was fulfilled in the birth and manifestation of Christ. Dan 9:26 is obviously an indeterminate period. The date of the crucifixion is not fixed. It is only said to be “after” the threescore and two weeks. It is the first event in Dan 9:26.
The second event is the destruction of the city, fulfilled A.D. 70. Then, “unto the end,” a period not fixed, but which has already lasted nearly 2000 years. To Daniel was revealed only that wars and desolations should continue (cf. Mt 24:6-14.) The N.T. reveals, that which was hidden from the O.T. prophets Mt 13:11-17 Eph 3:1-10 that during this period should be accomplished the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven Mt 13:1-50 and the out-calling of the Church Mt 16:18 Rom 11:25. When the Church–age will end, and the seventieth week begin, is nowhere revealed. Its duration can be but seven years. To make it more violates the principle of interpretation already confirmed by fulfillment. Dan 9:27 deals with the last week.
The “he” of Dan 9:27 is the “prince that shall come” of Dan 9:26, whose people (Rome) destroyed the temple, A.D. 70. He is the same with the “little horn” of chapter 7. He will covenant with the Jews to restore their temple sacrifices for one week (seven years), but in the middle of that time he will break the covenant and fulfill Dan 12:11 2Th 2:3,4. Between the sixty-ninth week, after which Messiah was cut off, and the seventieth week, within which the “little horn” of Dan. 7. will run his awful course, intervenes this entire Church-age. Dan 9:27 deals with the last three and a half years of the seven, which are identical with the “great tribulation.” Mt 24:15-28 “time of trouble” Dan 12:1 “hour of temptation” Rev 3:10.
The Great Tribulation
The idea of a “time of tribulation” was not new or unique to Dispensationalism, in fact the Bible does indicate that such a period would occur just prior to the end of the world. Jesus even uses the word “tribulation”; however, he did not use it in the same sense as a modern Dispensationalist.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not…
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken…
and then shall the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven…
(Matthew 24:21-27, 29, 34)
From Scofield’s notes in Daniel 9, the left over week (7 years) was tied this verse to create a “The Great Tribulation” as a time of terrible upheaval when God pours out all his anger and rage held in for thousands of years in just seven short years as a line of demarcation between the Dispensation of Grace and the Dispensation of the Kingdom.
The Dispensationalists expanded the New Testament idea of a “time of trouble” with unprecedented leaps of creativity pulling previously unassociated scriptures, legends and popular myth into a complex and precise time-table of events. The Dispensationalists took what had previously been vague warnings to be vigilant but hopeful, and turned them into an epic masterpiece of apocalyptic destruction.
The Last Days
Alright, let us imagine for a few minutes that Scofield and his buddies were right, that Daniel actually wrote this material and he did accurately predict Jesus as the Messiah and foretell the destruction of Jerusalem. Even further let us imagine that there is a seven year long time of wrath yet-to-come. Given all of that; what makes fundamentalists today think that The Great Tribulation will happen within the next few years? If the break between the first 483 years and the last 7 of Daniel 9 could be put on hold for 2,000 years, why not 3,000 or even 10,000?
Put this question to any modern fundamentalist and they will quickly respond,
Because we are living in the “Last Days.”
They think that destruction will occur any minute because the Bible does indicate that our world will end some day and it does makes several statements indicating the signs that the end would come true, a series of signs indicating that the last days of the world are upon us. The fundamentalist mindset of persecution and paranoia thoroughly convince each generation that they are modern -day Job’s sitting in the midst of sinners, so they have to be in the last days. Even though the end has been awaited with fevered anticipation for two-thousand years, each generation of fundamentalists is even more certain than the last that they are the final generation.
The signs seized upon by the Dispensationalists as signs are:
The Reestablishment of Israel and the Temple
These verses combined with Daniel 9 quoted earlier are all three understood by fundys as referring to the Anti-Christ offering sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem. For this to happen there has to be a real physical Jewish Temple; and for that to happen a nation of Israel has to occupy Jerusalem. So the establishment of the nation of Israel is taken to be one of the first (and one of the most significant) signs that the end is coming.
The Establishment of The Last Generation
As you can see, Jesus seems to indicate that all the terrible events he described will occur within the lifetime of a single “final generation”. If you read all these apocalyptic writings together (with the assumption that they are all talking about a Great Tribulation) then these verses will lead you to conclude that not only the tribulation but all the signs mentioned will occur within a single generation. This is really important when you consider that the first sign was taken to be the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948. Since that was 60 years ago, we are already past the generally understood definition of a generation to be 40 years; this would mean we are already overdue for the end of all things.
Gospel Delivered To the Whole World
With the current capacity for mass communications all over the world, this prediciton seems to be well within the grasp of Christians. Once again it makes the end seem very near.
A Christian Falling Away
(2 Thessalonians 2:3)
This is a prediction that massive numbers of Christians will leave the church. Christianity does not appear to be losing influence of members in what anyone could call a falling away. In fact, here in America the religious appear to be gaining ground.
However, combine this verse with the fundamentalist belief that only they are correct and you arrive at the conclusion that all other Christians are actually apostates who have “fallen” away from the truth into self-deception. You now can move this prediction into the “fulfilled” column.
Signs and Wonders
Because of verses like these any bad news from anywhere in the world is taken as absolute proof that The Great Tribulation is just around the corner.
The scriptures never say exactly what to expect or when, just a general statement that things will get much worse with various plagues, pestilences and diseases. What a perfect set of statements to make if you want to keep tension aroused without needing a payoff.
In practice this causes fundamentalists to jump in excitement during every single war or natural disaster no matter how many they may have seen before and yell, “See!, I told you that the end is here! How could you have ever doubted?” I hear this garbage every time I visit family members who are still fundamentalists. They might not be willing to think it through, but they are very consistent.
(Matthew 24:9 11)
It may seem laughable, but this persecution complex is alive and well in the United States in the 21st century, in spite of the fact that these same Christian fundamentalists are seen as one of the most powerful political forces in America, they see themselves as persecuted, if not on the verge of being rounded up and thrown into prison for the Word of God. All anyone has to do is hint that someone unknown person wants to remove “In God We Trust” from currency and they shake in righteous horror that the evil secular forces are about to bowl them over. In truth, Atheists, homosexuals, Jews and women should be the ones in fear.
You have heard me mention several times in previous chapters the fundamentalist need to be at war with a conspiracy of evil and how it makes them feel important to be part of the ultimate conflict. It fits very nicely with the romantic view of Christian persecution presented in the Book of Revelation.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture
At about the same time that the theory of Dispensations was making it’s rounds another related and equally popular idea surfaced. This was the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture.
As I have mentioned before, the Bible does indicate that a time of tribulation would occur before the end of the world and it also provides a doctrine of the “Second Coming”
- Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
- And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
That is all well and good, but the creators of this doctrine could not imagine that they and fellow true believers should have to suffer through the disasters coming in the “time of trouble” before they were taken from the Earth. So a new idea emerged…
From the sources I could find this pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine could have originated when a 15 year-old girl in Scotland named Margaret MacDonald[²] had a vision of the church being stolen away by Jesus before the tribulation. She felt it would be unfair and unjust to make Christians endure all the catastrophes, so she created a way out. It caught on among local congregations.
Then the Rapture doctrine appears to have been adopted by an English minister named John Darby (often called the father of dispensationalism) who either invented it himself, or borrowed it indirectly from Margaret MacDonald. He and his Plymouth Brethren, a religious sect in England began teaching “The Rapture” as doctrine. In 1864 John Darby brought the doctrine to America when he came to visit Cyrus Ingerson Scofield who also incorporated this doctrine in his Bible as well as dispensationalism. Before long it spread like wildfire among Presbyterians and Baptists during the early 20th Century.
The doctrine of The Rapture moved from obscure teaching to popular culture when Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth appeared on the best-seller list during the 1970’s. It was so popular that they even made it into a mock-documentary type film. Both the book and the movie were poorly written being a confusing jumble of wild theories. Among its predictions were that grocery-type bar-codes would be forcibly tattooed onto people for identification and that Anwar Sadat (ruler of Egypt in the 1970’s) would emerge as the Anti-Christ. In spite of (or maybe because of) such silly predictions, he became an over-night celebrity among fundamentalists.
Simply put, The Rapture is a belief that Jesus will “steal away” his followers before the Great Tribulation begins so they don’t have to endure the terrible times to come. In this belief all devout Christians) will instantaneously disappear all over the world at the same time. They speak of planes and cars crashing when the pilots or drivers disappear. Then these true Christians will be put into a heavenly state of Limbo while the great plagues from the book of Revelation are dumped out on everyone else. Then they will return with Jesus to fight the Battle of Armageddon to defeat evil for all time.
There is an interesting paradox in the doctrine of The Rapture, in that the verse from Matthew above (and all the others I could quote) may talk about the Christians or the church going up to meet Jesus in the sky, there are several differences between the Bible’s version of this meeting and the one taught by the fundamentalists. Notice that Matthew 24:29 says that this will take place immediately after the “tribulation of those days”, not before it begins, and no other scripture that I am aware of, indicates that it will occur earlier. While I understand their desire to miss out on this time of terrible punishment, the Bible does not in any way support their position.
Also notice that Jesus said that when his people were gathered that every eye will see the skies parting with him coming in glory to gather the righteous from everywhere. The Rapture doctrine says that it will happen all the sudden with people just phasing out without anyone knowing where they all went.
If Jesus came back to gather them before the Tribulation, he would have to turn around and go back. Then his final return would have to be called the “Third Coming”, not the second.
The Great Tribulation Begins
Now we consider the supposed main event. Most fundys believe that this Great Tribulation holds several plagues, pestilences and torments. I will not go into the various maps and lists of events devised by various teachers since none match on any but a few details. I will cover the high points here:
(2 Thessalonians 2:3)
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him…”
(Revelation 13:1, 5-8)
In fundamentalist doctrine the entire tribulation period can be tied directly to the rise and fall of this “Beast” character.
When you think about fundamentalists and how they believe in strict interpretation of the scriptures, you might expect that they would think these verses are predicting a monster like Godzilla that would climb up out of the ocean, but you would be wrong.
Actually they take the entire book metaphorically instead of literally and believe that these passages refer to a specific individual. The waters are usually taken to represent the stormy waters of world politics, and the heads, horns and crowns are interpreted to mean some type of affiliation with cities, nations or leagues of nations. The exact geography changes depending on the person doing the explaining. The most common associations I heard were that the seven heads and the ten horns/crowns represented European nations he rules (either connected through NATO or the European Union).
The Beast is thought to quickly gain control of the whole world through deception and propaganda (sound familiar?). He is to start a new age of Christian persecution (similar to ancient Rome) and kill all newly converted Christians. If not already there to start with, it is thought that The Beast will eventually move his capitol to Jerusalem in Israel. He is also called the Anti-Christ meaning that he is the evil twin to Jesus, proclaiming himself as the savior of all mankind. This is made plainer by the next verse which is also believed to refer to this Anti-Christ:
Notice that “for one week” part? As I have mentioned before Fundamentalists who claim to be experts on prophecy use a general rule that one day in prophecy equals one year in real time, therefore they believe the reign of the Anti-Christ will be seven years and in the middle of his reign (after 3.5 years) that he will invade Jerusalem, kill the two witnesses I mentioned above, and set himself up as God in the newly rebuilt Jewish temple. This is how fundamentalists determine that The Great Tribulation will last for seven years.
Of all the characters and/or events that are portrayed in The Great Tribulation doctrine, The Beast by far is the most famous and popular! He has had a central role in more books and movies than I can count. It is as if this fictional character has captured the imagination of the American public! With many he is almost an obsession.
In this verse we see a strange prediction that The Beast would have a fatal wounding and and have a miraculous recovery that will convince the world that he should be worshipped. Some fundamentalists take this to mean that he will recover from some terrible physical attack or perhaps that he will overcome a political insurrection, either way he supposedly overcomes some difficulty that thrusts him into the spotlight.
The False Prophet
It would appear that this is supposed to be some sort of religious leader who starts a cult of Anti-Christ worship. There is not nearly as much fascination with this character, probably because he is only mentioned in the book of Revelation, while the Anti-Christ is mentioned in several scriptures all through the Bible. Although previous verses indicates that Christian persecution was already going strong with The Beast on his own, The False Prophet really helps to intensify the persecution.
The Whore of Babylon
And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman…
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
(Revelation 17:1-7, 9)
This is the other key player in the group of villains that are said to persecute Christians during The Great Tribulation.
From the description that the whore sits on seven mountains (and for centuries Rome’s nickname was The City of Seven Hills) some fundamentalists (like my grandfather) think it refers directly to the Roman Catholic Church. An equally large number feel that it refers to any church that isn’t fundamentalist enough; believing the Roman connection to be a metaphor for all apostate churches.
I have heard a smaller less popular group predict that the ancient city of Babylon would be resurrected by the Anti-Christ and made to be the center of the new religion that worships him. I guess George W. Bush was preparing the way for this when we attacked Iraq since the location of ancient Babylon just happens to be inside modern day Iraq.
In spite of the confusion on the details all of them agree that this whore (apostate church) is a direct result of the great falling away mentioned earlier. These once true Christians will be gobbled up by a gigantic religious machine that supports or aids The Beast and The False Prophet.
The Two Witnesses
Although all believers are said to have disappeared in “The Rapture”, somehow two great prophets get left behind to proclaim “The Word of God” creating several new Christian converts in defiance of the rising forces of evil. Among the converts are 144,000 Jews that will become martyrs for the faith.
I never understood why the pre-tribulation Christians get to avoid the punishment of the tribulation, but these two prophets and those converted by them have to stick it out (and many of them be killed) afterward. It seems odd that their loving God would show such partiality for one group over the other. If these have to endure persecution and martyrdom the way First Century Christians did, then why do the pre-tribulation Christians get it so easy?
The two witnesses are said to have a 42 month (1,260 days) long career thought to cover the first half of the seven year tribulation.
The Middle Of The Prophetic Week
As stated above the tribulation period is generally divided into two three-and-one-half year compartments. During the first half there is less death and destruction as The Beast and his false prophet consolidate power and the Two Witnesses preach to the masses.
Then suddenly in the middle of the seven year period (three and a half years into the tribulation) the situation radically changes.
The Mark of the Beast
There you have it, the infamous “Mark of the Beast.” I cannot tell you how much those four words filled me with dread all through my childhood. There was hardly a church service that went by that I did not hear those four words of unlimited terror. Few things in religious dogma have the power or fear raised by this specter. Of any verse in the entire Bible, this one has probably caused more terror and paranoid reaction than any other single verse, and not just among fundamentalists. Anything with the number 666 is treated with such an overwhelming dread and fear that it usually gets changed or removed immediately. Of course sick individuals who want to project an image of evil embrace it as something sacred.
After ruling for 42 months, The Beast gets the great idea that no one can buy or sell anything without his mark (we are not told what that is), his name, or the number 666 tattooed or otherwise stamped into their head or hand. What makes this so terrible in fundamentalists’ eyes is that anyone who accepts this mark is then doomed without possibility of redemption. No one who takes the Mark Of The Beast can ever be saved from eternal damnation no matter what they do. Pretty scary stuff!
In addition to the fear of number 666, Beast mania has also caused an irrational reaction to Social Security Numbers, grocery store scanners, bar code labels, and the Internet; all because that fundamentalists somehow fear that technology and computers are related to the Mark of the Beast! Any one who understands computers (or any of these other technologies,) knows that they require a unique number or identifier for each person. Having the same number or symbol on every person would be of no use to these technologies at all. So they are barking up the wrong tree fearing technology in this way.
Death of the Two Witnesses
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
The Beast, or The False Prophet will track down and kill the two witnesses mentioned earlier for challenging their authority. Apparently they are to be killed in the streets of Jerusalem and after laying in the gutter there for three days will arise again from the dead and then ascend into heaven on international television.
The Battle of Armageddon
The final act in this drama of blood and guts is supposed to be the ultimate battle between good and evil.
This is the one and only time the name “Armageddon” appears in the Bible, yet the name has become a synonym for the ultimate battle of all time. The word Armageddon is understood to refer to a real location in Palestine called the Valley of Medigo and it is imagined that all the worlds’ armed forces led by the Anti-Christ will march out into this location. Who they are supposed to be fighting is unclear. Most think it is an assault on Israel; however, the Anti-Christ is predicted to already be based in Jerusalem by this time, so the details are quite fuzzy. From the scripture it looks to me like he expects to physically attack Jesus at the second coming, but if he really believed that Jesus was returning, would he actually think he could stop it? This doesn’t make much sense to me.
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.…
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
(Revelation 19:11, 16, 19-21)
No matter who is supposed to be fighting whom, the battle is said to be ended by Jesus’ Second Coming ending the Great Tribulation. More events are supposed to take place afterward like a Millennium and another battle, but most fundamentalists are not too concerned with the details after this so I won’t go into that too much.
The Problems with this Doomsday Scenario
Now I will discuss the contradictions, inconsistencies and errors that prove this End-Time doctrine cannot possibly be true.
Interpretation Through Ignorance
Here we see the biggest mistake fundamentalists make with this doctrine. They take scriptures from all over the place and apply them to the end time without the foggiest idea of what they actually are about. If they knew a little history and Biblical Archeology then they would know better. Take for example this verse I quoted earlier:
Here is what this scripture is talking about; the author (some unknown individual) wrote about a real event in history after it had already occurred in an attempt to make it look like the prophet Daniel had predicted it. It was about a cruel Greek/Syrian king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes[⁵] who desecrated the Jewish Temple in Old Testament times. It was common practice in those days to rewrite history as a predictive prophecy after-the-fact to make the Jehovah look powerful and in control to help the faithful maintain hope in dark times. Yes it is dishonest, but someone thought it was worth the effort.
Now look at this verse:
Now we have moved ahead 300 years to the time the book of Mark was written (probably no earlier than 90 C.Y.E.) where we have yet another unknown author doing exactly the same thing again! This time an author puts these words into Jesus’ mouth to make it look as though he predicted the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. However the sacking of Jerusalem happened at least twenty years earlier (in 70 C.E.) so as you can see that reference was also projected backward to a previous event too.
In both of these examples, the dreaded “abomination of desolation” referred to an event in our far past, and could not in any way be predicting a 21st century disaster. How do we know it is in the far past? Because there is no temple in modern day Jerusalem and (unless the entire Islamic world disappears) there probably never will be. I think it is even less likely that modern day Jews would begin offering animal sacrifices even if there were a new temple built. Yes, there are radical Jews out there, but Israel appears to be run primarily by modern secular Jews who I doubt would even consider such a thing. Notice that the verse in Daniel specifically says that the evil king will halt the offering of sacrifices. Hard to stop what isn’t happening in the first place.
The Book of Revelation
Next we will examine the very first verse in The Book of Revelation.
Notice the key words “must shortly come to pass”; does two-thousand years sound like a short time to you? I don’t think so, it doesn’t to me either. So obviously, this book was intended for an audience in the late 1st Century, not for people in our time.
Biblical scholars know (and most laymen do not know) that the entire Book of Revelation was written to predict the downfall of the hated Roman Empire at a time when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans.
“Every Jewish reader, of course, saw that the Beast was a symbol of Nero. And both Jews and Christians regarded Nero as also having close affinities with the serpent or dragon… The Apostle writing as a Hebrew, was evidently thinking as a Hebrew… Accordingly, the Jewish Christian would have tried the name as he thought of the name—that is in Hebrew letters. And the moment that he did this the secret stood revealed. No Jew ever thought of Nero except as ‘Neron Kesar.’” - Frederic W. Farrar [⁵]
Remember the whore sitting on seven mountains reference in Revelation 17:9? That was a dead give-away as to what it was talking about. And The Beast in Revelation was a direct reference to the Roman Emperor Nero whose name in Hebrew was Neron Kesar. It was a common practice for Jews in the first century to calculate names based on specific values for the letters and if we do this on the Hebrew version of Nero’s name we get exactly 666. If we use Latin for Caeser Nero, we get 616, and it just so happens that many Latin copies of the book of Revelation have the number 616 instead of 666.[⁶] Seems like pretty strong evidence to me.
It was such common knowledge that the Book of Revelation was anti-Roman propaganda against the Emperor that Nero used it as evidence against the Christians when he accused them of setting fire to Rome. This led directly to a massive period of Christian persecution, a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. However accurate that prediction may have been, it has nothing whatsoever to do with us in the 21st Century!
From this short study we can see that over the last 150-170 years that the Christian fundamentalist world has built up an enormous opera of fantasy as wild as any movie plot and that this fantasy causes believers who buy into it to do strange and disastrous things. All based on a made up story that is only partly based on a patchwork of Bible scriptures.
And we can see that the most important scriptures used to create this fantasy world (Daniel and Revelation) were actually condemnations of ancient kings that have been gone for millennia. Thus these supposed prophecies have no predictive power over the 21st century at all.
The only “success” that they can claim is that the founding of the State of Israel seemed to confirm their view. So let us look at the scripture they claim predicted this event:
- The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
- And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
- And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
- Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
- Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
- And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
- So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
- And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
- Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
- So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
- Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
- Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
- And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
- And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
This scripture was taken by the entire Jewish world to foretell the reestablishment of the kingdom after the Babylonian exile hundreds of years before Jesus was born. No one in the Biblical world took this scripture to apply to a time in the future. Like all other supposed “fulfilled” prophecy, it was only applied after the modern state of Israel was already established.
So we see that once again, the fundamentalist has traded reality in for a highly distorted (and fantasy based) version of reality.
- The Highway: THE SCOFIELD BIBLE and DISPENSATIONALISM
- intotruth.org: The Revelation of the Coming (Margaret MacDonald’s Revelation)
- The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates
- The Jewish Encyclopedia: Antiochus IV, Epiphanes
- Frederic W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1882), p471.
- World Net Daily News: 666 wrong number of prophetic beast?