What do we know about the End of the World?

Where is the world heading? How will it all end? Are we in the ‘end times’? Will there be a ‘secret rapture’? What is the ‘millennium’? These are questions which we find asked often in the modern world, and many claim that we are in unique times when these questions are singularly appropriate. 

But you don’t have to look very far into history to see that people have always asked these questions! Harold Camping hit the headlines a few years ago for making specific predictions about the date of Jesus’ return—and then having to offer a new date when the previous one passed without incident. In 1844, William Miller predicted that Jesus would return on October 22nd; in response, his followers sold up land and homes, and when the date passed they experienced a crisis known as the Great Disappointment. Many in Europe in the year 999 expected Jesus to return the following year, and convened great gatherings in the fields to prepare. 

Others argue that the state of the world shows that we are in the ‘end times’, with the growth of globalisation, computer technologies which are changing society, and the climate crisis. Yet we have faced great crises before—both diseases, like the Spanish flu, the Black Death, and the plague of Justinian, and wars all through history have had a devastating impact—yet history has not come to an end.

I wrote these notes for the Bible Reading Fellowship’s Guidelines notes, and they have just been published. (You can order them online here.)

When we look at key passages about the end of the world, it turns out the Bible says something more complex and yet more simple than we might have thought. The anticipation of the ‘end times’ actually has a central place in Christian discipleship—but it does not involve anything to do with predicting dates or looking for ‘signs of the times’! Let’s explore these passages together and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Further reading

Ian Paul Kingdom, Hope and the End of the World: The ‘Now’ and ‘Not Yet’ of Eschatology (Grove Biblical booklet B82)

Ian Paul How to Read the Book of Revelation (Grove Biblical booklet B28)

Ian Paul The Book of Revelation (Tyndale New Testament Commentary, IVP, 2018)

R T France The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT, Eerdmans, 2007)

Tom Wright New Heavens, New Earth (Grove Biblical booklet B11)

1. The end of the world? Matt 24.29–35

Jesus’ teaches his disciples as they sit on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem from the east. The language of ‘distress’ or ‘tribulation’ in verse 29, the signs of cosmic destruction, and the angels gathering the nations at the trumpet call in verse 31, all sound very ‘end of the world’!

But such a reading is impossible. In response to the disciples’ admiration of the splendour of the temple, Jesus foretells its complete destruction. In amazement, the disciples ask Jesus two questions: ’When will these things be—and when will be your coming and the sign of the end of the age?’ (verse 3). The word they use for ‘coming’ is parousia, which means the royal presence of the king or emperor after a period of absence. Jesus answers this second question from verse 36—but until then he is answering the first, about the destruction of the temple. 

The ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds’ in verse 30 is a completely different phrase—a quotation from Daniel 7.13:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.

This is a passage behind Jesus’ repeated reference to himself as the ‘Son of Man’—and Daniel sees this person coming to the throne of God, not coming from it. In other words, Matt 24.30 is not about Jesus’ return, but his ascension! This is confirmed by the solemn statement of Jesus in verse 34 that ‘this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’

This passage is about the end of the world in one sense—the end of the Jewish world, with the nation gathered around the temple. Within one generation the temple would be destroyed and the people driven from the land. The cosmic language from Is 13.10 and 34.4 signals God’s judgement on his people and the overthrowing of powers; the ‘tribes of the land’ are those who have rejected Jesus (Zech 12.10); and the ‘angels’ are the messengers who proclaim the gospel to the end of the earth. There is certainly a new world coming—one in which people from every nation hear and receive the good news of Jesus the Messiah.

2. A rapturous welcome? Matt 24.36–44

In the first half of this chapter, Jesus answered the disciples’ first question: ‘When will the destruction of the temple take place?’ Jesus replies that there will be much suffering, the disciples themselves will be put on trial, the temple will be desecrated, and there will be many false messiahs. They are to look for the signs of the times, just as they would look at a fig tree to tell the season—the fig tree a symbol of the temple itself, so the withered fig tree of Matt 21.18–19 points to the corrupt and unfruitful temple facing judgement.

Now the focus changes, from ‘these things’ to ‘that day’, Jesus’ parousia and the end of the age. We know when ‘these things’ are going to happen—within a generation—but ‘about that day or hour no-one knows’. The disciples are to look for the signs of the times related to the temple—but not in relation to Jesus’ return. The parousia of the Son of Man will come like lightning without any warning (v 27). 

Jesus says it again and again: ‘you do not know’ (v 42); the owner of a house does not know when a thief will come (v 43); the master returns at an unexpected hour (v 50); the ten virgins do not know when the bridegroom will come (Matt 25.6). The central illustration in this passage is of Noah and the flood. People were carrying on with their everyday lives, ignoring God and focussing on ‘eating, drinking and marrying’ when the flood came and took them all away in judgement—and it will be the same when Jesus returns. Note that it was the wicked who were taken away—Noah and his family were kept and continued to live on earth—and it will be the same at the parousia. So when Jesus comes, I want to be left behind, as it will be the wicked who are taken!

The best way to be ready is to put away your calendar, ignore the latest ‘end times’ prediction, and remember that ‘no-one knows’. The best preparation is to get on with what God had called you to do today, so that, on whatever ‘today’ he comes, he finds you a ‘faithful and wise servant’ (Matt 24.45). 

3. The end-times Spirit: Acts 2.14–21

Peter’s speech at Pentecost in Acts 2 might not be the first place to turn to understand the ‘end times’—but it is actually of critical importance. Jesus has told the disciples to wait for the gift of the Spirit who would equip them to be his witnesses (Acts 1.4, 8), and on the day of Pentecost the Spirit has come, with sights and sounds that startle the crowd, who wonder what is going on.

Peter begins his explanation by citing the prophet Joel, who was probably writing during the return from exile described in Ezra and Nehemiah. He looks forward to the ‘day of the Lord’ when, after Israel has suffered for her sins and turned back to God, he will restore the people and bring judgement on the nations. As part of this hope, the Spirit of God is no longer confined to a few—priest, kings, prophets—but is poured out on all the people. What is most striking is that, as he quotes Joel, Peter alters his wording: this will happen ‘in the last days’ (v 17), and he is clear that this is the meaning of Pentecost. The Spirit is God’s end-times gift to his people, a first instalment and foretaste of the life of the world to come (Eph 1.13–14, Rom 8.23). So when people ask ‘Are we in the end times?’ the right answer is ‘Yes—we have been since the Day of Pentecost!’

The language of Joel that Peter cites includes cosmic imagery similar to that used by Jesus in Matt 24.29, signalling not a literal end to the physical world, but the overturning of earthly powers as the kingdom of God breaks in. In this new era, it will not be just ethnic Jews who know salvation, but ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord’. For Joel, this ‘Lord’ is Yahweh, the God of Israel, but for Peter here and Paul in Rom 10.13, this God has been made known in the Lord Jesus. The Israel of God will now come from every nation, anticipated in the list of those who have come to Jerusalem in Acts 2.9–11, realised in the gentile mission from Acts 15, and visualised in Rev 7.9: ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’

4. Sleeping in death: 1 Thess 4.13–18

The Thessalonians heard the gospel from Paul (Acts 17) and responded with enthusiasm (1 Thess 1.6–8), but they are also worried. They expected Jesus to return soon (Acts 1.11); teaching about eschatology was clearly part of Paul’s gospel. Jesus is Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, and one day this reality, acclaimed by believers (Rom 10.9, 1 Cor 12.3) will be seen by all (Phil 2.11). But despite Jesus’ repeated teaching of ‘delay’ (Matt 24.48, 25.5, 25.19), they are concerned that those who have died before Jesus returns will have missed out. 

Paul explains that Jesus’ death and resurrection are not only the pattern for our spiritual lives—we have ‘died’ to sin in baptism and been ‘raised’ to new life coming out of the water (Rom 6.3–4)—but also for our bodily lives. Those who have died are ‘sleeping’ in death, and just as we get up in the morning when we awake to the new dawn, so the dead in Christ will awake to the dawn of the new age when he returns (the same Greek word is used for both things; see Matt 9.9, Mark 1.35, Mark 5.42 and so on). This image is the primary way that the New Testament describes death, and it is the reason why Christians have practiced burial of the dead through most of history.

Paul does not describe Jesus’ return as a ‘second coming’, pairing it with the incarnation, but as a ‘descent’, pairing it with the Ascension. There are no ‘signs’; his parousia comes suddenly with a ‘cry of command’. There is no need to identify the ‘trumpet’ with that of Matt 24.31; trumpets were used to call people to worship, announce war, and signal victory. We will be caught up ‘in the clouds’ that signify God’s coming presence, and ‘in the air’ as this is the realm of spiritual power (Eph 2.2). There is no suggestion here that we then return to heaven with Jesus; when the emperor comes to a city, the elders go out to greet him, and they then turn to accompany him into the city to celebrate his parousia, his royal presence there after a long absence. This is not a ‘secret rapture’ but a public vindication; Scripture is clear and consistent: we will ‘reign on (a renewed) earth with him forever’ (Rev 5.10)! 

5. The Millennium? I am all for it! Rev 20.1–6

The thousand-year reign of the saints with Jesus in Rev 20 is one of the most confusing and debated issues in discussion about the ‘end times’. There are postmillennialists, amillennialists, dispensational mid-tribulation rapture premillennialists—the list goes on! Personally, I am a pro-millennialist—I am all for it. Or perhaps I am a pan-millennialist—I think it will all pan out in the end!

We get confused when we treat the sequence of visions in Revelation as a vision of sequences—as a chronology of the ‘end times’, in which John offers us a timetable of the (to him distant) future. This cannot be the case! When John wrote, it was recognised that he was speaking to people he knew and addressing their situation; the text is full of references to real life in the first century. And no-one has ever read this text and said ‘This says nothing to me—it must be about the distant future!’ Rev 22.10 makes this clear; where Daniel has been told to ‘seal up these words’ for a future time (Dan 12.4), John is told ‘Do not seal up these words, for the time is near!’ Just as the four horsemen in chapter 6 describe four aspects of disaster in the world and not a sequence of four separate events, and the three sequences of seals, trumpets, and bowls describe the world in three different ways, so the seven visions John has in chapters 19 to 21 (‘and I saw…’ occurs at the beginning of each at Rev 19.11, 19.17, 19.19, 20.1, 20.4, 20.11, 21.1) offer seven different perspectives on the parousia of Jesus and what it means. 

What does this vision, of the thousand years, tell us? First, that God truly has won the victory over Satan and the forces of evil. That victory was won on the cross (‘they have triumphed by the blood of the lamb’ Rev 12.11), and it breaks into the world through lives that honour him, but it will be fully revealed at The End. Second, the saints will be vindicated; those who have suffered most will take pride of place in the new creation. Thirdly, the earth will not be destroyed but renewed—we will reign on earth with him forever. It is a wonderful vision of hope!

6. A new world coming! Rev 21.1–8

We now reach this glorious, luminous, multi-dimensional picture of the world to come, renewed by the grace and power of God, and restored to the glory it was always intended to have. There is much to see here—but first note the direction of travel. The biblical vision of life beyond death is not that we leave our earthly bodies to be with God in heaven, but that heaven comes down to earth, and we enjoy the new creation in transformed, resurrection bodies (1 Cor 15.42–44). God’s presence has been in the temple, in the cube-shaped Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6.20)—but now the whole city is a giant cube (v 16), covering all the known world. If it was centred on Patmos it would reach from Rome in the West to Jerusalem in the East. This space is occupied both by the holy presence of God and by his people, who enjoy the intimacy of a divine marriage (Rev 19.9, 21.9).

The city is not the place where God’s people dwell—it is the people. The details of what the city is like describes God’s people as they will be, perfected by his love. It has great high walls (v 12), in the ancient world a sign of security and protection. This is the ultimate safe space. It has gates on all four sides (v 13); people are welcomed from every direction. It is a place of both inclusion and exclusion; the gates are never closed (v 25), yet ‘nothing impure will ever enter it’ (v 27) and angels guard the gates to make it so (v 12). Each gate represents the kingdom of God, the pearl of great price (v 21, Matt 13.46); the names of the tribes remind us that we find the kingdom in the true Israel of God. The city is built upon the apostolic testimony (the foundations, v 14) and is centred around Father, Son and Holy Spirit—God and the lamb on the throne from which flows the river of the water of life (Rev 22.1).

This is what we will be—and by the power of the Spirit what we begin to be now. The gold of the city has been so refined that it is completely transparent; there is no hypocrisy here. And the repeated refrain is the invitation to all to turn from sin and receive the free gift of the offer of life (22.17)

7. Where have we got to? Where are we going?

We have discovered two paradoxical things about ‘eschatology’, the study of the last things and the end of the world. First, it is more important than we often realise, being near the centre of the gospel and Christian discipleship. Second, it is much more straightforward than we are led to believe; the diverse and complex texts here have a relatively simple core message, though that is expressed in different ways in different contexts, drawing out different implications. 

Jesus died, was raised, and has ascended to the Father, and one day will return to complete the work he has begun. There is no ‘end times’ timetable; there will be no ‘signs of the times’; his coming will be like a thief breaking in, or a master returning suddenly from a journey, or like lightning striking, all without warning. So to be ready we need to be getting on with the business of living faithfully for him; Luther said that if he knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, he would still collect the rent and plant an apple tree. 

The complication comes in the nature of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and what it means for the end of the world. The Jews expected, from the promises of the Old Testament, that God would come and set his people free, that this old age of sin and injustice would end, and the new age start with everything restored. Jesus brought that restoration, and his resurrection signified that the new age has come, God’s future hope breaking into the present. But the old age has not yet passed away! We are therefore living in the overlap of the ages—and this is the central reality of Christian discipleship. For anyone who is in Christ, the new creation has come (2 Cor 5.17). We have received the end-times gift of God’s Spirit, who is transforming us into what we will one day be. As we continue living in this old age of sin, we will experience trials and tribulations (John 16.33, Rev 1.9)—but we live in hope of the world to come, energised by the foretaste of the future we already know.

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125 thoughts on “What do we know about the End of the World?”

  1. Ian knows that I do not share his eschatology so, in order to keep this constructive, I’ll ask some questions which I don’t see addressed above.

    1. Do you (Ian) believe that Jesus Christ will return bodily to Jerusalem on a specific if unknown date on our earthly calendar? (Please include a Yes or No in any answer.)

    2. Setting aside the question of when, *why* will Jesus return? What events on earth will trigger it?

    3. Do you (Ian) believe that the return of the Jews to their ancient land as a State in 1948 has nothing to do with the timing of Jesus’s return? Or the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967? (In other words, could the Return have happened before these events, based only on biblical prophecies?)

    4. Do you believe that globalisation has nothing to do with the timing of Jesus’s return? (In other words, is it a necessary precursor according to biblical prophecy?)

    5. I appreciate your careful exegeses of particular passages. But please would you provide a brief summary of the sequence of events visible on earth – regardless of whether any Bible-believers are around to interpret them – that lead up to the return of the Lord Jesus in power? Never mind the dates; I’m interested in your understanding of the *sequence* – putting your understanding of all the eschatological scriptures together in your own words. I’ve requested this before, because without it, it is hard to make sense of your exegeses of particular passages.

    This is your blog, not a courtroom, and I acknowledge your freedom to reply (or not) exactly as you wish. But if you’d like a dialogue, I’d love an answer to these questions (and I’ve learnt how to maintain courtesy!)

    I’m not a dispensationalist, by the way. And I believe that the Millennium is not the church era from Pentecost to Jesus’s return in power, because Satan is bound according to Revelation 20 yet 1 John 5:19, written after Pentecost, states that the whole world is in Satan’s grip. The *church* is where Satan is powerless, but Revelation 20 is speaking about the whole world. So the Millennium – whether it lasts 1000 years or not – lies wholly ahead.

      • I don’t understand your reply to (1) but that’s otherwise clear if very different from my own view, which you can probably infer from my questions and which (for readers’ sake) I’ve set out beneath other eschatological posts here.

        Thank you.

          • Zech 14 anticipates Palm Sunday.

            Acts 1 is referring to him returning with the power and presence of God, which is what clouds symbolise. It wasn’t a weather forecast!

          • The point is that both scriptures refer to the Mount of Olives. Irrelevant?

            You accept that He will return bodily to this earth, but not coming (first) to Jerusalem. That raises the question of where He will arrive, which you don’t address. It’s easy to be satirical (the Vatican? Lambeth Palace?) but I’d like your consideration of this question.

          • But why on earth would or should we know the answer to that? You are treating that as a necessary, as a given. By what rational procedure did you arrive at the idea that it is a necessary, a given?

            By splicing together all possible relevant texts one can always without fail reach a tolerably coherent picture, all the more so if possible discrepancies are (as ever) minimised. But why would indications be so atomised and in need of bringing together, rather than any sequence being found (Mark 13 style) in the original writings?

          • Chrisopher: I can’t tell if you are responding to me or to Ian, and to what you are referring in your first paragraph.

          • Hi Anton – this time I am responding to you. The jigsaw approach to scripture is putting you on the same page as Hal Lindsay et al..

          • You are saying that we have to have been informed that the Lord will return in a given geographical location. Why do we have to have been informed of that?

          • God does not *have* to inform us of anything, but in the scriptures He has graciously informed us of much. I contend that, in Zechariah 14 (plus a heavy hint in Acts 1 which is consistent with Zechariah), we have been told at which point on earth Jesus Christ will arrive back.

            I comment explicitly on Hal Lindsey in a comment below.

      • I’ve never seen a reference for the statement that people expected the end of the world in AD 999. Could you supply? I always thought the popular belief in Europe was AD 1260: 42 generations from Adam to David, 42 generations from David to Jesus, so 42 generations from Jesus to E.O.W.: and assuming a generation is 30 years. Norman Cohn outlines the historical evidence for this in ‘Pursuit of the Millennium’

        • Both. The second one was associated particularly with the teaching of Joachim of Fiore, who believed that at that point we would transition from the Age of the Son to the Age of the Spirit.

          The 1000 expectation I got from Martyn Whittock’s book, mentioned in comments below with the interview with the author linked by me.

          • Sorry Ian this is my fault for not being clearer. I have not got Martyn’s book (having run out of shelf space allotted for “End-Times” literature around 2016) but from the blurb online, he is referring to apocalyptic interpretations of Viking raids etc. around that time. I was referring only to the numerological interpretation of dates: the idea that it would be a peaceful, cold yet bright, sunny morning on 1 Jan 1000 (rather as I remember 1 Jan 2000, in London at least), not a Viking in sight, and suddenly the sun would turn dark, the moon blood-red etc.

    • I’ve a 30-page essay on the subject based on the reading of multiple books (including Ian’s) and making my own path through the scriptures. I obviously won’t try to post it as a comment. Ian and I would at least agree that the job of evangelising is to be done *as well as* the study of eschatology, not *instead of* as some ‘endtime nuts’ seem to think. Indeed evangelism gets more important, not less, as the TELOS approaches.

      • Hi Anton,
        Thanks for presenting your points, I very much appreciate your and Ian’s reply.
        I have friends in both camps.
        I’ve said a lot on this site already on this subject so I don’t want to add any more; I’ll leave it to the more educated.

        • Point 1 we’re debating above (Ian). Point 5 was a request to you. Point 6 I am not disagreeing with; Jesus returns and initiates the Millennium. Points 2,3, 4 are part of our disagreement. I believe that Jesus returns (initially to the Mount of Olives) when a world dictator sends a world army against Israel, the last holdout against him – due largely to a revival of belief in Jesus Christ among Jews there (“You will not see me again until you cry out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”, ie Jesus himself); a revival of which the early stages are now taking place, just as globalisation is proceeding apace.

          I could adduce a variety of scriptures for this scenario and will probably do so later in this dialogue, but for now (1) notice that many of the prophecies of return from exile could fit either the return from Babylon or the Zionist era, so it is over-commitment to insist that they must apply to the former only; and (2) Isaiah 11:11-12 speaks of a *second* return, from *all parts of the world* (i.e. not just Babylon). It fits the Zionist era like a glove, but not the return from Babylon. It’s illegitimate to demand that the first return is a material prophecy and the second is a spiritual prophecy, while talk of symbolism means that you have to interpret every fine detail in a prophecy spiritually and meaningfully such that you can know when it has been fulfilled. Are you confident you can do that?

          Finally, please talk to a few Jewish believers in Jesus – preferably those who have lived in the Holy Land – about their understanding of eschatology. What I’ve summarised is the mainstream view in that community. Are you going to tell them that they are totally wrongheaded? I’d like to see their reaction!

          • I’d add: if you (Ian) weren’t committed by other verses to a hermeneutic which ruled out my interpretation of Isaiah 11:11-12, would you agree that it fits the Zionist era uniquely?

          • The end of the Bible mirrors the beginning: not just the Fall at the start and its undoing at the end, but the scattering at Babel little after the start and the human attempt to undo Babel – notice WHY God enacted division at Babel (Genesis 11:6) – near the end.

  2. You’re probably right on so much of this, Ian, maybe all of it. But let’s not pretend that the division between the answers to two questions in Matthew 24 isn’t deeply confusing, and no wonder people through the centuries have been puzzled. Also, to describe our current situation as an “overlap”, while at least better than the ghastly “the now and the not yet”, is a bit of a stretch when the overlap lasts for 2000 years, a lot longer than the Kingdom of Israel/Judah! As you know, the relation between theology and actual post-Biblical history is something that interests me very much…

    • Do you think it would be clearer if Chapter 25 started at Matt 24.36? It is amazing how much our reading has been shaped by these things which don’t actually belong to the text.

  3. The question as to why Jesus has not come back yet, since a large period of time has now passed is an interesting one. I don’t think the early church envisaged it would be as long as 2000 years+

  4. Time trial: mano a mano is a term used in cycling for a time trial. Also known as the race of truth.
    We are in a time of trial, now.
    God is infinite: we are finite.
    God is eternal. We are time bound.
    God is outside of time. We live in it.
    Our concept of time is limited. God’s is not
    Whereas God’s is not:
    2 Peter 2:8-18

    • ‘mano a mano is a term used in cycling for a time trial’ I am not sure why! People think it means ‘man to man’, but it is Spanish for ‘hand to hand’

      • Thanks Ian.
        That still expresses the hard fought time trial race well.
        In cycling it has referred to man against man in individual time trials.
        I’ve not heard it used for womens time trials, though it seems that the whole cycling scene could be edified by your contribution, Ian, especially, womens cycling.
        The term is not usually used for team against team, for a team trial.
        If you want to see one in action, (well, the highlights) the men’s individual time trial stage, today, in the precursor race, Criterium du Dauphine, for the Tour de France, can be seen on ITV4, channel 26, at 7 pm.

  5. Can I add another resource?

    “The End Times Again?” by Martyn Whittock, published by Cascade Books in 2021.

    It is an excellent review of the way Christians down the centuries have believed that “the end of the world” was imminent in their own time. Also, how largely the same parts of Scripture were used to justify that belief.

    I will take the liberty of quoting a paragraph from the last chapter:

    “There is a story told – which may be apocryphal – that, in the seventeenth century, a very dark day caused the members of a New England assembly to think that the end of the world was upon them. Their debating chamber was in deep shadows. A motion was presented, that they should disperse to their homes and await events with prayer. At last, the speaker made his ruling. It allegedly went as follows: ‘Either this is the end of the world or it is not. If it is not, then we have business to attend to. If it is, then I would have it that Christ finds us attending to our duties. I rule, let lights be brought.”

    That Jesus will return at the end of the age (not the end of the world) should affect all we do. However, it seems to me that when He will return should not affect what we do today. If we think the end will be soon, we are actually like the foolish virgins who were not prepared for the unexpected delay of the return of the bridegroom.

      • He concentrates on what Hal Lindsey’s bestseller got wrong – the assumption that Russian communism would be the main enemy, the pre-Tribulation rapture, and (perhaps) the claim that no more than one lifetime would pass from the refoundation of the State of Israel to the return of Jesus Christ (which no scripture clearly states). But he ignores what Lindsey got right: the coming of a world government of total evil which sends its forces against Israel; for which that refoundation is a necessary precursor.

        The argument that many Christians in distress at many times and places have mistakenly viewed their times as the End, ‘therefore’ this is a mistaken view of the relevant scriptures, does not follow in logic. I am reminded of Aesop’s fable about the boy who cried Wolf. We are warned of a world government in the Book of Revelation, and never before in history has there been a phenomenon like globalisation. It will take some decades at least – and terrible wars – to establish a world government, but it is no longer unthinkable in this awful era of WMDs and technology.

        • Anton, could you clarify where specifically in Revelation is states there will be a world government in operation just before the return of Jesus? Thanks

          • Well you are right: that is about a world government—the Roman Empire. It is described in ways that John and his readers would recognise quite clearly.

          • Well, I’d disagree with that more-or-less completely – the ‘less’ being that the Roman Empire was one aspect of what he was writing about. But I’d say that William Henriksen’s ‘More than Conquerors’ gets it exactly right when he takes the line that Revelation presents us with 7 different pictures of the period between the first and second coming of Jesus, which are relevant for the whole of that period. We’ve all seen the insidious ‘authoritarian follower’ mentality and understand how manifestations of the imitation of Christ (horns like a lamb, speaking with a gentle tongue – like the serpent, whose deadly wound – unlike Jesus, who suffered unto death – had been healed) operate with powerful delusions that people are enthusiastic to follow, etc … etc ….

            Yes, the Christians would have seen this clearly in the Roman empire, but it is clear that the author of Revelation was taking a much broader view ……

          • Ian: People with education in the Roman Empire were well aware that it was not remotely the world. Archimedes knew the diameter of the world 250 years BC, and the size of the Roman Empire was a tiny proportion of it. Romans knew about the Germanic tribes to the northeast, not least because those tribes had taken down three legions in AD9; knew that people lived down the Atlantic coast of Africa beyond the bounds of the empire; interacted with the neighbouring Parthian Empire to the east; and were aware of the Chinese Empire far beyond that (see “Sino-Roman relations” on Wikipedia). So unless you play fast and loose with the meaning of “the world world” and “everybody” then Revelation 13 can’t apply to Rome, but to something much bigger with (I accept) certain parallels. And if you are going to play fast and loose wioth the meaning of scripture then why stop with the Book of Revelation?

          • Hmmm…so, Jesus said to his disciples that ‘every stone’ of the temple would be overturned. But there are still stones standing you can see. Am I playing fast and loose with Jesus’ words to think he is talking about the destruction in 70AD?

            In Mark 1.4 we read ‘Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him…’ So do we need to believe that every single person there was baptised by John? If so, how did he have any opposition?

            In John 4.39 the Samaritan women says ‘He told me everything I have every done!’ Seriously? Everything? Her every action, every day of her life? That must have taken months!

            In Luke 14.26, is Jesus really telling me to ‘hate’ my parents? Don’t please play fast and loose with the words of Jesus!

            Am I to forgive my brother 77 times, but not forgive the 78th time…do I need to go on?

          • The word for ‘hate’ in that expression is not ‘phobia’ but one that can mean ‘indifferent to’. The real opposite of love is indifference; hatred is love gone sour.

            These are poor analogies, Ian. Revelation 13:7 states that the beast was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Except the Germans, the Persians, the Chinese and others known to John 2000 years ago? The meaning “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation in the Roman Empire” makes no sense, for it is a tautology.

            Revelation 13:12 states the the second beast exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast… Again, just the Roman Empire? If so then the first beast is the imperial authority, but who or what is the second beast?

            Revelation 13:15: The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. You will take this to be a reference to emperor-worship, but what in the Roman Empire matches speaking images?

            Revelation 13:16-17: It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark. This never happened in the Roman Empire. Anybody could buy or sell goods. You did not need to have a mark on your hand or head to do so, and there is no record of rich and poor equally being branded. It is not legitimate to spiritualise this prophecy away into the aether.

          • Anton, the word in Luke 14.26 is miseo which means ”to have a strong aversion to, to hate, detest’. It is a very strong word. Your claim is playing fast and loose with the meaning of the world.

            The phrase ‘every tribe language people and nation’ is a theological description of all kinds of humanity derived from Gen 10, as I explain in my commentary, and occurs seven times in Revelation, each in a different order.

            Who or what is the second beast? The local authorities of client kings and religious leaders across the empire, as most good commentaries will point out. This is the way Rome ruled, unlike Greece.

            Speaking images were a well-known feature of the imperial cult which continued through to the Byzantine era. I am currently writing a research paper on this subject. If you are interested, there is a book on this: https://amzn.eu/d/erw7iNp

            No, there was no literal mark, just as there was no literal sign of the living God on the saved in Rev 7. But it is real, and according to the narrative of Revelation, all humanity bears one or the other.

            PS I have no idea why you are wedded to such a literalistic reading. Do you really think that Jesus has bronze feet, a woman’s breasts, a gold band, a white beard, as per Rev 1?

          • Hi Peter, Anton,
            I think,
            The world government is and always was run by satan. All the nations of the world are under his sway. He may be bound , but the nations are like the Japanese soldier who never knew the Second World War had ended. He fought on , deep in the jungle for 30 years. The world government is the beast. It is all the world systems- all of them; it has many horns and heads.
            I think it may never fully congeal into a dystopian monolith; it will always be at odds with itself- to encourage humanity to believe that by taking sides a ‘more perfect union’ can be achieved.

          • steve – yes, well, absolutely. There always has been a one-world government, where the supreme ruler is Satan. I’m currently in the middle of reading Peter Oborne’s book ‘The Fate of Abraham: Why the West is wrong about Islam’ – and I discovered that he has made exactly the same shift as I have concerning the evil Anglo-Saxon empire for exactly the same reasons – only from a much more informed position than my own. I think this should be mandatory reading.

          • Jock: Douglas Murray is right, Peter Oborne is wrong. In the sacred book of the religion he discusses it is hoped that the message will be accepted peaceeably but, where it is not, believers are told to take over by force as soon as there are enough of them. If you want to know whether jihad means inner struggle or holy war, see how the Founder interpreted it – read Guillaume’s translation of the Sirat Rasul Allah, an ancient biography of the prophet accepted (rightly or wrongly) as authentic by all followers today. *That* is the single must-read book on the subject. And the prophet is the exemplar for all of his followers today.

            The scripture of this religion is two-minded between peace and war, so it is not difficult to find peaceable followers – but they can switch. Naive folk in the West say that this religion is awaiting its own Reformation, which they presume would make it more tolerant. If a Reformation returns people to its scriptures, that is *exactly* what is happening in the increasing militancy we see today.

            Followers of the prophet living in Britain are confused, because we have a State church and half the population says it is Christian on census returns despite going to church only for weddings, funerals and maybe Christmas. The way of the Prophet is intrinsically politico-religious, and so its followers assume that ours is. They then suppose that the immorality they see all round them – Friday and Saturday night pubs and clubs where people go to meet someone with whom to have a one-night stand (with women dressed like prostitutes), single mothers, family breakdown – reflects Christian values, when it actually reflects secular values. (Welby has a lot to answer for.) We should not blame them for reacting against it.

            Just as most people who call themselves Christian are nominal, the same applies in the belief system under discussion. Their prophet railed against ‘munafiqun’ – hypocrites who listened to him but did not act on his word. I am always sorry when I see nominal Christians. But when I read their sacred book, I am relieved at the proportion of its followers who are nominal.

            Why is Jesus Christ, who has all authority in heaven and on earth, per,itting the rise of a belief system that denies His divinity and His atoning death on the cross? Judgement is why. I believe that the rise here of this belief system represents impending divine judgement – two generations down the line (check the demographics) – for the sins of family breakdown. These breakdown statistics ran at 2-5% for centuries but have rocketed in one lifetime to 50%. That is not a viable, transmissible way of life. What happened in the Maghreb 13 centuries ago is set to happen here. But we should blame ourselves, not others set to profit. It is not us who are ultimately the biggest victims of their beliefs.

            As for Oborne, anybody who calls Steve Bannon, Nigel Farage and Viktor Orban ‘far right’ is merely intellectually lazy. Hungary has a collective memory of being under the Ottoman yoke for 160 years after the Battle of Mohacs in 1526, and it has not forgotten.

            May I recommend the work of Gordon Hickson and his Mahabba network? He has a great love for these people (Mahabba is the Arabic for ‘love’) and he works to introduce them to Jesus Christ. They are well aware of a vengeful God and they need gentle treatment. It is secular people who need a spiritual kick up the backside.

          • But we are wedded to a literalistic reading of the Virgin Birth and Resurrection scriptures, aren’t we? Only liberals question those things. Why is Revelation 13:16 to be treated differently? And what is *your* understanding of a mark that authorises people to trade, please?

            I’ll reply separately to your other pionts, as this is the key point.

          • ‘Why is Revelation treated differently?’

            For the same reason that we don’t read poetry the same way we read a Haynes car maintenance manual. Or apocalyptic the same way we read historical narrative. It is one of the four key skills in reading.

          • I think you are too ‘scholared up’, Ian. This is a book for regular people to read and understand, not academics. The only scholarship you need is knowledge of how people would understand it 2000 years ago based on their cultural context. So, yes, I’d be interested in your talking statues essay when it’s ready. The other usages of ‘miseo’ in the NT do not settle its meaing as detest rather than indifference.

          • Anton I find your post of 1014 today to be a version of the Christian Nationalism that is known in the States and used by Trump and his supporters to gain votes from the Evangelical right. Frightening stuff that turns back the work of MLK and all those who worked so hard to make America great. Read Jim Wallis – The False White Gospel

          • Dear Andrew Godsall: It makes no effort, no talent and no knowledge to smear in the way you have just done. Kindly engage with my post. What do *you* think is the attitude in the scriptures of that religion toward convrsion in places that do not accept the message freely? What sort of a man is portrayed in Ishaq’s Sirat? Why is Jesus Christ, who has all authority, letting a faith system that denies His divinity and atoning death on the cross rise in Britain and Europe?

            I even say that the problem is secularism, not any religion. I say that adherents of that religion must be offered Christ in a way that is gentle (which was certainly not what Europeans did 800 years ago). What would you want of me?

            Your categories are those of modern secularism.

          • Andrew – I take it you don’t think that Donald Trump is a fine Christian gentleman who keeps all the commandments and who would never even dream of adultery or fornication? I wonder why.

          • Ah so you reject the white Gospel and the Christian Nationalism that Trump and his supporters use to spread their own lies?
            You fully support a multi racial society?
            I’d just like to be sure….

          • Jock – I know from previous comments that Anton thinks Trump is a good thing. Hence my question to him immediately above.
            The fact that some so called Evangelicals even this side of the pond are also supporters of the false White Gospel I find truly frightening.

          • For the avoidance of doubt I disavow anything called the White Gospel (not a term I’m familiar with) if it involves racism. And by ‘racism’ I mean treating people differently merely according to skin colour. (The woke view that only white people can be racist is nonsense, of course.)

            I am not, however, a multiculturalist. ALL cultures are fallen, but some are better to live in than others (a fact recognised by immigrants legal and illegal). There are correlations between race and culture at any time and place in human history, but one should not make assumptions at the individual level and it is important not to confuse correlation and causation. I look forward to the culture of Christ, in better congregations and in heaven.

            PS I prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. That’s not saying very much, in my opinion.

          • Andrew – I’m aware that there is much that is very, very weird, thoroughly evil and – frankly – of the devil that passes for Christianity – and the U.S.A. seems to have more than its fair share of this. I’d prefer not to go into particulars (even though much of it is connected with weird views that are relevant to this thread – namely the views that these so-called evangelicals have about the end times and the sort of military intervention that they consider appropriate when they want to give God a helping hand in fulfilling end times prophecies).

          • Thanks Ian for a better understanding of ‘forehead’ and ‘right hand’.
            When the heavens roll up like a scroll it hardly seems possible that Jesus, even if He came back to Jerusalem, would need to come back to that spot. He is The Gate, Jacob’s Ladder, The Curtain torn, The Door standing open, The Lamb slain, The Mount of Olives even, cleft in two. He is the Paradise of God.

          • Exodus 20:5-7
            5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
            Anton, this prophecy is true, we are in the ‘thousand’ generation.
            The Millennium is Revelation’s way of describing the saved.

        • Ian: I am sceptical that a reader 2000 years ago would say, “Aha, this writing is about catastrophic events in the distant future, so I can spiritualise its meaning in a way I cannot do with other writing.” The notion of ‘apocalyptic’ as a literary genre derives from liberal scholars, and would have been alien to Jews 2000 years ago including Jesus Christ himself. It is simply prophecy, and is to be treated as such. Two things differ in it compared to other prophecy: we are given more often an interplay of events in the spiritual realms and on earth (a fact which proves that the latter cannot be interpreted spiritually); and the prophetic writers struggle to use the language of the ancient world to describe events like meteorite strikes (Rev 8) and nuclear war (Joel 2:30). That is the true explanation of ‘apocalyptic’ writing.

          Allow me to return to the charagma without which one canot buy or sell in Revelation 13. If it spoke merely of a charagma (‘mark’) then I would be willing to accept your interpretation in the same way that the law is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31), or our hearts are to be circumcised (Romans 2). But the charagma is specified to be on the forehead or right hand. Once you spiritualise a prophecy you have to assign spiritual meaning to every apparently material feature. What is the spiritual meaning of the right hand or forehead, and why did John bother to mention those body parts? Above all, what is the supposedly spiritual meaning of “without the mark nobody could trade”? I specifically request your thoughts about that.

          I can only repeat that the Roman empire was not the whole world and was known not to be the whole world 2000 years ago. It would be fitting that the Book of Revelation is global in scope once all tribes and tongues have heard the gospel (or did that only mean within the Roman empire too?). That is because the purpose of God is to undo the fall, and that was universal in scope. Think Big when you read Revelation!

          You might privately consider that you are dealing with a fringe outlier viewpoint here. I wish you could discuss it with a group of Jewish believers in Jesus resident in the Holy Land. (I’m 100% gentile, by the way.) They would say you had an agenda to deny or minimise the continuing role of Israel spoken of by Paul in Romans 11. I don’t think you have, but I think you picked it up from a tradition that did.

          • The same as God’s purpose in giving us all of Paul’s letters, written to other people, not *to* us. Revelation is a letter, just like Paul’s letters. We need to read them in the light of the fact they were written to other people, and we are overhearing.

          • I think Rev 13 is about all of history. The dragon is behind both beasts. Beast 1 is B.C. and beast 2 is A.D.
            The whole of history =7. Jesus broke in in the middle. The first half (3.5) the beast mimicked Israel. In the second half of history the beast mimicks the church and Christ.
            A detail: the fallen stars: front David to Jechoniah is 15 Kings. 5 were irredeemable, 1/3. This detail helps me understand that this episode is B.C.
            Circumcision was a mark symbolic of a holy heart. Christians have the mark in their hearts. The wicked have their mark in all they think(forehead) and all they do(right hand).

          • Except that in the ancient world people didn’t think with their heads but with their hearts. ‘head’ means prominence, not thinking.

          • The spiritual or metaphorical meaning of forehead and right hand is clear: the head is the prominence part, and the right hand is what you do things with, including writing contracts. So the two things refer to public, visible loyalty, and loyalty in your actions.

            Nowhere in Romans 11 does Paul suggest that ethnic Jews will return to the land of Israel. Nor does any other verse in the New Testament!

          • Ian: But you have affirmed further up this thread that you believe Jesus Christ will return on a definite if unknown date in our calendar to *this* earth, not (at that instant) to a new earth. So my question about His point of initial return (whereabouts on this earth is it?) makes sense by your own criteria.

            When I asked why God gave Revelation 13 if it applied only to Nero-era Rome, I meant that it contains nothing that believers in that era needed to know. Jesus had already said “Get out of Jerusalem fast when you see armies coming to it!” God doesn’t waste words – the Bible is very short compared to what could have been written about Israel BC and a few decades AD. So why did He bother?

            I didn’t suggest that Romans 11 implies a return of the Jews to the Holy Land. (You need Isaiah 11:11-12 for that.) But it does imply the continuing importance of the Jews, who seem irrelevant in your scenario.

            And – if I may nag – what is the supposed *spiritual* meaning of being unable to buy or sell without the charagma?

          • Well, Jesus is not returning to another earth. HE is returning to this earth—but only as a ‘[re]new[ed] heaven and earth’ as per Rev 21. I am baffled that, contrary to Revelation and 1 Cor 15 a host of other texts, you have a mundane view of Jesus’ return.

            I am baffled by your suggestion the Revelation, written as a prophetic hymnic apocalyptic letter, adds nothing for its first century readers. That is like saying ‘All you need to know is that Jesus died for your sins, rose again, will return, and that you need to be his witnesses.’ Why do we need any of the rest of the New Testament..??!

            Romans 11 tells us of the importance of Israel, not of ethnic Jews. Paul himself says ‘A true Jew is not one that is a Jew outwardly, but one that is a Jew inwardly, with the circumcision of the heart’ and we might add, obedience to the law empowered by the Spirit. Hence he addresses all Christians, jews and gentiles, as ‘Israel’ in Gal 6.15. And hence the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel in Rev 7 are the same as the uncountable number from every tribe, language, people, and nation—in fulfilment of the scriptures.

            If you don’t publicly show your loyalty to the emperor, you cannot trade. This is was a reality of trade guilds in the Empire.

          • That’s simply not true about trade, Ian. Towns grew around forts on the Rhine frontier as the locals traded with the soldiers to mutual advantage, and benefited from their protection. There was no question of these Franks and Germanics having to burn incense to the Emperor. That might be true of their chieftain, but not the common folk who actually did the trading. Revelation 13 speaks of rich and poor equally needing the mark in order to trade.

            Yes of course the Book of Revelation was relevant to first-century audiences (as well as to modern ones!) I was asking why God bothered to give chapter 13 specifically.

            That is a loaded interpretation of Galatians 6:15-26. The ‘Israel of God’ is mentioned, certainly. But what about the Israel that is not of God yet which still exists?

            I see a two-stage eschatology, Jesus returning to this world to rule it as Israel’s king and the world’s emperor for a period, then – and only then – a totally new (rather than rebuilt) Jerusalem and new heaven and earth. That first period is the Millennium of Revelation 20, during which Satan is at first bound but then is briefly released. But we reached stalemate about that several months ago.

  6. I suspect that many of us will be finding it hard to observe the chaotic state of events across the globe without our thoughts turning to ‘the end times’. All at the same time we have the one-way street nature of technological developments which (unless we are very lucky) must inevitably change our human experience radically for the worse; the social descent into a cesspit of satanic attitudes and practices; the immediate crisis surrounding Ukraine and the collective West’s insane urge to risk nuclear exchange in its irrational obsession with destroying the Russian nation; events affecting the state of Israel.

    So it probably pays to reflect that such times as these are precisely unfitted to any sign of immanent apocalypse: such a moment could be a lot more likely in a golden period when all is right with the world and untroubled slumber marks the end of every sublimely peaceful day.

    Despite my urge regularly to pray for wisdom in these present times, I don’t pretend to have the knowledge of long years of theological training or even a mountain of in-depth theological reading. But a lifelong acquaintance with scripture does tell me how easy it is to miss basic but essential pointers towards helping our understanding. And (as Ian has shown above) refreshingly simpler truths can sometimes become apparent if we take the trouble to avoid the trap of inattentive reading. I would also observe that the Christian world is awash with shallow clichés, half truths and downright falsehoods. It might be worth pondering who or what probably lies behind that kind of deception!

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that God is bound by the dimension of time within which we humans live out our days. Spans and sequences are a necessary way by which we understand our own experience but there is no reason to think that God is bound by them. And that reality should warn us not to be too concerned about tying what we think ought to be God’s timing with anything in our own lives or that of our world more widely. What we can say for sure is that now is always the time to repent of wrongdoing, always the moment to grasp hold of salvation when it’s offered, always the time to tell other people about it, always the time to do good and oppose wickedness. And that’s more than enough cause to pray for wisdom in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

      • The traditional figures for the percentage were taken not from any estimate but from, I believe, a reading of certain verses in the Book of Revelation on the belief that the End was nigh. About a decade ago I had the pleasure of a conversation with a mediaeval historian who looked at the proportion of monks who survived in monasteries – communities that were literate and kept records – and it was indeed about 50%. There is no reason to suppose they fared any different from others. Imagine if a plague approached which, in one month, removed 50% of people from your town or city or village…

          • All the ways that historians estimate population. For example, you can measure in ice core samples the change in the oxygen levels which resulted from farmland reverting to forest wilderness as a result of Genghis Khan’s slaughter.

        • The Black Death in England resulted in very significant sociological changes resulting from the significant reduction in population. It basically started the end of the feudal system as land owners found that they did not have enough tied labourers for their fields. So, wages rose and labour mobility was enhanced.

          Of course, the rich people did not like this, so various measures were introduced to control the ordinary people. These restrictions produce the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.

          If the book of Revelation can be read to say that aproaching the end of the world there will be a reduction of 50% of the population by plague, then that seems more compelling than the links to our time made by some.

      • In all seriousness it would be interesting to know if there’s been any concerted attempt to build a confessional statement on eschatology within mainline Christianity in the last, say, 200 years.

        I know some ‘Christian sects’, such as the JWs and the SDAs do have such statements, largely because of the particular historical context, but it certainly seems to me that these various fringe minority groups are much better at/more willing to articulate their views on the matter than we are, which is troubling, especially when such views are quite emphatically mad.

        In the ready acceptance of eschatology as a secondary issue between the major denominations, have we allowed this to happen?

        • It seems Mat, that there is an “idealist” lurking in your longing for an escatological creedal statement!
          From older friends, who knew his teaching, David Pawson’s dad ( prof Pawson) while otherwise orthodox Methodist Protestant, didn’t believe in the return of Jesus. (I stand to be corrected in this.)

  7. I have sometimes wondered whether the end of this age will come when the earth is no longer able to fulfil God’s first commandment to go forth and multiply …

  8. I seem to recall one regular commenter here claiming it was all happening last September – the 15th I think he claimed. I can’t recall seeing him here since ….

        • Urrgh, the inevitable preface (‘I don’t usually agree with’). Who’s in, who’s out, as King Lear has it – lest we be contaminated by association. It is all about drawing tribal lines. Yet there are so many issues, how can one generalise. If the thing were rational not tribal, one would not.

          • Says Christopher in his usual generalising way.
            This is a rational thing. Try not to be so tribal!

          • It shows one is thinking in terms of individuals and whether one wants to associate with them, rather than (more maturely and rationally) in terms of ideas and whether it is a good idea to associate with them. Individuals (in addition) have many ideas, making generalisation impossible. Any given person I will agree with numerous times and also disagree with numerous times. That is why I discern in this practice a rather bullying or else cliquey ‘who’s in, who’s out’ mentality that is going to make people disagree with ideas they would otherwise agree with (or vice versa) for the inadequate nonreason that the person voicing the ideas is high handedly decreed to be persona non grata.

            In fact I have always made this a prerequisite of engaging in serious discussion with anyone – are you even 1% influenced by whether you like the individual whose ideas we discuss, or are you wholly ideas-focused? Many supposedly thorny problems can be solved much quicker this way.

          • Christopher you waffle away as usual without actually saying anything constructive about the issue. Please try to be rational and specific and address the topic which I introduced – inaugurated eschatology. That will move the discussion on rather than your taking a holier than thou, and much better educated than thou approach. That is bullying.
            Just as you could make no answer about the connection between Gnosticism and queer theology on a previous thread I suspect you can make no constructive comment here about the actual subject I have raised.

          • I thought inaugurated eschatology was considered by almost 100% of scholars to be the only way one can get a unified NT message on the topic. The other matter was procedural – be person-blind when you are speaking of ideas. Many problems fall away on taking this simple step.

          • Being person blind is an emotionally unintelligent way of behaving. Would you trust any ideas that Donald Trump has?

          • You say something was my point which was not my point. I said not ‘be person blind’, but ‘be person blind when it is ideas that you are dealing with’. When it is people you are dealing with, on the other hand, the last thing you should be is person-blind.

            When he was in office, people were in fact blinded because they thought: deranged individual translates into deranged policies. They need to step back and take a look at that assumption. Assumptions are useless whereas deductions and observations are worth something. His period in office was more moderate than the average term in certain ways. Wars were avoided. The economic figures were no worse or better than normal, as I remember. The COVID response was a disaster. The questioning of the voting figures was dishonest and egotistical in the extreme -and dangerous. It was also sometimes more advanced than average – e.g. it paved the way for more in utero lives to be saved, against the tyranny of the lazy entitled value-less perpetual adolescents (I say adolescents, but they are far less mature than children are) and indeed for the judges to be appointed who could enable that.

          • People and their ideas can not be separated. That is a complete denial of what the incarnation is all about.

          • Of course people and their ideas can be separated, Andrew (Godsall). That is precisely what conversion achieves – it separates people from their old religious ideas and gives them new ones.

            The idea that people and their ideas cannot be separated is secular. I support peaceable speech that criticises Islam, because Islam prevents people from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose divinity and atoning death on the cross it denies; yet I am against speech against Muslims, who are fallen human beings in need of Jesus Christ just as I once was. Secularism would call criticism of Islam ‘hate speech’ and wrongly conflate it with noxious criticism of Muslims. Do you not see the difference?

          • What Anton says is right:
            -‘people’ and ‘ideas’ are very distinct in their semantic range;
            -the same people have different ideas at different times.

            But also: to deny this would be (a) to rubbish precious people who had wrong ideas, and (b) to rubbish ideas before examining them, simply on the basis of the failings of the person who held those ideas.

          • Well we have to disagree there. But no big surprise.
            Precious people become more fully human when they are converted to Christ, simply because he was fully human. And being more fully human means being more integrated. Separating people and their brains is disintegrating.

          • Of course people and their ideas can be separated. The ‘born again’ Jimmy Carter was widely and rightly seen as a humble and earnest man – rather like a clergyman, in fact. He was also seen as a poor leader who made wrong decisions.
            We were repeatedly told by the cognoscenti in 1980 that Ronald Reagan was an aged warmonger who would usher in a nuclear holocaust. Instead he ended the Soviet bloc and ushered in new prosperity in the United States.
            Donald Trump’s egotism and sensuality are evident to anyone who looks. But other men conceal their egotism and sensuality theough their education and a helpful press.
            It has long intrigued me that John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley all died on about the same day in November 1963. Peter Kreeft wrote a book imagining their conversation in an antechamber of heaven.

          • Every person is capable of good and bad ideas. That is self evident. But the ideas are still attributed to a person.

          • It may well be that Christ was fully human, but that idea looms large in an age full of humanists, and also not at all large in the era of those who actually met him, who had far more prominent things to say about him.

          • “Who said they weren’t? And what would be the alternative?”

            There is no alternative. That’s the point. You can’t separate people from their ideas.

            And of course Christ is fully divine as well as fully human. What they said about him at the time we only see with the benefit of post resurrection spectacles.

          • Not only does Andrew ignore the specific points I made, he also ignores that the range of what is referred to by ‘people’ and the range of what is referred to by ‘ideas’ are not even similar.

            People can predate ideas, ideas can predate people.

            Ideas can transcend people, people can transcend ideas.

            People can change and refine and improve their ideas.

            They can drink in ideas from their surrounds without really thinking about them. But if they are not thought about, they are not ideas.

            And so on.

    • Yes I asked him in reply to a previous comment what happened, but he failed to reply. Just like his prediction seemingly failed to materialise, though at the time he wasnt specific. There’s a surprise.

      • From memory I think he said the Lord would return in the lifetime of those born since the setting up of the state of Israel in 1948…I noticed his book ” When the twin towers fall” has disappeared from Amazon and Abe books. Has anyone read it?

        • Aha, that Steven! The book is still there on Amazon. This comment is very illuminating:

          Like the picture on a jigsaw box, John’s prophecy enables us, the last generation, to fit the scattered pieces of Old Testament prophecy together (much of it unfulfilled) and look back on what God has been doing through all history, from Creation to the present day.

          This language comes from Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay. It assumes that the OT text as we currently have it makes no sense, as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle box make no sense until put in a different order.

          I am almost tempted to buy it as a test case…


  9. Ian. It was refreshing to read. I am intrigued by the ref. to the Mount of Olives splitting. This does seem to be what the second and third angel are referring to. To me the Mount is symbolically referring to Jesus and also the Temple curtain tearing from top to bottom. Could the Two Olive Trees be something analogous to each side of the mount of Olives?
    Anyway, it’s good to get an uplifting preach on Revelation instead of its use piecemeal in support of something else in a sermon. No need to explain too much just let it rip…asunder.

  10. Jock,
    Did you not buy that book? If I recall, you may have been tempted.
    If you did buy it, did you “buy it”, that is, its prophecy?
    If you purchased the book and if your world has not ended, maybe with the clarity of your hindsight your review would be a welcome addition, a cautionary tale of where it all ended up.

    • Geoff – ummm … no I didn’t. I did state my intention to buy the book – but unfortunately my Scottish genes kicked in and strongly objected when they started asking for money …….

  11. What Anton says is right:
    -‘people’ and ‘ideas’ are very distinct in their semantic range;
    -the same people have different ideas at different times.

    But also: to deny this would be (a) to rubbish precious people who had wrong ideas, and (b) to rubbish ideas before examining them, simply on the basis of the failings of the person who held those ideas.


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