Let us momentarily suppose, for the sake of argument, that this statement is correct. The proper answer is: So what? This does not prove that the Christian Hope is untrue - only that people stopped believing that it is true. The implication of the statement, however, is that the fact of two world wars constitutes evidence that the Hope is mistaken, since the world is not "getting better and better." I will grant this much: The two world wars (and the threat of a third) did considerably damage the hopes of those humanists who believed in the heretical doctrine of "automatic" human progress toward peace and brotherhood. Often falsely confused with postmillennialism, it is actually no closer to the eschatolog y of dominion than pagan sacrifices are to the Lord's Supper. The Christian does not need to become discouraged in the face of world war or widespread persecution. His faith is in God, not in man; his hope is not tied to the destiny of any particular culture. If his nation or civilization falls under the righteous judgment of God, the faithful Christian realizes that God is being faithful to His promises of blessing and cursing. The Hope is no guarantee of blessing for the disobedient. It is a guarantee of judgment unto blessing for the world.
But let us now tackle the question head-on: Did the two world wars destroy the Hope? In reality, the origins of postmillennialism's decline began long before World War I, with the rise of theological liberalism (which taught that the Bible's predictions could not be relied upon) and evolutionary "pro-gressivism" (which taught that progress was "natural" rather than ethical). In reaction to these enemies of Biblical Christianity, many evangelical Christians despaired of seeing victory for the gospel. They gave up hope. Like Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee, they looked at "nature" rather than at the Lord Jesus Christ; like the Israelites on the border of Canaan, they looked at the "giants in the land" instead of trusting the infallible promises of God; they were filled with fear, and took flight. They began to listen to false prophets of despair who taught that the Church is doomed to failure, and that it is "unspiritual" for Christians to seek dominion over civilization. They then demonstrated a major principle of life: If you believe that you will lose, you probably will lose. That's what happened to twentieth-century evangelicalism, and it backed into a cultural retreat that lasted for, decades.
At long last, that picture has begun to change. I think two major issues provided the impetus for the recent resurgence of Christian activism in the United States. First, there was the infamous Roe v. Wade pro-abortion decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. That woke Christians up. They realized that thousands of children were being legally slaughtered every day, and they knew that they must act to stop the killings. I believe that 1973 could well be seen as a watershed year in American history - the moment when American Christians began the long march back toward national repentance.
The second issue has been Christian Education. More and more Christians have recognized that God's Word commands us to educate our children in terms of God's standards for every area of life. The Christian School and Home School movements have grown tremendously in the last decade, and are rapidly increasing in numbers and influence. The evil attempt by the Federal government to destroy the Christian School movement in 1978 only served to unite many more Christians in a greater determination to raise their children in the full-orbed faith of the Bible. Moreover, the very existence of Christian schools has made Christians realize that true Spirituality does not mean from the world, but rather demands that we conquer the world in the name of our Lord. Christians have seen the necessity of developing a consistently Christian "world and life view," a distinctively Biblical perspective on history, law, government, the arts, the sciences, and every other field of thought and action.
And God is blessing this obedience. Christians have finally begun to fight against the enemy - and, to their utter astonishment, they have begun to win. They have seen, again and again, that resistance to the devil will put him to flight, as God has promised. They are discovering the truth of the third-century Church Father Tertullian's boast against the demons: "At a distance they oppose us, but at close quarters they beg for mercy." Having tasted victory, Christians today are talking much less about escaping in the Rapture, and much more about God's requirements in this life. They are even thinking about the kind of world they are preparing for their grandchildren, and the heritage of godliness which they will leave behind them. Instinctively, because they are again acting in obedience to God's commands,
Christians are returning to a dominion eschatology. Through doing God's will, they are coming to a knowledge of the doctrine (cf. John 7:17; 2 Pet. 1:5-8). Because a strong Biblical faith is again on the rise, the Biblical eschatology of hope is regaining ground as well.
7. No self-respecting scholar who looks at the world conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today is a "postmillennialist."
Once upon a time, a courtier must have assured a nervous Pharaoh with these words: "No self-respecting scholar who looks at world conditions and the accelerating decline of Hebrew influence agrees with Moses." After all, Egypt was the most powerful nation in the world. What chance did Hebrew slaves have against that mighty empire? Let's take other examples. What did "world conditions" look like on the day before the Flood? What were world conditions like on the day before the first Christmas? What were they like after Christmas, when King Herod was slaughtering babies in Bethlehem? And wasn't "Christian influence" in terrible decline on Good Friday?
Hal Lindsey and his group of self-respecting scholars have committed one crucial error which undermines their entire system of interpretation. Their attention is focused on world conditions rather than on the authoritative and unchanging promises of God. This fallacy-ridden approach to prophecy has been rightly termed "newspaper exegesis" — studying current events rather than the Bible for clues to the future. The question is not whether current conditions seem favorable for the worldwide triumph of the gospel; the question is only this: What does the Bible say? As Christians, we know that God is the Lord of history. "Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases" (Ps. 115:3); "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth" (Ps. 135:6). If God has said that the world will be filled with His glory, then it will happen, and no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth can possibly stop it:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His Kingdom endures from generation to generation.
And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, "What hast Thou done?" (Dan. 4:34-35)
We are not to derive our theology from the newspapers or the evening news. Our faith and hope must be drawn from the unfailing Word of the sovereign God, who brings all things to pass according to His unalterable will. And when we go to God's word, we must recognize that our purpose is not to glean juicy tidbits of information about the future. Rather, as the great theologian and educator R. J. Rushdoony says, we go to receive our "marching orders":
Too often, the modern theologian and churchman goes to the Bible seeking insight, not orders. Indeed, I may go to Calvin, Luther, Augustine, and others, to scholars Christian and nonChristian, for insights, for data, and for learned studies, but when I go to the Bible I must go to hear God's marching orders for my life. I cannot treat the Bible as a devotional manual designed to give me peace of mind or a "higher plane" of living; it is a command book which can disturb my peace with its orders, and it tells me that I can only find peace in obeying the Almighty. The Bible is not an inspirational book for my personal edification, nor a book of beautiful thoughts and insights for my pleasure. It is the word of the sovereign and Almighty God: I must hear and obey, I must believe and be faithful, because God requires it. I am His property, and His absolute possession. There can be nothing better than that (Law and Society [Vallecito, CA: Ross House, 1982], pp. 691f.).
. . . Accordingly it appears to me, that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were. . . .
So wrote Flavius Josephus in the Preface to his classic, The Wars of the Jews, his astonishing record of the Great Tribulation of Israel. Again and again, his history of those terrible years parallels the biblical prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction. The reader of the folio wing excerpts would do well to become familiar with the basic texts on the judgment of Israel, especially Deuteronomy 28, the Olivet Discourse (iWatt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), and the Book of Revelation.
The works of Joseph us are available in several editions. I like the four-volume set published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, 1974). Gaalya Cornfeld has edited a beautiful new translation of Josephus: The Jewish War (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), with many photographs and an extensive scholarly commentary; anyone wishing to study Joseph us in depth should certainly consult this volume (although it is fla wed by numerous typographical errors). The excerpts quoted belo w are from the standard Whiston translation. I have added my o wn subheads for each excerpt, and have divided some of the longer passages into paragraphs for easier reading; but the numbering of each section corresponds to the original. I have also inserted some explanatory footnotes. While these do help tie the quotations together, this appendix is not intended to be a continuous narrative, but merely a collection of excerpts illustrating a major argument of this book: that the Fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 was the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy in the Olivet Discourse.
The excerpts begin by describing some of the background to the Jewish Revolt, and end with the suicide at Masada in a.d. 74.
Factions and False Prophets (ii:xiii:2-6)
2. Nero therefore bestowed the kingdom of the Lesser Armenia upon Aristobulus, Herod's1 son, and he added to Agrippa's kingdom four cities, with the toparchies to them belonging: I mean Abila, and that Julias which is in Peres, Tarichea also, and Tiberias of Galilee; but over the rest of Judea he made Felix procurator. This Felix took the arch robber, and many that were with him, alive, when they had ravaged the country for twenty years together, and sent them to Rome; but as to the number of robbers whom he caused to be crucified, and of whom who were caught among them, and those he brought to punishment, they were a multitude not to be enumerated.
3. When the country was purged of these, there sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day-time, and in the midst of the city; this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them; by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high-priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served, was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while everybody expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain. Such was the celerity of the plotters against them, and so cunning was their contrivance.
4. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, who laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretence of divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government, and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty; but Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen, both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.
5. But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him, but Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that, when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were every one to their own homes and there concealed themselves.
6. Now, when these were quieted, it happened, as it does in a diseased body, that another part was subject to an inflammation; for a company of deceivers and robbers got together, and persuaded the Jews to revolt, and exhorted them to assert their liberty, inflicting death on those that continued in obedience to the Roman government, and saying, that such as willingly chose slavery ought to be forced from such their desired inclinations; for they parted themselves into different bodies, and lay in wait up and down the country, and plundered the houses of the great men, and slew the men themselves, and set the villages on fire; and this till all Judea was filled with the effects of their madness. And thus the flame was every day more and more blown up, till it came to a direct war.
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Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.