THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: A Brief History of Misapplied Prophecy (1)

 

We have been convinced we are living in the “Last Days,” that there is no remedy for the growing evil of these times, and that we must surrender apathetically without a fight.

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“THIS GENERATION”

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” [Matthew 24:34]

The Lord Jesus frequently and consistently referred to a single generation throughout His ministry. Throughout the Gospel accounts He refers to it specifically as “this generation.” There are a total of seventeen such references, five in Matthew, three in Mark, and nine in Luke. He also described it. He referred to “this generation” as “evil, adulterous, unbelieving, perverted, sinful, and wicked.” In Acts 2:40, Peter also refers to it as “perverse.” In Philippians 2:15, Paul agrees with Peter and adds another fitting adjective—“crooked.” So here we have seven quite descriptive adjectives describing the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation.”

GROSS ERROR

There is a very strange occurrence that takes place when Christians refer to prophetic content within the Gospel accounts. They almost always have a tendency to refer to the generation the Lord referred to as “this generation” as their own generation. This phenomenon became more common after the advent of the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago. It happened before then as well though the instances are far less due to a lack of access to the Word of God, attributed to general illiteracy, and also because the Roman Catholic Church had purposely hidden the written Word behind a wall of Latin.

Thus, in the 1500s, as more Christians began reading the few emerging Gospel accounts in their own languages, and apparently due to their limited understanding of the phrase “this generation,” they had the decided tendency to think it meant their generation. The same thing happened in successive generations since, from the 1500s to the present. This became especially true beginning in the early to mid 1800s in America with the advent of Dispensational Theology, a spurious construct invented out of thin air. By the time the 20th century dawned in the year 1900, the phenomenon became much more pronounced. It gained great steam by mid century, especially by the 1960s when America began being inundated with so-called Christian “prophecy teachers.”

Strangely enough, though these “prophecy teachers” had relatively slight differences which got blown out of proportion (such as the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib nonsense), they generally agreed very closely on what they termed Biblical prophecies coming true in our time. This does not mean that they were right but that their interpretations were coming from the same original source.

Then, in the mode of Space-based science fiction popular at that time, the phenomenon broke out into the secular culture with the publication of a seminal Christian prophecy work entitled The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970. According to the New York Times, this was the “bestselling nonfiction book of the 1970s.” [1] All of the sudden, Biblical prophecy not only became a popular topic in America, it was also said to be coming to pass in real time. According to the author, the prophesied future was now upon that generation of fifty-two years ago. Due to its nature and claims, the book was also publicized through high circulation mainstream newspapers and magazines. Many more prophecy books were published by various authors. The top prophecy teachers were touring the states speaking at churches, colleges, and conferences. With the advent of Christian television in the early 1970s they were suddenly selling their wares through that medium. It truly was a burgeoning phenomenon. And the one astounding constant those guys all had in common was that our time (the 1970s) was the specific time referred to in the New Testament when the “Last Days” prophecies of the Lord Jesus were actually coming to pass.

In essence, the prophecy teachers made the declarative persistent claim that the American generation of the 1970s was the New Testament “this generation” referred to by the Lord Jesus.

THE DECEPTION PERSISTS

Remember, pretty much every generation over the last five hundred years has, to varying degrees, believed their generation to be the one that would see the culmination of prophetic events and the second coming of the Lord Jesus. This was more pronounced on scattered occasions here and there especially during times of revival. But as I stated previously, the phenomenon became a flowing stream with no discernible interruptions beginning about 120 years ago. This had never happened before. That generation was convinced we were at the end of time. When WWI broke out it appeared all the more believable. The same thing happened during WWII. The belief that we were in the “Last Days” gained force and notoriety for seventy years until it burst onto the scene in the 1970s reaching an apogee that carried on into the 1980s and 90s.

Of course, the year 1900 or thereabouts was not the end of the world, nor did the prophesied end come in the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s though many in those two generations were convinced otherwise. A third generation then came upon the scene and gained age in the 1950s and 60s. This generation was also fully convinced it must be the last one on earth due in part to the advent of nuclear weapons which were said to have the firepower to effectively destroy the planet. The 1960s saw great social change not only in the secular but also within Christianity which for the first time was visited throughout with the Holy Spirit outpouring within all major denominations. This occurrence definitely had an effect on the “Last Days” theme.

Then, with the initial emergence of the fourth generation beginning in roughly 1970 the phenomenon blasted into outer space. One could not escape such news if one tried. The Christians of that time knew the “Last Days” had certainly arrived. Regardless of what any previous generation had thought prior to the 1970s, those people were simply wrong, it was said, and they were only seeing the earliest glimpses of the future in their time. The previous generations had made the mistake of attributing the future to their time, it was said, while the emerging generation of the 1970s, having been shown so clearly by the prophecy teachers “that one can see prophecy coming to pass simply by reading the newspapers,” were convinced their days were truly the “Last Days,” the time when Jesus would definitely return. Well, He didn’t return fifty years ago in the early 1970s. Maybe He was “tarrying.”

When nothing changed in the 1970s the new mantra was based on the state of Israel. The prophecy teachers insisted the Lord must return within a generation of the founding of the state of Israel, which took place in the spring of 1948, as wrongheaded as that contention was. Their reasoning was thus: Since a Biblical generation was thought to be forty years the Lord will return by 1988. And of course, because there must be a seven year “Tribulation” period within this construct, this great time of turmoil and suffering which the world has never before seen would have to begin by 1981. That was forty-one years ago. Of course, the “The Great Tribulation” never happened. The Lord did not return in the 1980s.

The prophecy teachers made more adjustments. They were absolutely right all along you see and never admitted to being off, so they simply added more to the mix. They continued to make the rounds and make money. They continued writing best sellers. They continued pontificating on Christian television. Everyone, it seems, kept believing them. As time went on, however, they started sounding that much more incorrect. They could no longer come up with adequate explanations. But giving credit where credit is certainly due, these guys were masters at their craft. And Christians in general remained Biblically uninformed regarding New Testament Scripture as usual and thus extremely gullible. As time continued to pass the entire prophecy timelines and constructs of the prophecy teachers simply started to fade away. There was no sense pushing them anymore. They could no longer be made to fit.

Then a new generation began to rise in roughly the mid-1990s. Christians were still aware of these so-called prophecies somewhat but no longer emphasized them. Nevertheless, from then until now the deception has remained. Christians still insist we are in the “Last Days” referred to in the New Covenant literature. Christians still believe we are in the days directly preceding the Second Coming.

As it turns out, the “Last Days” last a long time, much longer than prophecy says they should. They have now lasted over 120 years. The state of Israel is almost 74 years old. That’s almost two Biblical generations. Every generation from roughly 1900 until now believed they would see the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Each generation was obviously wrong.

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

We are now at the beginning of the sixth generation. The entire construct of the prophecy teachers of the recent past has been proven absolutely wrong though a probable majority of Christians and even great millions of non-Christians still believe it. Though it has no rhyme or reason from a New Testament perspective, it has become accepted religious theology. We have seen this play out once again over the last few weeks in the Russian war with Ukraine in which prophecy is once again being applied to the actions of Russia as it always is when Russia makes a perceived major move of one kind or another.

The major problem which arises from this prophecy heresy is the idea that evil will continue to grow worse and worse in the world and that there is absolutely nothing Christians can do about it. Though the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth there is nothing He can do about it either. If Christians have been convinced that prophecy says the world is lost then the current Kingdom of the Lord Jesus existing in this world lacks the power to overcome evil which indicates evil is the greater power.

I submit that this idea is pure unadulterated garbage and that the reason evil is overcoming good is because many potential proponents of spiritual good have been erroneously taught to stand down and go about their Christianity in such a way that they represent no threat to the devil. This absurd attitude based on the “Last Days” deception may best be described by the Lord Himself in the following:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” [Matthew 5:13][2]

Sound familiar?   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Wikipedia

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: “This Generation” (2)

THE “LAST DAYS” DECEPTION: New Testament References to the “Last Days” (3)

 

Posted on March 25, 2022, in Current Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Thank you, RJ. Appreciate this post. The Lord says we are MORE than conquerors and are overcomers in this life — regardless of evil men waxing worse and worse. We will continue by God’s unstoppable grace to be His salt and light until He returns. I often refer to the story the Lord told in Matthew 25 about the five wise and five foolish virgins as a kind of end times job description or ‘template’ of the kind of people God asks and expects us to be — prepared and filled at all times with the power of the Holy Spirit— for we know NOT the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:13)

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    • Thanks Susan. I appreciate your support and prayers. What you say here applies, of course, only to real Christians. I agree with you on the typology though we both know it can also be applied in other ways. The point about the ten virgins story was that all ten believed in being filled with the Holy Spirit and were filled. They are types of those who fully agree with the original first-century believers in Acts. The majority of Christians in the world do not identify with such. Even though all ten were Spirit-filled, only five stayed Spirit-filled. The other five lapsed in their commitment to the Lord and allowed themselves to be drained. I know you know this, of course, but it takes spiritual work to remain close to the Lord and maintain one’s Spirit-filled level, so to speak. Thus, how can all the non-Spirit-filled Christians in the world have a chance at meeting the Bridegroom?

      I want you to know, Susan, that I will be getting deeper into the subject matter of this first article. I will have to get as much truth as I can into a relatively short series to maintain interest and will do my best. In the meantime, if you have time, I ask you to take a look at a short series I wrote two years ago on this subject. Here is the links page: The End of the Age—In Prophecy.

      Blessings to you. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If I believe we are living in the last days, and I do, for I believe the scripture teaches the last days began when Christ’s work on the cross was finished, He rose from the dead, ascended to the Father, and the Holy Spirit of promise came—since I believe this, I am not content to sit and wait for it to happen for I don’t know the day or the hour but I do know the certainty. Ours is to work while it is still day; work until we see the Lord appearing—to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each day of these last days brings us closer to the day and many are not ready for it.
    In the meantime the world will get worse, will drift farther from the Lord. But there is a remedy—the remedy that has always been. His name is Jesus Christ and He has made us his ambassadors.

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    • Thanks Donna. For the purposes of this series, I am going to define the New Testament teaching on these two terms using only what is available within it:
      (1) “This Generation”
      (2) The “Last Days”
      I have already made an initial introduction at defining these two with this initial post but will get more specific. Please stay tuned. Blessings

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the back of my mind I have always thought of how wrong the most religious leaders were when their messiah came right in front of them. Gods ways and thoughts so far from ours, even in hindsight.
    I prefer to know God like Simeon or Anna. They just knew when they saw. Gods power over evil is a nuclear bomb compared to a slingshot.
    Not that we don’t pay attention to the times but that we respond in real time and ask of God “How then shall I live”?

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    • Yes. Correct attitude. Thanks Gary.

      It must be acknowledged that the Lord Jesus chose to arrive the first time in the midst of great darkness and the most wicked and evil generation of His people and all that evil did not stop Him for a second in fulfilling His ministry and purpose which included DEFEATING Hell, Death, and the Grave. He overcame all that evil and was victorious over it. For three days, of course, it looked as though the opposite had happened, which means His Resurrection meant all the difference and defined Him, His movement, and the future for all His followers. In other words all things are always possible with God regardless of circumstances which say otherwise.

      Christians should be wise enough to understand the devil’s schemes when he attempts to convince the Lord’s people that all is lost, the evil is too great, and it is best to surrender. When Christians allow themselves to be overcome and overwhelmed by evil, it is often because they failed to properly adhere to the necessities of their discipleship and/or believed a lie. And perhaps the greatest lie is that evil is too great to overcome.

      Part of this is because Christians interpret the New Testament incorrectly or have been taught to do so. Maybe some or most of such teachers are sincere but remain sincerely wrong. But it is also the case that we have false Christian teachers with false Christian teachings intentionally deceiving Christians on purpose. They have an evil agenda. They are sent by the devil. Christians must thus never allow themselves to be deceived or must break out of deception if they are. This is what the full teachings of the Lord Jesus accomplish. By knowing His Word (knowing Him!) we stay above and ahead of deception.

      Be blessed

      Like

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