SECULAR PREDICTIONS vs CHRISTIAN PROPHECY
End of the sun as we know it: Scientists are quite confident that life on earth cannot last much more than
another five billion years. At about that time, the sun will become unstable.
It will expand into a red giant and engulf the Earth. However, none of
this will happen in our near future.
A massive asteroid could theoretically hit the earth at any time. Such
collisions seem to happen at irregular intervals, many tens of millions of
years apart. When they occur, many species of life forms -- plant and
animal -- are wiped out on earth. When we originally published this essay
in the year 2000, we wrote:
"A major hit is most unlikely to happen in the next year or two -- if it were, astronomers would
probably have detected it by now. But it could happen a decade from now, a
millennium in the future, or many tens of millions of years from now. It
is just a matter of time!"
It turns out that this is wishful thinking.
In the year 2002, astronomers detected an asteroid the size of a football
field. It passed close to the earth -- about one third of the way between
the earth and the moon. The shocking thing is that they only detected the
asteroid after it had made its closest approach to the earth and
was starting to leave the area! If it had hit the earth, it would
have had the power equal to a hydrogen bomb. If it landed in a populated
area, it would have obliterated an entire city. We cannot count on any
significant advance warning of an asteroid hit, unless better systems are
put in place.
Other doomsday scenarios: Many dozens of prophecies have been made
which predict the end of the world (or at least a major catastrophe) in our near future, due to:
shifts in the earth's axis.
Melting ice caps.
Weather-related natural disasters.
World War III.
Attacks by space aliens.
However, these types of catastrophes have been predicted many times in
the past with a 100% failure rate. It is unlikely that any of them will
come true in our near-term future.
Historical Christian expectations:
In North America, most prophecies are made by Christians and based on
the Bible. It is important to realize that
anticipation of second coming of Jesus, and the end of the world as we know
it, has been a constant expectation of Christians from the about 30 CE to the present time. Century after century, some
80 generations of Christians have been
disappointed. It is quite possible that contemporary Christians will be as
Christians of every age since the death of Jesus have been anxiously awaiting the
second coming, and looking for advance signs of
his return. Anticipation was heightened as the last year of some
centuries approached - particularly 1000 CE and 1500 CE. It was
particularly intense just before the start of the year 2000. The anticipation
subsided considerably on 2000-JAN-1, but the second coming is still a passionately held
expectation by many Christians.
According to Matthew 24:35-36, Jesus said that no one knows the exact
date and time of the end of the world:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
However, many Christians have attempted to
predict the year and month (but not necessarily the day and hour) of the end.
Various conflicting beliefs have been held
by conservative Protestants about whether the second coming may happen as
soon as today, or whether certain biblical preconditions still
remain to be met:
Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, and many other Christian leaders who
specialize in prophecy agree on one belief: that all of the conditions
mentioned in the Bible which must be satisfied before the Antichrist appears
on earth have been met. 1Thus, the start of the seven
years of Tribulation can occur at any
time. 2 Most conservative Protestants believe that the Rapture will happen at some time during the Tribulation -- often
at the beginning of the seven years. 3 Jesus is expected to return
to earth at the end of the Tribulation.
Many church leaders believe, and have believed that the second
coming of Christ could happen at any time during their lifetime:
John Wesley said, "The spirit in the heart of the true believer
says with earnest desire, ' Come Lord Jesus.' "
D. L. Moody said, "I never preach a sermon without thinking
that possibly the Lord might use that sermon to call out the last of
the saints who should go to make up the full number of God's elect and
to bring about the Lord's coming."
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, a well known English pastor, said, "I
never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps he
may interrupt my work and begin His own. I am not looking for death. I
am looking for him."
They were all disappointed.
Other theologians say that there is at least one biblical condition that
remains to be satisfied before the Antichrist can appear, and the
Tribulation can begin: the
Temple must first be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It was
destroyed by the Roman occupying army in 70 CE. This building is sometimes referred to as the Tribulation
Temple. 4 Two biblical passages imply this:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: says: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
(KJV) Verse 4 indicates that the Antichrist will sit "in the temple of
God." This implies that the temple must be rebuilt; otherwise,
he would have no place to sit.
Daniel 9:27: says: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
The "week" referred to here is interpreted by most
conservative Protestants to be the seven-year Tribulation. At the 42nd
month point into the Tribulation, the Antichrist will terminate the
ritual sacrifice of animals in the Jerusalem temple. Again, the temple
would have to be rebuilt before the sacrifices can be resumed. Only then could
ended by the Antichrist.
Although no temple currently exists on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, it
could be argued that the Antichrist might still arrive at any time in our
immediate future. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a small,
light-weight temple could be constructed somewhere in the world and
transported at very little advance notice to Jerusalem by helicopter. All the preconditions listed
in the Bible would then be satisfied for the sequence of events to start
that will lead up to Jesus' second coming.
- The Antichrist has been described as "the most evil man that will
ever live. He will arrive on the world scene and appear to be the world's
savior, but everyone on earth will soon learn his real mission will be one
of destruction. Also called the man of lawlessness (or sin), Gog, the son of
destruction (or perdition)." See: http://www.raptureready.com/
- The Tribulation is a seven year period when the Antichrist rules
- The Rapture is a miraculous event when Jesus returns towards earth,
and all of the saved Christians (dead and alive) will rise through the air
to meet Jesus in the sky. Belief in the rapture is quite common among
conservative Protestants but is rarely observed among other Christians.
- "The rapture index categories explained," at: http://www.novia.net/
- "The glossary of prophetic terms," at: http://www.novia.net/
Related essay on this website:
Copyright © 2000 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Last update: 2011-JAN-18
Written by B.A. Robinson