Revelation, The End Times, Eschatology


Book_of_Revelation-John on PatmosI’m currently reading in the book of Revelation which has one section that recorded letters to seven churches contemporary to the Apostle John and another section related to the coming and yet future judgment of the world (though a segment of Christians believe the judgments of Revelation were fulfilled in the first century).

As the popularity of the Left Behind books by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye would seem to indicate, a good number of people are fascinated by the latter subject, even those who don’t actually believe. You see this every time someone makes a prediction about when this judgment will take place. It’s like people can’t help but pay attention and wait for the approaching zero hour, then laugh a little (or a lot) when nothing happens.

Some people react almost as if they’ve cheated death. See, they seem to be saying, I can do whatever I want, and the world isn’t going to crumble around our heads. This judgment stuff is a crock.

Which is precisely what Peter warned about in his second letter:

in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3b-4)

Interestingly, Peter connects the end times judgment with the water judgment of old, saying that those who scoff at the coming wrath have missed the lesson of history:

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (vv 5-6)

All this relates to Revelation, to the end times, to eschatology (“the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind” – Oxford American Dictionary) because God told Noah He would never again destroy the world with water, that judgment would next be delivered by fire.

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (v 7)

It is this coming judgment which both fascinates and frightens mankind.

Christians take seriously the admonition to be on the alert, to be ready. Many are looking for Christ’s return, not to reign but to take believers out of this world before the disastrous things John prophesied come to fruition.

Some are looking for the Antichrist—the one who will rule by Satan’s power and will make war against God’s people. They’re mindful of the “mark of the beast” which non-believers will accept and believers will avoid.

And many believe the end-time events will take place during a seven year period, though there’s debate about whether Christians will be on the earth during any, part, or all of the prophesied judgments.

Interestingly, Peter reminds his readers that God doesn’t reckon time the way we do:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

In this light, I think it’s somewhat humorous that so many who study the Bible are certain about the seven years of tribulation. What if it’s seventy years or seven hundred years? Maybe we’ve been experiencing the tribulation for centuries. What if the first fourteen hundred years after Christ were the things Jesus said in Matthew 24: “merely the beginning of birth pangs”? Then come the end times—seven hundred years of them.

It’s rampant speculation on my part, but no more so than those who have the times all figured out, since they do not take into account that God can reckon time however He pleases. But the really significant point I think is why He didn’t immediately bring judgment on the world after Christ’s resurrection, why He continues to “delay”:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

It’s such an amazing truth—made more so by those who mock, saying He’s not coming back because He never came in the first place or never ascended to heaven; and by those who accuse God of not loving the people who are off somewhere out of earshot of the gospel.

These are the kinds of things we can expect in the end times—people listening to lies instead of God’s word. Truth is, He’s coming, but He hasn’t come yet in order to make provision for every single person who will come to repentance.

Amazing that the dark days of Revelation are as much a proof of God’s love for humankind as any bright day of blessing. He waits and warns and gives signs and prophecies. But in the end, some will refuse to acknowledge God even in the face of destruction. Perhaps the saddest couple of verses in Scripture say

Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory . . . and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.(Rev. 16:9, 11)

How many times have I heard atheists say something like, if that’s your loving God, I want nothing to do with him. It breaks my heart. Can they not see there is an eternal destiny at stake?

Years ago, before personal computers, tablets and cell phones, children had activity books which often included mazes: Help Dorothy reach the city of Oz, or help Timmy find Lassie—some great prize was waiting on the other end of a twisted, tangled, branching set of pathways. Often there were three or four starting places and little known to the unsuspecting child, if you chose the wrong starting place, you could try all you want, but you were not going to get to the prize.

So too with real life. There is only one way, but if we’ve headed off in the wrong direction, we have the option of backtracking—of repenting—and changing course to follow the Light, to traverse the Way.

That’s what God wants, and that’s why He patiently waits.

CSFF Blog Tour – Storm by Evan Angler, Day 3


Storm_coverStorm, book three of the Swipe series, featured this month by the CSFF Blog Tour, is a credible apocalyptic dystopian tale written by the elusive Mr. Evan Angler. It’s the story of the Revelation of John recorded in Scripture as the last book of the New Testament.

And yet you’d hardly know it. Before it is an end times novel, Storm is a middle grade novel peopled with interesting characters trying to survive as best they can.

The Story. Before I get started, let me say that I recommend you read the first two books in the Swipe series–Swipe and Sneak, then pick up Storm. I actually thought the author did a masterful job acquainting new readers with what happened before. It didn’t feel forced, and I thought the review might be considered helpful for readers who had been away from this world for six months. Still, I didn’t feel as if I got as much out of the book as I would have, if I’d read the first two offerings first.

But back to the story–or rather the backstory. After a horrific war, the leader of the united America initiates a system requiring all citizens to receive an identification mark when they turn thirteen. Logan Langly reports to receive his mark, though he is filled with doubt. His sister had reported to receive her mark on her birthday and had not been seen since.

Logan has completed the preliminaries, but before he receives the mark, he changes his mind and becomes one of the many Markless who are not considered citizens. They can’t use transportation systems, get jobs, buy or sell goods, and more.

When Storm begins, Logan has been recently freed from prison, having been betrayed by his sister in his attempt to rescue her. In so doing, he exposed the government’s underground prison system and the security force known as the IMPS.

One of those who helped Logan is Erin, a Marked citizen who has contracted a manufactured virus intended to be released as a weapon against the Markless. But obviously something has gone wrong. Logan and his friends set out to do what they can to save Erin, but Logan becomes embroiled in political intrigue as a United Europe joins with America to create the Global Union. What can Logan do to help his friend, save his sister, and protect the Markless who are at the mercy of the government-controlled weather?

Strengths. The most notable strength, I thought, was that Storm didn’t feel as if it was an end-time novel, with all the predictability that contains for anyone familiar with Revelation. The story was clearly about Logan and his friends, though there were cataclysmic stakes.

I also thought the futuristic elements were credible–the development of, and technology in, cities; the creation of a controlling government under the leadership of a charismatic or revered head; the change in modes of transportation; the development of a government-controlled system to manipulate the weather; and so on.

Another strength was the appearance of “good” and “bad” characters on both sides. Some Marked citizens awoke to the realization that the government was going in the wrong direction. Some Markless seemed less concerned about doing what was right than doing what was good for their friends.

In all, I thought the plot moved crisply and there was intrigue and suspense that kept my interest. I wanted to know the answers to the many questions that popped up along the way. I liked the unexpected twists that kept me second guessing what appeared to be happening.

Weaknesses. While there were some minor issues–an omniscient point of view that seemed to shift from one person’s thoughts to another’s within a scene, for instance–they did not significantly pull me out of the story. One thing did, however.

Perhaps half way or two-thirds of the way through the story, one of the characters finds a copy of Swipe, the first book in this series, and one that supposedly chronicles the events of the characters we’re reading about. On the surface that might sound like a clever device, but in actuality it pulled me from the story completely.

I mean, I was lost in a world that had no cars because there was little to no gasoline, and highways were falling apart. The cities were all filled with buildings twice as high as today’s skyscrapers, and citizens were tattooed with a mark that allowed them to enjoy the privileges of place. It was a believable world that I could conceive of fifty, a hundred years from now. And suddenly I was reading about a book that came into existence in my real past.

I felt like someone woke me up by dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. No, I was no longer in New Chicago or Beacon or Spokie. There was no DOME or IMPS or Global Union or weather mill. I was reading fiction, and fiction that was calling attention to itself in the process of pretending to be someone’s documentation of real events.

It was really the only disappointing part of the book, but alas, it was repeated several times, and Storm itself comes into play in the end.

Recommendation. If someone is looking for a Left Behind type book or a story filled with references to God’s judgment or the need for salvation, they should bypass Storm and the Swipe series.

I could be wrong about this, but one line made me think this story is supposed to have happened after the rapture (I think there was a passing comment about thousands of people who went missing). If I’m right, then I think these people–Marked and Markless–are acting in perfectly believable ways. They didn’t know about the prophecies in Scripture, about God’s love, redemption, or the coming judgment. Consequently it’s no surprise that they aren’t praying, worshiping, witnessing, or commenting on the hand of God and the fulfillment of prophecy before their eyes.

They’re mostly surviving, but they’ve found a Bible, and spiritual things are dribbling into their lives in a natural, believable way. So if a reader is looking for a story that is intriguing and credible in its approach to the future, then Storm is the book–after reading Swipe and Sneak.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

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