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Monday Malcontent IV

Monday is a good day for complaining. People are in a foul mood anyway, so I might as well get things off my chest right away and get on with my week. A cleansing rant, if you will.

Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening, but definitely soon...

Those of you who came here today looking for a wild-eyed rant are going to be disappointed. My topic today does not make me angry; it’s only mildly annoying.

Every now and then someone, usually an older person, informs me that the signs are telling us that the end is near. The political situation in the Middle East, increasing apostasy, the U.N., blah, blah, blah. I have been hearing about this for as long as I can remember.

It was worse, I think, when I was a kid living in a small town in South Dakota. There was a strong John Birch Society contingent there, and evangelism involved Chick tracts. Conspiracy theories were more believable for being unbelievable. “It’s later than we think” was a common slogan, to which all in attendance would nod knowingly. A few of the younger people among the eschatologically aware felt confidant that the Lord would return in their lifetime. The old-timers backed them up, expressing a fervent desire that he would return in their time. Of course, there were signs that must come to pass before that could happen; but they were coming soon, to be sure.

Most of those that I remember were posttribulational. I’m sure some were not, but the really memorable characters were. Their version was the most dramatic. The anti-Christ would rise, and everyone who took the mark of the Beast was damned. My little group of reprobates vacillated between mocking them and wondering just how worried we should be.

The worrying was brief, probably because we weren’t very good at it yet, and it usually came after some event that was calculated to have that effect. Some church would put on a series of meetings on prophesy, or show an apocalyptic film (we were allowed to watch “films,” but not movies). I distinctly remember one very dramatic film in which a group of Christians were interred together and were given a chance to take the mark or be executed. Those who refused were hauled off to the guillotine. Those who took the Mark were released, but they lost their salvation at the moment of decision. Afterwards, their was much discussion and prayer about whether we would be strong enough to make the right decision when the time came.

I’m getting sidetracked. The source of my annoyance doesn’t come from the Jack Chick/Art Bell types mentioned above. It comes from the perfectly normal folks I meet who are sure that the signs are ripe for the rapture. What they seem to forget is that for two millennia, Christians have been looking at the signs and saying “He’s coming soon,” and they have all been right. He is coming soon. On the timeline of eternity, it won’t be long. But it could still be thousands of years.

Yes, the signs tell us Christ is coming soon. They always have, and he will. So I have come up with an answer for the man who tells me that the signs of the times show that our time here is almost up.

“Yes, sir, without a doubt, things are more like they are today than they have ever been before.”

2005-10-31 at 8:00 AM MT | |