Whether you are looking for some entertainment or just confused about "end-times madness," a quick glance at the internet and even your favorite Christian bookstore will either keep you amused or very confused. Perhaps a bit of both.
The hottest new end-times news centers around a Wisconsin hi-tech firm. Employees at Three-Square Market have agreed to having rice-sized microchips inserted in their hand. The chip allows employees to enter the office, log into their computer, and even buy a snack. This, of course, has set off alarm bells, or should I say wailing sirens throughout the end-times crowd. Many claim this is the beginning of the "Mark of the Beast" predicted in John's Revelation of Jesus Christ. According to many Christians, this Silicon Valley "mark" is no laughing matter. Anyone who receives the mark is joining the ranks of the antichrist, a person many (but not all) Christians believe will take over the world and usher in a time of complete darkness. By accepting this mark, they have agreed to worship this representative of Satan and following his ways. (I wonder if that was written in the Three-Square Market contract.)
This hysteria isn't anything new. But while "end-times" teaching has been around for centuries, the mania continues to hit new highs, or should I say new lows. And with each prediction comes a new one to take up for the last prediction that failed. Countless books, not to mention low-budget movies, have been produced and consumed at a mind-numbing pace. Each bring about a new prediction and sign which always falls flat on its face.
First it was Social Security cards. Apparently having an SS card was your ticket to hell. I have always wondered about those who lived in other lands. Would they be issued American social security cards? When social security proved to be a non-issue, drivers license took over as the chief mark for those who had given their lives to the evil one. While something can be said for those demons behind the wheel on the nearby interstate, the license scare faded into obscurity. Then came the dreaded barcodes. Those strange lines most certainly hid a dark secret. Of course, it all turned out to be loopier than the box of Fruit Loops scanned by the overworked girl at the checkout aisle. Someone then announced that credit cards were the dreaded mark. Visa, MasterCard, and any other credit card was part of demonic darkness. Through a very bizarre process, the numbers and letters in VISA added up to "666" and Babylon. They even have a microchip! I've had a Visa and MasterCard for quite a few years. I admit my tendency to "melt" my card every now and then when traveling. However, I just do not have the desire to worship the devil. And never will.
Poor purple Barney was targeted simply because his name somehow added up to 666.
Computers, the New World Order, Syria, the European Union, China, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and the Federal Reserve; the one thing in common is they are all supposedly part of the "beast" and the antichrist. Preachers, pastors, and so-called prophets continually point out events that are supposedly signs of the end. And let's not forget the "Blood Moon" craze. One extremely well known American preacher said the Blood Moons would kick off an earth-shaking event that would take place by October 2015. Of course, nothing happened. This "prophet" offered no explanation. He simply came out with new end-time books to the great relief of end-time addicts. Radio preacher Harold Camping went so far as to predict the end of the world would take place October 21, 2011. The day came and went with no end of the world. Camping was genuinely mortified and went into hiding. To his credit, Camping later confessed that it is impossible to know when the end would come, and that doing so is sinful. He stayed a relative recluse until his death in 2013. What set Camping apart from the others is he actually believed what he preached and had to courage to admit he was wrong. Now, if only some of today's end-times prophets would follow that same route.
As for the antichrist, listing all of those were supposedly the one to end it all would eat up my bandwidth. It also might usher us into the halls of the mental institution, a place where many of these end-time prophets should really consider checking themselves into. Some of those who were to bring about the kingdom of darkness onto this earth have included Ronald Reagan, Pope Benedict XVI, Barack Obama, Napoleon, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, John F. Kennedy, Emperor Constantine, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and because of his forehead birthmark, Mikhail Gorbachev. However, my two favorites are (and I'm not making this up) Barney the Dinosaur and Danny Devito. Poor purple Barney was targeted simply because his name somehow added up to 666. I'm not certain why Devito made the list, but he was rather obnoxious in Taxi. The list could go on and on. But the point is to show that while none of these ever turned into the popular definition of the antichrist, many of the same end-time prophets continue to churn out new ones. What stuns me, however, are the number of Christians who continue to fall for the same failed prophecies and those who make them.
I wonder what would happen if we discovered that maybe, just maybe, Revelation isn't even about the end of the world
In Isaiah 1:18, God said "Come. Let us reason together." Perhaps Christians should heed those words. Maybe it is time for believers to put an end to the hysteria, flat out falsehoods, and utter nonsense pouring forth from the pens and pulpits of these end-time prophets. Have we become so addicted to "end-times" that we have lost the meaning of discipleship? Hold a church meeting on how to be like Jesus and few will attend. Announce a study of the Book of Revelation and it's standing room only. I wonder what would happen if we discovered that maybe, just maybe, Revelation isn't even about the end of the world.
Furthermore, bizarre predictions that don't come true does great harm to the kingdom of God. What does it say about our beliefs when we continually make false predictions? Why would anyone want to learn more Christ when his followers continue to come up with strange and outrages predictions? Does it not make us look like complete fools when we continue time and time again with predictions that never come to pass?
As for me, I believe there will be an end. What it will look like and when it will happen, I have no idea. Neither does anyone else. Instead, let's use this time wisely by becoming like Christ so we will be ready when Jesus does appear.
And lets the leave the microchips to the techies.