The Israel-Hamas conflict has been raging on for a little over two weeks now and the grifters are in no short supply, let me tell you! If you don’t know, I spend a fair amount of time on X promoting the podcast and chatting about theology (It’s a good time, except when it’s not). In the last two weeks I have seen dozens of advertisements about rebuilding the temple, red heifers, and the end times.
And there’s absolutely no end to the end times marketing niche! You have prosperity heretics telling you how to live your best life in the tribulation; you have fear-mongering preachers telling you that if you give to them they’ll send you a special DVD box set on how to survive the tribulation; you have survivalists and others teaching you how to prep! It’s all just nuts!
Western Christianity in general, and American Evangelicalism in particular, have taken a few weird side-roads in the time since the Protestant Reformation. One enduringly popular trend over the last one hundred or so years has been the mystification of scripture. That is, people read their Bibles as though it were some kind of ancient talisman. They interpret Its words as filtered through current events and attempt to then pry open some kind of window into the future or into some otherwise hidden knowledge.
There is this sort of Gnosticism that is running through the American Church at large, wherein they think they have to pry into secret knowledge, or follow teachers that do have this secret knowledge (or gnosis) in order to attain to the truth. They rely on interpreting the signs and wonders of the day in order to understand scripture, instead of letting scripture speak and bringing the day into submission to it.
They see signs such as the COVID-19 Pandemic and then want to desperately try to link this to Biblical prophecy somehow. “Oh it must be the mark of the beast!” At the core of this belief, I think, is the idea that Revelation is a book about the future that is only applicable to Christians who are living at the very end of days. They don’t view the book as something to comfort all Christians of all times and ages.
So, then we add to this the whole Israel-Gaza thing! Remember: Our hermeneutical key (the thing that unlocks the scriptures to us) is the news, not the Holy Ghost. Now mix in the idea that Revelation is future prophecy, not current comfort, and you can see how something like the war in Israel immediately sets off warning bells. This war kicks off and immediately they think of Jesus’ words about wars and rumors of wars. Except, if you go look up Matthew 24:6-8, you will notice that I’ve actually misquoted it up there.
Jesus does, in fact, say that there will be wars and rumors of wars, but immediately follows this with, “but see to it that you are not alarmed.” The thing is, beloved, the war is normal.
No.— Lutheran Answers 🏵️ (@lutherananswers) October 25, 2023
Next question. https://t.co/4Iv7ggxQMl
It may be brutal, it may be ugly, and it may be something we wish to never repeat in the future. But it isn’t at all abnormal. Humans fight, and rage, and wage war. It is a consequence of sin. There has been fighting between people since Cain, the second man to walk the Earth after his father Adam, murdered Abel, his little brother, out of jealousy. We should not be alarmed when sinful people do sinful things. It is, quite truly, par for the course. The point here is not to take sides in the Israel Hamas conflict, but to simply state that war, in and of itself, is not surprising to us. Jesus told us this would happen.
The truth is: We are not waiting for the antichrist to reveal himself or for some great tribulation to start. John himself says in Revelation that he is our partner in the Great Tribulation – John clearly thought he was living in the end times! And indeed he was, for all time since the resurrection and ascension of Christ is indeed the last time. Jesus could come back at literally any moment, with the shout of an archangel and the blast of a trumpet, and call us all to be together with Him.
This is a comfort to the Christian because we know that we have nothing to worry about. Things will continue in this way until Christ comes again. But He is coming again, and in Glory! You see, dear Christian, we have already won through Christ. Though the devil may rage, and wars may rage, we stand victorious in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So when things like Russia/Ukraine or Israel/Hamas happen, don’t spend money on some end-time prophecy book, and don’t sit beside yourself with worry. Rather, pray for those who are victims in this conflict, pray for those able that they would end the conflict, and most of all, pray Come Quickly, Lord Jesus!
Remy is a Lutheran Christian who builds websites. He is a graduate of Liberty University and currently attends American Lutheran Theological Seminary, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity.